Jessica Ridgeway Murder: Investigation Focuses On Suspects Of Prior Kidnap Attempts, Points To Local Suspect
Jessica Christine Ridgeway , the grape-hued bespectacled 10 year old who lit up the court as a Stadley Lake pee wee cheerleader, left her Westminster home at 8:30am on October 5, 2012.
She was due to meet her walk-buddy Jeremy after speaking to him briefly from her Mom’s cell at 8:25am. When she did not show by 8:40am, he hitched a ride from his Dad to avoid missing the 8:50am bell. The drive route would not pass an “enroute” Jessica if she were to take the normal path to school.
Jessica never made it to Witt Elementary School (WES) and the school called her Mother’s cell by 9am to alert her to her absence.
Sarah Ridgeway, Jessica’s Mother, worked the night shift and never heard the cell phone she left downstairs. Later in the afternoon Sara retrieved the voice mail from WES, got in her car and began looking for her daughter.
Ridgeway reports her only child she shared with Jeremiah Bryant missing via 911 when she was unable to locate her. Jeremiah Bryant, Jessica’s Father, was alerted first by his employer when police were trying to determine his whereabouts, and then directly by investigators.
Despite the 6 hour delay Westminster Police reacted swiftly. They had interviewed children that normally walked to school with Jessica by the end of the school day and issued an amber alert by 9:15 PM Friday evening.
Victorious. This is the word splashed across Jessica’s pink backpack found by a neighbor in nearby Superior in the early hours of Sunday October 7th. It was believed to have been placed there between 6:45PM Saturday and midnight Sunday morning.
By Sunday afternoon Jessica’s family had confirmed the backpack ,complete with water bottle bearing her name , was hers. By Sunday afternoon investigators knew the chances of this ending well were lost when a clear and deliberate placement of a missing ten year old child’s backpack was a definite calling card intended for them.
The complete contents of the bag or any other evidentiary clues it yielded have not been released.
Hours before Waste Management crews would stumble across the horrific mutilated partial remains of the little girl whose abduction had thousands of law enforcement assets scrambling to find her and the rest of us with cable-holding our collective breath, Jessica’s parents were cleared of any involvement in her disappearance. An unknown predator was responsible, and HE was out there.
While it has not been disclosed publicly, sources inside the investigation speaking to BOC on the condition of anonymity have confirmed that both Sara Ridgeway and Jeremiah Bryant were administered and passed polygraph examinations.
82nd St, west of Quaker. Across from a series of abandoned buildings and near a dilapidated mine shaft, Jessica’s torso was discovered by a maintenance team routinely scheduled to clear debris from the area. While her remains were partially concealed by a dark garbage bag, it was clear whoever placed them where they were intended for them to found quickly. Close to a drainpipe that would have likely hidden the fate of the little girl indefinitely, her killer chose instead to traverse a culvert placing the bag inside the barbed wire fence on an elevated area visible from the road. Sources indicate to BOC that the the dismemberment was intentional and several body parts remain missing.
The state of her dismembered corpse delayed her identification from the prevailing methods of dental records and fingerprints and had to be confirmed via DNA through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) lab. It did not delay a thinly veiled and uniform look of panic among law enforcement officials in Westminster, Arvada, the FBI and the Jefferson County DA during the press conference announcing what everyone already knew.
An autopsy preformed last week awaits toxicology and other anthropologic study results to make a final determination on her cause of death, however, as police have established she was murdered there is no question her manner of death is listed as homicide.
Jessica Ridgeway was the victim of a child predator of the darkest variety, and he is likely a member of the immediate community living among those in their extreme fear and grief.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Last Fall, and as recently as a few weeks before Jessica was abducted, police in Jefferson county had been alerted to what they believed amounted to two different men suspected of attempting to lure children into their vehicles. A letter was sent home from Jessica’s school in September.
While it is not known if these suspects and composites are connected to Jessica’s murder, police would still like the public’s help in providing any information about their identity and whereabouts.
