Colorado authorities confirm that a set of human remains recently discovered are those of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway
Updated at 6:58 p.m. ET: Police in Colorado confirmed Friday that a dismembered body they discovered earlier in the week in a suburban Denver park is that of 10-year-old schoolgirl Jessica Ridgeway, who went missing from her Westminster home a week ago.
"Our focus has changed from the search for Jessica to a mission of justice for Jessica," Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk said. "We realize there is a predator at large in our community."
Ridgeway began a short walk from her home to Witt Elementary School on the morning of Oct. 5 but never arrived. A massive search by hundreds of law enforcement officers was launched hours later because Jessica's mother, Sarah Ridgeway, works nights and slept through a call from school officials saying the fifth-grader wasn't there.
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Ridgeway's case made national headlines in the days following her disappearance as hundreds of police officers, bloodhounds and scores of volunteers scoured the chidl's neighborhood looking for clues to her whereabouts. Her father, Jeremiah Bryant, who lives in Missouri, traveled to Colorado when he learned of his daughter's disappearance, police said.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out with them," Birk said, adding, "They’ve been in our hearts from the beginning."
Ridgeway's body was found about 7 miles southwest of her home, police said.
The FBI had warned residents that Ridgeway may have been abducted by someone they know and asked them to be alert for people they know who might have suddenly changed their appearance or uncharacteristically missed work.
"We need the community to be vigilant and alert, to continue to call in tips, to report suspicious incidents, and behavior,” Birk said.
Earlier Friday authorities shifted their focus in the case to appealing for help in tracking down her apparent kidnapper by releasing a behavior profile for the suspected kidnapper.
“We suspect that someone in the community knows this individual,” FBI spokesman Dave Joly said at a press conference Thursday.
In their search for Jessica, the FBI in Denver said it’s important to focus not on how this person looks but on any kind of unusual behavior.
That behavior could include missing work and appointments, leaving town, changes in alcohol and drug use, or changes in appearance, according to an FBI Denver press release.
“Somebody who’s maybe very engaged in the media coverage of this particular investigation, and maybe they’re a little annoyed by all the coverage.
Former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt said the condition of the body police found Wednesday could indicate an experienced killer.
“It’s someone who’s fully capable of doing something like this again,” Van Zandt said.
“It could be your boss, it could be your friend, and, ultimately, it could be your family member,” Joly said.
I've been following this story she went missing on Friday. I was really holding out hope that they would find her alive....My goodness. What a monster! I hope they catch whoever did this and FAST! May her soul rest in peace....I know there are some circumstances out of our control that may require a child to have to walk to school but if I have anything to do with it my child will NEVER walk to school or anywhere alone!. I may sound over protective and a little bit crazy but I'd rather be a crazy and over protective parent than have to deal with something like this. There are just too many psychos out there. TRUST NO ONE except our IMMEDIATE family. That's what I tell my JJ....My heart goes out to her family..
I cannot imagine the hell those parents are living through. I'm so scared sometimes for my kids. For no reason other than this kind of monstrous act that happens. I'm not a violent person, but I'm not kidding....God HELP the person if I got a hold of them. Jesus.
This kind of thing hits extra close to home for me, based on something horrifying that happened to me as a kid. A neighbbor and I were playing on the street when Two men and a woman tried to lure us into their car. My friend was running and screaming while I was still standing at that car (I hadn't reacted). It could have gone either way....they COULD have grabbed me, because I DIDN'T react fast enough. As a child with anxiety, let me tell you, I was messed up for a LONG time. :0(
May she rest in peace and may God comfort her parents and loved ones, and may this monster be brought to justice. Keep all of our children safe.
Perfect time to have the safety discussion again with my kids. I'm sick to my stomach. :0( SOOOOOO tragic, and SOOOOOO unnecessary.
"My friend was running and screaming while I was still standing at that car (I hadn't reacted)."
Forgive me if I'm intruding and you don't have to answer if you don't want to but did you just freeze ? Do you recall why you stayed at the car? I'm just genuinely curious because your reaction was natural. THANK GOD nothing happened to you. Did they just drive away?
A car pulled up to us, and rolled down their windows (we were playing IN the street, so it wasn't like we walked up to them). We both should have walked away at that point, but times were a bit different. We both sort of stood a few feet back..they asked us (two 7-8 yr olds) how to get to a certain street. Ironically (pointed out to us later), the street they were asking about is one you HAD to go on to get to our street. As kids, we never picked up on that. We pointed and explained, and thats when the one man said, why don't you just get in and show us?
THATS the point where my friend bolted. I did freeze, and I was a bit confused. If it weren't for my friend running, I wouldn't have been that alarmed (scary huh?). At the same time I took off running, the woman in the back started opening the car door. I didn't turn around and look, but they drove away, I'm assuming right away.
VERY different times. We were always told not to talk to strangers, but never really felt unsafe. We were literally RIGHT in front of my house. 30 ft from my front door. Maybe thats why we weren't "alarmed" at first, I dunno. My friend ran to HIS house, which was two doors down...again, not real smart. I followed too...I think because I wnated to be with him (safety in numbers), but was asked later why the hell I didn't run into MY house? I couldn't answer that...I just followed my friend, never ran so fast ever. I can tell you, as a child, I WASNT scared, I NEVER thought a thing of a car stopping to ask for directions. Changed my perception though, I'll tell you.
We had to give descriptions to the police, it was in the paper, the whole community was on alert, it was VERY scary. These days, if my kids didn't run the second a car stopped, I'd never let them out of the house again. VERY different precautions these days.
Was terrying to think if they hadn't decided to leave, would they have got me? I was SO lucky. Thank GOD my friend reacted like he did. My God.
I want to add....I would have never got IN the car, I certainly knew better...but it was like my brain wasn't picking up on what was happening. I was very confused, until I saw my friend run, THATS when my brain got the message.
I figured this child was dead and god help him if he hurt one of mine and I found him. He better pray for jail.
I worry the way they have bus pickups for students these days. If you live within a certain distance to the school, you get no bus privilege and that needs to change. Parents need to really start making this an issue. Many times children that live this close cannot have a parent walk with them for many different reasons, and because it IS so close we all tend to think oh, it will be okay. Obviously its not okay.
I swear they need to turn these monsters over to the communities. I bet then the problem would stop! The system seems to be useless for child killers and molesters.
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