Jessica Ridgeway killing directly connected to unsolved attack on female jogger at Ketner Lake

Man attacked woman jogging at Ketner Lake in May

WESTMINSTER, Colo. - Westminster police have confirmed to 7NEWS they have found a direct connection between the murder of Jessica Ridgeway and a man attacking a female jogger at Ketner Lake in May.

Westminster police first alluded to their investigation of a connection between the Jessica Ridgeway case and the attack at Ketner Lake in a written statement on Friday.

"Due to the time frame and geographic proximity of Jessica's disappearance and the attempted abduction near the Ketner Lake Open Space, police are trying to determine if there is any connection between the two cases," the statement said.

Now, however, police are confirming to 7NEWS that they have discovered a direct link between the Ridgeway case and an attack on a trail around Ketner Lake on May 28.

"We are able to make a definitive link," said Westminster Police Department spokesman Trevor Materasso. "We recognize the public may have questions about what constitutes that definitive link and we’re asking for their patience. Some of that information, because of the investigation, the additional leads and tips and follow up we have to do, we’re not able to go into detail and give specific reasons for how we have made that connection."

In the May attack, a 22-year-old woman was jogging when a man grabbed her from behind and tried put a chemical-laced rag over her mouth, police said.

The woman escaped and called 911, police said. Yet officers searching the area with a police dog were unable to find the attacker.

The suspect in the May 2012 attack was described as a light-skinned man who ranged in age from 18 to his 30s. He had brown hair, a medium build and was about 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall. The man was wearing a dark blue baseball cap, small-rim sunglasses, a black T-shirt and blue jeans.

A similar incident occurred in July 2010, when a man chased a female jogger near the lake. Police said that man's description was similar to the assailant in the jogger attack.

Jessica disappeared on Oct. 5 while walking to Chelsea Park, where she was going to meet friends to walk to school. Her friends said she never showed up at the park and the school reported her absence to her mother that morning.

The girl's remains were found five days later in an open space park in Arvada.

Materasso also told 7NEWS that a material found during the investigation, previously called in as a clump of hair, is being tested. It may be a synthetic material.

"They’re going to collect it as though it has potential evidentiary value," Materasso said.

Additionally, he said that investigators did investigate receipts but said there is some confusion and misunderstanding about how they came into play.

"There is no connection between the receipts and the trash bag surrounding the recovery of Jessica’s body near Pattridge Park Open Space," Materasso said.