Colorado girl's killing tied to prior botched abduction: police

DENVER Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:22pm EDT

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DENVER (Reuters) - Police investigating the murder of a 10-year-old Colorado girl who was snatched as she walked to school said on Tuesday they have definitively linked her death to the botched abduction of a jogger.

Jessica Ridgeway vanished October 5 on her way to school in the Denver suburb of Westminster, Colorado. Two days later, a man reported finding her backpack on a sidewalk in front of his house, six miles from where the girl disappeared.

Police later confirmed that dismembered remains found at a park about 10 miles from the Ridgeway home belonged to the missing girl.

In May, a 22-year-old woman was jogging by a lake in a Denver suburb when a man placed a chemical-soaked rag over her mouth. The jogger, whose route was near Ridgeway's home, managed to escape.

"There were several tips and leads that allowed us to make that connection," Westminster police Investigator Trevor Materasso said, adding that Ridgeway's murder was "definitively" tied to the jogger's attempted abduction.

"I can't go into details about the connection because the investigation is ongoing and we need to preserve the integrity of the case," he said.

Police have described the suspect in the May incident involving the jogger as a light-skinned man between 18 and 30 years of age with a medium build and brown hair.

Searching for leads in the high-profile case, authorities last week released photographs of a solid wooden cross, which they said could lead them to the killer.

The cross, which measures 1.5 inches by 1 inch with a hole drilled in the top, may have been worn as a pendant. Police have not said where the cross was found.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Stacey Joyce)

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