Posted: Oct 12, 2012 4:33 PM by CBS News - Denver
Updated: Oct 12, 2012 4:38 PM
WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4)- Police in Westminster said the dismembered body found in Pattridge Open Space Park is that of missing 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway.
"It is with a great deal of sorrow in my heart that I regret to inform you that the body that was found in Arvada has been positively identified as Jessica Ridgeway," said Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk.
"The family has been notified. We can't begin to comprehend the amount of grief they're going through," said Birk. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to them. They've been in our hearts from the beginning."
"Our focus has changed from the search for Jessica to a mission of justice for Jessica," said Birk. "All our efforts now are in search of her abductor. There is a predator at large in our community."
The FBI is joining several other agencies in searching for Jessica's abductor.
"To date we've searched more than 500 homes, over 1,000 vehicles, and responded to more than 1,500 tips provided by the public," said FBI Special Agent In Charge Jim Yacone. "We've covered thoroughly more than 800 leads with hundreds more to follow.
Evidence teams will continue to process relevant items of interest as they're discovered."
"I want our community to know that we are doing everything in our power to apprehend that individual," said Birk. "We are doing everything to keep those children in our community safe."
The following is known about Jesscia Ridgeway's disappearance:
- Jessica Ridgeway, 10, disappeared on her way to school on the morning of Oct. 5. After leaving home on foot, she never met up with friends she normally walks to school with at Chelsea Park. The park is about three blocks from her home and about a mile from the school.
- When she didn't arrive at Witt Elementary School in Westminster, Jefferson County Schools officials tried to contact her mother. They made a call at 10 a.m. but were only able to leave a voicemail. Ridgeway's mother, who works an overnight shift and sleeps during the day, didn't get the message until 4:30 p.m. and immediately contacted Westminster police.
- It took about five hours before the protocols were met in the case for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to call an Amber Alert.
- Ridgeway's backpack was found on the sidewalk near Alpha Court and Andrew Drive in the Rock Creek neighborhood in Superior. That's 6.4 miles away from her home. It's unknown so far at what point the backpack wound up there.
- The CBI analyzed the backpack for DNA evidence and collected evidence from Ridgeway's home for comparison.
- Searches were taking place around Jessica's home and her school, as well as in open space areas in Westminster. Another area that underwent an extensive search was Rock Creek and open space areas near there.
- A day after their tearful televised plea for help and thanks to the community, police on Oct. 10 ruled out Ridgeway's parents as being involved in her disappearance. Police said Ridgeway may have been abducted by an unknown suspect.
- Late in the day on Oct. 11 a body is found in Arvada near Highway 93, about seven miles from Ridgeway's home.
- On October 11 the FBI released a suspect profile from their Behavioral Analysis Unit.
Westminster Police Ridgeway Case Tip Line: (303) 658-4336 or firstname.lastname@example.org