Police: Remains found in Jessica Ridgeway search not 'intact', had been dismembered

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (KMGH) - The body found in Arvada, Colo., during a search for missing 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway is not intact, Westminster police confirmed Thursday.

Sources told 7NEWS, our Scripps station in Denver, that the victim had been dismembered and parts of the body are missing. Investigators said that fact is delaying the official identification of the remains.

However, police hope to have the body officially identified sometime soon and make the announcement on Friday afternoon.

ABC NEWS reported that three sources said investigators have reasons to believe the body found in Arvada is the body of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway.

Jessica disappeared last Friday around 8:30 a.m. Her mother told police that Jessica left home in the morning to walk to school with friends. It was Jessica's usual routine to walk three blocks to Chelsea Park where she would meet friends and walk the 1 mile to Witt Elementary School.

Her friends never saw her and she never arrived at school. The school called her mother about her absence, but since her mother works nights, she slept through the calls and didn't know her daughter was missing until 8 hours later. Jessica was reported missing around 4:30 p.m., and an Amber Alert was issued later that night.

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Six days later, on Wednesday night, Westminster police announced a body had been found in Arvada's Pattridge Park Open Space, about 6 miles from where Jessica was last seen.

"We appreciate the media recognizing that from the helicopter, you have footage of the body that would show the public the body was not intact," said Westminster police spokesman Trevor Materasso. "This is extending the length of time for the investigation to positively identify who that body is."

However, the video also shows that the body is small, and does not appear to be that of an adult victim. It was found next to a culvert and also appeared to be near a black garbage bag.

Materasso said investigators have contacted Ridgeway's family and told them about the condition of the body. Her father, Jeremiah Bryant, lives in Independence, Mo., but is in Colorado helping with the investigation. Both parents have been ruled out as suspects in the girl's disappearance.

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In their search for an "unknown suspect" who abducted her, Westminster police are reiterating the importance of tips and asked anyone who had any information, no matter how seemingly insignificant, to call their tip line at 303-658-4336.

Dozens of investigators from several law enforcement agencies were back at the park Thursday combing through the field, searching for evidence.

The open space park is about 6 miles from the neighborhood where Jessica disappeared. It's also about 6 miles from where her water bottle and backpack were found in Superior, Colo.

Counselors have been called to Jessica's school, which is part of the Jefferson County schools.

Three weeks before Jessica disappeared, Arvada police and Jefferson County schools sent a letter to parents warning them about two "stranger danger" incidents.

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In the two incidents in mid-September, Arvada police said an 8- and a 9-year-old were nearly abducted.

According to Arvada police, around 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 9, a child was walking near Quaker Acres Park, near 74th Place and Terry Court, when someone tried to entice the child into a car with candy.

Another elementary school student reported a similar incident happening around 5:40 p.m. on Sept. 12, in front of Fitzmorris Elementary School at 62nd Avenue and Independence Street.

"Both of them said they were offered candy to get into the vehicle. In both incidences, they knew to run and tell an adult," said Arvada police spokeswoman Jill McGranahan.

Fitzmorris and other Arvada-area Jefferson County schools sent home letters with students. One parent told 7NEWS she also received an automated phone call.

According to police, the two children described a white man with brown hair. They said he had no facial hair or glasses. His age range is between 20 and 40.

The suspected vehicle is a royal blue 4-door sedan.

Donations are being accepted for the Search and Rescue team efforts for missing children. Donations should be sent to:

Search and Rescue of Missing Children Fund
C/O Westminster Federal Credit Union
9053 Harlan Street, Suite 10
Westminster, CO 80031

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