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The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer
by Robert Keppel
July 15, 1982: 3 woman's strangled body was filed, caught on the pilings of Washington state's Green River. Before long, the "Green River Killer" would be suspected in at least 49 homicides, with no end in sight. Then authorities received a letter from Bundy -- on death row -- offering to help catch the Green River Killer. But he would only talk to Robert Keppel, the former homicide detective who helped track Bundy's cross-county killing spree.

The Search for the Green River Killer by Carlton Smith, Tomas Guillen
This reckoning of the deaths of almost 50 women in Seattle is distressing not only for the gruesomeness of the crimes but also for reasons probably not intended by Smith and Guillen, who reported on the murders for the Seattle Times.


"Green River was so difficult because it had no timely suspect data that the police could go on. They'd find out that some prostitute was identified from the bones, and go back and interview the people who last saw her, 6 or 8 months later." -- Bob Keppel, retired WA State Investigator who worked on the case and author of "Riverman."

Prosecutors not only have DNA linking Gary Ridgway to some Green River victims but other physical evidence. Ridgway worked at a Kenworth Truck plant for 30 years. Police might have a link between the truck manufacturing facility and Killing sites. A recently unsealed court filing says "metal fragments containing aluminum were recovered from 5 dump sight locations: Green River, North Bend, Kerriston Road, Highway 18, I-90, and Highway 410. Detectives say "the aluminum ... is commonly used at Kenworth Truck." The total bodies found at those dump sites is 15. Ridgway is currently charged with 4 of those murders.

Thousands of pieces of evidence are packed away in a warehouse in South Seattle. It includes cigarette butts, car parts, bird's nests, anything investigators gathered from the scenes where 49 female bodies were found slain. Some evidence dates back to July 15, 1982. Blood samples, saliva swabs or anything that could contain DNA evidence is kept in a freezer.

Court papers indicate that sperm long ago recovered from one victim's body matches Ridgway's DNA at 13 locations tested by STR. With 2 other victims, the DNA matched on 9 of 13, good but not perfect. A 4th victim is linked only by circumstance, she was found pinned underwater with another victim.

An FBI psychological profile, in part describes a person similar to Ridgway but not completely. Signature, modus operandi, witnesses, DNA testing, and circumstantial evidence will be most likely be used to attempt to to link Ridgway to to 4 Green River killings.

Circumstantial evidence links Gary Leon Ridgway to the murder of Cynthia Hinds because her body was found close to Chapman's. Both women were in the Green River, their bodies weighed down by rocks.

Sperm samples taken from Carol Christensen matched Ridgway's DNA. Not more than one individual in the world, excluding identical twins, would exhibit this DNA profile.

Tests performed by the Washington State crime lab found that Ridgway's DNA profile was likely present in Opal Mills, 16 and Marcia Chapman, 31. DNA findings from Chapman's sample indicated a partial profile consistent with Ridgway's. Mills indicated a mixed profile and Ridgway's could not be eliminated as source.

Ridgway was not at work at the time 27 Green River victims disappeared, including the 4 he is charged with killing.

He was very familiar with the body dumping areas, according to ex wife and a girlfriend. He even enjoyed having sex in those places.

Witness accounts link Ridgway to violence and a description of his truck to several disappearances.

Certification for Determination of Probable Cause

Expanding the Search for Victims, Clues & Evidence - Robert Keppel, believes investigators must cast a broad net to include unsolved slayings of women and missing-persons. These cases involve prostitutes from hundreds of miles around Seattle.

Vancouver, BC - Oregon - CA - WA - The other possible victims of the Green River Killer not previously counted.

Witnesses - Ridgway's ex-girlfriends or ex-wives took detectives to places where Ridgway took them. He would tie them up to stakes when they had sex outdoors.

Ridgway's Current and Previous Homes - Immediately upon arrest 40 to 50 King County sheriff's detectives cordoned off Ridgway's current home and 3 previous homes, including his deceased parent's home to begin searching, digging and unleashing the cadaver dogs.

The Crime Scenes - "We're hoping there may be physical evidence around the scenes that may contain DNA," said Robert Keppel, a former King County detective and consultant to the old Green River task force.

Investigation Expenses - $15 million dollars has been spent since 1982 investigating 49 deaths Green River killer related deaths. It could cost $12 million to prosecute Gary Ridgway and analyze evidence linked to more Green River killings.


Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2011

Serial Killers Page

Historic Green River Pages

Green River Killer or Not?

The Falsely Accused

Body Count of Possible Victims

The Crime Scenes

FBI Profile Elements
Signature of a Killer

The Victims
Locations of Missing Women
Crime Scenes
Civil Suit

Gary Leon Ridgway
Growing Up
Wives & Lovers
His Homes & Vehicles
Job History
Law Enforcement Relationship
Ex-wife Helps Detectives
The Arrest
Civil Suit

Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab/the Body Farm/Where the Dead Do Tell Tales -- A pioneer of modern forensic anthropology reveals secrets of the world's first-and only-laboratory devoted to death.


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