The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 11, 2012

Police search continues for missing Colorado girl

Colorado police looking for a 10-year-old girl who disappeared on her walk to school have found a body in a park, but are not saying whether it is linked to the case and noted Thursday that officers are still searching for her.

The discovery of the body is the latest turn in the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway that has seen police look for clues in a reported sighting in a car with Colorado plates in Maine and a Wyoming abduction. The FBI said Thursday that abduction was unrelated.

At a pre-dawn news conference, police refused to release any details about the body found late Wednesday at a park in the suburban Denver city of Arvada, about seven miles from where Jessica disappeared Oct. 5. They also declined to say whether the body was that of a child.

Police spokesman Trevor Materasso said investigators were processing evidence from Pattridge Park and that no additional information was available. He left without answering questions.

In tweets, Westminster police said investigators had worked overnight to identify the body. Officers searched more of the park Thursday as well as areas closer to Jessica's home. Police said photo radar vans — normally used to detect and photograph speeding vehicles — were being used to monitor some streets around the girl's house.

Police have ruled out her parents — Sarah Ridgeway, who lives Colorado, and Jeremiah Bryant, who lives in Missouri. Authorities believe Jessica was kidnapped by an "unknown suspect."

Jessica's mother last saw her daughter walking to school. The girl never arrived, setting off a frantic search by hundreds of law enforcement officials and residents.

Aurelio Florez, who has lived in Jessica's neighborhood for six years, said it was shocking that Jessica could have vanished during a two-block walk to a park where she usually met friends before continuing on to school.

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