Police confirmed Friday afternoon that a dismembered body found earlier this week belongs to 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway.
"With a great deal of sorrow in my heart, I regret to inform you that the body that was found in Arvada has been positively identified as Jessica Ridgeway, the girl missing from Westminster," Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk said. "The family has been notified. We can't begin to comprehend the grief they are going through."
Jessica was abducted while walking to school a week ago.
"We want to stress that we recognize there is a predator at large in our community," Birk said. "I want the community to know that we are doing everything we can within our power to apprehend that individual."
Officials say the priority has changed from "the search for Jessica to a mission of justice for Jessica," and arresting her killer.
"We have eliminated the family. And we are looking for an abductor at this point," FBI spokesman Dave Joly said.
Officials offered condolences to Jessica's family and friends.
"This is not the closure we wanted," said Jessica's great uncle, Larry Moss, who lives in Independence, MO. "We were hanging onto every glimmer of hope. We were hoping that she would make it home safe."
He described himself as relieved to know what happened to Jessica. He and other family members are working to travel to Colorado for her funeral.
The focus now is finding the "sick monster who would do this to a child," Moss said.
"I would give my right leg to have him brought justice and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There is no price on it," Moss said.
Jessica's body was found Wednesday, but the identification of the body was delayed because it was not intact. DNA was used to identify her.
Workers picking up trash in Arvada found Jessica's remains.
Jessica disappeared a week ago today while walking to school. She never made it to school.
The FBI on Thursday released a psychological profile of the kidnapper and asked residents to be mindful of changes in behavior or appearance by those they know. The killer is likely to be a man with local ties.
"It could be your boss, it could be your friend, and ultimately it could be your family member," Joly said.
The FBI does not believe Jessica's grisly slaying is related to the recent abduction and rape of an 11-year-old girl in Cody, WY. That child was able to escape in part by kicking her abductor's face and bloodying his nose.
"Be vigilant," FBI Agent in Charge Jim Yacone said. "We need the media and the public's continued cooperation."
More than 500 homes and 1,000 vehicles have been searched in the Westminster area.
Many in the Westminster area wore on Friday the color purple or purple ribbons in a show of solidarity for Jessica. Purple is her favorite color.
Jessica lived with her mother. Her father, Jeremy Bryant, lives in Independence, MO, along with his grandmother. A vigil was held in Independence on Wednesday night.
Bryant traveled from Independence to Colorado this week. He made an emotional plea on Wednesday for the safe return of his daughter.
The family did not attend Friday's news conference. Moss said Bryant is devastated.
"I talked to him briefly last night," he said. "He's having a hard time."
Moss reminded children to kick, scream and fight if a stranger approaches them.
While the investigation continues, schools in Westminster are "locking out," which means kids aren't playing outside at recess and parents must show ID to pick up children.
The Ridgeway family will not be making a statement.
"They are devastated and ask that you respect their privacy," the police department said.
The family has created a website http://www.jessicaridgeway.com/ Donations can be made directly to the family on the website, according to police.
Copyright2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
A Colorado girl went missing on Oct. 5. Her father, Jeremy Bryant, lives in Independence. He has traveled to Colorado to assist in the search for her. Independence family hopes for answers after AmberMore>>
Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:51 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:51:53 GMT
The tragic death of a young Saginaw boy has led to a lawsuit against a local medical examiner. Elijah Dillard, 6, passed away in March. Police say it was the result of child abuse and his father is facingMore >
The tragic death of a young Saginaw boy has led to a lawsuit against a local medical examiner. More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:37 PM EDT2014-04-24 00:37:37 GMT
Two Mid-Michigan grandparents may finally get a chance to visit their grand kids in spite of a parent's objection. Local grandparents, Robert and Judith Porter, have been suing for the right to visitMore >
Two Mid-Michigan grandparents may finally get a chance to visit their grand kids in spite of a parent's objection.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:31 PM EDT2014-04-23 16:31:28 GMT
Three teens are reported to have been killed after leading police on a high speed chase in a stolen vehicle. The accident happened on I-75 in Detroit over the weekend. Several news outlets report a 17-year-oldMore >
Authorities have released the names of three teenagers who were killed when their stolen Jeep went off an embankment and crashed upside down in Detroit.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:27 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:27:46 GMT
Police in a northeastern Detroit suburb say they have found a man's decomposed body inside a portable toilet at a Lake St. Clair boat launching site. St. Clair Shores police tell WDIV-TV they think theMore >
An autopsy shows that an unidentified man whose decomposed body was found inside a portable toilet at a Lake St. Clair boat launching site died of exposure.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:11 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:11:58 GMT
A woman from Plymouth said organ donation changed her family's life. Ten years ago, Tina Ray said she had a conversation with her 20-year-old son, Nick Ray, that most people do not want to have. "He andMore >
A woman from Plymouth said organ donation changed her family's life.More >
Monday, April 21 2014 2:07 PM EDT2014-04-21 18:07:19 GMT
A local business manager was stunned to see her most recent water bill. Kim Haken runs the Columbus Laundromat in Bay City. She says when she opened the bill, it read that the company owed $18-thousand.WhenMore >
A local business manager was stunned to see her most recent water bill. More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:24 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:24:15 GMT
Authorities say a 31-year-old Detroit woman whose body was found near her dehydrated 8-month-old daughter was stabbed to death.The Wayne County medical examiner's office identifies the woman as CharmanekMore >
Authorities say a 31-year-old Detroit woman whose body was found near her dehydrated 8-month-old daughter was stabbed to death.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 4:57 PM EDT2014-04-23 20:57:36 GMT
Authorities are investigating a deadly plane crash. Officials tell TV 5 a small plane went down Saturday afternoon in a field in Shiawassee County. Two people are confirmed dead. Officials are still onMore >
Funeral arrangements have been set for one of the two Mid-Michigan men who died in a plane crash over the weekend.More >