It's happened. The thing we most feared when we heard that 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway had disappeared on her walk to school more than a week ago. Police in Westminster, Colorado have confirmed that Jessica's parents will never see their little girl's beautiful smile again. Jessica Ridgeway is dead.
That body police found earlier this week that they couldn't confirm was Jessica's because it wasn't intact? It does indeed belong to the missing fourth grader. But Sarah Ridgeway and Jeremy Bryant can't rest easy yet. Now the search for a little girl has been turned upside down. Those cops? They're out for blood now.
I can picture some of those men and/or women on the force, many probably parents themselves, their faces set with grim determination. They have a child to avenge, more children to protect. As Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk said of his squad's new direction:
Our focus has changed from the search for Jessica to a mission of justice for Jessica. We recognize there is a predator at large in our community.
He's right. Of course he's right. That FBI profile of the suspect released this week is more important then ever now. This guy needs to be found for Jessica's sake and for the sake of all the children he could potentially hurt.
Still, I can't help but picture Jessica Ridgeway's parents. The police declaration that the body belongs to their daughter means their story is -- for all intents and purposes -- over. Their hope has been snuffed out. Now is a time when they begin to mourn little Jessica, to plan the funeral no parents should have to plan.
But somehow I doubt they'll get to do it all in peace, not now, not with the way this investigation is turning. Even the discovery of their daughter's body isn't going to end this nightmare for Jessica's parents. If anything, it's just about to ramp up.
Cops have made clear that Jeremy and Sarah are in the clear. They're not suspects. But as long as there is a suspect out there, this poor people are likely going to sit on edge, waiting for justice for their little girl. Not to mention the media hounds will be circling because, well, that's what they do.
These people have been to hell and back in a week. Is it too much to hope that they are left alone? That the fact that they're mourning their little girl is respected?
We can focus on the police all we want; they seem to be doing their darndest to find this sicko. But let's put ourselves in Jessica Ridgeway's parents' shoes and give them a rest, huh?
What are your thoughts on this turn in the case? What would you say to Jessica's parents if you could?
Image via Westminster Police