DENVER (CBS4) – CBS4 has learned that for two days this week, police investigators working on the Jessica Ridgeway murder case thought they might have their man. They were heavily focused on Ari Misha Liggett as the likely suspect, but DNA testing has now cleared Liggett of involvement in the disappearance and death of the 10-year-old girl.
The 24-year-old Liggett was arrested early Wednesday morning in connection with the death of his 56-year-old mother, Beverly Liggett. Authorities say Beverly Liggett was dismembered and her son, Ari Liggett, drove around for several days with body parts in the back seat of his car. Liggett is being held without bail and is facing a charge of first-degree murder.
However, a law enforcement source familiar with the Ridgeway case told CBS4 that up until Wednesday afternoon authorities strongly suspected Liggett might be responsible for the Ridgeway case as well.
The source, who asked not to be identified, said the fact both Ridgeway and Beverly Liggett were dismembered was an obvious clue. The police contact also said Ari Liggett’s mental state seemed to be deteriorating about the time Jessica Ridgeway disappeared, Oct. 5.
Additionally, in the Liggett case, the chemical potassium cyanide was found in the family home. Authorities investigating the Ridgeway abduction and murder have been exploring a possible link with an unsuccessful kidnap attempt at Ketner Lake on May 28. In that case a female jogger said she was grabbed by a man who tried to put a rag over her mouth that had a chemical odor to it. She got away and called 911.
But that chemical link was one more reason authorities heavily focused this week on Ari Liggett. The anxiously awaited DNA testing on Liggett, which came back Wednesday afternoon, indicated he was not connected to the Ridgeway case, according to a law enforcement contact.
Another law enforcement contact told CBS4 that not only are investigators examining sex offenders and parolees living near Jessica Ridgeway’s home, they have also been reexamining virtually all past crimes in the neighborhood, and suspects in those crimes. That contact told CBS4 there are no leading suspects in the Ridgeway case but that an estimated 200 investigators are doing everything they can to try to identify Jessica’s killer.
– Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com