Police: We don't believe Jessica Ridgway's parents are involved in disappearance

WESTMINSTER - Hours before announcing the discovery of a body that could be that of a missing girl, police said her parents were not suspects in the disappearance.

The Westminster Police Department does not believe Jessica Ridgeway's parents were involved in the 10-year-old's disappearance, spokesman Trevor Materasso said.

Materasso made that statement at 4 p.m. Wednesday outside the police department.

"We're confident that they are not involved in the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway. The focus shifts to an unknown suspect, as we think that she was abducted," he said.

Later, around 8:30 p.m., Materasso once again stood before reporters outside the police department. He said a body had been found in an Arvada park, but that no connection had yet been made to Jessica.

Jessica's father, Jeremiah Bryant, previously said investigators had asked if he believed the girl's mother, Sarah Ridgeway, had a role in Jessica's disappearance.

"When I sat down with the FBI, they asked if I thought (Sarah Ridgeway) did it. I told them there's, 'no way that I would ever believe that,'" he recounted.

"Nobody in this room did anything to harm her," Sarah Ridgeway said while surrounded by family during an interview Tuesday. "If they have to eliminate me, go ahead."

An Amber Alert was issued for Jessica Friday after she disappeared while walking to school.  Police and hundreds of volunteers have canvassed the girl's neighborhood and nearby open spaces looking for clues.

So far, all police have found is a backpack and a water bottle belonging to Jessica that was found in a neighborhood about six miles to the north of her home.

An Amber Alert was issued for Jessica Friday after she disappeared while walking to school.  Police and hundreds of volunteers have canvassed the girl's neighborhood and nearby open spaces looking for clues.

Wednesday afternoon, Materasso reiterated the importance of the investigative work in that neighborhood.

"We've commented a couple time they should expect that they will be out there, twice, three times maybe more, we just do not want to miss anything of significance in the area of disappearance. So they're going to do work in that area very diligently," he said.

Materasso said the search has included standard checks with registered sex offenders in the area.

At last report, Westminster police had also fielded more than 650 tips about Jessica's disappearance. Although most of those tips came from Colorado, some have come from at least five other states.

One tip, from Dexter, Maine, prompted police in that state to begin watching for a vehicle seen over the weekend.

"We are working with those law enforcement agencies and those tips are coming in here," Materasso said. "Agencies are assisting and helping to follow up on those leads. We don't want people to focus on a particular story that they hear."