Independence man offering free self-defense classes - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Independence man offering free self-defense classes after Jessica Ridgeway's death

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Nima Shaffe/KCTV Nima Shaffe/KCTV
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INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -

An Independence, MO, man is taking it upon himself to educate kids and their parents on basic self-defense. His outreach comes days after police arrested 17-year-old Austin Sigg who is accused of killing 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway.

The girl was last seen leaving her Westminster, CO, home on Oct. 5. Days later police found her remains in an open space not far from her home. Last week, Sigg was charged with murder.

Jessica's father and extended family call Independence, MO, home, which is where it's one man's quest to honor Jessica's memory.

Master Karate Instructor Tom Burt is helping young ladies one move at a time.

"We're doing a community service with free self-defense lessons," he said.

By following three steps, the young ladies taking Burt's class are well on their way to learning how to defend themselves and all of the basic training is free.

"Maybe we can stop some of this horrific crime. We can teach people to protect themselves," Donna Moss, Jessica's great-grandmother, said.

Moss said she believes the self-defense classes won't only help the kids but also honor Jessica and keep her memory alive.

Burt said the idea to offer the free basic classes came about after a chance encounter while at a local department store.

"The aunt of Jessica Ridgeway, the little girl who was abducted in Colorado, stopped by our booth and asked us if we were open to doing anything like that," he said.

Now, it's free basic self-defense training that he hopes will save lives.

"I was just moved by the story and decided that I can definitely give back to the community," Burt said.

"I think that the reason that Jessica was taken is because she wasn't aware that there was that much danger there," Moss said.

Burt is offering free classes every first Saturday of the month for kids and every last Saturday of the month for adults.

Click here for more information.

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

Sidebar: Jessica Ridgeway, father hails from Independence

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A Colorado girl went missing on Oct. 5. Her father, Jeremy Bryant, lives in Independence. He has traveled to Colorado to assist in the search for her. Independence family hopes for answers after Amber

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