Update: We're learning more about Austin Reed Sigg, seventeen, busted yesterday in the kidnapping and killing of Jessica Ridgeway, a ten-year-old Westminster girl who vanished en route to school on October 5 and was found dead the following week. Revelations thus far involve an interest in criminal investigation, references to forensics and mortuary science, alternately shocked and creeped-out acquaintances and a father with a criminal past. The custody report on Sigg, on view below, identifies him as a student at Arapahoe Community College, where sources who spoke with the Denver Post say he was focused on studying mortuary science -- no doubt a terrifying thought for loved ones of Jessica, whose torso was found in an Arvada open space area.
Prior to that, 9News reports, 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 is 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, the Post notes, he "worked toward a career in health occupations or forensic science and won second place in the spring in a Health Occupations Students of America competition in the category of crime-scene investigation."
Anecdotes about the young man vary widely. In another 9News piece, a young woman who describes Sigg as her first boyfriend (they dated in middle school and high school) calls him a sweet guy whom she first met at Warehouse: 180, a gathering place for Christian teens. (As you'll recall, Westminster police released a photo of a small wooden cross considered vital evidence in the inquiry into Jessica's slaying -- and Sigg can be seen wearing a necklace of some sort in his mug shot.) Yes, he had a collection of swords and knives, she concedes, but he also loved music and gave her no indication of evil lurking within. Not so a woman who told 9News about encountering Sigg and friends at Standley Lake. She remembered him watching her in a way that "freaked me out."
Meanwhile, Fox31 dug into the background of Robert Sigg, Austin's father -- and he's left quite a paper trail. The station documented a slew of arrests for offenses that include assault and battery, resisting/obstructing arrest, domestic violence, driving under the influence of drugs, being a habitual traffic offender and more. Robert, who was divorced from Austin's mother, Mindy, eleven years ago, is said to be the owner of Performance One Media in Centennial (the company's website is down, as is his personal one), and while he's reportedly been in Mexico on business, his Parker home is being targeted for police search.
One matter given relatively little attention amid the news of Austin Sigg's arrest: Although he's a juvenile, the Westminster police immediately released his name and photo. This actions suggest strongly that he'll be charged as an adult. Nonetheless, his age means the death penalty is off the table. The most severe sentence he can possibly receive is life in prison without the possibility of parole. And yes, he's reportedly confessed.
Look below to see a Robert Sigg booking photo and reports from Fox31 and 9News. Those items are followed by our previous coverage, including a larger look at Austin Sigg's mug shot, the custody report and more.
Continue for our previous coverage, including photos and videos. Update: Moments ago, a brief press conference was staged to announce the arrest of a suspect in the kidnapping and killing of Jessica Ridgeway, a ten-year-old Westminster girl who went missing on the way to school October 5. Austin Reed Sigg, seventeen, is being held on suspicion of multiple counts, including first-degree murder and kidnapping. Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk said he hopes the arrest is a "significant step toward justice for Jessica."
After being introduced by Westminster police spokesman Trevor Materasso, Birk noted that "seventeen-year-old Austin Sigg is in our custody" before thanking the community "for the tremendous public outpouring of support," which he said gave law enforcement strength and encouragement during the investigative process. He added that the same was true for the Ridgeway family. He also had words of praise for other law enforcement agencies involved in the inquiry, be they local, state or federal, and folks who called in tips, which he described as "instrumental and very helpful."
According to Birk, "We notified the Ridgeway family this morning of the arrest. We hope and pray this arrest gives them some measure of closure in dealing with this horrible tragedy and the loss they have suffered.
"We hope in some way knowing an arrest has been made in this case will maybe cause our community to rest a little easier," he added.
Next to the microphone was Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey, who echoed many of Birk's statements. He called the investigation a collaborative effort between assorted agencies that continued day and night from October 5 onward. But when it came to details, he was circumspect.
"Justice for Jessica is a process," Storey said, "and this is the beginning of that process.... I know you're yearning for a lot of information. We can't give you a lot of information. Affidavits in this case have been sealed.
"I can tell you that charges are forthcoming. Charges will be filed within the next couple of days, and then we start a different process.... This is a continuing investigation. Certainly, we are still focused on the integrity of the investigation, and then we'll go into the prosecution aspect of it."
Storey stressed that "Mr. Sigg has a presumption of innocence and we're going to honor that." He then deflected questions from the assembled reporters, including one that he couldn't answer because of Sigg's age; at seventeen, he is technically a juvenile, although he could be charged as an adult.
