DA cites DNA, confession during teen suspect's hearing in Jessica Ridgeway killing
DA to charge 17-year-old Austin Siggs as adult
Last Updated: 413 days ago
WESTMINSTER, Colo. - A prosecutor said in court Thursday that authorities have a DNA match and confession from the 17-year-old suspect accused of kidnapping and killing Jessica Ridgeway.
Sources told the CALL7 Investigators that police would have eventually been led to Sigg, because he was one of 500 people who voluntarily submitted their DNA to investigators. So, while the phone call tip to police led to Sigg's arrest more quickly, once all of the DNA samples from neighborhood residents had been processed, investigators would have connected the cases to Sigg.
The CALL7 Investigators also confirmed that police recovered body parts at Sigg's home during their search on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey said his office will charge Sigg as an adult by Tuesday.
Austin Sigg made his first court appearance Thursday morning in Jefferson County court. The teen wore a bright, light green jumpsuit. His hands and feet were both shackled.
Public defenders argued that Sigg should be released on bond, saying he has no criminal history and is a low flight risk.
But Chief Deputy Deputy District Hal Sargent said Sigg poses a threat to the community and cited "overwhelming evidence" against the teen, including a DNA match and his confession.
The judge ordered Sigg held without bond.
Sigg's mother was in court. Jessica Ridgeway's mom, aunt and other family members took up an entire row in the courtroom. All were dressed in purple, Jessica's favorite color. Jessica's mother was wearing a purple ribbon in her hair.
7NEWS reporter Russell Haythorn said Sigg appeared calm through the proceedings and almost looked like more of an observer. At one point, Sigg interrupted the judge because he said he didn't understand a portion of the advisement hearing.
The judge paused the proceedings while Sigg's court-appointed attorneys gave him an explanation.
The judge asked if Sigg had a legal guardian present, and attorneys said Sigg's mother was there.
The charges were not read in court on Thursday, but the judge did tell Sigg he was being held in two separate cases. Another hearing was scheduled for next Tuesday.
Outside court, Storey said he planned to charge the 17-year-old as an adult by the Tuesday hearing.
"Based upon my experience and what I think the charges will be, I think that's the appropriate thing to do, is to charge as an adult," said Storey.
Yet, even if Sigg is tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder, because he's a juvenile he cannot face the death penalty or be given a sentence of mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole, Storey said.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that sentencing a juvenile murder offender to mandatory life in prison without parole is cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Constitution's Eighth Amendment.
However, Justice Elena Kagan's majority decision did not completely eliminate life-without-parole sentences for juveniles convicted of murder. She ruled out automatic life sentences, writing that "a judge or jury must have the opportunity to consider mitigating circumstances before imposing the harshest possible penalty for juveniles."
The high court banned the juvenile death penalty in 2005.
Storey said the June Supreme Court ruling made the current law on life-without-parole sentences for juveniles "murky."
So, even if Sigg is convicted of murder, Storey said, "because he's a juvenile we would have to have a sentencing hearing to see if he would actually even get life."
In court, the defense asked the judge to put all documents in the case under seal and issue a gag order in the case. The judge agreed to seal the documents, but did not issue a gag order.
Sigg revoked the waiver of his Miranda rights that he signed when he was arrested Tuesday night. That means he cannot be questioned without his attorneys present.
Sigg is being held on suspicion of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree kidnapping and two counts of criminal attempt: attempted murder and attempted kidnapping.
The first three charges (murder and kidnapping) are related to the Jessica Ridgeway case, according to Westminster Police spokesman Trevor Materasso.
Materasso said the last two charges, attempted murder and attempted kidnapping, are related to a May incident where a 22-year-old woman was attacked while she was jogging around Ketner Lake in Westminster.
Official charges from the district attorney's office will be filed by Tuesday.
Sigg Turns Himself In
Westminster police said they received a call Tuesday evening that led them to Sigg's home near the Ketner Lake Open Space, which is about 1 mile from Jessica's home on the other side of Ketner Lake.
He was arrested at his home around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday and cooperated with police and waived his rights, according to the custody report.
