300 volunteers join search for 10-year-old Westminster girl
More than 300 volunteers have joined Westminster police officers and firefighters in a massive search for a 10-year-old girl who disappeared during a three-block walk to school.
Jessica Ridgeway’s mother stood in front of their home at 10768 Moore St. Friday morning and watched until the girl was out of sight on her way to Witt Elementary School, 10255 W. 104th Drive, said Cheri Spottke, Westminster police spokeswoman. That was 8:30 a.m.
Jessica routinely meets a classmate and they walk the rest of the way to school, but on Friday morning the friend never saw Jessica, Spottke said.
An Amber Alert, which is a national emergency notification, went out late last night after Westminster police were contacted.
“It’s very concerning,” Spottke said. “She is still a young child. Mom is very distraught.”
Jessica is 4 feet 10 inches tall, weighs 80 pounds and has blond shoulder-length hair. She has blue eyes and was wearing a black jacket and pink-and-purple glasses.
Spottke said police and firefighters went door-to-door Friday along the route from Jessica’s house to the school, asking residents for permission to search inside their homes and in their yards.
All but a few people complied, she said. Some people said they have small children and asked authorities to return the next morning when the kids were awake to search, she said. In other cases, no one was home.
“We searched all night,” Spottke said at 7:15 a.m. “We’ve switched up teams and we’re going out again right now.”
Bloodhounds were used through most of the night. Although the dogs picked up a scent, it could have been older than Friday morning, Spottke said.
“There were no strong hits,” she said.
Authorities have greatly expanded the search area after many more volunteers arrived than were expected. The second shift of searchers will return to the homes where no one answered previously.
Police are reviewing past incidents for a possible connection including the attempted abduction on Labor Day of a 22-year-old female jogger at Ketner Lake in Westminster. A man tried to put a chemical-soaked rag over her mouth. The woman was able to fight her way free and called 911.
“It’s definitely something that we’re looking at,” Spottke said.
The woman’s assailant was described as white, about 5 feet, 8 inches tall with brown hair and an average build. He was wearing a blue cap, a black T-shirt, jeans and small rimmed sunglasses.
Another jogger was chased by a man with a similar description in July 2010, police said, warning those who use the area.
Authorities have checked up on every registered sex offender in the area to confirm their location. Flyers are being posted at businesses up and down Wadsworth Boulevard and left at the homes of residences.
The search didn’t begin until the mother awoke at around 4:30 p.m. and got the message from Witt Elementary that Jessica hadn’t arrived at school.
Officials contacted the child’s father, who lives in another state.
“At this time we don’t have any indication he is involved in any way,” Spottke said.
Jessica is a good child and a good student, she said. Officials contacted every child in her class and all friends to see if she may have gone to one of their homes, but there was no sign of her.
She lives with her mother, grandmother and aunt.
Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206, Facebook.com/kmitchelldp or http://blogs.denverpost.com/coldcases