WARNING – The following contains graphic material that may be unsuitable or disturbing to some readers. The following descriptions of what was said in open court by the witnesses has been generalized because the testimony given in open court was extremely graphic.
The preliminary hearing for Austin Sigg began at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, February 22, 2013 in a Jefferson County courtroom.
Prosecution Calls Their First Witness
The first witness for the prosecution took the stand on Friday to testify against Austin Sigg, now 18. Westminster Police’s Louis Lopez is the lead detective on the case against Sigg.
During his testimony, he outlined the Jessica Ridgeway case.
He said Jessica usually walked to school with her classmate Jeremy. That day, Jessica called Jeremy’s dad to make sure he was walking to school that day due to some bad weather. Jeremy’s dad said Jeremy was going to walk to school that day. Jessica never showed up to walk with him.
On October 7, 2012 Lopez says they found Jessica’s backpack. Inside the backpack, they found her boots with pom poms, prescription glasses, jeans, winter gloves, a tie-dyed T-shirt, a water bottle and underwear.
DNA found on Jessica’s clothing matched the DNA on the jogger’s clothing from the Kepner Lake incident where a jogger was attacked and the suspect was never found.
Lopez also recalled the day Jessica’s body was discovered. Workers from a dump picking up trash found the torso of a small, white girl. There were no arms, no legs and no head attached to the torso. A wooden cross was also found. DNA found on Jessica’s torso was compared to the DNA found on the water bottle from Jessica’s backpack. It was a match.
Lopez addressed the child porn accusations. He said detectives found a hard drive and a laptop that had pornographic photos of children on it.
Austin Sigg was on the police’s radar before his mother called to turn him in last fall.
On October 19, soon after the police had released the photos of the wooden cross, investigators received a tip from a neighbor saying she was the neighbor of Sigg. The tipster said she saw the photo of the cross released by police as possibly connected to the case. The tipster claimed she saw Sigg wearing crosses often and that he was “obsessed with death.” She said Sigg was taking mortuary science classes and was interested in bodies.
On Octobr 19, after receiving the tip rom Sigg’s neighbor, the FBI went to Sigg’s house to collect DNA evidence. On October 21, another DNA sample was taken.
Lopez testified Friday that the FBI took a DNA sample from Sigg based on the tip from Sigg’s neighbor.
The DNA samples from Sigg were eventually matched to the DNA found on the jogger’s clothing, Jessica’s body and Jessica’s clothing.
On October 23, Lopez said Sigg’s mother Mindy called police at 7:30 p.m. to report that her son had admitted to killing Jessica and assaulting the jogger. Mindy Sigg told police some of Jessica’s remains were in the crawl space of her house.
During Stutson’s testimony, a tape of the 911 phone call Minday made to police was played. Several members of Sigg’s family who were seated behind him began sobbing while the tape was played.
Police went to Sigg’s home to investigate after they had received the 911 call from Mindy. They found remains in the crawl space of the house that were later identified as Jessica’s. The cause of death according to the coroner was asphyxiation secondary to suffocation or strangulation.
Lopez pointed out the Siggs and the Ridgeways did not know each other.
Sexual Assault Nurse Testifies
The second witness was Anissa Jones. Jones is a sexual assault nurse examiner.
Jones testified about her forensic exam of Jessica’s remains. She said Jessica’s body had multiple bruises and lacerations on it.
“I believe there was some sort of penetration that occurred,” Jones testified.
The defense team clarified that no semen or sperm was discovered during the exam.
During Jones’ testimony, Jessica’s mother, Sarah Ridgeway, kept closing her eyes. It was visibly difficult for her to hear the testimony.
Detective Clarifies Child Porn Charges
The third witness called by the prosecution was a detective who talked about the child porn they found.
Detective Chris Pyler works for the Westminster Police Department in their Crimes Against Children/Internet Crimes division. Pyler testified that police confiscated two laptops and a computer tower from Sigg’s home. Two of the laptops were taken from Sigg’s bedroom.
All three hard drives were taken to the sheriff’s office lab in Boulder to be examined. All three had pictures on them of underage boys and girls exposing their private parts.
Austin Sigg’s Confession
WARNING – This part of the update is too graphic and painful to share on our website. For those who want to know, please go to 9 News (Sigg denies sexual assault section) and/or to The Denver Post to read about the details of Austin Sigg’s confession.
Brief Summary of Jessica’s Case
10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway was kidnapped on her way to school on October 5, 2012. Her body was found five days later in a field in Arvada. Authorities say Austin Sigg, then 17, confessed to the kidnapping and slaying. He was arrested October 23.
Sigg is accused of kidnapping and killing Jessica Ridgeway in October. Judge Stephen Munsinger bound Sigg over for trial on 18 of 20 counts relating to the death of Jessica and an attack on a jogger at Ketner Lake over Memorial Day weekend in 2012.
Channel 4 News