Serial killer, Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, was one of the most prolific serial killers in American history. His story is told below the documentary listed here. Although there have been 49 confirmed deaths connected to Ridgway, both Ridgway and law enforcement officials believe that this number is only a fraction of the crimes he actually committed. Ridgway himself acknowledged that the number was probably over seventy.
Gary Ridgway was born on February 18, 1949, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was the second of three sons. He grew up in a household dominated by his mother, as is the case with many psychopathic and sociopathic serial killers. Both of his parents were strict about keeping their kids cut off from the evil society that they lived in. His father, a bus driver, often complained about the prostitutes he saw in his daily work; Ridgway would almost exclusively target sex workers in his killing sprees. His mother was known to wear form-fitting clothing and treat her children very sternly. Ridgway later admitted that he struggled between fearing his mother and being sexually attracted to her. He was a bedwetter until the age of 13 and she would clean his genitals for him until he finally stopped wetting. This only contributed to his confusion.
Ridgway struggled in high school and didn’t graduate until he was 20 years old. He was known to have an extremely low I.Q. of somewhere in the low eighties, almost 30 points below an average I.Q. Ridgway married his high school girlfriend and enlisted in the Navy. He was sent to serve in Vietnam where he contracted gonorrhea as a result of having sex with prostitutes. His marriage ended soon thereafter. He would later remarry but his relationship with his second wife would deteriorate quickly as well. Ridgway had discovered a newfound sense of religious conviction and forced her to adhere to his beliefs, but his insatiable sexual appetite often conflicted with those beliefs. Ridgway constantly nagged his wife for sex, particularly in public places, but also often in the woods. Little did she know that he was taking her to places where he had regularly taken his victims. This process repeated with his third wife and subsequent girlfriends.
Ridgway became known as the Green River Killer because he preferred to dispose of the bodies of his murdered sex workers in the Green River area of Washington state in the 1980s and 1990s. As bodies began to turn up in that area, however, police investigators found very little evidence to go on and were not able to connect any of the deaths to any suspect. As a result, the Green River Killer murders would eventually become a “cold case” until the late 1990s. It wouldn’t be until 2001 that police were finally able to apprehend Ridgway, largely due to the emergence of the use of DNA as evidence. Investigators had long suspected Ridgway but had no evidence tying him to the crimes. When they were finally able to obtain a DNA sample and link it to the semen found in the victims, Ridgway was arrested.
Unfortunately, for law enforcement, Ridgway could only be linked by DNA to four of 48 known victims. Some of the victims had not even been recovered yet. In exchange for his knowledge of their whereabouts, Gary Ridgway was offered a plea deal that spared his life and saved him from the death sentence. Ridgway was sentenced to 48 consecutive life sentences with an additional 10 years per victim (480 additional years) for tampering with evidence.
One of the interesting keys to Ridgway’s apprehension was the cooperation provided by Ted Bundy just prior to his own execution. Bundy wrote to the chief investigators on the case, offering a window into the mind of the killer they were looking for. Chief among his assertions was the idea that Ridgway would probably return to the scene of his crimes in order to relive them in some way. Ridgway admitted that he had often returned to the bodies of his victims, occasionally engaging in necrophilia with them because it was both easier and cheaper than abducting another sex worker.
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