Westminster Police investigating 9,400 tips in Jessica Ridgeway abduction, murder case

WESTMINSTER, Colo. - Westminster Police officers are working their way through 9,400 tips in the abduction and murder of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway.

Officers have received 3,400 tips via email and 6,000 phone tips, Investigator Trevor Materasso of the Westminster Police Department told 7NEWS reporter Jaclyn Allen.

Ridgeway disappeared Oct. 5 as she was walking to meet up with friends at Chelsea Park so they could all walk to school together. The park is several blocks from her home. Her friends said she never showed up at the park. Ridgeway's remains were found in an Arvada open space park five days later.

Westminster Police said its investigators are working with local, state and federal partners to make an arrest.

Officials said their tip center remains open and they're asking anyone with information to call 303-658-4427 or email PDamberalert@cityofwestminster.us.

Ridgeway Case Linked To May Attack

Yesterday, Westminster police 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 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.

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.