Oct 13, 2012 1:06 AM by Jacqui Heinrich

Locals celebrate Jessica Ridgeway's life

For the past seven days Jessica Ridgeway was a missing child, but tonight she is a murdered child.

Ridgeway's abduction and killing have shaken the tight knit community of Westminster where friends, neighbors, and strangers gathered for a candlelight vigil at Chelsea Park to find solace. They're hoping that together the community can both heal and find the person responsible for the 10-year-old's death.

Though the search for Jessica Ridgeway is over, the investigation into her disappearance is not.

"By all means the focus has shifted to finding out who did this horrible crime," Tim Hammett, a neighbor, told News 5. "One hundred percent, we just want to know and find out," Milena Garcia, a local mom, agreed.

As friends and neighbors mourn the loss of such a young, bright life, it's stopped short, knowing that just a week ago someone took that girl and they're still out there.

Local kids are saddened and scared by the news. Juan Sanchez, an 11-year-old from the same town, told News 5, "At school we felt sad and we've been talking about it. We had a school counselor come and talk about it, about our safety. We are scared because it could happen to any of us."

In a neighborhood not familiar with crime, investigators searched more than 500 homes and 1000 vehicles for clues.

"I willingly left my doors open, let them into my house, anything that I can do to help them find the perpetrators," Hammett said.

But tonight in Westminster, there are no answers-- just grief. Hammett continues, "It's the world we live in. We've got to keep track of our kids at all times and this is a stark reminder of that."

Local, state, and federal agencies will continue working through the weekend to find whoever is responsible. You're asking the community to be vigilant and alert.

Saturday at 2:00 PM those grieving the loss of Jessica Ridgeway are meeting at American Furniture Warehouse on 94th St. & Wadsworth Parkway in Westminster; they'll be releasing balloons into the sky to celebrate the 10-year-old's short life.



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