As officials investigate a body that could be that of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway, the focus of the missing-child case has shifted. Officials are now focused on the potential kidnapping element, with the FBI releasing a profile of a possible suspect.
Police are conducting DNA tests to determine whether the body, recovered in Pattridge Park in Arvada, Colo., is the missing child, according to tweets sent Friday by the Westminster, Colo., police. Officials said the tests could be completed by late afternoon.
The body was found about seven miles from where the girl disappeared in suburban Denver on Oct. 5.
“Many in Westminster and other communities are wearing purple today to show support for #jessicaridgeway family,” the police also tweeted. Purple ribbons have been visible in the suburban Denver town since Jessica disappeared last week.
Even as authorities work to ascertain the identity of the body, the case is increasingly being treated as a criminal matter, officials said.
Accordingly, the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit has released a profile of some characteristics of a possible kidnapper, most likely a man who suddenly changes his behavior.
A suspect might suddenly miss work; cancel appointments, such as visits to the doctor; or leave town abruptly, the profile states. He might change his appearance by adding or subtracting facial hair or change his usual patterns of drinking alcohol or taking drugs. He also might show a deep interest in the status of the Jessica Ridgeway investigation.
“We have no suspects,” FBI spokesman Dave Joly said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Friday. “We are open to any and all things that the public might find.
“It could be your boss, it could be your friend, and ultimately it could be your family member,” Joly told reporters. “Bring this information to law enforcement and let us vet that to a close. If that person is not the suspect, 'Thank you for your call.’ Next lead.”
In these type of cases, authorities first look at the family, especially if the parents are living apart. But officials have said they have ruled out the parents, Sarah Ridgeway, who lives in Colorado, and Jeremiah Bryant, who lives in Missouri.
Sarah Ridgeway has told police she last saw Jessica on Friday as the child left to meet friends at a park for their walk to elementary school. Sarah Ridgeway, who works nights, then went to sleep; she learned eight hours later that her daughter had failed to show up for class, setting off the search for the child.
The only real clues, police have said, is the discovery over the weekend of a backpack and water bottle that Jessica had with her when she disappeared. Police won't discuss what was in the bag, which was found about six miles from Jessica's home.
Meanwhile, officers have continued to search the area around the park where the body was found Wednesday night. The body “was not intact,” police have said, making identification difficult. Police have been unable to say if the body was even that of a child.
That has prompted a series of tests including comparisons of the DNA with Jessica’s.
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