After Storey concluded his remarks, Materasso addressed the press. He pointed out that Sigg's first court appearance is scheduled for 8 a.m. tomorrow morning at Division 10 in Jefferson County Court. He also noted that Sigg is being held on suspicion of two first-degree murder counts, both associated with Jessica Ridgeway, plus a kidnapping charge. Two subsequent counts -- criminal attempts at murder and kidnapping -- are related to the May incident at Ketner Lake where an adult jogger narrowly avoided being abducted.
Materasso also said that a warrant is being served on a home in the Ketner Lake area and stressed that the investigation remains ongoing. If anyone has additional information about Sigg, the case or other incidents, he went on, they should phone the Ridgeway tip line at 303-658-4336.
Continue for our previous coverage.
Update, 11:52 a.m. October 24: In advance of a 12:05 p.m. press conference about the arrest of a suspect in the kidnapping and killing of Jessica Ridgeway, the Westminster Police Department has released the name and photo of the man now in custody. He is Austin Reed Sigg, age seventeen, of 10622 102nd Avenue in Westminster.
Here's a first look at his mug shot.
And here's his custody report:
At about 12:08 p.m. on Wednesday the 24th, a spokeswoman for the Westminster police told assembled media the press conference will get started a little late. We should have additional information momentarily.
Continue to read our previous coverage, including photos and videos. Update, 11:24 a.m. October 24: The Westminster Police Department has made an arrest in the kidnapping and killing of Jessica Ridgeway, a ten-year-old Westmiinster girl who disappeared on October 5 and was found murdered the following week. More details will be provided at a 12:05 p.m. news conference, but the department spokesman is already revealing that the suspect is from the Ketner Lake area, near where a jogger was attacked in May.
Here's the opening lines of a press release sent out by the WPD's Trevor Materasso moments ago:
Law enforcement received the major break in the Jessica Ridgway investigation they have been hoping for. Late Tuesday evening police received a call that led them to a home near the Ketner Lake Open Space. With this discovery, police are able to announce we have made an arrest in the Ridgeway murder investigation. Additionally, authorities will file charges against the attacker in the May 28, 2012 attempted abduction at Ketner Lake.
A photo of the suspect should be available as soon as the upcoming press conference concludes. The release adds:
The identification and apprehension means residents will see increased police activity in very focused areas of our communities. A tremendous amount of investigation and follow up still needs to be conducted and police ask the public and media for their continued cooperation and understanding. Limited information can be released as both cases move into courts for prosecution.
Look here for more updates.
Update, 5:58 a.m. October 24: The investigation into the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Ridgeway, a ten-year-old Westminster girl, has become such a big story nationally as well as locally that authorities are encouraging donations to help catch the killer. Meanwhile, the WPD is continuing to emphasize what it's calling a "direct connection" between a May attack on a jogger, leading many to believe the same person was responsible for both crimes.
Just past 5 p.m. yesterday, the Westminster police and Metro Denver Crime Stoppers put out a joint release noting that the WPD "has received calls and e-mails from people and businesses across the country asking if they can contribute money to a reward fund. Some people want their donations to be used as a reward for information leading to the identification and apprehension of the person responsible for the abduction and subsequent murder of Jessica Ridgway. A reward has not been offered at the time of this press release as law enforcement works with Crime Stoppers to collect donations and determine what level of reward could be available at a future date."
As a result, the Westminster force and Crime Stoppers have established a reward fund. Here are the details about contributing:
• Simply donate to the Jessica Ridgeway Benefit Donation Reward Account at any Wells Fargo Bank (9957483077)
• Wire money to Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. 420 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94104 (routing number: 121000248/account number: 9957483077) Beneficiary: Crime Stoppers Program, Inc.
• By check: Crime Stoppers c/o Justice for Jessica, PO Box 40965, Denver, CO 80204 Memo line: Jessica Ridgeway Reward
• Online at: www.metrodenvercrimestoppers.com
The release adds that "due to the direct connection between the Ketner Lake attempted abduction on May 28, 2012 and the Jessica Ridgeway murder, this special account will apply to information that helps solve either case."
A recap about the Ketner Lake incident: At about 1:15 p.m. on Monday, May 28, a 22-year-old woman was running along a trail at the lake, not far from Jessica's home, when a man tried to grab her from behind and put a rag over her mouth that exuded a chemical smell. She was able to escape and dial 911 from her cell phone -- and she subsequently gave police a detailed description of the suspect: a medium-build, light-skinned male in the five-six to five-eight range who appeared to be between eighteen and thirty, with brown hair.
Given the Westminster police's increasing emphasis on the ties between these two attacks, the assumption is that the description matches that of the person who took Jessica's life.
Thus far, authorities have reportedly received a staggering 9,400 tips (approximately 6,000 by phone and 3,400 via e-mail) and taken around 500 DNA samples under the theory that the predator being sought is or has been a member of the local community -- a presumption that accounts for the concern about future crimes.
