beginning, police focused on the "strip" most victims
disappeared from. They took license numbers of customers, gathered
information from prostitutes and pimps and warned women they were
Bob Keppel, retired
WA State Investigator even sought help from Ted Bundy in trying
to understand this killer. Keppel had also been active in the
In the investigation's
early days public perception was the victims,
many prostitutes or runaways, were not important. The sheriff's
office was criticized for waiting so long to form a task force,
and for not devoting more resources to capturing the killer.
Tomas Guillen, associate
professor of journalism at Seattle University and co-author of
"The Search for the Green River Killer," said "They probably
should have emphasized the strip more with decoys, undercover
officers ... I was there when they went after him many years ago.
They could have charged him back then, but they were missing some
The Green River Task
Force's internal investigative tool, unknown to the public was
an FBI psychological profile of the
Green River killer, written by John
Douglas, in the summer of 1982, revised in 1984.
The original detectives,
including lead investigator Dave Reichert, now King County sheriff,
worked out of a small office in the downtown courthouse before
moving in the community room at the sheriff's precinct in Burien
closer to the action on SeaTac Strip. "It
gave us more constant day to day contact with the detectives working
the street 24-7," said Capt. Bruce Kalin, commander of Green
River Team, and member of the Green River Task From April 1983
to November 1987. "There were a lot of good reasons to be
close to where the action was." In the mid 1980's, the 27
detectives worked with computer and phone lines dropped from the
ceiling at the Burien precinct. "2
people couldn't get up from their desks at the same time,"
Kalin said. There
were no windows, no air conditioning and many of the detectives
don't want to do that again," he said. "We have enough
There is now a new
city named "SeaTac" covering the area most victims were
abducted from. It
is where the Seattle Tacoma International Airport is located.
Officers staked out
the river. Investigators know killers "always come back." That
investigation was hampered by a news helicopter, which blew their
cover. One man considered a strong "person of interest" drove
in the midst of a TV crew.
"The ladies working
the strip didn't seem to take it serious, " Kraske, a retired
police major said. (Kraske investigated the Ted Bundy serial killings
in the 1970s.)
When the bodies of
and Mills turned up, Kraske attempted
to quiet the discovery to protect the scene. "I tried to keep
radio silence. When people drove by, I told them it was a training
exercise. I didn't want to screw it up."
Ridgway was suspect for years. Investigators feared that if
they tried Ridgway without enough evidence he could be acquitted,
he would then be free under double jeopardy laws. So they waited.
semen samples, was circumstantial. Semen samples were only used
to determine blood types. Test results could only narrow down
to one in millions, not identify a specific individual, like the
DNA technology today can.
Late in 1982, detectives
focused on another suspect, Melvin Wayne Foster, 44, unemployed
cabdriver from Lacey, Thurston County and searched his house.
He was not arrested.