Gary Leon Ridgway was born February 18, 1949, known as the "Green River Killer", is an American serial killer. Ridgway murdered numerous
women in Washington during the 1980s and 1990s. He strangled them, mostly with his arm, but he would also use ligatures. After strangling the
women, he would dump their bodies throughout King County.
two brothers – George Leon and Thomas Edward. He was raised in McMicken Heights neighborhood of
SeaTac, Washington. Well into his teenage years, Gary Ridgway was still a bed-wetter.
As a child, Ridgway was tested with an I.Q. of 82, signifying low intelligence, and his academic
performance in school was so poor that at one point in high school he had to repeat a single school
year twice in order to attain grades decent enough to pass. His classmates at Tyee High School
describe him as congenial but largely forgettable. His teanage years were difficult and troubling for him.
When he was 16, he stabbed a six year old boy, who survived the attack. According to the victim and
Ridgway himself, Ridgway walked away laughing and saying, "I always wondered what it would be like
to kill someone." While in high school, Ridgway joined the Navy, after graduation he was sent to
Vietnam, where he witnessed combat, while serving on a Navy patrol boat.
Most of the murders took place during a two-and-a-half-year period in the early 1980s. Most of were dumped in and around the Green River in
Washington, except for two victims found in the Portland, Oregon area. The skeletons remained, four victims are still unidentified. Ridgway would
occasionally contaminate the dump sites with gum, cigarettes, and written materials that belonged to others to confuse the police.
Ridgway would begin each murder by picking up a woman, usually a prostitute. He would show the woman a picture of his son, to help them trust
him. After having sex with her, Ridgway would strangle her from behind, usually with his arm. Most of the victims were killed in his truck, the
others were killed in his home or in a secluded area.
In the early 1980s, the King County Sheriff's Office formed the Green River Task Force to investigate the murders. The most notable members of
the task force were Robert Keppel and Dave Reichert, who periodically interviewed incarcerated serial killer Ted Bundy from 1984; their interviews
with Bundy were of little help in the Green River investigations, but elicited confessions from Bundy on unsolved cases. Also contributing was John
E. Douglas, who nearly died as he worked the case; during the
County Jail to an undisclosed location. Other news reports stated that his lawyers, led by Anthony Savage, were closing a plea bargain that
would spare him the death penalty in return for his confession to a number of the Green River murders.
On November 5, 2003, As part of a plea bargain, Ridgway entered a guilty plea to 48 charges of aggravated first degree murder and agreed,
exchange for his cooperation in locating the remains of his victims and providing other details, that they would been killed inside King County,
Washington, and that he had transported and dumped the remains of the two women near Portland to confuse the police.
Deputy prosecutor Jeffrey Baird noted in court that the deal contained "the names of 41 victims who would not be the subject of State v.
Ridgway if it were not for the plea agreement." King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng explained his decision to make the deal:
"We could have gone forward with seven counts, but that is all we could have ever hoped to
solve. At the end of that trial, whatever the outcome, there would have been lingering doubts
about the rest of these crimes. This agreement was the avenue to the truth. And in the end, the
search for the truth is still why we have a criminal justice system ... Gary Ridgway does not
deserve our mercy. He does not deserve to live. The mercy provided by today's resolution is
directed not at Ridgway, but toward the families who have suffered so much ...
On December 18, 2003, King County Superior Court Judge Richard Jones sentenced Ridgway to 48 life
sentences with no possibility of parole and one life sentence, to be served consecutively. He was also
sentenced to an additional 10 years for tampering with evidence for each of the 48 victims, adding 480 years
to his 48 life sentences.
Ridgway led prosecutors to three bodies in 2003. On August 16 of that year, remains of a 16-year-old female
found near Enumclaw, Washington, 40 feet from State Route 410, were pronounced as belonging to Pammy
Annette Avent, who had been believed to be a victim of the Green River Killer. The remains of Marie Malvar
and April Buttram were found in September. On November 23, 2005, The skull of Tracy Winston, who was 19
when she disappeared from Northgate Mall on September 12, 1983, was found by a man hiking in a wooded
area near Highway 18 near Issaquah, southeast of Seattle.
Ridgway confessed to more confirmed murders than any other American serial killer. Over a period of five months of police and prosecutor
interviews, he confessed to 48 murders, 42 of which were on the police's list of probable Green River Killer victims, plus six more murders. On
February 9, 2004, county prosecutors began to release the videotape records of Ridgway's confessions. In one taped interview, he told
investigators initially that he was responsible for the deaths of 65 women, but in another taped interview with Reichert on December 31, 2003,
Ridgway claimed to have murdered 71 victims and confessed to have had sex with them prior to killing them, a detail which he did not reveal
until after his sentencing. He also confessed that he had sex with his victims' bodies after he murdered them, but claimed he began burying the
later victims so that he would resist the urge to revisit them.
Ridgway talked to and tried to make his victims comfortable before he committed the murders. In his own words, "I would talk to her... and get
her mind off of the sex, anything she was nervous about. And think, you know, she thinks, 'Oh, this guy cares'... which I didn't. I just want to,
uh, get her in the vehicle and eventually kill her".