Continue to see our previous coverage, including photos and videos. Update, 5:58 a.m. October 23: In yesterday's post about the search for the kidnapper and killer of Jessica Ridgeway, a ten-year-old Westminster girl who disappeared on her way to school on October 5 (see it below), we reported that inside sources had confirmed a DNA match between the latest crime and a previous assault attempt -- and noted the timing of a re-release about an abduction attempt at Ketner Lake in May. Now, police are confirming that the two cases are related.
Last night, 9News quoted Westminster Police Department spokesman Trevor Materasso as confirming a link between the incidents. He stopped short of saying investigators believe the same person was responsible in both instances, but if the DNA assertions are accurate, they would serve as evidence pointing law enforcers toward that theory.
As for the May attack, here are the details from our previous coverage:
At about 1:15 p.m. on Monday, May 28, as noted in a Westminster PD release issued shortly afterward, a 22-year-old woman was running along a Ketner Lake trail when a man tried to grab her from behind and put a rag over her mouth that exuded a chemical smell. She was able to escape and dial 911 from her cell phone -- and she subsequently gave police a detailed description of the suspect: a medium-build, light-skinned male in the five-six to five-eight range who appeared to be between eighteen and thirty, with brown hair.
That release points out that a man who reportedly chased a jogger in 2010 met that same description.
Materasso also confirmed to 9News that authorities had found some blond hair in the open space area where Jessica's torso was found -- something we mentioned yesterday. The hair is being tested, and at this writing, there's no confirmation that it has relevance in this case. Meanwhile, a grocery receipt for plastic bags of the sort that were found underneath Jessica's remains appears to be unrelated -- which will likely come as a disappointment to Headline News' Nancy Grace, who's now energetically covering the story. On Twitter yesterday, she tweeted:
Whoever did this is an absolute amateur--they left the receipt for the garbage bag! #JessicaRidgeway
— Nancy Grace (@NancyGraceHLN) October 23, 2012
However, she followed up with a tweet that's still timely:
Goodnight friends. Praying for answers tonight in the #JessicaRidgeway case xx NG
— Nancy Grace (@NancyGraceHLN) October 23, 2012
Look below to see the aforementioned 9News report, followed by a Nancy Grace segment on the crime.
Continue to read our previous coverage, including photos and videos. Update, 5:53 a.m. October 22: The evidence appears to be accumulating in the search for the the kidnapper and killer of Jessica Ridgeway, a ten-year-old Westminster girl who disappeared on her way to school on October 5. The latest: Investigators have reportedly found a match between DNA recovered in the Ridgeway case and that collected in an unsolved sexual assault attempt. And that's not to mention another potentially significant discovery: a clump of blond hair.
Give the scoop on these matters to Fox31. The station's Justin Joseph cites two sources familiar with the investigation as saying that DNA detected either on the girl's book bag (recovered in Superior, miles from where she vanished, with most of her clothing inside) or Pattridge Park, the Arvada open space area where her remains were left, scored a hit with material from an attempted assault on an adult female.
Which attempted assault? That's not specified -- but note that last week, the Westminster Police Department sent out an alert about a May attack attempt on a jogger at Ketner Lake, not far from Jessica's home. As we report below in more detail, the release in question points out that a man who reportedly chased a jogger in 2010 had a similar description to the suspected perpetrator at the lake. Police don't know if this person could have been involved in Jessica's disappearance, but the possibility that he might prompted the info's re-release.
The find likely explains why police took DNA samples from residents throughout Jessica's neighborhood.
Joseph also notes increased activity in the open space area after the discovery of blond hair that may have belonged to Jessica. If that's the case, the search grid has likely been widened in the hope of finding even more clues that might lead to the killer. Already, investigators have grabbed a small wooden cross whose existence was shared with the media on Friday; no confirmation of whether police believe it belonged to the murderer, but it's thought to be potentially significant. Below, see closeup photos of the cross, as well as a detailed description.
More disturbing details: The main portion of Jessica's body found in Pattridge Park was her torso. It was left on a black garbage bag near a receipt from a King Soopers at West 100th and Wadsworth that recorded the purchase of such bags. Thus far, no breakthroughs from the King Soopers link.
If you have information about this crime, phone 303-658-4336. Here's the latest Fox31 report, followed by our previous coverage.
Continue to see our previous coverage, including photos and videos. Update, 5:32 p.m. October 19: The Westminster Police have released a new piece of evidence in regard to its search for the kidnapper and killer of Jessica Ridgeway, a ten-year-old girl who went missing two weeks ago today (and whose body was found last week). It's a small wooden cross, and while a WPD rep doesn't come right out and say investigators believe it may have belonged to the murderer, the possibility that it might be is implicit. See photos below.
