Gary Leon Ridgway killings spanned from 1982 to 1998. Ridgway aka the Green River Killer left victims in the Green River valley. Ridgway plead guilty to murdering 48 Green River Killer victims on November 5, 2003.
Ridgway said thta strangling young women was his "career." A plea deal lead to finding four sets of remains and took the death penalty off the table. If the King County prosecutor didn't have the death penalty to use as a bargaining chip would Ridgway have told where the victims were?
The remains of the alleged 49th victim has been found. She was last seen walking out of a SeaTac motel on Dec. 3, 1982. She is survived by a 3-year-old daughter Her skull was found Dec. 21, 2010 in an Auburn ravine where Ridgway killed another woman. Ridgway, plead guilty the murder of Rebecca "Becky" Marrero who was among his first victims. On 2/18/11, Ridgway received his 49th life sentence. No death penalty was possible due to a prior deal.
Ridgway remains a person of interest in two Oregon murders from the 1980s, but hasn't been charged in that case. Ridgway faces the death penalty if convicted of aggravated murder outside King County.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007 Update:
Sheriff publicizes facial reconstructions of 3 Green River victims:
Four years after Ridgway pleaded guilty to murdering 48 women, King County Sheriff investigators released photos of three victims who were never identified in hopes omeone might recognize their facial reconstruction photos . Ridgway, admitted to killing them in the spring or summer of 1983, but didn't know their identities. Detectives do not know who they are.
- The alledged 10th victim, a Caucasian possibly as young as 12 was found March 21, 1984, in the Burien area, off Des Moines Memorial Drive.
- The alledged 16th victim, an African-American or mixed-race woman, approximately 18 to 24 years old, was found December 30, 1985, near Auburn's Mountain View Cemetery.
- A Caucasian female between 14 and 18 years old were also found near Mountain View Cemetery was the 17th victim. She was found Jan. 2, 1986,
Two bodies on the official list of Green River victims were found in Oregon, which has capital punishment. Authorities believe Ridgway committed from 60 up to hundreds of murders.
Ridgway was 16 when he stabbed his first victim, a 6-year-old boy who was critically injured. Police ignored the boy when he fingered Ridgway as his attacker.
In 1983 when Paige Elizabeth Miley 21, talked briefly with a man who would later be accused of four of the 1982-84 Green River murders. The man asked where her "tall, blond friend" was, and Miley guessed he was the abductor of fellow prostitute Kim Nelson two days before.
Ridgway left jewelry he took from victims in women's bathroom at work hoping they would wear it.
- Chapter 1: Green River case started as an eerie echo- Young women ijust disappeared. A sexually motivated killer lured women to his car, and they were never seen again.
- Chapter 2: Unremarkable teen grows into killer - Classmates say Gary Ridgway was congenial, but did not stand out while at Tyee High
- Chapter 3: Air of normalcy was carefully scripted - Ridgway hid turbulent lifestyle from neighbors and coworkers
- Chapter 4: Not even wives or girlfriends saw through his facade
- Chapter 5: Ridgway used many ploys during the hunt. ``There were a few women that for some reason I didn't kill, but they were few and far between.''
In his own words ``I would talk to her ... and get her mind off of the, uh, anything she was nervous about. And think, you know, she thinks, `Oh, this guy cares,' and which I, I didn't. I just want to uh get her in the vehicle and eventually kill her.''
Hatred and arrogance fueled Ridgway "In most cases, when I murdered these women, I did not know their names," Ridgway's statement to the court said. "Most of the time, I killed them the first time I met them. I do not have a good memory for their faces. I killed so many women, I have a hard time keeping them straight."
The History of the Green River Killings
Nearly 20 years ago, 49 killings occurred during a 3 year period. The case remains the largest known unsolved serial murder spree in the US.
The term "Green River killer" was coined because the first 5 bodies were found in or near Green River in Kent, south King County, WA in 1982. 37 victims were found on dry land. Off Star Lake Road on Kent's West Hill south of the Green River Valley is where 5 more victims were found. Other clusters of bodies were found near Sea -Tac, North Bend, Enumclaw, and OR. No one knows why the killings linked to the Green River seemed to have stopped sometime in 1984. Now they are not sure they did. Recent investigations indicate the Green River Killer reign of terror might have extended beyond the 1982 -1984 span and could have extended his crimes geographically as far as San Diego, CA, Portland, OR and Vancouver, BC. Ongoing investigations are looking for clues to link the crimes.
Green River Facts:
- Of the 49 identified victims, 18 were under the age of 18, 12 were 18 - 20, and 15 were 21 or older and 4 sets of remains are not identified
- The deaths were violent
- The victims were females of all races
- They either had connections with prostitution or were hitchhiking
- Most victims were last seen alive around the SeaTac area, on Pacific Hwy. S
- 2 victims disappeared the same day 3 different times. No victims disappeared in January. Other bad weather months, October - March, 15 women disappeared. April - September, 30 victims disappeared. 7 women disappeared in October. July and August had 6 murders each. 4 women disappeared over 8 days in April 83
- Most victims weren't found until the remains were only bones
- Clusters of bodies were found
- The bodies were found in wooded or brushy areas where trash is dumped illegally, near isolated roads with clear views, or in or near the Green River. Some close to residences in high traffic areas
- The bodies were dumped, nude, partially or fully clothed
- Some of the victims were posed
- Bodies were concealed, not buried in deep graves
- King County Court charged Ridgway on 4 counts of aggravated murder in the deaths of 4 women in the 1980s.
Denise Bush 's remains were found in 2 separate dump sites, hours apart from each other.
Items found on or near several victims led some to believe the killings were religiously motivated. That runaways and prostitutes, were killed in the name of God. Bob Keppel calls that hogwash. "If he was doing that," Keppel said, "he didn't need to do what he did to those bodies sexually and after death. There's something else working there."
Investigator Bob Keppel believes if Ridgway is the Green River Killer, he never stopped. He took his killing elsewhere. There are 80 unsolved murders of young women between Vancouver, Canada and Portland, Oregon over the past 20 years. Gary Ridgway is a prime suspect in those cases.
Kari & Associates
PO Box 6166
Olympia, WA 98507
Sources: Associated Press, Reuters, King 5 TV, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, KOMO, KIRO, NW Cable News, Seattke Weekly, Eastside Journal, South County Journal
Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2011