On October 5th, 10 year old Jessica Ridgeway went missing in the Denver suburb where we live. I’m not sure I will ever forget the picture to the left. It was the image used on most of the “Missing” signs that were distributed all over the area. Some were posters-sized. There was even a huge banner with this picture displayed at the camp set-up to organize search parties. One day, when I was leaving work, I found a business card sized version on my windshield. Unfortunately, that day was the day the police identified human remains they had found as Jessica’s. I was heartbroken.
As I learned details of her abduction and murder, it turned out that we live pretty much smack in between the place where she was taken and the place where her remains were found, just a couple miles or so from both. Those spots are not far from the areas where I do most of my running. Realizing this, I told me husband that it probably wasn’t smart to take my iPod, but not my phone with me when I run. I said that I knew this was a case involving a little girl, but it still brought home the point that leaving my phone behind was not wise. (You would think based on safety posts & after Salty’s scare with passing out, I would already have this ingrained in me.)
The investigation in the kidnapping & murder of Jessica continued to unfold. Close to 20 days after Jessica went missing, the police made an arrest. It was a 17 year old boy. His mother called the police and the boy turned himself in.
So, with the arrest, I started to feel a sense of relief. I think the whole community did.
Then, more information was revealed. It brought things even closer to home, in a way. Here I was preparing for the Gorilla Run and the fun nature of that event, while trying to process the horrific things going on in my own neighborhood. It turns out, the boy arrested in the case of Jessica’s murder attempted to abduct a young woman jogging on the same paths I run on. He came up behind the young woman and tried to grab her and attempted to cover her mouth with a rag. She managed to get away and call the police. When I heard this story on the news, I thought I was going to throw-up.
A few days later, my mother-in-law was over and we got to talking about the case. She said something about how we shouldn’t let my 17 year old step-daughter walk home from her friends’ house in the dark. My husband told her that if my step-daughter is walking home, she has been told to take the main street that is well lit and has a lot of traffic. She no longer is taking the short-cuts through parks and fields.
Then my mother-in-law turned to me and asked, “You’re not still running, are you?” I said that I was. My husband stepped-in and told her that we can’t let people like this boy keep us from living our lives. He told her that we can’t let fear control us. This is not to say that my husband isn’t concerned about my safety, or his teenage daughter’s. I know that he wants us safe and sound. But, he breathes easier knowing we are taking precautions and have our phones with us. As Salty once wrote, “ I will run where I want to run, damn it.”