Nov 19, 2013 6:42 PM by Jennifer Horbelt and Zach Thaxton
JEFFERSON COUNTY, CO- A life sentence was handed down today for the man responsible for the death of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway.
A judge ordered Jefferson County sheriff's deputies to transport Austin Sigg to prison Tuesday afternoon.
"Where he will be confined, for what I anticipate, will be the rest of his natural life," said the judge, sentencing him to life in prison plus 86 years for the kidnapping, murder and mutilation of Jessica.
The case, and her image, captivated headlines across our state and the nation for the past year. Tuesday, investigative leaders said justice was served for Jessica's killer. Still, heartache remains.
"The damage. The hurt. The loss remains," said District Attorney Peter Weir.
It remains not only for Jessica's parents, who were present for Tuesday's sentencing, but also those directly involved in the case and the community.
"It was truly a reflection of pure evil," said Westminster Chief of Police Lee Birk.
"It can't take away the feeling of anxiety a parent will have when a child is 15 minutes late from returning home," Weir said.
While we may now know what happened to Jessica, one large mystery remains.
"Why an intelligent young man, from a good home, good family, advantages, financial security, and the love of his family, teachers, parents and associates... decided to kidnap, terrorize and brutally murder a 10-year-old girl," said the judge.
"He needs to be locked away where he can't harm. No matter what causes him to do what he does," one of the prosecutors on the case said to members of the media Tuesday.
Despite the pain, District Attorney Weir said ultimately Jessica brought out the good in so many.
"Over 75 agencies that came together for a common purpose. Justice for Jessica," Weir said.
Both of Jessica's parents and other family members were at Tuesday's hearing. They did not speak, but on Monday several of them did testify at the sentencing hearing, including Jessica's mother. Sarah Ridgeway would only say that Austin Sigg did not deserve to hear how affected her, her family and who Jessica was.
All of this started in early October 2012, when Jessica left home on an otherwise normal Friday morning.
On October 5, 2012, Jessica Ridgeway never makes it to school in the morning. An Amber Alert goes out for the Westminster 10-year-old. The next day, dozens of law enforcement and hundreds of volunteers scour area parks and trails and go door-to-door, canvassing more than 12-thousand homes.
For several days, tips come in. A backpack found in Superior, a believed sighting as far away as Maine, a possible connection to an abduction in Wyoming. Then, October 10, 2012, what nobody wanted to hear: human remains found in a field in Arvada. Two days later, confirmation of everyone's worst fear.
"It's with a great deal of sorrow in my heart that I regret to inform you that the body that was found in Arvada has been positively identified as Jessica Ridgeway," Westminster Chief of Police Lee Birk said at the time.
Search, turns to sadness.
"Every single person in this state is with the Ridgeways," said Governor John Hickenlooper.
The focus: Justice for Jessica.
On October 19, 2012, a wooden cross becomes a clue.
On October 23, 2012, 17-year-old Austin Sigg confesses to his mother. He's arrested the next day.
Nearly a year later, Sigg pleads guilty to everything. Now, he'll spend the rest of his life behind bars.