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Body found near where Colo. girl, 10, disappeared

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 7:24 p.m.

WESTMINSTER, Colo. — 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 on Thursday that officers are still searching for her.

The discovery of the body is the latest turn in the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway, during which police have looked 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.

Police spokesman Trevor Materasso said the body “is not intact” and that has slowed the work of identification. Materasso said no other information would be released until Friday, and he left a brief midday news conference without answering any questions.

Police earlier declined to say whether the body was that of a child.

The body was found late Wednesday at Pattridge Park park in the Denver suburb of Arvada, about seven miles from where Jessica disappeared in the nearby suburb of Westminster on Oct. 5.

Materasso said investigators were processing evidence from the 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 in 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.

“You can see the park from her front door,” he said.

Fliers about the fifth-grader were posted on nearly every house in her neighborhood of modest, two-story homes with single-car garages.

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