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[the Jessica Ridgeway abduction and murder]
Mental health experts estimate that one in a hundred individuals worldwide are bona fide psychopaths. One percent doesn’t seem that big a deal in the scheme of things, of course, but it’s still not a number to scoff at since these individuals manage to perpetrate a whopping 30% of all violent crimes committed annually and constitute more than 25% of the prison population.
Predominately male, psychopaths come from every walk of life, every ethnic and every nationality, and their inherited tendencies toward remorselessness and a lack of empathy makes them toxic people to know, whether or not they ever engage in acts of violence.
Thankfully, statistics show that most psychopaths are not usually dangerous individuals. These more benign types exist day to day in a “sub-criminal” state of mind, infecting and disaffecting all they meet with their unabashed selfishness, their compulsive lying and boasting, and their guiltless pursuit of pleasure and gain at other people’s expense. In short, though this aberrant majority may stop shy of actually plotting and executing criminal offenses, they still live at all times on the very edge of civility.
When a psychopath does fall over that precipice, however, when his motives and impulses become uncontrollable and reach far beyond the bounds of civilization, he becomes a serious threat to society.
The demented psycho who, for a thrill kill, abducted and murdered 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway this October, and then dumped parts of her mutilated body in garbage bags a few miles from her Colorado home, is still at large in the area and, undoubtedly, has killed before and will kill again.
In fact, investigators have just confirmed that DNA lifted from the victim’s remains and from various items uncovered at the crime scene directly link this madman to at least two prior foiled abductions of young women who were jogging in the park right across from Jessica’s house.
And, to make matters worse for the terrified community this vivacious schoolgirl once lived in, profilers suggest that it’s very likely the murderer is not a complete stranger, but rather someone who resides and/or works in the neighborhood.
That assertion would be consistent then with national homicide stats which reveal that, in over 85% of all murders, the victims are somehow acquainted with or even related to their killers.
The only good news in this tragic and frightening affair, is that dozens of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies are on the Ridgeway case, relentlessly striving to identify Jessica’s sadistic killer before he can strike again. Police know by the magnitude of this slaying that he’s on a spree, so time is of the essence in apprehending him.
With that aim, they are actively seeking assistance from the public in deciphering clues recently collected. Of specific interest to them at this time is a small wooden cross that may have been a pendant to a necklace, and which was recovered in the open field near where Jessica’s body parts were found. Some telltale grocer receipts were discovered near that site too, evidence which has additionally helped to narrow the focus of the search for a perpetrator.
As well, officials are asking neighbors to maintain a state of vigilance now and to report any suspicious behavior of colleagues, coworkers, family members, or friends—particularly on the morning of Jessica’s abduction and during the days immediately following it. They say conduct that ought to send up red flags would be any or all of the following:
1. A person suddenly missing work or appointments, with or without a plausible excuse;
2. Making dramatic changes in their personal appearance;
3. Making alterations to their vehicle;
4. Escalated use of alcohol or other substances;
5. Packing up and leaving town without notice;
6. Having an obsessive interest in media coverage of the case, possibly coupled with an extreme unwillingness to discuss the murder
Additional details concerning a potential suspect profile have also been furnished in the past few days. Investigators believe that the individual in question is a short Caucasian male between 18 and 40 years of age, and so profoundly disturbed that his psychological issues would be hard to disguise, in general, and well known to those who see him on a regular basis. There is also a good chance that the man is unattractive and unkempt, expert profilers say, two physical characteristics allegedly quite common to this class of serial offender.
Police have finally confirmed that Jessica’s schoolbag, located in an adjacent city almost a week after the child’s initial disappearance, contained her clothes, and was planted there by the killer to serve both as a taunt and as a decoy to lead them away from his trail. This further underscores their working theory that the perp is a resident of Jessica Ridgeway’s hometown and may even live within walking distance from her home.
With Halloween looming at month’s end, and the prospect of children en masse trick-or-treating in a municipality where a vicious and opportunistic murderer is on the loose searching for easy prey, there is a growing sense of urgency by law enforcement personnel to solve the Ridgeway abduction and slaying as quickly as possible. They have been following through on literally thousands of leads in the case and are asking for more public help of this nature.
Jessica’s killer originally tried to abduct grown females for his victims, but, when those attempts proved unsuccessful, he switched to younger targets. This is a grim reminder that, as adults become increasingly more prudent and cautious in order to avoid becoming victims of crime, children are made all the more vulnerable to those whose deviance knows no limits and whose bloodlust can never be quenched.
But, despite Hollywood’s penchant for portraying these ruthless predators as omnipotent, they are not brilliant and invincible. The murderer of young Jessica Ridgeway may delude himself into thinking he’s as evil a genius as the fictitious Hannible “the cannibal” Lecter, but he is terribly mistaken in that belief, and has made some serious mistakes along the way, too. Yes, apparently his DNA does not match any currently on file in the nation’s sex-offender databases, but that’s not a real obstacle to catching him. Rest assured, this sick creep can and will be brought to justice soon.
Tips to the authorities can be phoned in at 303-658-4336, or, alternately, emailed to PDamberalert@cityofwestminster.us.