Claiming to have murdered as many as 80 girls, Gary Ridgway — referred to as the Green River Killer for the Seattle, Washington, location the place lots of his victims had been found — was America’s deadliest convicted serial killer when, in 2003, he pleaded responsible to 48 counts of homicide.
Over 20 years, Ridgway methodically raped and strangled scores of ladies, lots of them prostitutes or runaways, dumping their our bodies throughout a large space of King County to confuse authorities. Investigators imagine that, all through his murderous spree, the seemingly mild-mannered Ridgway by no means spoke to anybody of his killings or saved trophies of the grisly crimes. All the whereas, he maintained his longtime job as a truck painter on the Kenworth Truck plant in Renton and married for the third time.
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July 15, 1982: The physique of Ridgway’s first sufferer is found
In July 1982, youngsters discovered the strangled physique of Wendy Caulfield, 16, floating in Seattle’s Green River. Over the next weeks 4 extra our bodies had been found in or alongside its banks — all girls, all strangled. On August 15, three more bodies had been discovered and detective David Reichert was one of many first authorities to reach on the scene. Marci Chapman, 31, was discovered within the shallow water alongside the bare physique of 17-year-old Cynthia Hinds, and close by within the undergrowth lay the physique of Opal Mills, 16, blue trousers knotted round her neck, breasts uncovered, bruises obvious on her legs and arms.
August 16, 1982: A police activity drive is about up
After the King County Sheriff’s Office arrange the Green River Task Force to research the killings, the physique rely rose, as extra victims had been found alongside the river and within the space across the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Over the subsequent two years, the Green River Killer sexually assaulted and murdered greater than 40 different girls. “Every time you found a body, it was like being hit on the head with a baseball bat,” Reichert instructed Time journal.
April 30, 1983: Ridgway first turns into a suspect
In the spring of 1983, prostitute Marie Malvar, 18, was final seen by her boyfriend getting right into a paint-patched pickup with a dark-haired man about 30 to 40 years outdated. Four days later, police questioned Ridgway at his residence about his data of Malvar, whom he denied understanding. In November, police as soon as once more spoke with Ridgway in regards to the murders, however he denied any data of the victims, and authorities lacked proof to attach him to any of the crimes.
In 2003, Ridgway instructed investigators he stood towards a fence throughout his unique 1983 questioning to hide scratches Malvar had left on his arm whereas attempting to flee. Ridgway stated he then burned the scratches with battery acid to disguise them as soon as the detectives had left.
May 1984: Ridgway passes a polygraph take a look at
Already an individual of curiosity as a consequence of his identified affiliation with space prostitutes, Ridgway contacted police with the supposed intention of help. He then passed a polygraph test wherein he denied killing any girls.
1986: The police speak with Ted Bundy
With few dependable leads within the Green River Killer case, authorities had been determined for any data to additional the investigation. Having learn in regards to the ongoing case within the press, convicted serial killer Ted Bundy wrote to Reichert providing his assist in the case. Reichert flew to Florida the place Bundy was being held on demise row. During discussions, Bundy reportedly suggested authorities that the killer could also be revisiting his sufferer’s corpses and performing sexual acts on them, a speculation Ridgway later confirmed.
1987: Ridgway gives a DNA pattern that might ultimately be his downfall
Because Ridgway wass the final particular person allegedly seen with two of the victims, police ultimately searched his residence and autos in 1987 in reference to the murders. It was at the moment Ridgway lastly supplied police with a saliva sample that might later tie him to the crimes. But as a consequence of inadequate DNA testing on the time, Ridgway remained a free man for greater than a decade.
March 2001: DNA testing expands and connects Ridgway to a few murders
With new methods in forensic testing at their disposal, investigators re-examined proof from throughout the years the killer had been energetic. “It was a last-ditch effort,” Beverly Himick, a Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory forensic scientist, instructed The New York Times. “We didn’t have a lot to work with, but we went through a lot of evidence again. We rinsed all the fingernails to look for trace evidence and swabbed the ligatures for cellular material. With one girl, we were able to find a few sperm clinging to her pubic hair.”
New DNA profiles from three victims were compared with Ridgway’s, thanks to the saliva sample he had provided in 1987. It was a match in all three cases.
November 30, 2001: Police announce the arrest of the Green River Killer
Nearly two decades after the first murder, King County Sheriff Reichert announced that Ridgway, 52, was arrested in connection with four of the Green River Killer’s early victims: Marcia Chapman, Opal Mills, Cynthia Hinds and Carol Ann Christensen — whose body was recovered in 1983.
November 5, 2003: Ridgway pleads guilty
In a plea bargain that would spare him the death penalty in return for his confession and information regarding the details of the murders and locations of the bodies, Ridgway entered a guilty plea to 48 charges of aggravated first-degree murder.
“I killed so many women I have a hard time keeping them straight,” Ridgway said in a statement, admitting he killed most of his victims in his home or truck earlier than disposing of the our bodies, including that usually he didn’t even know his sufferer’s names. “Most of the time I killed them the first time I met them, and I do not have a good memory for their faces.”
Explaining why he selected girls he regarded as prostitutes, Ridgway stated they “were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing. I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.”
December 18, 2003: Ridgway is sentenced
For his crimes, a King County Superior Court Judge sentenced Ridgway to 48 life sentences, to be served consecutively, with no risk of parole.
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