Nick Name: Green River Killer
Birthday: February 18, 1949
Age: 71 Years, 71 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Gary Leon Ridgway
Born Country: United States
Born in: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Notorious As: Serial Killer
Height: 1.78 m
Spouse/Ex-: Claudia Kraig Barrows (m. 1970–1972), Judith Lorraine Lynch (m. 1988–2002), Marcia Lorene Brown (m. 1973–1981)
father: Thomas Newton Ridgway
mother: Mary Rita Ridgway
siblings: Gregory Ridgway, Thomas Edward Ridgway
children: Matthew Ridgway
education: Tyee High School (1969), Tyee Educational Complex
Gary Leon Ridgway is an American serial killer who has claimed to have taken the lives of more than 70 women by choking them to death. The bodies of his first five victims were recovered from the Green River near Seattle, earning him the nickname ‘Green River Killer.’ He started murdering young women in 1982 and has been convicted for 49 murders. The crimes were committed after careful planning, leaving behind no evidence for police to suspect Ridgway. He often misled the search team by planting false clues. He specifically chose prostitutes as his victims, assuming that the police would not pursue cases of sex workers. After a rigorous investigation for around two decades, he was finally arrested in 2001. The case was followed by Robert Keppel and Dave Reichert who finally proved his guilt. Ridgway was living with his third wife during his arrest. He had maintained the image of a good neighbor by leading a peaceful and ordinary life. Following his arrest, he pleaded guilty of killing 49 women and dumping their bodies away. His conviction brought him multiple life sentences. During interrogation, Ridgway had admitted to have murdered more than 70 young women. This heinous criminal is one of the most brutal serial killers in the history of America. He believed that killing young women was his true profession.
Childhood & Early Life
Gary Ridgway was born on 18 February 1949, in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. He spent his early childhood at a neighborhood near SeaTac airport close to Seattle's Pacific Highway.
Ridgway was not good at studies and was a poor student. He joined the navy and went to Vietnam after completing high school. He served on board a supply ship.
When he was 16, he stabbed a six-year-old boy who survived the attack.
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Upon his return from Vietnam, he started working as a truck painter and continued to do so for 30 years.
Ridgway became a serial killer around early 1980s on account of his hatred towards women. He started targeting prostitutes and other young vulnerable runaways. Most of the murders took place near Seattle and Tacoma, Washington.
He picked them up from state Route 99 in south King County, from where they were reported to have disappeared, and often brought them home. He would strangle the women using bare hands or ligature and leave their bodies at remote places. He dumped many bodies along the banks of Green River, located south of Seattle.
He would offer a lift in his car after engaging them in small talk and often showed the photographs of his son to win over their trust.
Planning of the murders and disposing of the corpses were done carefully to escape from the eyes of the police. He would use long ligature so that there would be no marks on his body during the struggle with his victims.
Many a times, the investigation was misled by cleverly dumping the bodies at unexpected locations. Once, he took two bodies to places near Portland, Oregon while going for a camping trip with his son. He also left fake evidence near the bodies like throwing gum and cigarettes used by others. Ridgway maintained a very pious image in the neighborhood by proselytizing and reading out the Bible loudly.
Due to the confusing trail of evidence, the authorities took almost 20 years to arrest Gary Ridgway. The police left no stones unturned as they searched for the killer by organizing a ‘Green River Task Force.’
Ted Bundy, a convicted serial killer, helped Robert Keppel and King County Sheriff Dave Reichert solve the case by providing his views about the behavior of the killer. He provided an important insight that the killer would return to the dumping site to engage in necrophilia. He suggested that the police should leave the newly found bodies unattended and wait till the killer returns to the site.
The real breakthrough in the case was the evidence collected with the help of the newly developed DNA-testing technology. Ridgway’s DNA matched with the remains of four victims and this brought an end to Ridgway’s killing spree.
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Gary Ridgway was arrested and charged for four murders in December 2001. Forensic experts linked three more murders to Ridgway when they found spray paint traces on the bodies of the victims. The paint was used by Ridgway for painting trucks.
After his arrest, he made a deal with the investigators by pleading guilty of 49 murders and helped the authorities locate some of the missing bodies of his victims. He also claimed to have committed more murders for which evidence could be found. In December 2003, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
When another body was found in 2011, Ridgway got another life sentence. In 2013, during a media interview, he confessed to have killed as many as 70 women.
Gary Ridgway married thrice. In 1969, he married his 19-year-old high school girlfriend Claudia Kraig. They have a son.
In 1981, sometime before Ridgway began his killings, his second wife Marcia Winslow divorced him.
He met a woman named Judith Mawson in 1985.
Gary Ridgway and Judith Mawson married in 1988.
Ridgway was arrested in 1982 on a prostitution charge. He was subjected to a polygraph test after he became a suspect in a case. But he passed the test and was released.
During the early-1980s, Ridgway often attended meetings of an organization named ‘Parents Without Partners’ where single parents could meet people of the same kind. In 1984, he got engaged to a woman from the group.
During interrogations, Ridgway spoke of his attempts to murder when he was a teenager. However, he was not arrested at the time.