WESTMINSTER, CO - DNA samples have been collected from about 500 people as investigators continue to work through tips and evidence related to the murder of 10-year-old Colorado girl Jessica Ridgeway.
Everyone who submitted DNA samples in the case did so voluntarily, said Westminster Police Department spokesman Trevor Materasso. Samples were collected orally, using a DNA swab.
Jessica was last seen on Friday, Oct. 5 after leaving her Westminster home to walk to Chelsea Park, meet friends and continue to school together. Her friends said she never showed up at the park.
Jessica's backpack was found on the sidewalk of the Rock Creek subdivision in Superior. Police said it appeared to have been left overnight Saturday.
The 10-year-old's remains were found in an Arvada open space park on Oct. 10.
Materasso said people were asked to provide a DNA sample if they used their cell phones near the three crime scene areas.
Others were asked for a sample if they were identified based on tips from the public or by police officers during neighborhood searches.
Monday, Materasso also confirmed that investigators had found a direct connection between Jessica's murder and an attack at Ketner Lake in May.
"We are able to make a definitive link," he said.
The suspect in that case was described as a light-skinned man who ranged in age from 18 to his 30s. He had brown hair, a medium build and was about 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall.
People matching that description were also asked to provide a DNA sample for the Jessica Ridgeway investigation.
Although Materasso confirmed the samples were collected, he didn't discuss how the samples would be used in the investigation.