One Year Later: Balloon Release on Anniversary of Jersey Bridgeman's Death

Jersey Bridgeman's body was found in an abandoned home on Southeast A Street in Bentonville in 2012.
BENTONVILLE, AR (KNWA) -- The day 6-year-old Jersey Bridgeman's body was found is a day many, including investigators, will never forget.

"We probably all remember that day in great detail," says Bentonville Police Chief Jon Simpson.

Wednesday will be a year, since Jersey's body was found in an abandoned home on Southeast A Street in Bentonville.

"It was among one of the youngest victims that we'd ever had," Simpson says.

Today, instead of cop cars and crime tape, purple bows, still, line the street.

The makeshift Jersey memorials have been up the entire year. This afternoon the Benton County Children's Advocacy Center released balloons in her honor and to mark the loss of other children. 

"We never want to see anything like this again," Simpson says.

Simpson reflects on the Nov. 20, 2012 tragedy, as one of the first at the scene.

It happened two days before Thanksgiving.

"Before anyone could even suggest what needed to be done, all of our detectives that had family plans and what not canceled everything," Simpson says.

One of those lead detectives has his own makeshift memorial.

Sitting above his desk, a photograph of a smiling Jersey greets him every day.

"You can't help but think about people that you know in your own family when you have anything like this happen," Simpson says.

He adds, the human factor of this case is what motivated authorities to conduct a detailed, yet timely investigation.

"I think everyone involved felt like they were against the clock, but at the same time we knew that we couldn't make mistakes," Simpson says.

Police arrested a neighbor, Zachary Holly, less than a week after they found her.

Holly is set to go on trial next April, for the murder and rape of Jersey.

"Because it is still open, it's something that's hard to totally put away and not think about," Simpson says. "We know that no matter what we do, we can't turn back the clock, so the only thing that we can do is go forward and come to the best resolution that our law and our courts will allow. That's where we're at today still looking toward that."

A balloon-release ceremony was held Wednesday at the Children's Advocacy Center of Benton County. The ceremony paid tribute to all the children who have lost their lives at the hands of child abuse this year.
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