Opal was 8 years old holding she earned a plaque at church for memorizing
50 Bible verses.
honored in church for reading the book cover to cover.
the godmother of a little girl, also named Opal.
her Lhasa apso dog, Muffy.
the dolls and stuffed animals kept on her bed. She
speed walked with her mother.
to be a model.
a very nice young girl," Rev. James Young, eulogized on Aug. 28,
At her funeral,
her family played her favorite song, "Love Begins with One Hello."
to be an early victim of the Green River killings, she appeared
younger than her 16 years.
a call from a pay telephone at about 1:30 p.m. on the strip, across
from South 192nd Street, in Angle Lake Park. 2-3 hours later her
body was left on a bank on Green River, at about the same time police
were removing the body of Debra "Dub" Bonner
from the river.
phone call had been to her brother, Garrett asking for a ride. She
was planning to do a painting job with her friend Cynthia
Hinds. Garrett had worked late the night before and was asleep
when the phone rang. He asked if she could find another ride. "He
hasn't forgiven himself for that all these years," her mother
Kathy Mills said.
3 days later,
the bodies of both girls were found along the Green River. The bodies
of Cynthia Hinds and Marcia Chapman were
Cynthia Hinds sometimes hitchhiked together.
Opal's frequent hitchhiking did worry her parents. It is not known
whether she'd been hitchhiking the day she was killed.
McKinney, a friend, said, "I can tell you she was not a prostitute
or involved in any kind of prostitution." Opal Mills was never arrested
for prostitution. Her parents were shocked by reports associating
victims of the Green River killer with prostitution.
to marry the same year. In
the summer after junior high she became engaged to be married. Her
mother knew, but approved of Opal's fiancÚ. She thought "there
were worse things" than marrying young. She picked out a wedding
was devastated by her murder.
her brother, Garrett, were inseparable. He
was 18 when she was murdered.
her "the last best friend I've ever had. We were always together,
except those last three days."
the more moral of the two of us. She would remind me of what was
right, that I shouldn't be doing certain things," said her brother,
Garrett Mills, 38.
of a white mother and an African-American father, they lived in
a white community, they were teased by other children because of
about her deceased daughter, wanting her to be remembered as the
loving child she was not just as a victim.
A retired Boeing worker
and operator of a small craft business named after her daughter,
O Charmaine, works as a secretary at New Direction Ministries, working
with other women who have lost loved ones.
She went to her daughter's
grave regularly. "To get it through my head, 'Hey, she's gone.'
" Gradually Mills came to accept the reality of the loss.
For years, Mills couldn't
drive across a bridge over the Green River near where Opal and other
victims were found. She could not bear to go shopping, something
they loved to do together.
Holidays are difficult,
she misses Opal and the children Opal never had.
In an interview
after Mills' death, her father, Robert Mills said he babied his
daughter. "My little kids have had everything."
a retired forklift operator suffered a stroke and died after her
death, "basically drank himself to death," Kathy Mills
said. She didn't turn to drink as her husband had. "I couldn't
do it. I had to depend on the Lord. Something of that magnitude,
I couldn't handle it myself."
outspoken and sometimes angered teachers by challenging them.
before she would have started high school, she had graduated from
Kent Junior High several months before. In middle school she stopped
the music teacher from spanking her brother.
knew her were surprised by allegations that she might have been
a prostitute and involved in petty crimes.
Garret Mills, hoped the killer would be caught before their mother
died. Kathy Mills hoped he wouldn't.
a suspect in custody, she's experiencing overwhelming pain. She
was not prepared for the news of Ridgway's arrest.
what I thought was, 'Oh no' because I didn't want to go through
did not call her prior to the arrest.
had called and said we think we have the person, it would have been
a little easier," she said.
Ridgway in court when he was arraigned on the murder charges.
he'd be a strong type person but he didn't look as strong as I thought
he would," Mills said. "It wasn't so much hate or anything, just
'how could you do this?' That's what kept coming through my mind,
how could you do this?"
says he'll be attending every court session for Ridgway.
is found guilty, Garrett Mills wants him to "Spend the rest of his
life in jail. I want him to know where he's at, you know. Have to
live with it every day. Be reminded of it."
there wasn't anything bad enough to do to him. Now, I would say
a lifetime (in prison) thinking about what he did. I don't know
if he has that kind of conscience, but that's what I would say,"
her mother said.
diver for the King County Fire Department, pulled the body of Opal
Mills to shore, Aug. 15, 1982. "You try and distance yourself from
it to try and keep your sanity but at the same time you know theyre
people. He left the fire department shortly after but never forgot.
Pedrin and Ridgway went to school together, graduated from Tyee
High school Class of 1969. Somebody you knew, somebody you talked
to, somebody you said hi to says Pedrin.
At the arraignment,
"Remember the victims,
Opal Mills and Cynthia Hinds!" Debra
York, Cynthia Hinds aunt, cried, Im just hurt. I just hope they
got the guy, he dont deserve to live, killing my niece, Cynthia
mother, Kathy Mills files civil suit against Ridgway
PO Box 6166
Olympia, WA 98507
Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2006