Day 7: Body found in Arvada not intact, hard to positively ID it as missing 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway

10:10 PM, Oct 11, 2012   |    comments
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Westminster Police and Arvada Police held a press conference Thursday afternoon, revealing they have notified Jessica's family about the dismemberment and how they are working as quickly as possible.

Authorities due to the condition of the body, a positive ID is not expected until Friday.

Sources tell 9NEWS workers who typically pick up trash in that area found the body Wednesday.

The Pattridge Park Open Space Area - south of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge - is dotted with abandoned coal mines. The area is favored by road bikers and model airplane flyers on weekends.

It is about seven miles southwest of Jessica's home and 11 miles south of where Jessica's backpack was found in Superior.

Westminster Police spokesperson Trevor Materasso says they are still encouraging witnesses to come forward and call their tip line at 303-658-4336.


Westminster and Arvada Police spoke Thursday morning regarding the body found in Pattridge Park Open Space area in Arvada and its possible connection to the missing 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway.

Aslo on Thursday, the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit released a list of changes that a person committing a crime against a child would exhibit. Among them: sudden differences in appearance, missed appointments, being absent from work, or leaving town with no explanation. Police have ruled out Jessica's parents.

In tweets, Westminster police said investigators had worked overnight to identify the body. Officers searched more of the open space Thursday as well as areas closer to Jessica's home. Police said photo radar vans - normally used to detect and photograph speeding vehicles - were being used to monitor some streets around the girl's house.

Police have ruled out her parents - Sarah Ridgeway and Jeremiah Bryant, who lives in Missouri - as suspects.

"At this point in the investigation, after thoroughly looking at the parents, we're confident they're not involved in the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway," Materasso said Wednesday afternoon. "The focus shifts to [an] unknown suspect."

Jessica's mother last saw her daughter walking to school. The girl never arrived, setting off a frantic search by hundreds of law enforcement officials and residents.


Aurelio Florez, who has lived in Jessica's neighborhood for six years, said it was shocking that Jessica could have vanished during a two-block walk to a park where she usually met friends before continuing on to school.

"You can see the park from her front door," he said.

Fliers about the fifth-grader were posted on nearly every house in her neighborhood of modest, two-story homes with single-car garages. Purple ribbons, a symbol of hope for her return, were tied around trees.

It was a lively area where children played outdoors, said another neighbor, Luis Pena, but since Jessica disappeared, parents are keeping their children inside and people look at each other with suspicion.

"Nobody trusts anybody anymore," he said.

The only real clue police have revealed in Jessica's disappearance is the discovery over the weekend of a backpack and water bottle that she had with her when she disappeared. Police won't discuss what was found in the bag or test results on it.

The items were found in Superior, some six miles from Jessica's home.

Westminster police repeatedly have urged the public to study the details of Jessica's face in a photo - a small, gap-toothed grin, a slight bruise on her nose - and a short home video, hoping someone may have seen something.

Watch the video below:

Police looked for clues in a reported sighting of a car with Colorado plates in Maine and a Wyoming abduction. The FBI said Thursday that abduction was unrelated.

Additional police were sent to Jessica's school, said Lynn Setzer, spokeswoman for Jeffco Public Schools. The district has its own security officers at other middle schools and high schools.

Steve Saunders, a spokesman for nearby Adams County schools, said the district is trying to strike a balance between reassuring students and their parents that they are safe, while encouraging them to be vigilant.

Saunders said the district has security officers at all middle schools and high schools, but not elementary schools. He said the district will seek more help if authorities believe it is warranted.



On Oct. 7, a person identifying himself as Jessica's cousin posted the following message on the Facebook page set up for the missing girl:

I have a message from the family (I am her cousin) that I want to be heard by everyone following this Facebook and the twitter account.

I want to thank everyone for the incredible support pouring in from all over Facebook and twitter and everyone in the community. Seeing how many people standing together and are looking for my cousin has made me immensely proud and humbled. This is not simply a family crisis, it has evolved into a community crisis and everyone pulling together is truly inspiring. Please share this, with everyone and anyone. Thank you so much."

Jessica's father, Jeremiah Bryant, lives in Missouri and flew to Colorado as soon as he heard the news. 9NEWS affiliate KSHB-41 in Kansas City spoke with Jessica's great-grandmother who says they are doing everything they can to help in the investigation.

"The police asked if they could search my house, and I said yes because we'd do anything in the world to get her back," Donna Moss said.

Moss says Jeremiah is devastated and beside himself that his daughter is missing. She says that there is no custody issue between the parents and says they saw Jessica six weeks ago with her mom and maternal grandmother.

Moss pleaded for Jessica's safe return.

"If you've got her - get her back to her parents. She's a beautiful, wonderful, little girl and we want her back," she said.


Jessica usually walks three blocks from Moore Street to Chelsea Park where she would meet up with a large group of friends before walking 1.3 miles to school. In that three-block radius, she disappeared on Oct. 5.

Police say Jessica's mother works an overnight shift, and her grandmother watches her at night. When Jessica's mother got home at 7:30 a.m., she saw Jessica off to school at 8:30 a.m., according to 9NEWS reporter Kevin Torres.

Police say they got a late start searching because her mother didn't immediately realize Jessica was missing. Officers say her mother slept through calls from school officials to tell her Jessica was absent.

Westminster Police sent out an emergency-text alert advising residents to be on the lookout before a system-wide Amber Alert was issued by the CBI Friday evening.

"[We] started activating a lot of personnel to start searching for her," Materasso said.

An Amber Alert is only issued if authorities fear the child is in immediate danger. Find out more requirements for an Amber Alert here,



A new flier with updated information was distributed this week. It shows Jessica with and without her glasses.

Police have been updating volunteers and the public through their Twitter page. You can follow the Westminster Police here: They are asking residents to not send them tips via social media. Instead use the tip line listed below.

Police released a phone number and email for anyone with information: 303-658-4336 and


Two communities came together to pray for Jessica's safe return on Oct. 9.

A vigil was held in the Superior neighborhood where her backpack was found on Sunday. Another one was held in her Westminster neighborhood where she disappeared. 

A few people spoke at the gathering including the mayor of Westminster. She addressed the crowd asking for whomever took Jessica to return her home, unharmed.

Seven- to eight-hundred people held their cellphones and flashlights up to the heavens for Light Up The Night For Jessica. Men, women and children gathered - all hoping for the safe return of Jessica. Some were from the area while others were not. Some knew the girl, others only found out about her after her disappearance, but they all have one thing in common - they want Jessica to be found safe and sound.


Starting Thursday night, Jefferson County is providing free counseling for dealing with Jessica Ridgeway's disappearance for those in the area who need it.

A crisis center was established at the Wells Fargo Arvada Building located at 7878 N Wadsworth Blvd. It is open Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.

On Friday, it will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Highway 93 to Boulder has reopened, but 82nd Avenue between Highway 93 and Indiana Street remains closed as the investigation continues.


(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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