jessica-ridgewayOn October 5, 2012, 10 year old Jessica Ridgeway left her home in Westminster, Colorado, just as she did daily on school days, heading to the park where she normally met up with her friends to walk with to school. When Jessica never showed up her friends got worried but they went on without her, but later school officials called Jessica’s home to report her being absent but her mother didn’t hear the phone ring because she went to sleep after working a night shift.

Once her mother realized her daughter was missing she reported it to the proper authorities, an investigation started by the Westminster Police. Three days later a backpack was found about 6 miles from Jessica’s home which was believed to have been hers. Five days later Jessica’s dismembered body was found in an area of abandoned mines in a field in Arvada, Colorado.

On October 23, 2012 the Westminster police arrested a 17 year old teenager, Austin Reed Sigg on charges stemming from abduction of Jessica and murdering her. Sigg changed his plea to guilty just days before the prosecutors were scheduled to start with their opening statements in court in 2013. He pled guilty to first degree murder, sexual assault and kidnapping.

When he appeared in court for his sentencing this week,  the judge went through each count that Sigg had pleaded guilty to and said they were to be served consecutively:

– Murder – Life in prison with a statutory eligibility for parole after 40 years
– Second degree kidnapping – 48 years
– Sexual assault on a child – 24 years to life
– Crimes related to the jogger attack at Ketner Lake – eight years
– Sexual exploitation of a child – six years
Other sentences that will be served simultaneously to the other prison terms:
– Another second degree kidnapping charge – 48 years
– Robbery – five years
– Two other sexual exploitation of a child counts – six and four years

SiggJefferson County District Attorney Peter Weir knew that Sigg would not be eligible for the death penalty and because he was 17 at the time of the crime he could not be sentenced for life without parole so his office asked for a sentence that would ensure Sigg’s death behind bars.

Jessica’s mother, Sarah was in court for the sentencing. She said, “I’m not going to say anything today. I don’t think the defendant has the right to hear how he affected me, my family or who Jessica was. She said, instead she plans to concentrate on Jessica and Jessica’s legacy.

“Once we walk out of this courtroom, we’ll not remember his name, we’ll only remember Jessica and the legacy she created and the Lassy project in which she inspired,” said Sarah. The Lassy Project if a mixture of GPS, crowdsourcing and SMS technology to ensure if your child is not where they are supposed to be, you’re notified immediately, according to the projects founder, John Guydon.

The parent can then choose to call the child and investigate. If the child is safe, the parent can dismiss the alert. But if there is a problem and the child goes missing, the parent can push a single button to activate “The Village” — a group of local community members — to begin search efforts as soon as possible near the child’s last known location.

“Getting a message out in seconds to hundreds of individuals right near the area could make the difference between finding the child and not finding the child,” said Guydon. The project was launched on the one year anniversary of Jessica’s disappearance annnd Sarah Ridgeway now works for them. You can find more about the Lassy Project by visiting their web site at http://www.thelassyproject.com.

Jan Barrett

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