Originally posted December 2013
A Colorado judge last week sentenced an 18-year-old boy to spend the rest of his life in prison for kidnapping, sexually assaulting, murdering, and dismembering a 10-year-old girl. How could the then-17-year-old commit such a heinous crime? It all started with pornography, he said.
Austin Sigg knew he was in trouble when he was just 12 years old. He wrote a note to his Christian therapist, saying, “I have an addiction to porn and would like it to stop,” according to court documents released after the sentencing and reviewed by The Denver Post. But instead of getting better, his addiction grew worse as he watched increasingly violent porn. Sigg’s mother sent him to therapy in 2008 when she found child pornography on his computer. But he returned to pornography after the counseling stopped.
Sigg lived with his mother in Westminster, Colo., in the Denver metropolitan area. A mile away lived Jessica Ridgeway, a fifth grade student and peewee cheerleader. On Oct. 5, 2012, Jessica didn’t come home from school. For two weeks, police, emergency workers, and more than 1,000 volunteers searched the fields and highways near the neighborhood. All the news channels showed Jessica’s picture, along with pleas from her family for her safe return. But Jessica was already dead by the time her mother called 911.
As she walked to school that morning, Sigg hid in the back seat of his Jeep. He lunged from the vehicle as she passed by, tied her arms and legs with zip ties, and threw her in the backseat. He took her to his home where he cut her hair, made her change clothes, and assaulted her in his bedroom before choking her with his bare hands. When he wasn’t sure if she was dead, he filled a bathtub with scalding water and plunged her face under. Sigg dismembered her body in the bathtub, hiding some body parts in the crawl space under his house.
On Oct. 23, 2012, police received a call from Sigg’s mother, saying he had confessed to killing Jessica. Authorities were shocked: They thought they were looking for an adult male due to the atrocity of the crime.
“I couldn’t believe it [was a teenager],” prosecutor Hal Sargent told The Denver Post. “We wondered if it was a mistake.” But DNA evidence tied Sigg to Jessica’s remains, and his descriptions of Jessica’s mutilated body were too precise to ignore. Sigg eventually pleaded guilty to all the charges against him.
As The Denver Post revealed the details of Sigg’s porn addiction, the level of his desensitization to sex and violence became clear.
“[The porn] started getting worse and worse and more violent things … as things got more violent it was such a slow progression of the step up, that … I don’t even know if I realized it was getting harder,” Sigg told a detective. He told police killing Jessica was “the result of acting out his sexual fantasy.”
“Whatever forces have made Austin Sigg who he is, he is broken,” Sargent said. “The only way to protect the community from him is to keep him confined forever.