ARVADA, Colo. -
Although police have said they don't believe a person is abducting children at random, they are aware of a case in which a white van approached children in Arvada one day before a girl vanished in Westminster.
Malachi Martinez said a white van tried to get the attention of his children as they walked home from Lawrence Elementary on Thursday. Arvada Police confirmed the incident was reported.
"It felt like we were getting followed by the car," said Raina Camacho, a sixth-grader at Lawrence.
"We started running and the car turned around the other street and parked in front of us," said Camacho's sister, Sierra, a fifth-grader. "We went to the fire department, but we saw the fire truck leaving. So we ran back to school. We told the principal what happened and she called the cops."
Within two hours, the principal of Lawrence made a recorded phone call to parents:
"This is Beth Morganfield principal of Lawrence Elementary. I wanted to make you aware of a situation that happened after school today. Four girls were walking north on Zephyr. A white van was parked on the side of the road. The girls walked on and the van followed them. The girls became nervous and returned to school."
"We called the police who are now investigating. The girls believe there were two people in the van but could not give a description. The description of the van does not match any other suspicious vehicle report. The occupants of the van did not make contact with the girls. The police wanted to remind parents to speak to their children about safety and if their children have any concerns about suspicious vehicles or persons to let their parents or the school know. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me tomorrow at school."
"I was happy that she got it out there right away to everybody else," said Christina Comacho, Raina and Sierra's mom. "It was just scary because the very next day is when the other little girl came up missing. Since that happened with Jessica (Ridgeway) the next day, I think it should have been made public."
Jessica Ridgeway, 10, vanished Friday morning after leaving her home at 10768 Moore St. in Westminster to meet friends at a park and then continue to school. An amber alert was issued Saturday.
Lawrence Elementary is about eight miles from Jessica's home.
Arvada police said they never put out an alert about the white van because it's still under investigation.
In September, two other child enticement attempts were reported by Arvada police. In those cases, the kids reported seeing a blue four-door sedan. 7NEWS has learned a third September report of a suspicious, slow-driving vehicle was never shared with the public because after two days of investigating it was found to be a misunderstanding.
"(A man's) dog had gotten out of the yard and he was driving around looking for his dog," said Arvada Police Department spokeswoman Jill McGranahan.
Arvada police have been in contact with Westminster police since before Ridgeway's disappearance. McGranahan explained that going public with unverified information about the Lawrence Elementary report could hinder the tips being investigated in Westminster.
"If a white van is not involved in that disappearance, we don't want people looking for that. We want people to stay focused on what we do know."
7NEWS confirmed with Westminster investigators that the report of a suspicious white van from Arvada is not the focus of the Ridgeway disappearance, but it has not been ruled out either.
Currently, police have no suspects or persons of interest in her disappearance. Westminster Police Department Spokesman Trevor Matterasso also said they don't suspect a random abduction.
“We don’t believe there’s a person going around abducting children," he said.
Police have also ruled out the involvement of a black van in Jessica's disappearance.