Video: Austin Sigg pleads guilty in senseless murder of Jessica Ridgeway
On October 5, 2012, just shy of one year ago, Jessica Ridgeway, ten, disappeared from her Westminster neighborhood while walking to school. The following week, her "not intact" remains were found in an open space area -- and before the month was out, seventeen-year-old Austin Sigg was arrested for the crime; see much of our previous coverage below. Sigg's trial was on the cusp of beginning, but now, proceedings shift immediately into the sentencing phase: He has pleaded guilty to all counts against him. Photos, videos and details below.
Photos, video and more below.
The search for Ridgeway was extensive, with entire communities pitching in to help shortly after she disappeared.
The discovery in Arvada of the girl's remains, and their condition, caused the investigation to shift from a rescue mission to a search for her killer.
A Jessica Ridgeway self-portrait.
Progress wasn't immediate, and the investigation was still ongoing during a massive memorial service for Ridgeway.
In the end, however, the break in the case came courtesy of Sigg's mother, who learned about the crime and convinced her son to turn himself in. He reportedly admitted that "I killed Jessica Ridgeway" in a 911 phone call on October 17.
A photo of Jessica shown at her memorial service.
As we've written, a custody report on Sigg identified him as a student at Arapahoe Community College. And while initial reports that he was studying mortuary science proved inaccurate (he had yet to complete preliminary coursework that would have allowed him to do so), he appears to have had a keen interest in the subject.
Prior to that, Sigg attended Witt Elementary (the same school to which Jessica was walking when she disappeared), Wayne Carle Middle School and Standley Lake High School -- and along the way, he took part in a Jeffco concert choir. Other interests reportedly included World of Warcraft and Call of Duty.
However, Sigg was said to have left the the high school during his eleventh grade year in favor of completing his GED and enrolling at Warren Tech, where he "won second place in the spring in a Health Occupations Students of America competition in the category of crime-scene investigation," according to the Denver Post.
Austin Sigg as a member of his high school choir.
Anecdotes about the young man vary widely. A young woman who described Sigg to 9News as her first boyfriend (they dated in middle school and high school) called him a sweet guy whom she first met at Warehouse: 180, a gathering place for Christian teens. Yes, he had a collection of swords and knives, she conceded, but he also loved music and gave her no indication of evil lurking within.
However, another woman who'd encountered Sigg and friends at Standley Lake told the station that they way he'd watched her "freaked me out."
The same can be said of a woman who'd escaped an abduction attempt at Ketner Lake the May before Ridgeway's murder -- a crime also connected to Sigg.
Subsequently, the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office decided to charge Sigg as an adult. He initially pleaded not guilty, but on September 30, two days before his trial was slated to start, the DA's office says the teen's defense attorneys contacted prosecutors and told them their client wanted to change course.
Yesterday, before a courtroom packed with Jessica's relatives and loved ones, he confessed to the following charges:
• First Degree Murder after deliberationIn a statement, Jeffco DA Peter Weir stressed that no deal had been cut to goad Sigg into pleading guilty: "No charges were dismissed as part of a plea bargain. However, three counts of felony murder merge into the count of first degree murder after deliberation count. A person can only be convicted and sentenced to the murder of a person once."
• Two counts of Second Degree Kidnapping
• Sexual Assault on a Child
• Sexual Assault
• Two counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Child
• Sexual Exploitation of a Child
• Four Violent Crime Counts
• Attempted Second Degree Kidnapping (Ketner Lake victim)
• One Violent Crime Count (Ketner Lake victim)
Sigg's sentencing phase begins on November 18 and is expected to last two days. He faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after forty years.
Here's a look at Sigg's most recent mug shot, followed by a 7News report about yesterday's developments and much of our previous coverage.
Continue to see much of our previous coverage of the Austin Sigg investigation, including multiple photos and videos.