WESTMINSTER, Colo. - A 17-year-old Colorado boy has been arrested in the abduction and murder of Jessica Ridgeway, the 10-year-old suburban Denver girl whose dismembered body was found days after she was abducted.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jessica’s father and other extended relatives live in Independence, Mo.
Donna Moss is Jessica’s great-grandmother. She told our Kansas City Scripps Station, 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.”
Police in Westminster planned to release more information, including the identity of the suspect, at a 1:05 p.m. CT news conference.
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 our Denver Scripps station, 7NEWS, Tuesday that they had received 3,400 tips via email and 6,000 phone tips. It was one of those tips Tuesday evening that led to the arrest.
Ridgeway Case Linked To May Attack
On Monday, Westminster police confirmed to 7NEWS 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 7NEWS 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.
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