Dismembered body identified as that of missing Colorado girl

WESTMINSTER, Colo. Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:00pm EDT

Jessica Ridgeway, 10, who vanished October 5, 2012, after leaving for school in the Denver suburb of Westminster, Colorado is shown in this undated photograph provided by the Westminster, Colorado Police Department. The search for Ridgeway who authorities believe was abducted on her way to school has led to the discovery of a dismembered body at a park several miles from where the fifth-grader vanished, police said on October 11, 2012. REUTERS/Westminster, Colorado Police Department/Handout

Jessica Ridgeway, 10, who vanished October 5, 2012, after leaving for school in the Denver suburb of Westminster, Colorado is shown in this undated photograph provided by the Westminster, Colorado Police Department. The search for Ridgeway who authorities believe was abducted on her way to school has led to the discovery of a dismembered body at a park several miles from where the fifth-grader vanished, police said on October 11, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Westminster, Colorado Police Department/Handout

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WESTMINSTER, Colo. (Reuters) - A small dismembered body found in a Colorado park was identified by authorities on Friday as that of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway, who disappeared on her way to school a week ago, prompting an exhaustive search.

The remains were discovered on Wednesday in the northwest Denver suburb of Arvada, about 10 miles from Jessica's home in Westminster. They were identified as those of the missing fifth-grader through DNA analysis, police said.

"Our focus has changed from a search for Jessica to a mission for justice for Jessica," Westminster police chief Lee Birk told a news conference. "There's a predator at large in our community."

Police said previously that Jessica's parents were not considered suspects in her disappearance and that the case was being investigated as an abduction.

"This is an unthinkable end to an unthinkable crime in our community," Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said in a written statement. "It is with a profound sense of sorrow that we learned of Jessica Ridgeway's death. On behalf of all of Colorado, we offer our deepest sympathies to her family and friends."

Jessica, who was 4 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 80 pounds (36 kg), vanished last Friday after leaving for school.

Her mother, Sarah Ridgeway, said she last saw her daughter when the girl left home on the short walk. A night-shift worker, Sarah Ridgeway said she sleeps during the day and did not hear a phone call from the school reporting Jessica absent.

Jessica's father, Jeremiah Bryant, lives in Missouri and came to Colorado when he learned his daughter was missing, police say.

Hundreds of police officers assisted by bloodhounds and scores of volunteers scoured the girl's neighborhood for clues.

Investigators got their first break on Sunday when a man in Superior, Colorado, 6 miles from Westminster, found Jessica's backpack on a sidewalk near his home. On Wednesday night, police said a body was found in a park in Arvada.

Earlier on Friday, the FBI issued a statement from its Behavior Analysis Unit advising members of the community to be alert to possible suspects in their midst.

The FBI said the offender may be revealed through changes in behavioral patterns, including missing work or other commitments, suddenly leaving town, expressing intense interest in the case or altering appearance.

(Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Mary Slosson and Peter Cooney)

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Comments (3)
GalacticCat wrote:
When they find the killer who did this to Jessica. I hope they do not waste public funds in a long trial of bull *hit to defend the killers rights. After what this killer has done to an innocent 10 year old child. Either lock the killer up in solitary confinement until death. or execute . So no mercy ..none “what so ever”. And quit all the bureaucratic bull *hit about rights etc.

Oct 13, 2012 10:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
explorer08 wrote:
My wife and I travel extensively throughout the world and very, very often find nice neighborhoods staffed with armed guards patrolling the area. Perhaps, in the USA, it is now time to seriously consider that approach. Frankly, I would feel much better if we had armed guards patrolling our neighborhood on a 7 by 24 basis. Sad to think that way but, perhaps, the time has come.

Oct 13, 2012 10:43pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
firefly2012 wrote:
explorer08 –

The FBI states that these type of crimes are no more prevalent than they ever were. It’s the 24/7 new cycle that gets us believing that they are. So, no, it is not time for armed guards on every corner.

Oct 13, 2012 12:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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