Police have positively identified the body of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway near her Westminster, Col., home one week after she went missing.
Her body was found in a suburban Denver park about 7 miles south of her home. The girl’s backpack had been found in the nearby town, Superior, two days after her disappearance, the Denver Post reported. It was being analyzed for DNA evidence. Authorities, after ruling out her parents as suspects, deduced that Jessica was the victim of an abduction. There were no leads or suspects as of Thursday, but police had been interviewing registered sex offenders in the area.
Jessica’s mother, Sarah, works nights and rests during daytime hours. When she awoke on Friday, she got a message that she never made it to a nearby park to meet with her friends to walk to their school, Witt Elementary. Her mom reported her missing at about 4:30 p.m. She was last seen leaving her home at about 8:30 that morning. The Colorado Bureau of Investigations Issued an Amber Alert later that evening.
Upon ruling out Jessica’s parents as suspects, police began to focus on an unknown suspect. The FBI said the case of a child disappearance in Cody, Wyo., is not related to her case. In that instance, two girls were approached by a man who said he needed help finding a lost puppy. When the 11-year-old went to his vehicle, she was forced into it at gunpoint. She was later released, but the would-be kidnapper has not been apprehended.
At a Thursday press conference, Westminster police spokesperson Trevor Materasso said that Jessica’s family had been notified that a body was found. As many as 35 law enforcement agencies were participating in the search for the girl.