Entries in Westminster (4)


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


Mourners Write Messages on Balloons to Jessica Ridgeway 

Image credit: Courtesy of the Ridgeway family(WESTMINSTER, Colo.) -- A day after police confirmed a dismembered body found in a park Wednesday was missing 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway, her Colorado community came together for a "balloon release" memorial to celebrate her life.

More than 1,000 memorial-goers wore purple (Ridgeway's favorite color) and released purple and green balloons with messages on them at a park in Westminster, Colo. The community also held a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m.

"Hopefully, that will begin some healing for our community," said Kimberly Bowman, the stay-at-home grandmother who planned the memorial even though she never met the little girl or her family. "I've lived here my entire life. This is the first time something like this has ever happened."

Bowman, who also created a Facebook page for Ridgeway that now has 40,000 members, said she would be surprised if fewer than 2,000 people attended the balloon release -- even with the rainy forecast. As she pulled up in her car an hour early, she said she already saw swarms of community members swathed in purple and "tons of balloons."

"I don't see a whole lot of sorrow right now, and I'm sure that will come and go throughout the day," Bowman said. "We really want to make this about Jessica not being in a situation where she's feeling pain."

The balloon release had been planned before Ridgeway was confirmed dead as a way to send wishes for her safe return up to heaven, Bowman said. When Bowman and her team learned of Ridgeway's death, they decided to turn the event into a celebration of her life.

"I think as far as the writing on the balloons, we wanted to make that personal," Bowman said. "I'm sure there will be messages to Jessica on those, and we'll send them off to heaven."

The fifth grader went missing on the morning of Oct. 5, walking to a nearby park where she regularly met her friends for their one-mile walk to school. She never arrived.

Ridgeway's mother, Sarah, reported her daughter missing eight hours later, when she woke up to a call from school saying that Ridgeway was absent that day. Sarah works nights and slept through the call.

Officials found a body Wednesday in Arvada, seven miles from Ridgeway's home, but they were not able to confirm it was Ridgeway's until Friday because it was "not intact," police said.

Stephen Teske, who works with Sarah Ridgeway, created to collect donations for the family. Since 7:30 p.m. Friday, it has received more than $10,000.

Teske said he'd only met Jessica a few times.

"I just know how I feel, and I can only imagine they feel 10 times worse," Teske said, adding that the balloon release is the fun event the community needs. "If you knew this kind of area, it's one of those places where things just don't happen."

Investigators searched 500 homes and 1,000 vehicles in the last week, said James Yacone, special agent in charge of the FBI's Denver office. They also received 1,500 tips.

"We recognize there is a predator at large in our community," Westminster, Colo., Police Chief Lee Birk said.

Birk said the search for Ridgeway's murderer will continue.

The FBI released a profile of who they think committed the crime: a man who either didn't show up to work on Oct. 5 or he found an excuse. The report also details the abnormal ways this man would react to news coverage of Ridgeway's disappearance and murder.

"It could be your boss, it could be your friend and, ultimately, it could be your family member," FBI spokesman David Joly said.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Jessica Ridgeway: Colorado Police Desperate For Leads in Disappearance of 10-Year-Old

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WESTMINSTER, Colo.) -- Authorities in Colorado are reviewing recent phone calls and social media clues in the disappearance of a 10-year-old girl.

Jessica Ridgeway left home at 8:30 a.m. on Friday to walk three blocks from her Westminster, Colo., home to meet friends for the walk to school. It was a route she took every day, but this time she never got there.

On Saturday, an army of eight hundred volunteers scoured trails and hillsides near Jessica's home.

"Right now they're just asking us to find anything that's out of the ordinary, any kind of evidence we could find," said volunteer Monty Yanker.

Police officers and FBI agents manned road blocks, asking drivers if they had seen or heard anything out of the ordinary.

Officers also canvassed neighborhoods, but the day yielded few leads.

No organized searches are planned for Sunday, authorities said.

An Amber Alert was issued Friday night for the 10-year-old, nearly eight hours after she disappeared.

When Jessica didn't show up for class, school officials called her home.

But Jessica's mother, who works the overnight shift at a tech company, was asleep. She didn't get the message, which delayed her calling police.

"When we start with an eight-hour delay, or a delay as substantial as this, the distance that she could have wandered even on her own just gets huge," Westminster Police Detective Trevor Materasso said.

Police say that Jessica's father, who lives out of state, is in a custody battle with Jessica's mother. Police do not believe Jessica is with him, but are not ruling anyone out.

"We don't have a person of interest. And we are going to look at every angle multiple times," Materasso said.

Jessica was last seen wearing blue jeans, black boots, a black puffy jacket, and pink and purple glasses, ABC affilate KMGH-TV in Denver reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dog Goes from Craigslist to Westminster

Dan Stallings(NEW YORK) -- The Westminster Dog Show is a celebration of canine entitlement. It is where purebreds are spritzed, shampooed, trimmed and blown dry, where they’re hand-fed steak, dressed in diapers and bowties and followed around with saliva zambonis, but Maverick is an exception. He was found on Craigslist.

“[He] was a rescue that was abused and neglected and in terrible shape,” Maverick’s owner, Dan Stallings, told ABC News.

Maverick’s previous owners kept him in a crate for years. He was so thin you could see his ribs. His nose was infected and he’d chewed his own tail raw, but Stallings nursed him back to health and their bond is now palpable.

Five months after rescuing Maverick, Stallings started entering him in shows, and Maverick started winning, making it to the biggest stage of all.

“I can’t even imagine [if he wins],” said Stallings. “That would really tear me up. I’d be so happy for him.”

As Stallings watched nervously, Maverick and his trainer paraded before the judge Tuesday. But in the end, the judge picked another dog.

“There’s my boy. There’s my boy,” Stallings said, petting Maverick after the defeat. “This is what it’s all about, every day.”

Stallings said he wasn’t disappointed because Maverick in a sense had already won. He had gone from forgotten to unforgettable.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio