On Wednesday, the Bentonville Police Chief confirmed that the FBI has joined the investigation into the suspected killing of 6-year-old Jersey Bridgeman. The department reached out to the federal agency with a formal request earlier in the morning.
Search warrants were executed on three homes on SE A St. Tuesday night. Police said they took more than 50 pieces of evidence from those homes. Police Chief Jon Simpson said the Thanksgiving holiday will not alter investigation, they plan to work continuously on case.
All evidence and the child's body was sent to AR state crime lab around 9 Wed morning.
Jersey Bridgeman's time of death ranges between midnight and the time of her discovery Tues morning before 7, according to police.
Property owners tell KNWA News the person renting one of the homes being investigated is DesaRae Bridgeman and is the mother of the victim.
Family members identify the girl's father as David Bridgeman.
David Bridgeman was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2011 for chaining his daughter to a dresser. Bridgeman pleaded guilty to three felony charges in the case.
Here's the entire press release from Bentonville Police Department, released Wednesday:
Tuesday morning, November 20th, 2012, at 6:43 AM the Bentonville Police Department received the report of a missing 6 year old female. The child was reported to be missing from her home at 608 SE A Street. A neighborhood search resulted in the discovery of the child's body within a vacant house at 704 SE A Street at 6:53 AM. The missing child has been identified as Jersey Bridgeman. The child's body was delivered to the Arkansas State Medical Examiner's Office on Tuesday and an extensive investigation into the death was initiated. Detectives worked throughout the evening to complete three search warrants and collect evidence. These items of evidence are currently being delivered to the Arkansas State Crime Lab. This investigation is currently ongoing and active and will continue without pause until its completion. Previously gathered information is being evaluated, new leads are being examined, and numerous persons are being interviewed. At this time, Medical Examiner and Crime Lab results are pending. To maintain the integrity of this investigation, certain details related to this case (or related to the addresses or persons associated with this case) are currently not available for public release.
It started as a missing persons report just before 7:00 Tuesday morning, but police say within minutes the body of 6-year-old girl, Jersey Bridgeman was found and it quickly became a homicide investigation.
Bentonville police along with the help of Rogers PD and the Benton County Sherriff's Office all covering as much ground as possible here on southeast A street earlier today.
About three houses were blocked off with police tape. One of the houses is where the girl was reported to be missing. A couple houses down is where officials removed a body just before noon today. Police are not releasing exactly what happened to the girl it's still unclear exactly where the body was found.
We do know this child was a student in the Bentonville School District and neighbors tell me they saw her celebrating her birthday this past weekend.
Officers spent the day interviewing neighbors and taking photos. After speaking to Bentonville Police Chief Jon Simpson it appears this deadly incident has a lot of unknown elements to it.
"It's just a matter of trying to do the best investigation we can and cover all the bases," said Simpson. "I think if you look at any individual, a child included, by the time you add up all the people they know, all the contacts they have, if you did it for yourself, you can see how extensive that might be, and it's really no different with a child. So, that's some of the areas that we're trying to cover."
And with today's incident, it's put a sense of fear into the neighbors. One told us she and her husband plan to move across town very soon.
"Of course it worries me because every house here is very close together, and we kind of all know each other," the neighbor said "I don't leave my doors unlocked, i don't leave my car unlocked. You're not safe anywhere anymore."
Bentonville police tell me the last homicide to occur here in city limits happened in August of last year.
The Children's Advocacy Center of Benton County hosted a candle light vigil and balloon release on Tuesday night.