Although there were no major announcements over the weekend about the hunt for the killer of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway, law enforcement officials are working around the clock following up on every tip they receive.
Late Sunday night Westminster Police Department posted this update on the case on their Facebook page:
We have been asked what are we doing now...we are still doing neighborhood canvassing, open area searches and following up on tips. Investigators are still working around the clock, however most of that work now needs to be done out of the public eye. Our goal still remains justice for Jessica.
7News reports that police had already received 1,500 tips in the case on Saturday and some of those leads are bound to be false alarms like the case in Golden where police believed a man had attempted to abduct a 13-year-old in Golden. The man turned himself in and has been cleared of all charges in a case that has been described as a "misunderstanding."
But The Denver Post reports that police are expecting false alarms in their search and regardless want to be notified of any and all suspicious activity. "Call all tips in," Cheri Spottke, Westminster PD spokesperson, told The Denver Post. "And let police decide."
Mark Techmeyer, spokesperson for the JeffCo Sheriff's Office told The Denver Post that due to investigators working in shifts around the clock, "days roll into days because you get very little sleep."
Police have also arrested a suspect in involved in the abduction and sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl in Cody, Wyoming. Last week, before authorities announced that the body found in Arvada was Jessica Ridgeway, police were also investigating a possible connection with Jessica's case to a kidnapping of an 11-year-old girl in Cody, Wyoming who was abducted for several hours, released and found last Monday. However, according to the Associated Press, the FBI said it does not believe the cases are related.
"There is a predator at large in our community," said Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk at Friday's press conference, adding that the FBI is continuing to work with them to bring the perpetrator to justice. "Our focus has changed from the search for Jessica to a mission of justice for Jessica."
"We will not rest until this person is caught," Trevor Materasso, Westminster Police Department spokesperson, said at the news conference.
Soon after the news conference, Gov. John Hickenlooper reacted to the news via statement:
This is an unthinkable end to an unthinkable crime in our community. It is with a profound sense of sorrow that we learned of Jessica Ridgeway’s death. On behalf of all of Colorado, we offer our deepest sympathies to her family and friends. The Colorado Department of Public Safety and other federal, state and local agencies involved in the case will continue to provide all of the support they can as the investigation continues.
Jessica was last seen on Friday, Oct. 5th around 8:30 a.m. making the three-block-walk to Chelsea Park where she usually meets a group of friends to walk to school with, but authorities say she never made it that far.
On Oct. 7th, investigators say they found a backpack and water bottle believed to be Jessica's in the town of Superior, about six miles away from where she was last seen. The water bottle had her name on it and investigators are pursuing leads.
An Amber Alert went out late that night on Oct. 5th and the Westminster Police Department said that the FBI joined search efforts that same night.
One of Colorado's state criteria for issuing an Amber Alert is that the child must be in immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death and on Wednesday, investigators said they were confident that Jessica's parents were not involved in her disappearance.
However, Westminster police say that they got a late start searching for Jessica because her mother -- who works the graveyard shift -- hadn't realized she was missing since she slept through calls made from the school when Jessica didn't show.
Her mother said she arrived home at 7:30 a.m. on the Friday Jessica went missing and last saw her daughter around 8:30 a.m. when she watched her start walking to the park.
Jessica's parents gave tearful interviews to the media on Wednesday.
"I want her to come walking back through that door," Jessica's mother Sarah Ridgeway, told KUSA-TV in Denver. "I need her to come walking back through that door."
On Thursday police said they were focusing their attention on an unknown suspect and the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit released a list of possible behaviors Jessica's abductor might be exhibiting.
According to a profile detailed by the FBI's BAU, the suspect is likely a male and may be exhibiting changes in their behavior since last Friday when Jessica was first reported missing:
- Often, someone in the community will unknowingly be associated with the offender of the crime, and may be in a position to observe behavioral changes in that person. They will recognize the changes, and may even question the person about it, but may not relate the changes to that person’s involvement in the crime.
- Immediately following the incident, he may miss work. The absence will be sudden and unplanned. He may either be a “no show” or he may offer a plausible excuse such as illness, death in the family, car trouble, etc.
- He may miss scheduled appointments/commitments and be unaccounted for during this period. These appointments/commitments may include such things as medical appointments, meetings with a probation officer, prior commitment to a friend or family member, drug test, etc.
- He may suddenly leave town, either with no explanation or with some plausible reason.
- This individual may express an intense interest in the status of this investigation and pay close attention to the media. However, some offenders may quickly turn off media accounts or try to redirect conversations concerning the victims or their families.
- There may be changes in the usual consumption of alcohol and/or drugs.
- He may make a change in his appearance or alter something to prevent identification, such as changing the look of his vehicle, clean or discard his vehicle.
Police are asking anyone who has noticed something or someone suspicious related to this case to contact the investigation by calling 303-658-4336 or emailing email@example.com.
Westminster police made this statement on their Facebook page calling for the public's help in apprehending the still at large suspect:
Please continue to be aware of those around you. The individual responsible for this likely is someone's neighbor, co-worker, friend or even family member and may be exhibiting signs by changing their behavior. Look for changes in their schedule, appearance, transportation methods, activities, deameanor, or other changes that occured between the days leading up to Jessica's disappearance and the days immediately following. Think about anything that was out of the ordinary and please call police tip lines.