WESTMINSTER, Colo. (AP) — A year after a 10-year-old Westminster girl was abducted on her way to school and killed, a park where she used to play has been formally dedicated to her memory.
About 600 people attended a ceremony Saturday at the newly named Jessica Ridgeway Memorial Park.
The remodeled park near Jessica’s home includes slides and a swing set in her favorite color, purple, and the sidewalks are etched with knock-knock jokes of the sort the girl loved.
“Jessica’s laughter will be here echoing forever,” said the girl’s grandmother, Christine Ridgeway, who urged the children at the ceremony to go play. She told them “Jessica would not want you standing here mourning her.”
Austin Sigg, 18, pleaded guilty Tuesday to kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing the fifth-grader. He also pleaded guilty to a May 2012 attack on a 22-year-old jogger at another park, also in the Denver suburb of Westminster.
Jessica left home to walk to school on Oct. 5, 2012, but she never arrived. Hundreds of people helped search for the girl.
Police officers who worked on the case “are profoundly touched by it and feel as if Jessica was our own daughter,” said Westminster Police Chief Lee Birk.
“What Jessica leaves as a legacy is much bigger than a park,” he said. “She reminded us how precious life is and how fleeting it can be.”
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