Police: Body discovered in Colorado open space park

Jessica Ridgeway was last seen Friday

UPDATE: Jessica Ridgeway update at Thursday morning news conference http://bit.ly/QkB4Ns

ARVADA, Colo - A body has been found at an Arvada, Colo., open-space park, but Westminster police said they "are unable to make any connection to the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway."

Westminster and Arvada police and the FBI are processing the crime scene at Pattridge Park Open Space.

The news came in a hastily-called news conference Wednesday evening.

Westminster police spokesman Trevor Materasso said the body was discovered "this afternoon," but did not give a more precise time frame.

RELATED | Vigil held for missing Colorado girl in Independence http://bit.ly / UJYK44

Earlier, police said they do not believe Jessica Ridgeway's parents were involved in the 10-year-old's disappearance, Materasso said.

Materasso made that statement at 4 p.m. Wednesday outside the police department.

"We're confident that they are not involved in the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway. The focus shifts to an unknown suspect, as we think that she was abducted," he said.

Jessica's father, Jeremiah Bryant of Independence, Mo., said investigators had asked if he believed the girl's mother had a role in Jessica's disappearance.

RELATED | Colorado Amber Alert has ties to Missouri http://bit.ly/R4k0y6

"When I sat down with the FBI, they asked if I thought (Sarah Ridgeway) did it. I told them there's 'no way that I would ever believe that,'" he recounted.

"Nobody in this room did anything to harm her," Sarah Ridgeway said while surrounded by family during an interview Tuesday. "If they have to eliminate me, go ahead."

An Amber Alert was issued for Jessica on Friday after she disappeared while walking to school. Police and hundreds of volunteers have canvassed the girl's neighborhood and nearby open spaces looking for clues.

So far, all police have found is a backpack and a water bottle belonging to Jessica that was discovered in a neighborhood about six miles to the north of her home.

Wednesday afternoon, Materasso reiterated the importance of the investigative work in that neighborhood.

"We've commented a couple time they should expect that they will be out there, twice, three times maybe more, we just do not want to miss anything of significance in the area of disappearance. So they're going to do work in that area very diligently," he said.

Materasso said the search has included standard checks with registered sex offenders in the area.

At last report, Westminster police had also fielded more than 650 tips about Jessica's disappearance. Although most of those tips came from Colorado, some have come from at least five other states.

One tip, from Dexter, Maine, prompted police in that state to begin watching for a vehicle seen over the weekend.

RELATED | Police in Maine on lookout for station wagon http://bit.ly/SRVFYs

"We are working with those law enforcement agencies and those tips are coming in here," Materasso said. "Agencies are assisting and helping to follow up on those leads. We don't want people to focus on a particular story that they hear."
 

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