WESTMINSTER, CO - Westminster police announced Wednesday they arrested a 17-year-old who has demonstrated skills in forensic science and criminology in the abduction and murder of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway in Colorado.
The Westminster Police Department identified Austin Reed Sigg as a suspect in the murder case.
"I'm pleased to announce that today I believe we have taken a significant step toward justice for Jessica. We have made an arrest in the Jessica Ridgeway case: 17-year-old Austin Sigg is in our custody," Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk announced during a Wednesday news conference.
WPD said law enforcement received a call that led them to Sigg's home near the Ketner Lake Open Space Tuesday evening.
Sigg was arrested at his home, which is about 1 mile from Ridgeway's home, around 7:45 p.m.
He attended Warren Tech where he was involved in a student organization called HOSA, or Health Occupation Students of America. He competed in crime scene investigations and was a state winner in forensic science and biotechnology competitions.
Some friends have told media outlets that he expressed interest in becoming a mortician.
Police said the Ridgeway family was notified of the arrest Wednesday morning.
A photographer with Scripps Denver station KMGH was outside the Ridgeway home and said that the door to the house opened and he heard laughing inside. The mood at Jessica's home appeared to be relaxed.
Ridgeway's great-grandmother said she was elated to hear the news. "Grateful to God that the community pulled together and the police department didn't quit," said Donna Moss, who lives in Independence, Mo.
Moss said she's thankful police didn't let any tips slip though the cracks.
During a Wednesday morning press conference, police thanked the community for the thousands of tips that were helpful in the case and for the tremendous outpouring of support.
Police also said they hope the arrest can help the community feel a little safer.
Authorities have also filed charges against the attacker in the May 28, 2012 attempted abduction at Ketner Lake.
Police confirmed this week they found a direct link between the Ridgeway case and an attack on a trail around Ketner Lake on May 28.
Police said a 22-year-old woman was jogging when a man grabbed her from behind and tried put a chemical-laced rag over her mouth.
She was able to escape and called 911, but police were unable to find the attacker.
The suspect in the May attack was described as a light-skinned man who ranged in age from 18 to his 30s. He had brown hair, a medium build and was about 5-feet-6-inches to 5-feet-8-inches tall.
The man was wearing a dark blue baseball cap, small-rim sunglasses, a black T-shirt and blue jeans.
Ridgeway disappeared on Oct. 5 while walking to Chelsea Park, where she was going to meet friends to walk to school.
Her friends said she never showed up at the park and the school reported her absence to her mother that morning.
The girl's remains were found five days later in an open space park in Arvada.