Last November a series of attempted abductions of young girls in Arvada caused Arvada police to release a composite of an as-yet unidentified suspect.
Attempted Child Abduction Incidents
- On Saturday, November 12, 2011, just after 3:00 p.m. in the area of Danny Kendrick Park (7000 Ward Road) and the Apex Recreation Center. Arvada Police were called to the area on a report of an attempted child abduction involving a 12-year-old Arvada girl.
- On Wednesday, November 16, 2011, just after 8:00 p.m., a 6-year-old child was contacted by a man as she sat in a lounge area of the YMCA located at 6350 Eldridge Street. The suspect lured her outside and she was able to break free and return to her parents inside the building.
- On Friday, November 4, 2011, three 12-year-old girls were playing outside in the area of 69th and Robb Street when the suspect approached the girls and exposed and touched himself in their presence.
- On Monday, November 14, 2011, Arvada Police were called the area of 77th and Parfet Street where a 15-year-old girl was contacted by a man driving a silver or white four door car who began asking her for directions.
Although Westminster Police have publicly ruled out any connection to the Ridgeway case, about 8 hours away in Cody, Wyoming, Jesse Paul Speer, an acclaimed wilderness and wildlife photographer with ties to Colorado was arrested for abducting and sexually assaulting an 11 year old girl he forced into his vehicle after she declined along with her friends to help the man search for his imaginary dog.
On Monday October 8th, Speer is alleged to have sexually assaulted the child in his vehicle over a 4 hour period, finally releasing her with a bag over her head in a remote stretch of wilderness in temperatures under 30 degrees and known for heavy predatory wildlife. Speer , a highly experienced outdoorsman, knew the chances of his victim succumbing to hypothermia or worse- were strongly in his favor.
Fortunately, Speer’s victim was found wandering by a hunter and amazingly was able to provide a full description of her attacker, the route she was taken although her hands were bound behind her back and Speer’s repeatedly pushed her head down into the seat AND described that while she was being assaulted Speer’s had hundreds of pictures of naked girls strewn about the vehicle.
Westminster Police have not elaborated on the FBI’s exclusion of Speer in the Ridgeway case and the only known and verifiable whereabouts of Speer are based on video of him entering the Yellowstone National Park at 4PM October 7.
While I have faith in the FBI, I admit that that the likelihood of two separate and distinct perpetrators engaging in the stranger abduction and assault of similarly aged girls when the same also occurred a day earlier in Westminster being two different offenders is very slim- gives me great pause. Speer fits the suggested general FBI profile found below.
Speer is being held on a $2 Million dollar bond in Montana.
Much closer to home, as recently as last May, a female jogger was attacked by an unknown man who attempted to shove a cloth in her face she felt had some sort of chemical on it. It was the second attack on a jogger reported to police since 2010 and is currently unsolved. An 8 year old on a dry trail was similarly assaulted a few weeks before that about a mile away a few weeks prior to the May incident.
It is unknown if any of these incidents are related to the Ridgeway case, but until they can be excluded the possibility this suspect is not necessarily fixated on child victims should be of great concern.
If in fact Jessica did attempt to walk to school by cutting across 106th St, she would have been walking on the gravel open space trails that connect with the Ketner and Countryside loops.
The Suspect Profile
Well, sort of. The FBI, through Agent Dave Joly has released a public request for citizens and especially parents to remain vigilant and in particular to take notice:
FBI spokesman Dave Joly on Thursday asked for the public’s help in identifying possible suspects. He said the suspect could “be your boss, your friend” or a family member.
The FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit said that 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, cleaning or discarding his vehicle.
Joly said the FBI is “working on an abundance of leads” in the case. He would not discuss specifics of the body that was found Wednesday and said the FBI is only wanting to give a profile to the public so that they might notice the behavior of the suspect.
Anyone with information should call the tip line at 303-658-4336.
(Editors Note: Ask for Suzie Salmon sweet girl- over by the canopy)
Research Credit: BOC editor Jacqueline Beaufort