Later in a statement Ridgway said that murdering young women was his "career".
Ridgway is incarcerated at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington.
Name ↓ Age ↓ Disappeared ↓ Found ↓
1 Amina Agisheff 35 July 7, 1982 April 20, 1984
2 Wendy Lee Coffield 16 July 8, 1982 July 15, 1982
3 Gisele Ann Lovvorn 17 July 17, 1982 September 25, 1982
4 Debra Lynn Bonner 23 July 25, 1982 August 12, 1982
5 Marcia Fay Chapman 31 August 1, 1982 August 15, 1982
6 Opal Charmaine Mills 16 August 12, 1982 August 15, 1982
7 Terry Rene Milligan 16 August 29, 1982 April 1, 1984
8 Mary Bridget Meehan 18 September 15, 1982 November 13, 1983
9 Debra Lorraine Estes 15 September 20, 1982 May 30, 1988
10 Linda Jane Rule 16 September 26, 1982 January 31, 1983
11 Denise Darcel Bush 23 October 8, 1982 June 1985
12 Shawnda Leea Summers 16 October 9, 1982 August 11, 1983
13 Shirley Marie Sherrill 18 between October 22, 1982 June 1985
14 Colleen Renee Brockman 15 December 24, 1982 May 26, 1984
15 Alma Ann Smith 18 March 3, 1983 April 2, 1984
16 Delores LaVerne Williams 17 March 14, 1983 March 31, 1984
17 Andrea M. Childers 19 April 14, 1983 October 11, 1989
18 Kimi-Kai Pitsor 16 April 16, 1983 December 14, 1983
19 Sandra Kay Gabbert 17 April 17, 1983 April 1, 1984
20 Gail Lynn Mathews 23 April 22, 1983 September 19, 1983
21 Marie M. Malvar 18 April 30, 1983 September 29, 2003
22 Carol Ann Christensen 21 May 4, 1983 May 8, 1983
23 Martina Theresa Authorlee 18 May 22, 1983 November 14, 1984
24 Cheryl Lee Wims 18 May 23, 1983 March 22, 1984
25 Yvonne Shelly Antosh 19 May 31, 1983 October 15, 1983
26 Carrie A. Rois 15 June 2, 1983 March 10, 1985
27 Constance Elizabeth Naon 19 June 8, 1983 October 27, 1983
28 Kelly Marie Ware 22 July 18, 1983 October 29, 1983
29 Tina Marie Thompson 21 July 25, 1983 April 20, 1984
30 April Dawn Buttram 16 August 23, 1983 August 31, 2003
31 Debbie May Abernathy 26 September 5, 1983 March 31, 1984
32 Tracy Ann Winston 19 September 12, 1983 March 27, 1986
33 Maureen Sue Feeney 19 September 28, 1983 May 2, 1986
34 Mary Sue Bello 25 October 11, 1983 October 12, 1984
35 Pammy Avent 15 October 26, 1983 August 16, 2003
36 Delise Louise Plager 22 October 30, 1983 February 14, 1984
37 Kimberly L. Nelson 21 November 1, 1983 June 14, 1986
38 Lisa Yates 19 December 23, 1983 March 13, 1984
39 Mary Exzetta West 16 February 6, 1984 September 8, 1985
40 Cindy Anne Smith 17 March 21, 1984 June 27, 1987
41 Patricia Michelle Barczak 19 October 17, 1986 February 1993
42 Roberta Joseph Hayes 21 Last seen leaving a Portland, Oregon jail on February 7,
43 Rose Marie Kurran 16 August 1987 September 1987
44 Marta Reeves 36 between March 5th and April 13, 1990 September 20, 1990
45 Patricia Yellowrobe 38 January 1998 August 6, 1998
46 Unidentified White Female 12-17 Died prior to May 1983 March 21, 1984
47 Unidentified White Female 17-19 Unknown April 22, 1985
48 Unidentified Black Female 18-27 Between 1982 and 1984 December 30, 1985
49 Unidentified White Female 14-18 From December 1980 to January 1984 January 2, 1986
Friends and family, questioned about Ridgway following his arrest, described him as friendly but strange. His first two marriages resulted in
divorce due to infidelities by both partners. Both a prostitute and his second wife claimed that, in 1991, he had placed them in choke-holds.
investigation, his stressed and overworked body was unable to fight off viral encephalitis. He has since written much on
the subject of the Green River Killer.
police took hair and saliva samples. These were later subjected to a DNA analysis, providing the evidence for his arrest
On November 30, 2001, Ridgway was at the Kenworth factory when police arrived to arrest him. Ridgway was arrested
on suspicion of murder for four deaths, nearly 20 years after first being identified as a potential suspect, DNA evidence
indictment were Marcia Chapman, Opal Mills, Cynthia Hinds and Carol Ann Christensen. Three more victims, Wendy
Coffield, Debra Bonner, and Debra Estes, were added to the indictment after forensics laboratories detected microscopic
paint particles similar to those used at Ridgway's job at Kenworth.
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