PD: Jessica Ridgeway murder connected to attack on jogger - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

New lead in Jessica Ridgeway murder case has family hopeful


Authorities have released new developments in the murder and abduction of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway.

Investigators say they think the same man who kidnapped and murdered Jessica also tried to kidnap another woman.

Jessica's father and his family live in Independence, MO.

"Any day we get any news it's good news," said Donna Moss, Jessica' great-grandmother. "Waiting is not fun. But we know what we are waiting on is worthwhile."

She said she is confident that Jessica's killer will be caught, and "the sooner, the better."

"This is obviously not the first time he's attacked. He's only going to get worse it seems," she said. "I'm praying he gets caught soon."

Surveillance video taken from a restaurant last Tuesday near Aurora, CO, shows a woman pulling into a parking lot as a white car pulls in next to her. Police confirm the driver asked the woman for directions to Colorado Springs just south of Denver.

As the two talk, a man gets out of the passenger side and walks around behind the woman. In his hand is a towel that he then tries to put over the woman's face. She turns, knocks him to the ground and runs to the bar. The assailant then got into the car, and the two speed away.

Aurora police say this has similarities to another attempted abduction five months ago on Memorial Day.

In that case, a similar suspect used a towel possibly soaked in chemicals to try to abduct a woman jogging on a trail where Ridgeway's body was found earlier this month.

Police confirmed the case from five months ago is directly connected to the 10-year-old's abduction, but they won't say how. Ridgeway was last seen leaving her home Oct. 5. Her dismembered body was found five days later dumped in an open park area.

While similar, this recent attempted abduction and the one from five months ago have not been officially linked by police, authorities are studying them closely to see any similarities.

On Friday, police released a photo of a small wooden cross that could be part of a necklace. Investigators in Colorado say they have received a number of calls about the cross. They say they are also focusing on the unique markings on both sides of the small cross.

An investigator on the case says officers searching for evidence found hair they believe could have come from someone walking in a field near the area where Ridgeway's body was found.

The field is about a mile from where her remains were found.

Donna Moss and her grandson, Jeremy Bryant, were among family members who traveled to Colorado during the search for Jessica. More than 2,000 attended a memorial service for Jessica.

Each day is incredibly tough, Moss said Tuesday.

"Most of it has been mental stress. Not knowing where this person is and how long it's going to take before they catch him. But they will catch him I'm sure of that," she said.

She urged residents who know anything no matter how small to contact police.

"Any little piece of evidence, even if we don't think it's important, it is important," she said. "It could be the key to the whole thing."

She and the rest of the family are appreciative of the love and support they've received in the wake of Jessica's murder. She said many residents and business owners stepped up to offer their support, including lodging accommodations. She said a 16-year-old who sold bracelets to support the "Justice for Jessica fund" touched her.

"I try not to focus on it all the time," Moss said. "I'm trying to get back to normal. That's a long way back it seems... We paid a horrendous price, but there's been an awful lot of good that's come since (her death). We have people surrounding us telling us they're praying."

AKKA Karate in Independence is offering free monthly self-defense classes in the wake of Jessica's abduction and slaying. The first session is noon Saturday. The free sessions will be the last Saturday of each month.

Moss said it's vital to help kids be prepared and aware of stranger danger and the classes will help.

"It's something that can honor Jessica and her memory: We can teach people to protect themselves," she said. "I think one of the reasons Jessica was taken was because she wasn't aware that there was that much danger. It's not just Jessica. Lots of people are hurt because they're not aware. Children should never have to be fearful. On the other hand, as long as there are people out there like that, we have to watch out for them. I've seen the worst in the world and I've seen the best."

Moss' granddaughter and other family members took classes at AKKA Karate. Click here for more information.

With Halloween approaching, Moss said she hopes parents will be more proactive in the wake of Jessica's death.

"Keep your kids close. If they're out of your sight, they're in danger," Moss said. "I was at the store and saw a child wandering away from his mother, and I thought, 'Dear God, that child is in danger.' It's terrible to be that paranoid, but you have to be aware that can happen."

Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  All rights reserved.

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