7NEWS has learned that a woman identifying herself as Sigg's aunt said the teen went to his mother on Tuesday with "disturbing information" and his mom urged him to call police and turn himself in.
Sigg's mother, Mindy Sigg, told reporters that she made the phone call to police and then her son turned himself in.
His mother was at the home when he was taken into custody.
Sigg does not appear on any Colorado sex offender lists and since he is a juvenile, his previous record has been sealed.
He is being held at the Mount View Youth Services Detention Center.
Sigg expressed interest in forensic science
Sigg is currently a student at Arapahoe Community College.
He was enrolled at JeffCo Schools from fifth grade to 11th grade, attending Witt Elementary (the same school Jessica attended), Wayne Carle Middle School, Standley Lake High School and Warren Tech, a vocational school.
He did not graduate from Jeffco Schools but obtained his GED, a JeffCo Schools spokeswoman said.
At Warren Tech, he was involved in a student organization called HOSA, or Health Occupation Students of America, where he competed in state-wide competitions, placing as a finalist in forensic science and biotechnology categories.
Some friends have told media outlets that he expressed interest in becoming a mortician and he was studying mortuary science at Arapahoe Community College.
Police search homes in Westminster, Parker
Crime scene investigators descended on his home Wednesday afternoon and towed away a bronze Jeep. They erected two white tents in his driveway where they were putting items of evidence they were pulling from his home. They put up police tape all around his home and AirTracker7 video shows investigators going through the back yard.
CALL7 Investigators reported that body parts were found in the Wesminster home.
The neighborhood around Sigg's home at 10622 W. 102nd Ave. will be closed off to everyone but residents living in that area for the next several days, Westminster police said.
Sigg has lived in this home since he was an infant.
His father -- who divorced his mother in 2000 -- still owns a home in Parker. CALL7 Investigators have confirmed that deputies, along with several FBI agents, are also searching that home on Wednesday.
Sigg's father issues statement
Rob Sigg, the father of Austin Sigg. issued a statement Thursday:
"First, I would ask for your prayers and support for the Ridgeway family. There are no words to express the sorrow that I and my family feel for their pain they are suffering. We are devastated by the knowledge that my son, Austin Sigg, has been arrested and will be charged with the murder of their beautiful daughter Jessica. This horrible event is a tragedy for both the families, as well as the community. I ask also for your prayers and support for Austin’s mother, whose courageous act … unimaginably painful for any parent … has put this tragedy on the path to resolution. I am hopeful that as the legal process unfolds, the Ridgeway family may come to know peace."
Police said anyone who has any information about Sigg after seeing his photo can still call the tip line at 303-658-4336 or email: PDamberalert@cityofwestminster.us.
The investigation is ongoing and any information about Sigg that could be helpful is still welcome.
However, affidavits in the case have been sealed.
"Justice for Jessica is a process and this is the beginning of that process. I know you are yearning for a lot of information, but we can't give you a lot of information," Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey said during the news conference.
Arvada police want to talk to Sigg about unsolved cases there
As Westminster Police continue to search Sigg's home for evidence, Arvada Police also want to talk with him about two attempted abductions in September.
Arvada Police say in both cases the kids, one eight and one nine, were offered candy to get into a car. Both kids ran away. Now the Arvada detective working the case wants to interview Sigg.
"He wants the opportunity to try to connect these or rule him out," said Arvada Police Sgt. Mark Nazaryk.
One of the kids provided a description that lead to a sketch. The sketch is eerily similar to the mug shot of Sigg.
"I'm sure that our detective at this point has probably put those side-by-side of equal scale," Nazaryk said.
While there may be similarities between the sketch and Sigg's photo, the vehicle used in the near abductions does not match.
"The vehicle from both of our cases in September was kind of a royal blue sedan and Sigg's car isn't even close to that," said Nazaryk.
Whether Arvada Police will be able to talk to the 17-year-old is entirely up to Sigg and his parents.
There was no physical contact in the attempted abductions, so the DNA sample Sigg gave police will not help solve the cases.
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