(ARVADA, Colo.) — The investigation into the disappearance of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway took a grisly turn Thursday when police said that a body found during their search for Jessica is “not intact.”
The condition of the body is delaying identification.
“It’s not intact,” Westminster Police Department spokesman Trevor Materasso said at a news conference Thursday. “This is extending the length of time it’s taking for investigators to positively identify who that body is.”
The body was found in an Arvada, Colo., park a few miles from where Ridgeway disappeared last week.
“We’ve released the information and contacted the family to let them know this information is being released publicly,” Materasso said, seeming to refer to the revelation that the body was dismembered.
Police haven’t officially tied the crime scene at the Pattridge Park open space in Arvada to the missing girl. But investigators have reasons to believe it is the body of the girl who vanished Friday on her walk to school, stressing that a positive identification will take time, according to three sources.
Materasso said authorities expect to have a news conference on Friday to release more information.
Police worked overnight under the floodlights of a fire truck as the body was carried out after dark on a stretcher. The body was found about seven miles from Jessica’s home and close to where her backpack was discovered.
Police were alerted to the body hours after they said that Jessica’s parents were not suspects in her disappearance and they believed she had been abducted. Police say they still don’t have any suspects.
“At this point in the investigation, after thoroughly looking at the parents, we’re confident that they’re not involved in the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway,” Materasso said on Wednesday. “The focus shifts to an unknown suspect, as we think that she was abducted.”
Surrounded by 10 family members, including Jessica’s father, Jeremiah Bryant, Jessica’s mom, Sarah Ridgeway, said early Wednesday, “I know I didn’t do anything. Everybody that’s here knows I didn’t do anything. Nobody in this room did anything to harm her or a tiny hair on her little head.”
Bryant lives out of state and was in a custody battle with Sarah Ridgeway.
Ridgeway told police she last saw her daughter in Westminster, Colo., Friday morning when Jessica left for school. The fifth-grader never showed up at a nearby park where she was supposed to meet friends for the one-mile walk to her elementary school. It was a route she took every day, but this time she never arrived.
The school called to report Jessica absent, but Sarah Ridgeway told police she was asleep during the day because she works overnights and did not get the call until eight hours later, when she called police.
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