Fierce and independent, 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway walked a mile to school each day on her own. Her single mother worked nights and believed it was safe for her daughter to make the brief walk on her own as she slept and recovered from a long night at her job. Unfortunately, monsters exist and one wasn’t far from Jessica’s home. On October 5, 2012, the murder of Jessica Ridgeway happened. She was abducted, raped, and murdered on her way to school.
Jessica Ridgeway was born on January 23, 2002, in Colorado. Her parents had split up and her dad moved away, leaving Jessica to live with her mother Sarah in the suburban town of Westminster, Colorado. Jessica’s mother worked the night shift, so she would see Jessica off to school before going to sleep.
On the morning of October 5, 2012, Jessica woke up to the sound of her alarm clock and dressed for the weather, in blue jeans, a black jacket, and black boots. She followed her usual routine of putting on her pink and purple glasses and eating a granola bar. She then peeled oranges for her morning snack and filled up her water bottle for school.
Jessica would usually walk a short distance on her own before meeting a friend at the end of the street. The two would then walk to Witt Elementary school together.
When Jessica didn’t arrive at school, her teachers called Sarah to let her know.
As Sarah worked nights, she wouldn’t receive this message until many hours later. She then immediately called the police to report Jessica missing. Soon after, roads were blocked, cars were pulled over, and police began knocking on doors. More than 800 volunteers assisted in the search for Jessica Ridgeway.
When Jessica was reported missing on October 5, 2012, an Amber Alert was issued. Two days later, her school backpack was discovered on a sidewalk just a few miles from her home. The backpack contained her glasses which she needed to see, as well as the shoes she was wearing the day she went missing.
On October 10, remains were discovered in a park in Arvada. While police suspected the body belonged to Jessica, DNA tests were run to confirm their suspicions. This is because only a torso was found.
The body had been found in black garbage bags. Police discovered a small, wooden cross necklace, a clue that they believed would help them find Jessica’s killer.
Initially, police believed that Jessica’s biological father, Jeremy, may have been involved. Sarah and Jeremy were in the midst of a custody dispute; however, he had moved to Missouri and was soon ruled out as a suspect.
After her body was identified, a memorial was held for the murder of Jessica Ridgeway near 94th and Wadsworth to celebrate her short but precious life. Hundreds of balloons were released in Jessica’s memory and a candlelight vigil was held on 104th and Sheridan. However, with no suspect yet caught, the community was frightened that there was a killer amongst them.
There was a massive breakthrough in the Jessica Ridgeway murder case less than two weeks after her body was discovered. On October 23, 2012, Mindy Sigg called the police to reveal that her son, 17-year-old Austin Sigg, was responsible for Jessica’s death.
Austin had come clean to his mother about killing Jessica and told her that the rest of Jessica’s remains were hidden in her home in a crawl space.
He then pleaded guilty to all charges against him, including first-degree murder. During his sentencing, Austin did not speak or look at Jessica’s family.
When questioned, Austin revealed what happened after seeing Jessica walking to school. He said that he hid in the back seat of his Jeep, waiting for her to walk by the vehicle. When she did, he jumped out and grabbed her before throwing her into his car. He then brought her back to his bedroom.
Jessica watched a movie with Austin, and he later cut her hair. He then made Jessica change into clothing that he had bought and sexually assaulted her several times.
After he was finished, Austin asked Jessica to face the wall. When she turned around, he strangled her with zip ties. When he was unable to kill her with the zip ties due to not having “enough leverage,” he attempted to strangle Jessica with his bare hands. However, he was again unsuccessful.
The horrifying ordeal continued as he filled up the bathtub with boiling water. Austin then forced Jessica’s face into the water. He held her face in the water until he was sure that she was no longer breathing.
Austin Sigg’s Brutal Sexual Assault
Austin admitted to putting Jessica’s torso, arms, and legs in plastic bags and putting them inside the pool shed located in his backyard.
The night following the murder of Jessica Ridgeway, Austin drove to a neighborhood north in Superior, Colorado to drop off Jessica’s backpack. He said he placed the backpack there to divert police away from his home.
Austin stated that because police had thermal imaging and cadaver dogs, he wanted to get rid of Jessica’s torso. He brought her torso back inside and washed it before placing it back into a garbage bag and discarding it away from his home.
He then moved the rest of Jessica’s remains to a crawl space under the home. Austin Sigg’s brutal sexual assault and sadistic murder of Jessica is painfully similar to the murder of 11 year old, Shauna Melinda Howe in Pennsylvania.
At the same time that he admitted to killing Jessica Ridgeway, Austin revealed that he was also responsible for an attack on a female jogger on Ketner Lake. Austin had created a homemade chloroform with bleach and acetone and poured it onto a rag.
He then grabbed a female jogger from behind and held the chloroform rag to her face. Fortunately, the jogger was able to fight Austin off. When Austin was asked what he planned to do to the jogger, he said that he wanted to do the same thing he did to Jessica.
When he was 12 years old, his mother Mindy caught Austin watching child pornography.
She sent him to therapy, but it didn’t help, and he continued to watch porn, with the videos becoming more depraved over time.
Austin’s computer search history showed that he had been planning to kill for a long time. He had searched for chloroform recipes and searched for the top 10 places where people get abducted.
Other people also noticed that Austin was a bit abnormal. Shortly after releasing a photo of the cross necklace that was found in Jessica’s body, authorities received a tip from one of Austin’s neighbors who said that she believed that the cross belonged to the 17-year-old.
Those that knew Austin say that he was considered weird in school. Austin had dropped out of school after 11th grade and later earned his GED. His former classmates say that while Austin was intelligent, he often complained and was bullied for having a high voice.
As Austin was not yet 18 at the time of his crime, he was not eligible for capital punishment under a 2015 Supreme Court decision. However, he was tried as an adult in the court case and sentenced to life in prison on November 19, 2013. In June 2014, Austin was moved to an undisclosed, out-of-state prison.
During his interview, he gave no reason for killing Jessica Ridgeway. He simply told investigators, “There’s no better way to describe what I’ve done than evil.”
In court, Jessica’s family shared photos of the young girl during her short life. Jessica’s grandmother spoke, saying, “I miss her with every breath. There are no more hugs and kisses, or her little toes digging into mine on the couch.”