Colorado Body Likely That of Missing Girl Jessica Ridgeway, Sources Say

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Colorado Body Likely That of Missing Girl Jessica Ridgeway, Sources Say
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Colorado Body Likely That of Missing Girl Jessica Ridgeway, Sources Say (ABC News)

Police have found an unidentified body in an Arvada, Colo., park, a few miles from where 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway went missing last week.

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.

"The Arvada Police Department and Westminster Police Department are working jointly with additional resources to process that crime scene," Westminster, Colo., police investigator Trevor Materasso told reporters Wednesday night. "At this time, we're unable to make any connection to the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway. That crime scene will exist through the evening and into tomorrow morning."

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 where her backpack showed up Sunday.

Materasso took no questions from reporters, but Westminster Police will hold another news conference today at 6:30 a.m. local time.

Police were alerted to the body hours after they said that Jessica's parents were not suspects in her disappearance, which they referred to as a likely abduction. 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 earlier 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."

Jeremiah Bryant lives out of state and is 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 got there.

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.

An Amber Alert was issued Friday night for the girl, nearly eight hours after she disappeared.

Police announced Sunday that they found the girl's backpack and water bottle. The backpack was sent to the state's crime lab for DNA evidence.

Authorities announced Monday that the FBI was investigating whether there was a possible connection between Ridgeway's case and the abduction of an 11-year-old girl in Wyoming Monday.

The girl in Cody, Wyo., was lured to a white SUV by a man who approached her and two friends Monday afternoon. He told them that he was missing his black lab puppy and asked if they could help him find it, police said.

One of the little girls agreed to help him and climbed into the front seat of the vehicle and he drove away. Forty-five minutes later, one of the other children called the police to say that her friend had gotten in the car and not returned.

An Amber Alert was issued around 6:45 p.m. and police received a report at 8:15 p.m. of a little girl walking down Spirit Mountain Road, just outside Cody. Authorities confirmed that it was the missing girl.

Authorities are now on the hunt for the suspect who they describe as a white male, approximately 55 to 60 years old, between 185 and 200 pounds with either short white or strawberry blond hair and a mustache or beard.

Cody is approximately 500 miles northwest of Westminster, Colo., where Jessica Ridgeway disappeared.

Authorities say they do not yet know whether there could be a connection, but FBI Denver spokesman Dave Joly told ABC News Monday, "We are covering all of our bases."

During the week, police unleashed a frantic search for Jessica Ridgeway, going door-to-door in the neighborhood and asking people to search their vehicles, yards and homes.

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