Family and friends release balloons in memory of Jessica - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Loved ones gather in touching tribute for Jessica Ridgeway

INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -

Family and friends of a murdered Colorado girl held a vigil Saturday.

Jessica Ridgeway's family in Independence, MO, and dozens of friends gathered in McCoy Park to remember her.

The park has been the gathering spot for family for the past week as they waited to hear what could have happened to Jessica.

Friday after a weeklong search, Westminster police confirmed that a body found in a suburban Denver park was that of 10-year-old Jessica and the investigation has now moved from a search for her to a search for justice.

"I don't see what kind of sick person, or monster could do this to a child," said Jessica's great uncle Larry Moss. "I want to thank everyone that was here, that prayed or was looking for Jessica."

For the second time in a week, friends and family gathered at McCoy Park wearing ribbons that say "Jessica" in her favorite color of purple.

The gathering is showing that, even though the little girl was lost more than 500 miles away, there was love and support for her in Independence, MO.

With a count of "1, 2, 3" and the release of many yellow, green and various shades of purple balloons Jessica's friends and family sent a final gift to the little girl.

Jessica's father lives in Independence and the community has pulled together for the 10-year-old who was kidnapped and murdered in a Denver suburb. Cousins, aunts and uncles wrote messages on balloons, saying they will love and miss Jessica forever.

And, as they watched the balloons float away, their prayer now is that her killer will be caught.

"It would mean a lot. I mean, there's not even words to express how we would feel, to know that the person or persons is caught and behind bars and justice is being served so they cannot do it to somebody else's kid," Katherine Tiedman, Jessica's cousin, said.

"We're doing the best we can. At least she's not being tortured, no more harm can come to her, that she can now rest in peace," Kathy Moss, Jessica's great-aunt, said.

The balloons released Saturday have little papers attached to them that say "RIP Jessica" and, even as they float away, the people in Independence vow to keep supporting her family.

Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

Sidebar: Jessica Ridgeway, father hails from Independence

Updated:

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 Amber More>>

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