WESTMINSTER, Colo. - A 17-year-old Colorado boy with an interest in forensic science and criminology has been arrested in the abduction and murder of Jessica Ridgeway, the 10-year-old suburban Denver girl with Missouri ties whose dismembered body was found days after she was abducted. He was reportedly turned in by his mother.
Austin Reed Sigg was arrested Tuesday night after a call led police to his home, according to the Westminster, Colo., Police Department.
“I believe we have taken a significant step towards justice for Jessica,” Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk said at a news conference early Wednesday afternoon.
According to KMGH, our Scripps station in Denver, a woman identifying herself as Sigg's aunt said the teen went to his mother on Tuesday with "disturbing information," and she urged him to call police and turned himself in.
Sigg's mother, Mindy Sigg, told reporters that she made the phone call to police and her son turned himself in.
His mother was at the home when he was taken into custody.
Sigg, who lives near the open area park where Jessica's body was found, is the prime suspect in Jessica's death. Her dismembered body was found several days after she disappeared while walking to school in Westminster.
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According to a custody report from the Westminster Police Department, he was being held on two charges of first-degree murder and one charge each of second-degree kidnapping, criminal attempt to murder and criminal attempt to kidnap.
Authorities said at the news conference the first three charges, including both murder charges, were all in relation to the Jessica Ridgeway case. The fourth and fifth charges were in relation to an attempted abduction on Memorial Day Weekend that this week was linked to the Jessica Ridgeway case through DNA evidence.
It was not immediately clear why two murder charges were indicated in the Ridgeway case.
Formal charges will be filed within the next couple of days, Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey said at the news conference, adding Sigg's first court appearance was scheduled for Thursday at 9 a.m. CT.
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
Jessica’s father and other extended relatives live in Independence, Mo.
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Donna Moss, Jessica’s great-grandmother, told 41 Action News just minutes after she learned the news of an arrest that she was “grateful to God that the community pulled together and the police department didn’t quit.”
Ridgeway disappeared Oct. 5 as she was walking to meet up with friends at Chelsea Park so they could all walk to school together. The park is several blocks from her home. Her friends said she never showed up at the park. Ridgeway's remains were found in an Arvada open space park five days later.
Westminster police told KMGH on Tuesday that they had received 3,400 tips via email and 6,000 phone tips. It was one of those tips on Tuesday evening that led to the arrest.
Ridgeway Case Linked To May Attack
On Monday, Westminster police confirmed they found a direct connection between the murder of Jessica Ridgeway and the person who attacked a female jogger at Ketner Lake in May.
"We are able to make a definitive link," said Westminster Police spokesman Trevor Materasso.
In the May attack, a 22-year-old woman was jogging when someone grabbed her from behind and tried to put a chemical-laced rag over her mouth, police said.
The woman escaped and called 911, police said. Yet officers searching the area with a police dog were unable to find the attacker.
The suspect in the May attack was described as a light-skinned man who ranged in age from 18 to his 30s. He had brown hair, a medium build and was about 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall. The man was wearing a dark blue baseball cap, small-rim sunglasses, a black T-shirt and blue jeans.
A similar incident occurred in July 2010, when a man chased a female jogger near the lake. Police said that man's description was similar to the assailant in the jogger attack.
DNA Taken From 500 People
Westminster Police confirmed to KMGH that DNA samples were collected from about 500 people during the investigation.
Everyone who submitted DNA samples in the case did so voluntarily, said Materasso. Samples were collected orally, using a DNA swab.
Materasso said people were asked to provide a DNA sample if they used their cell phones near the three crime scene areas.
Others were asked for a sample if they were identified based on tips from the public or by police officers during neighborhood searches.
Although Materasso confirmed the samples were collected, he didn't discuss how the samples would be used in the investigation.
KMGH in Denver contributed to this report
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