In the latest release, the WPDs Trevor Materasso doesn't reveal where the cross was found, or whether it was in close proximity to her body, recovered in an Arvada open-space area. However, he notes that it "could become a pivotal piece of evidence that helps authorities identify and locate Jessica's killer."
The wooden cross is approximately one-and-a-half inches tall by one-inch wide and has a hole drilled through its upper portion, suggesting that it can or may have been worn on a necklace. One side features "three vertical bars etched onto the shorter horizontal section and a zig-zag pattern is carved onto the opposite side," while the "upper post portion is offset from the lower post below the short horizontal section."
Given these unusual characteristics, investigators are hoping that it may have stood out to someone, or that a local business selling them may have information about an individual who recently purchased one. Such folks are encouraged to phone the tip line at 303-658-4336.
Here are four photos of the cross. They're followed by our previous coverage about a possible link to a May abduction attempt at Ketner Lake, not far from Jessica's home, that authorities feel may also have a connection to this tragic crime.
Continue to see our previous coverage, including photos and video. Original post, 6:42 a.m. October 19: The kidnapping and murder of Jessica Ridgeway, a ten-year-old Westminster girl who went missing two weeks ago today, continues to inspire a sweeping investigative effort. The latest: Westminster Police are looking at possible links between the Ridgeway case and a May jogger attack at Ketner Lake, not far from Jessica's home. In addition, there have been a number of other reported abduction attempts in the metro area over recent days. Details below. At about 1:15 p.m. on Monday, May 28, as noted in a Westminster PD release issued shortly afterward, a 22-year-old woman was running along a Ketner Lake trail when a man tried to grab her from behind and put a rag over her mouth that exuded a chemical smell. She was able to escape and dial 911 from her cell phone -- and she subsequently gave police a detailed description of the suspect: a medium-build, light-skinned male in the five-six to five-eight range who appeared to be between eighteen and thirty, with brown hair.
That release points out that a man who reportedly chased a jogger in 2010 met that same description. Police don't know if this person could have been involved in Jessica's disappearance, but the possibility that he might has inspired new outreach.
No sketch was distributed after either of these incidents, under the reported rationale that they're more likely to confuse than elucidate. But other police agencies have different opinions. For instance, the Arvada Police Department circulated a pair of sketches from previous crime attempts a few days ago. Here are the illustrations and accompanying descriptions courtesy of the Missing Cases Facebook page:
Meanwhile, more reports about attempted child abductions are surfacing, as is to be expected in the wake of such a high-profile case. Continue to read about two possible abduction attempts and to see a video about the latest developments. This week, for example, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office shared the following:
On October 15, 2012, between 7:30 to 8:00 p.m., a 14-year-old male was walking home from a friend's house in the 8200 block of W. Toller Avenue. As he neared Falcon Bluffs Middle School he observed a dark blue or black sedan following him. The male that was driving the vehicle stopped the car and yelled, "Hey", to the juvenile. Frightened, the juvenile began to run towards his home at Holland and Chatfield. The juvenile reported that the adult male ran after him and caught him a short distance later. He grabbed his arm and began to pull the juvenile towards the car. As the juvenile felt the suspect's grip loosen he pulled away and was able to run to his home. The suspect is described as a white male, 35-40 years old, about 200 pounds with medium salt and pepper hair. The vehicle was described as a dark blue or black sedan.
There's also this from the Parker Police Department, detailing what's dubbed a "suspicious occurrence:"
On October 14, 2012 at approximately 3:30 pm, Parker Police Officers responded to the Clarke Farms Subdivision located in Parker, Colorado on a report of a suspicious vehicle. Upon arrival, the officers spoke to a mother of three who reported she was placing two of her children in her vehicle. While she was loading her children into the vehicle, she heard a vehicle pull up in front of her house and a male voice call out. As she stepped around the corner of her vehicle to determine who was there, she saw what she described as a teal colored Chevy Astro van parked in front of her residence on the roadway. There was a male in the front passenger seat of the van who was "signaling" with his hands for her four-year-old child to come over to the van.
Once the male passenger observed the mother, he ducked out of sight in what the mother described as an attempt to not be seen. The vehicle left the area. All the witnesses described the van as teal in color, clean with a high gloss paint job. It is unknown at this time if other occupants were in the vehicle other than the driver and front seat passenger.
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If you have any information about the Ketner Lake or Jessica Ridgeway cases, contact the Westminster Police Department tip center at 303-658-4336. Anyone who can help with the Falcon Bluffs matter should phone the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office at 303-271-5612. The Parker Police contact is Detective Michael Buoniconti at 303.805.6524.
Here's a CBS4 video about the Ketner Lake case:
More from our News archive: "Jessica Ridgeway predator search: Could killer have attended her memorial service?"