Community troubled by young age of suspect in Jessica Ridgeway murder
The realization Jessica Ridgeway’s accused killer is a child himself has sparked mixed emotions in her community about what should happen to him next.
Austin Sigg is just 17.
But Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey says the teenager must pay the consequences as an adult.
Neighbors of both Jessica and Austin agree with the decision.
“After what he did to that poor little girl, I think he should definitely go as an adult. He’s so close in age anyway,” says mother of two boys, Shandra Converse.
Sigg turns 18 January 17.
“I do feel he is old enough to know better. I think he should be tried as an adult as hard as that is,” says mother of a young girl, Jerrilynn Lilyblade.
But the DA cannot purse the death penalty.
The U.S. Supreme Court says it’s cruel and unusual punishment for anyone under 18.
If Sigg is convicted, he’d be eligible for parole after 40 years.
“That seems too young for something like this. I don’t know,” says Lilyblade.
The 17-year-old’s young age raises questions not just in the criminal justice system, but also with Jessica’s family’s pastor.
“We’re talking about a 17-year-old who does something so horrific. We can’t make sense of the situation itself. Now, it’s compounded by a 17-year-old boy,” says Pastor Rick Long, of Grace Church of Arvada.
Long says an arrest means even more broken hearts.
“As a ministry, our hearts are broken for Sarah and her family. But I also care about his mother who has to deal with these atrocities and had the courage to turn her own son in,” says Long.
“I’m also a mother myself. I can’t figure out which is worse–being the mother of a child lost or the mother of a child who’s done something like this,” says Lilyblade.
Long says Jessica’s family told him they are very grateful to the police, media and the public for helping catch a suspect.
Long says he has personally given the family up to 7,000 messages and gifts sent to his church.