jessica-ridgeway.jpgI sat by my computer off and on all day today waiting to find out if a dismembered body found Wednesday was that of the missing 10 year old Colorado girl, Jessica Ridgeway, or not. A few minutes ago I got the dreaded news. I can’t begin to say how sad this is.

Little Jessica started her day out last Friday, October 5, 2012, just like any other normal day. She left her home to head off to school. It was routine for her to walk from her house to a park not far from her home where she would meet friends and they would all walk from there to school together. Well nothing different had changed with her plans for that fateful morning as far as she knew anyway, but someone had other plans for this innocent child.

Jessica never made it to that park and when she didn’t show up at school, the school tried calling Jessica’s home but didn’t receive an answer. Jessica’s mother works at night and sleeps during the day while Jessica is in school so she didn’t hear the phone ringing. When she got up and became aware that her daughter was missing she immediately called authorities and reported it.

This alone was a delay for the police in finding out what happened to Jessica making it more difficult in the search. Sunday a book bag and a water bottle was found that detectives say belonged to the child on a sidewalk in a neighborhood around 6 miles from where she lived.

The police were searching for Jessica and treating the case as abduction. They had completely ruled out either of the parents as suspects and said they would consider this an unknown abductor. There had been a case at a school in a nearby suburb of Arvada where it was reported that a man had tried to lure children into a car. The schools in the surrounding areas sent out notices to warn the parents.

Wednesday about 7 miles southwest of Jessica’s home, the body was found and although no one could be sure it was feared to be that of Jessica. No other details were released at the time, but then they reported that it was hard to identify the body because it was not intact, meaning it had been dismembered.

zahra.jpgOn October 9, 2010 another 10 year old girl was murdered in North Carolina and her body was dismembered and the killer scattered this child’s body parts in different locations which to this day have never completely been found. I remember oh so well this little girl. I covered that case from the beginning to the end. Her stepmother was arrested and sentenced to prison for her murder. Zahra Baker was an Australian girl that had a smile that would shine clear across the country. She was also a cancer survivor. Zahra lost one of her legs due to cancer and also had to wear a hearing aid.

The moment I read that the body that was found was also dismembered, the first thing I thought of was Zahra Baker and how sad that case was. It puzzles me how anyone can kill an innocent child, but it turns my stomach to think about someone doing this to a child that is helpless. How can any 10 year old child fight back to defend itself and win? How can anyone hurt a child like this? I don’t know who did this to Jessica but I do hope they find them and if they don’t get the electric chair for what they have done then they need to be locked up and never be allowed to see the light of day again. Don’t let them ever be eligible for parole and don’t let them get out for good behavior like so many other criminals do.

The FBI wants to warn the residents of the community about people that know that might have suddenly changed their appearances or have stopped going to work or appointments, leaving town suddenly, or a change in their drinking habits or drug use. Anything different about them, should be reported.

“Our focus has changed from the search for Jessica to a mission of justice for Jessica,” Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk said. “We realize there is a predator at large in our community.”

“We need the community to be vigilant and alert, to continue to call in tips, to report suspicious incidents, and behavior,” Birk said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Westminster Police Department at 303-658-4360 or 911.

My heart goes out to Jessica’s parents, Sarah Ridgeway and Jeremiah Bryant. I can only imagine how they feel and I can only imagine the hurt in their hearts as they grieve for their daughter. I pray that God will be next to them while they grieve and give them the strength that they need to get through this. May God bless them.

Jan Barrett

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