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Police say they believe Colorado girl was abducted

Associated Press Modified: October 11, 2012 at 2:31 am •  Published: October 11, 2012
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Citizens also have passed on tips from Maryland, Texas and Nevada, Materasso said.

Also of interest: the abduction and assault of an 11-year-old girl Monday in Cody, Wyo., some 500 miles north.

In that case, a man lured the girl into a sport utility vehicle, saying he needed help finding his puppy. The girl was released four hours later and was discovered by hunters. Police there are looking for a white man, between 55 and 60 years old, with short, strawberry-blond or white hair and a neatly trimmed mustache.

Westminster police spokeswoman Karlyn Tilley noted there is "no specific connection" between Jessica's disappearance and the Wyoming case.

"It's just like everything else they're looking at," Tilley said Wednesday. "They just don't want to leave any stone unturned."

Police in neighboring Arvada earlier backed off a possible link between Jessica's disappearance and reports of a suspected predator approaching two children in the weeks before. Police said there was no evidence connecting the incidents. A body has been found near an open space area in Arvada, but Materasso said that so far, police haven't connected it to Jessica's disappearance.

On Wednesday, about 25 deputies arrived by bus and fanned out across Jessica's neighborhood, scouring bushes and front yards.

Divers again searched ponds in what Materasso described as a "precautionary measure." Police have isolated trash from Jessica's neighborhood at a landfill — but will search there only if the investigation points them in that direction, Materasso said.

Critical was an initial delay in reporting Jessica missing. Many child abduction cases or Amber Alerts are resolved within hours of a report, as was the case in the Wyoming abduction Monday.

Sarah Ridgeway said her daughter woke up at 7:45 a.m. Friday as usual and ate a granola bar before leaving to meet friends at a park about a block away for their walk to Witt Elementary School. Police say Sarah Ridgeway, a night-shift worker, was asleep and missed a call from school reporting Jessica absent. She got the message when she woke at about 4 p.m., eight hours after she said her daughter left the house.

Sarah Ridgeway checked the park, Jessica's friends and the school before calling police. Jessica never even met her friends that morning.

Police also searched Bryant's home in Missouri, where Bryant was at work on Friday, before he traveled to Colorado to be with Jessica's family.

The protracted search has concerned students and parents throughout the area. Jefferson County's school district urged parents of students to update their contact information as a first step "in determining any changes in our attendance practices."

"Jessica's disappearance has understandably created concern for the safety of all students," the district said in an email. "Please join us in helping to keep your children safe.