Girl missing from Denver has ties to Independence

Independence family hopes for answers after Amber Alert issued

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DENVER, CO (KCTV) -

An Amber Alert has been issued for a 10-year-old girl who went missing in Colorado while on her way to school.

Jessica Ridgeway left her home for school about 8:30 a.m. Friday, but wasn't reported missing until much later.  She normally meets classmates at a park where they walk to school, but she didn't make it to the park or school, Colorado police said.

Authorities got a late start searching because her mother didn't immediately realize she was missing, police said in a news release. Her mother works nights and slept through a call from school officials to tell her Jessica hadn't arrived.

Police said an Amber Alert was issued Friday evening after investigators determined they had a reasonable suspicion that an abduction took place.

"Jessica is a beautiful bright little girl. She was here about six weeks ago on vacation with her mom and grandma and other great grandma," Jessica's great grandmother, Donna Moss, said.

Moss said that was the last time she saw her before police came to her home looking for Jessica's father, Jeremiah Bryant, who lives with her in Independence, MO.  

"They asked if they could look through my house to see if there were any signs that she had been there. Of course she hadn't been.  We would have loved to have had her there," she said.

Colorado authorities say there may be a custody dispute between Jessica's mom and Bryant, but Moss says that is not the case.

"There has never ever been a problem with Sarah and her family and us.  I've talked to Sarah, but she has no information to offer us, no more than we can offer her. We offer each other support," she said.

Some 50 personnel were searching trails, parks and open spaces in the surrounding area. They were also going door to door as well as using search dogs and thermal equipment. Police said members of the public, family and friends were also searching.

Police said they have made reverse phone calls to more than 12,000 homes in the area, while Jefferson County School District called more than 400 families of students and faculty members.

"It has real hard being here (in Independence) where we can't be with the rest of her family, and search door to door," Moss said.

Moss spent much of Sunday praying for Jessica's return.

"We are all wanting Jessica to get home safely. If anyone out there knows where she is at, please, please return her," she said.

Jessica has blue eyes and blond hair to her shoulders, and is 4-feet-10 and weighs 80 pounds. She was wearing a black jacket and pink and purple colored glasses.

Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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