WESTMINSTER, Colo. — A body found in a suburban Denver park was identified Friday as that of a missing 10-year-old girl, as anxious parents kept close watch over their children because of the potential presence of a predator in their midst, authorities said.
The body of Jessica Ridgeway was found Wednesday about 7 miles southwest of her home. Authorities said it was not intact, and DNA was used to identify her.
‘‘Our focus has changed from the search for Jessica to a mission of justice for Jessica,’’ Westminster police Chief Lee Birk said.
‘‘All our efforts now are in search of her abductor,’’ he said. ‘‘We recognize there is a predator at large in our community.’’
Jessica began a short walk from her home to Witt Elementary School on the morning of Oct. 5, but never arrived. A massive search by hundreds of law enforcement officers did not start until hours later because Jessica’s mother works nights and slept through a call from school officials saying Jessica wasn’t there. The FBI has warned residents that she may have been abducted by someone they know and is asking them to be alert for people they know who might have suddenly changed their appearance or uncharacteristically missed work or appointments.