Body of 10-Year-old Jessica Ridgeway Identified
Colorado authorities have confirmed that the dismembered body discovered two days ago is 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway, who went missing last Friday.
"We realize there is a predator at large in our community," said Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk in a news conference. "Our focus has changed from the search for Jessica to a mission of justice for Jessica."
The girl was last seen on the morning of October 5 as she walked the few blocks from her home to a park where she usually met friends for the walk to her elementary school.
Her disappearance was not immediately noticed because her mother is a night-shift worker who went to sleep after seeing her daughter off to school. When Sarah Ridgeway awoke in the late afternoon, she received a message that Jessica never made it to school.
Hours after she went missing, a massive search by hundreds of law enforcement officers was launched.
Her backpack was found six miles away in a residential area in Superior, Colorado last weekend, and her body was later discovered in a park seven miles from her home in Arvada, Colorado.
Former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt said the condition of the body could indicate an experienced killer. "It's someone who's fully capable of doing something like this again," he said, according to NBC News.
Authorities warned residents that Jessica may have been abducted by someone they know and asked them to be alert for anyone who has exhibited unusual behavior in the past week such as missing work and appointments, leaving town, changes in alcohol and drug use, or changes in appearance.
"We need the community to be vigilant and alert, to continue to call in tips, to report suspicious incidents, and behavior,” Birk said.
To tip police, contact (303) 658-4336 or PDAmberAlert@cityofwestminster.us.