The Green River Killer

By Rebecca Burak

Early Life and Psychological Profile

Gary Leon Ridgeway on February 18 ,1949, in Salt lake City Utah. It has been said that his home life as a child was slightly troubled, and when he was given an IQ test, he tested significantly below average intelligence. He wet the bed until he was fourteen which caused him great distress, and his mother was apparently quite cruel about it, because of this, he harbored violent thoughts toward her. When he was sixteen he attempted his first murder, but was unsuccessful. After high school he married Claudia Kraig, and joined the Navy. He was sent to Vietnam with the navy and was there for quite some time. In fact it was there he first came into contact with prostitutes. When he returned to the United States it was discovered that his wife was having an affair and they divorced. At around the same time he got a job painting designs on trucks, Ridgeway soon remarried, this time having a child, Matthew, whom he was not exactly excited about. He second wife eventually divorced him.


Ridgway began killing in 1982, his victim type was usually female prostitutes and runaways between the ages of 15-38. He would pick his victims up around route 99 in King County, Washington. He would take many of his victims back to his home and strangle them, his first victims were found in the Green River, hence his name. He has been convicted of 49 killings but claims to have killed over 70 woman. He was caught in 2001 and is currently serving multiple life sentences. He is also sometimes noted as the most prolific serial killer in American history.
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Ridgeway was first became a suspect in 1983 but passed a polygraph test. He was arrested twice ( once in 1985 and once 2001) for being involved with prostitutes. In 1987 saliva and hair samples were taken by the police from Ridgeway. In early 2001 Dave Reichert, who was part of the Green River task force, that was developed to catch Ridegway, called a meeting to re-examine evidence using the new DNA testing technology. The saliva analysis matched evidence left on four victims. He was first charged with four counts of aggravated murder in 2001, and then a forensic scientist found small paint samples that matched the paint used at his work on four more victims. He eventually pleaded guilty to 48 counts of aggravated first degree murder. 49 as of 2011, when another body was found. He has said that he has killed so many woman, he has a hard time keeping them straight.

The Time Period

The murders took place from the 1982 until Gary Ridgeway's capture in 2001. DNA testing first began to be widely used in terms of paternity testing, but was first used to solve a crime in England, in 1986. The first conviction based on DNA in the United States was the following year of 1987, however in the years following questions arose about whether or not DNA should be admissible in court, because of this DNA testing was not widely looked at as a means of a sure trial. In 2001 there was still some controversy but it was looking like the only way that there could be a case against Ridgeway.


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