On Friday, October 12, police in Colorado confirmed they had, in fact, found the dismembered body of 10-year-old schoolgirl Jessica Ridgeway.
The body was found in Pattridge Park, TheDailyBeast
reports. The open space area is located near abandoned coal mines. A road cleaning crew discovered the dismembered parts. The remains were taken to a lab, where forensic specialists confirmed they were the little girl's.
The fifth-grader's body was found 7 miles southwest of her home in Westminster, a northwest suburb of Denver, Colorado, following a search in which thirty-five law enforcement agencies put in their efforts, canvassing playgrounds and neighboring cities, and going door to door asking for information.
Three other abduction attempts occurred in the area in the last month, making tensions in the community rise. One day before Jessica's disappearance, two young girls from the neighboring suburb of Arvada told the police a man in a white van had followed them home as they walked back from school.
Similar reports surfaced after news of Jessica's death spread. In two cases, a white man with brown hair apparently tried to lure children into his blue sedan, offering candy. So far, no suspect has been identified.
"We haven't identified an individual, so we're talking and conveying to our community the importance of looking at behavioral changes. Unfortunately, it's somebody's family member, a neighbor, a friend," Trevor Materasso of the Westminster Police Department said.
Ridgeway had been missing for a week before her body was discovered, since departing for Witt Elementary School early Friday morning, on October 5. She never made it to school, and didn't return home.
A few hours later, after the school announced the girl hadn't showed up for school, a massive search party was put in place. School officials had attempted to contact Sarah Ridgeway earlier that day, but she was sleeping, following a night shift. She was only reached eight hours after the girl disappeared.
Westminster Police have set out to find the person responsible for this gruesome crime. “Our focus has changed from a search for Jessica to a mission to find justice for Jessica. […] We recognize there is a predator at large in our community,” police chief Lee Birk stated.“