JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - A judge ruled on Friday that there is enough evidence for a teen to stand trial for murder and attempted abduction about an hour after prosecutors played a 911 tape where Austin Sigg admitted to killing 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway and to trying to kidnap a female jogger.
The five-minute recording played during a Friday preliminary hearing began with the teen's mother, Mindy Sigg, calling 911 on the night of Oct. 23, 2012.
"I need you to come to my house, my son wants to turn himself in for Jessica Ridgeway's murder," the mother tells a dispatcher.
Then the 17-year-old is heard on the tape telling the dispatcher, "I murdered Jessica Ridgeway, I have proof that I did. I'm giving myself up completely, there will be no resistance whatsoever."
The dispatcher then asks the teen if he has a criminal history.
"The only other (incident) was Ketner Lake, where a woman was attacked. That was me," Sigg said.
A lead investigator testified earlier that Mindy Sigg also told the dispatcher that her son had hidden the girl's remains in the crawl space under the family's Westminster home.
Police went to interview the teen in person and arrested him that night.
During Friday's preliminary hearing, prosecutors presented evidence to a judge who was going to determine if there was sufficient evidence for Sigg stand trial for the girl's abduction, sexual assault and murder in October and the attack on the jogger on Memorial Day.
After more than five hours of testimony, the judge concluded that there was enough evidence in both cases and Sigg will be prosecuted on 18 counts. The judge threw out two counts related to the attempted sexual assault of the jogger but ruled Sigg could be tried for an "enhancer" penalty if he was found guilty of using a chloroform rag to incapacitate the jogger.
If convicted, the now-18-year-old Sigg could spend years behind bars. He is set to be arraigned on March 12.
Jessica's mother and other family and friends were at the hearing. Austin Sigg's family was also present. Both families were dressed in purple, Jessica's favorite color.
We caution readers that this story contains gruesome details.
Jessica was abducted as she walked toward school on Oct. 5, triggering a massive search that ended with the discovery of her dismembered body five days later in an Arvada open space field.
The first witness, lead Westminster Police Det. Luis Lopez, recalled interviewing Jessica's distraught mother, Sarah Ridgeway, the day her daughter disappeared.
"She was scared. She was in shock. She was actually holding Jessica's blanket," Lopez said.
The mother told the investigator that Jessica was going to walk to a male student's nearby home that morning and then continue walking with the boy to school. But the girl never arrived at the boy's home.
Jessica's remains were found when two men collecting litter in an open space field came across a shiny black plastic bag, indicating it hadn't been exposed to the elements for too long, the detective said.
The men opened the bag and found another plastic bag inside, Lopez said. The interior bag was heavy and "didn’t feel right," so the men called a supervisor, Lopez added.
The supervisor and the men cut open the inner bag and found the girl's torso, which was missing her arms, legs and head, Lopez said. The rest of the girl's remains were found in the crawl space of Sigg's Westminster family home, the detective said.
An autopsy showed Jessica died from asphyxiation due to strangulation or suffocation, Lopez said.
Sigg came onto investigators' radar on Oct. 19, when a neighbor woman called a tip line in response to police saying they had recovered a small wooden cross that might have been worn by the killer.
The neighbor said she knew a kid named Austin Sigg who had worn a similar cross, according to Lopez.
The woman said she was concerned about the teen because he had dropped out of high school and "he was obsessed with death and the decomposition of bodies," the detective recalled.
Based on that tip, the FBI took a DNA sample from Sigg that day, Lopez said. That was four days before the 911 call where Sigg confessed to the dispatcher.
Lopez said Sigg's DNA was linked to "touch" DNA found on Jessica's torso, underwear, water bottle, boots and gloves as well as the clothing of the jogger who was grabbed at Ketner Lake.
Jessica's backpack was found on a sidewalk by a homeowner in a Superior neighborhood two days after she disappeared.
Lopez said the backpack contained the water bottle with the girl's name written on it, prescription eye glasses, her underwear, a tie-dyed T-shirt, jeans, winter boots, gloves and a keychain.
During a search of Sigg's home, police seized computer equipment.
Westminster Police Det. Chris Pyler, who specializes in crimes against children, testified that child pornography images were recovered from a laptop and a computer tower seized at the home.
Last month, Sigg was charged with three counts of sexual exploitation of a child, which are child pornography offenses. Two charges are related to video of sexually exploitive material of children and the other charge involves still images.
On the day he was arrested, Sigg asked a fellow Arapahoe Community College student, "What are the signs of a panic attack? I'm not feeling very good," Lopez testified.
Sigg told the classmate he might miss his next class. That night Sigg confessed to his mother and she made the phone call to police at 7:30 p.m.
The Sigg family did not know the Ridgeway family, Lopez said. But it might have been a crime of opportunity.
In court on Friday, prosecutors presented a map showing the location of the jogger's attack, Ridgeway's home, and Sigg's home. All were within one mile of one another.