Green River Killer
The Green River Killer is a case about serial killer Gary Ridgway, a man who had committed a series of murders from the years 1982 to 1998. His victims were women who he murdered by either struggling them manually or with ligatures (Smith & Guillen, 2004). These series of murders got the name Green River for the suspect left a couple of his victims in Green River. On November 5, 2003, Ridgway pleaded guilty to having committed the murder of 48 women who he killed during the span of those years. However, after his conviction, he was convicted of another 49th murder although he could not be sentenced to death since he was given immunity on the death penalty as he had confessed of his actions.
A number of people had been held suspects of the murders before Ridgway was officially arrested. One of them was William J. Stevens. He was the main suspect in the year 1989. In the year 1981, he had run away from the King county Work Release program. He went to live in the Portland area. Later, he went to Gonzaga Law School where he was captured. According to the police, the Green River killer was getting involved in a cleansing ritual. They also thought that he had a problem with women relationships and he was doing this as some kind of vengeance as they really humiliated him. The women killed were of similar ages. Most of them were below the age of 24. Some were estimated to be as low as the age of 12 (Smith & Guillen, 2004).
In their search for evidence to convict Stevens, the police got hold of 35 guns, a number of drivers’ licenses bearing different names and a box, which had 50 pictures of nude prostitutes. The photographs were taken by Stevens himself. However, none of the pictures matched the bodies of the girls murdered. Stevens’ friends told the police that he hated prostitutes and he openly said that he would humiliate them. He also hated blacks and had the wish of using violence on them. Stevens was later released and his charges cleared as his alibis put him on trips together with his parents, which constantly kept him outside the area. He later died on September 30, 1991 after ailing from cancer.
The other suspect who also turned out to be the killer was Gary Leon Ridgway. He was taken in on November 30, 2001 when leaving the Kenworth Truck factory where he worked. This was after four of the women’s DNA samples matched those of his. Ridgway was born on February 18, 1949. He grew up with both parents although his mother was somewhat domineering. During his stay with his parents, he had witnessed an ugly argument between his parents more than once. When his I.Q was tested when he was still young, it was found to be 82. This is low. His performance in school was also poor. In fact, he had to repeat a school year in high school in order to achieve good grades to move to the next level. He also had a child problem of wetting his bed, which made his mum embarrass him in front of the family after immediately cleaning him up when she found out.
His criminal nature was detected when he was a teenager. At the age of 16, he stabbed a six-year-old boy then went away laughing as he said that he had always wondered how it felt when one killed someone. Fortunately, the boy survived the ordeal. When still in high school, he joined the army. After he had graduated, he went to Vietnam and served on a supply ship. His murders began when he came back from Vietnam and got out of the army. He is believed to have killed a total of 71 women or more. He says that it reached a point where he stopped keeping count of his victims. Most of his victims were prostitutes and teenage runaways. Gary admitted that he intended to kill as many women as possible, whom he felt were prostitutes (Seattle, 2003).
Ridgway first lured his victims into his car. He would then make sure that they have confidence in him. This made him show the picture of his son sometimes in order to convince them of his goodwill. As he admits it, most of his victims were killed on the very day he met them. He first had sex with them, killed them then had sex with them again. He disposed off the bodies in forested or remote areas. He covered his tracks by contaminating these areas with cigarettes and gum. This is how he managed to keep off jail for all these years. It is believed that there are bodies he hid outside the county. This was done in order to hide any evidence that could arise. He was arrested on his way from work. He also agreed to tell where the missing bodies were if he would be given a life imprisonment without parole instead of a death penalty (Smith & Guillen, 2004).
Ridgway killed his victims in secluded areas; in his car, in his homes, amongst other places. When his third wife came to his home, she did not get a carpet in his home. The police later informed her that he might have wrapped one of the bodies with it. Ridgway also admitted that he did not kill as many people as he had intended while he was in the third marriage. He cared and loved his wife. His wife was happy to know that she may have saved some lives during that time they were together.
Before his confessions, the police thought that he had murdered 48 women. However, this was proved otherwise as earlier indicated, that he had committed 71 murders. Most of the remains of the bodies shown were skeletons (Seattle, 2003). He also confessed that he committed all his murders in King County. He only damped the bodies elsewhere in order to confuse the police. If any murder got committed outside the county, then the death penalty pardon would not affect him, as he would be sentenced according to the jurisdiction of that particular county.
Ridgway was sentenced to forty-eight life sentences without parole on December 18, 2003. He was taken to serve his sentence in Washington State Penitentiary. This is in Walla Walla. Although there are many murders that were associated with him, but which he did not admit to, this brought a close on a list of killings that had happened for almost twenty years.
Seattle, (2003, October 31). Suspect Is Reported Set to Admit Killing 48 Women in Northwest. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/31/us/suspect-is-reported-set-to-admit-killing-48-women-in-northwest.html
Smith, C. & Guillen, T., (2004). The search for the Green River killer. New York, NY: Signet True Crime.