don't have any idea what the motive is."
-- King County Detective Tom Jensen
Sue Peters, 45, is a 21-year member of the King County Sheriff's
Office. Almost from the start, she's helped track Ridgway. She continues
to do so. As part of the plea agreement that spared his life, Ridgway
continues to work with Peters and the other detectives -- who, in
turn, continue to search for women he killed. -- November 15, 2003
he was accused of choking a prostitute. The woman escaped and called
police from a nearby house. Ridgway claimed the woman bit him. The
police let him go.
he was interviewed by Port of Seattle police while parked in a car
with a prostitute, Kelli McGinness, 18, near a Little League baseball
field. (The same field is where the skeleton of Cheryl Wims would
be found in 1984.) McGinness disappeared in June 1983 and has never
Ridgway was arrested on prostitution solicitation charges, he pleaded
guilty to soliciting a police woman posing as a prostitute. He was
questioned and released.
after Ridgway was accused of trying to strangle a prostitute in
1980, he admitted to detectives he had a "compulsive fixation" with
them, saying they affected him as strongly as alcohol affects an
was a prime suspect in the disappearance of Maria Malvar, 18 years.
A friend of Malvar's saw the truck pick her up, but lost it in traffic.
The next day the friend and Malvar's father found the truck parked
outside Ridgway's Sea-Tac house. Police spoke to Ridgway at his
house but he denied knowing anything about it. Police had no evidence
so no charges followed. Malvar has never been found.
year, a prostitute told investigators she was assaulted by Ridgway
on "a $20 car date" in 1982. She escaped death. Ridgway led her
into the woods and during sex he put her in a "police like choke
hold." The woman managed to escape to a nearby trailer park.
drew police suspicion when he contacted the task-force to tell them
about a prostitute he knew. He told police met one of the victims
in fall 1983. He man didn't know her name but her and a friend along
The Strip. He was shown victim photographs and identified Kim Nelson,
who investigators knew as Tina Tomson.
of prostitutes identified his photograph as a man they had contact
with on The Strip in 1982 - 1983.
who had seen pickup trucks associated with the disappearances were
compared to Ridgways vehicles. The trucks could have been the same.
first became the Green River Killer suspect in 1984, after he was
interviewed by police.
On May 7,
1984, he took a lie detector test. Initially the results cleared
him, until 2 experts reexamined the results and concluded it did
not clear him.
1984 - Shift
records obtained from his employer under a inquiry subpoena showed
that when a victim disappeared he was not at work. When victims
had last been seen, he called in sick.
Haney, King County police detective joined the task force, and took
a hard look at Ridgway. Haney reviewed Ridgway's 1984 lie detector
test. Experts later called it "incomplete."
Ridgway take another lie detector test in 1986.
Ridgway passed this test, too.
made a list of all the vehicles the killer used in the murders.
The list totaled 9 cars or pickup trucks, several with campers.
again in 1987, they searched his home but didn't find a trace of
any physical evidence not a hair, not a fiber to tie him to a crime
in his house and numerous vehicles. He
was directed by detectives to chew a piece of gauze. The saliva
sample provided evidence for the future DNA test results linking
Ridgway to the case.
ago, 16 years after her initial disappearance, investigators identified
the remains of Tracy Ann Winston, 19. The only thing left were skeletal
Green River Detective
Tom Jensen submitted DNA samples to the state crime lab in March
2001, and received the first positive results on Sept. 4, 2001.
Urquhart said they watched
Ridgway from that week "we were aware of his movements."
They didn't arrest him immediately because the detectives were sure
he was not onto them and confident he wouldn't leave the area. Detectives
worked with the prosecutor's office to build a strong case. "We
had to get our ducks in a row so we could keep him in jail once
we put him there," Urquhart said.
According to court documents
they discovered Ridgway used out-of-the-way routes to erratically
drive home from work along Pacific Highway South. The same behavior
they saw when they watched him in the mid 80s.
"Rubber necking as if
he were looking for someone to pick up," says Sheriff Dave Reichert,
"pulling over and stopping, pulling U-turns, pulling into alleyways,
just very bizarre behavior."
Then on November 16,
2001 King County undercover vice officers conducted a "john sting"
on Pacific Highway South to keep down prostitution in the area.
They arrested Ridgway. Court documents show he plead guilty of loitering
for the purpose of prostitution.
Vice Officers had no
way of knowing he was linked him to the Green River killings. Street
Vice Officers do not carry lists of Green River suspects. "His
name was not in any databases that would pop up if he was arrested,"
Detectives didn't realize
that on Nov. 16, 2001, Ridgway was arrested on
charges of loitering for prostitution, booked and released without
bail on personal recognizance. His court date, was 3 days before
he was arrested for murder. He was sentence to 90 days in jail which
was suspended and $300 of his $1,000 fine was suspended on the condition
he stay out of areas of prostitution and no similar violations for
2 years. Ridgway chose to make monthly payments over time on the
In 1989, King County
Detective Matt Haney left the Green River task force after spending
years on one suspect with no arrest. Currently a Bainbridge Island
police lieutenant on loan to King County Detectives.
Sue Peters, homicide
detective, was on the task force from 1987 to 1989. She asked Haney
in October to meet with her and detective, Randy Mullinax, to break
the news: "We're focusing on Gary."
Peters and Haney joined
the team a few days later.
Tom Jensen spent over
9 of the last 17 years as the sole investigator after a task force
formed in 1984 slowly dwindled and wound down in 1990. They
will work together in to resolve the mysteries surrounding the Green
Sheriff Dave Reichert says up to 50 detectives are working the case.
He plans on meeting with the FBI and local agencies later to discuss
their participation in the Task Force reviewing evidence in three
of the victims' cases.
Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2006