Witness: Sigg had traits of a ‘psychopath’


Austin Sigg at his sentencing hearing Nov. 18, 2013.

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GOLDEN, Colo. — Sentencing begins Monday morning for Austin Sigg, the teen who confessed to killing 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway.

From her disappearance more than a year ago, to Sigg’s arrest and confession, it’s a case that continues to draw national attention. The saga will get one step closer to nearing its end as Sigg is scheduled to be sentenced on 14 felony counts, including murder in the death of Jessica.  The sentencing hearing is expected to take two days.

Jessica was walking to school in Westminster 13 months ago, when she was kidnapped. Her partial remains were discovered five days later in a field in Arvada.   Police said that Jessica had been dismembered.

“I watched her walk out the door,” Jessica’s mother Sarah Ridgeway said. “I shut the door and that’s the last time I saw her.”

As details emerged about her death, parents across the Denver metro area were fearful that their child could be next. Eventually, a 911 call came from Sigg’s mother.

She said he son admitted that he had committed the crime. She also told police she had discovered more of Jessica’s remains in the crawlspace of her home.

Jessica’s family braced for a long painful trial, but Sigg unexpectedly pleaded guilty just two days before that trial was set to begin. Under either situation — a trial or a guilty plea — legal expert Dan Recht said, Sigg “was going to end up going to prison for many decades.”

However, Recht also said that Sigg’s sentencing will be tricky, because he committed the crime as a juvenile, but pleaded guilty as an adult.

“The defense will present mitigating circumstances to suggest that Sigg was only a juvenile when this happened,” Recht said. “And there were all kinds of circumstances given his degree of emotional and mental problems,”

But most think the judge is unlikely to hand down much sympathy in this well-documented case. That would be what the prosecution would prefer.

The prosecution has already said they will be offering no deals that would give Sigg a reduced sentence. Instead, prosecutors want Sigg to serve each of his sentences consecutively — one after the other. If that ends up being the case, Sigg likely would not be eligible for parole for 40 years.

Members of Jessica’s family filled two rows in the courtroom Monday. Many people, including Sigg’s mother, wore purple, Jessica’s favorite color.

Sigg10Witness says Ridgeway asked Sigg if she would see mother again

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Anna Salter, a psychologist who testified Monday morning, said that after kidnapping Jessica, Sigg cut her hair and forced her to take off her clothes, put them in her school backpack and then put on another set of clothes.

During that time Jessica repeatedly asked Sigg if she would see her mother again. He lied and said she would, Salter said.

“He certainly had no empathy for Jessica Ridgeway, either during or after the crime,” Salter said.

Salter said Sigg mutilated Jessica’s body. “There’s no logical motive for dismemberment other than sexual thrill,” she said.

Salter said she did not consider Sigg a psychopath but had “traits” of a psychopath.  Salter did not interview Sigg directly, but wrote a report for the prosecution based off of facts of the investigation.

Salter testified that Sigg was sexually aroused by dismemberment and that his mother found child pornography on his computer in 2008.  Sigg was sent to treatment, but he continued to view violent child pornography, Salter said.

Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk said his department is still dealing with the psychological effects of their investigation into Jessica’s murder.

“The horrific details of this case quite frankly are like nothing I’ve seen in my four decades of law enforcement,” Birk said. “Not only did this case traumatize our citizens, it traumatized our law enforcement officers.”

Sigg sat emotionless during the day-long hearing until the very end when he started crying after a video tribute to Jessica was played to the courtroom.

Jessica’s family shared their memories of the 10-year-old.

Her grandmother, Angie Moss, called Sigg a “monster” who “shattered the core of our family.”

“I want him locked away forever,” Moss said.

Jessica’s mother vowed that her family would “not remember his [Sigg’s] name.”

“We will only remember Jessica and the legacy she created,” Sarah Ridgeway said.

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