Body Found During Search For Jessica Ridgeway

6:44 AM, Oct 11, 2012   |    comments
Search for Jessica Ridgeway at a suburban Denver park.
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ARVADA (KUSA)- Westminster police announced Wednesday night that a body was discovered during the search for missing 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway. It was found in the Pattridge Park open space in Arvada.

Westminster Police spokesperson Trevor Materasso did not release the gender or approximate age of the body.

Investigators removed what appeared to be a body from the scene just before 9:00 p.m. 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 several miles south of where Jessica's backpack was found in Superior.

The FBI, which has been assisting with the investigation, said no other details will be discussed at this time.

Westminster Police plan to release more information at 6:30 a.m. Thursday during a live press conference.

The area where the body was found will remain an active crime scene overnight Wednesday, police said.

Counselors will be on standby Thursday at Jessica's school, Witt Elementary.

Materasso said Wednesday afternoon that the police do not believe the parents are involved.


Jessica was last seen Friday morning as she left for school. Police believe she was abducted.

"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."

Materasso says the department started talking to Maine police after a significant tip came forward where a tipster claimed they saw a girl matching Jessica's description in a car in Maine on Sunday. Materasso says they are taking it seriously, as they are all the other tips they have received.

Materasso also said Witt Elementary School - which is where Jessica attended - will be on lockout as the investigation continues. Police requested the lockout because of police activity around the school. What this means for parents is they can come and pick up their kids if they show identification, and kids cannot play outside during recess.

Westminster Police say the department has taken more than 650 phone calls on their tip line regarding Jessica's disappearance. He encouraged residents to keep calling, tweeting, texting their friends and posting on Facebook to make sure people know to keep looking for Jessica.


Materasso said Wednesday during an early-morning press conference land and bodies of water searches will continue on Wednesday. The land searches are focused on around the area where she disappeared. The bodies of water searches are merely precautionary.

On Monday afternoon, an 11-year-old girl in Cody, Wyo., was lured into an SUV by a man who approached her and two friends. He told them that he was missing his black lab puppy and asked if they could help him find it, police say.

One girl climbed in and he drove away. Later, one of the other children called the police to report the incident.

An Amber Alert was issued, and police received a report of a little girl walking down a road just outside Cody. It was the missing girl, and the Amber Alert was canceled.

It is unknown at this time whether this Cody case and Jessica's case are connected, however Materasso confirmed Wednesday they are investigating all angles and are aware of the case.

Cody, Wyo. is about 500 miles northwest of Westminster.

Authorities continued to search the area around Jessica's home as well as some open-field areas on Tuesday. They brought dogs to help them in their efforts also.

In a Tuesday press conference, Materasso said 400 homes were searched in Jessica's neighborhood. He says authorities are halfway done with their search of the homes.

Westminster Police released two new photos and a video of Jessica on Tuesday to help people better identify her.

"We really want people to focus on Jessica's facial features," Materasso said. "Two things of note that you will see - particularly in the video - she has a gap between her two front teeth, when you see that video, it's fairly obvious and a distinguishing characteristic. As well, she's got a sore at the top of her nose just below where her glasses sit. That sore doesn't heal, so it's a good indicator if you see someone you think is Jessica those two things are good to pay particular attention to."

Materasso emphasized to residents they should stop focusing on what she was wearing at the time of her disappearance and instead focus on her mannerisms and her demeanor.

Materasso says the investigation may focus more on an abduction than her being a possible runaway.

Authorities did find some new items Monday night, however they cannot confirm if they are directly tied to Jessica. The only item authorities are confirming is Jessica's is the backpack found on Sunday. Materasso reiterated they are being extremely diligent in their search efforts.

"We don't want to miss anything," Materasso said. "We're going to go back several times; we've going to cover our tracks. We're going to look in the same area that we've already looked. You're going to see a lot of activity ... in and around her home, and that's going to continue today. There's nothing specific that's keeping us in that area other than we want to make sure there's no stone unturned, and we're focusing because, again, that is where Jessica disappeared from."

More than 125 personnel from 12 agencies took part in Monday's search. They focused on the area between Highway 128 and Highway 93, including Eldorado Canyon in Boulder. Eight to 10 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers also participated in the search Monday.

Investigators worked with bloodhounds and used two teams of four to search the areas that were already been cleared.

Crews also searched along Highway 36, it was announced Monday during a press conference.

Police confirmed a backpack found in a Superior neighborhood Sunday belongs to Jessica.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation will be testing the backpack for additional evidence. Police say that the backpack was found in the Rock Creek subdivision, 6.2 miles from Jessica's house. Authorities don't know when the bag was put there. They are asking parents in the Rock Creek subdivision to talk to their kids to see if they noticed anything out of the ordinary. Authorities have stationed police officers at schools in the area, though there is no indication other children are in danger. Three police checkpoints were established in the area Sunday. Police stopped and questioned people as they drove in and out of the neighborhood.

Westminster investigator Cheri Spottke says more than 800 volunteers helped look for Jessica Saturday.

On Saturday, a dive team went into Ketner Reservoir in order to rule the area out in the search.


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