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Sunday
Oct142012

Jessica Ridgeway: Colorado Community on Edge as Police Hunt For Predator

Image credit: Courtesy of the Ridgeway family(WESTMINSTER, Colo.) -- Residents in the community where 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway was kidnapped, killed and dismembered are on edge while a killer is on the loose.

"We realize there is a predator in our community," said Lee Birk, chief of police in Westminster, Colo.

Those tensions were only heightened on Saturday when police believed a 13-year-old boy had been the victim of an attempted abduction in nearby Golden, Colo., but the incident turned out to be a misunderstanding, police said.

The teen believed a man was trying to lure him into his parked car, so he ran inside his home and alerted his mother, who managed to snap a photo of the suspect in his blue sedan.

When the picture was circulated by police, the 18-year-old man in the car turned himself in and explained that he had been trying to get the boy to knock on the door of his ex-girlfriend's home to get her attention, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office spokesman Mark Techmeyer told ABC News' Denver affiliate.

A mugshot of the driver was taken, but he was released after police determined he was not a threat to the community.

"I think everyone reacted just the way they should have, in the light of everything that is going on," Techmeyer said.

FBI profilers believe the suspect they are hunting for is likely male and might have recently missed work or suddenly left town. He may have changed his appearance or gotten rid of his car, profilers said.

"We haven't identified an individual, so we're talking and conveying to our community the importance of looking at behavioral changes. Unfortunately, it's somebody's family member, a neighbor, a friend," said Trevor Materasso of the Westminster Police Department.

Jessica was last seen on Oct. 5 when she left for school. The fifth-grader never showed up at a nearby park where she was supposed to meet friends for the one-mile walk to her elementary school.

After an extensive search of the area, including knocking on doors and FBI road blocks, Jessica's dismembered body was found on Wednesday in an Arvada, Colo., park, miles from where she was abducted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio