The Green River Killer

Maddi Fairbanks

Background

  • On August 15, 1982, Robert Ainsworth floated down the Green River in a rubber raft. He discovered what he thought was a mannequin and tried to grab the figure with a pole when he accidentally fell into the water. He realized that the figure was not a mannequin, but a dead woman. Seconds later he saw another dead body half nude and partially submerged in the water.
  • When the police arrived, they sealed off the area and began a search for evidence. A third body partially clothed body was found in a grassy area near the water. It was obvious that she had died from asphyxiation, because she had a pair of blue pants tied around her neck.

  • All three girls died of strangulation.

  • Within the space of six months, six bodies had been discovered in or near the river.
  • Almost all of the woman were prostitutes.
  • The killer had several dumping grounds where he would dispose of the bodies of his victims. The bodies discovered were found partially buried or covered with garbage or foliage.
  • It was concluded that the bodies were dumped in the areas because the killer thought of the women as "human garbage."

Investigators

    • The police task force assembled to investigate the Green River murders was the largest since the Ted Bundy murders less than a decade earlier. Major Richard Kraske and Detective Dave Reichert led the team. They got help from FBI serial killer profiler John Douglas and criminal investigator Bob Keppel.

    • In January 1984, the Green River Task Force had a new leader, Captain Frank Adamson.

    • The infamous serial killer Ted Bundy helped Bob Keppel and the task force. He was able to give helpful insight from a killer's perspective and became one of the primary consultants.

    • By the end of 1986, Captain Frank Adamson was reassigned to another project and Captain James Pompey became the new leader.

    • In July of 1991 the task force was reduced to just one investigator named Tom Jensen. The case remained dormant for 10 years.

    • In April 2001, almost 20 years after the first known Green River murder, Detective Reichert, began renewed investigations of the murders. This time the task force had technology on their side.

Time Period

Suspects

Charles Clinton Clark

      • That September, a meat butcher named Charles Clinton Clark was pulled over in his blue and white truck while driving along Seattle's main strip. Two prostitutes who had been raped went to the police saying that a man in a blue and white truck had been their attacker. Police got his driver's license photo and showed it to the two prostitutes who positively identified Clark as their attacker.

      • Clark was arrested and his house and vehicle were searched. The police found two handguns that were allegedly used in the attacks. Clark admitted to attacking the women, but there was speculation about whether he was the Green River Killer because he released his victims after attacking. Clark also had a solid alibi during the time many of the Green River victims disappeared.

Taxi driver

      • Based on a hunch, Detective Reichert began to suspect that one of the volunteer civilians working on the case might be the Green River Killer. A 44-year-old out-of-work taxi driver became the focus of the investigation and was interviewed by the police..

      • During most of the winter of 1982, police heavily monitored the taxi driver's movements, although he continuously denied having anything to do with the Green River murders. The taxi driver eventually became the primary suspect in the killings. He was arrested for unpaid parking tickets, because investigators had no solid evidence connecting him to the murders, except that he knew five of the victims.

Gary Ridgway

  • A woman was seen kidnapped in a blue pickup truck. The truck belonged to him but the police didn't press the issue.
  • He had been questioned because of his obsession with prostitutes. Took a polygraph test but passed.
  • Police took "bodily samples" of Gary Ridgway so that they could compare them with the evidence they had from the Green River victims. However, there was insufficient evidence to arrest him and the man was released from police custody.

  • In 2001, the samples were re-examined using new techniques and they were able to conclude that his samples matched those of the murder victims.
  • He admitted to killing over 48 women.

Psychological Profile

    • According to Douglas, the Green River Killer was a confident middle-aged man who would go back to the murder scenes to relive the killings.

    • The person would have to be a psychopath who enjoys murdering for fun
    • His dad would always talk to Gary about how prostitutes were the scum of the earth. On some occasions he would leave Gary in the car to go have sex with them.
    • His mom was a very attractive lady who would wear revealing tops and short tight shorts.
    • One time while taking a bath, his mom's robe accidentally untied and Gary became aroused.
    • While a teenager he stabbed a first grader in the stomach because he just wanted to know what it would feel like to kill somebody. The boy survived, but Ridgway was not connected to it.
    • He was obsessed with sex and would demand it multiple times a day.
    • He admitted to being obsessed with prostitutes. Neighbors said he constantly complained about prostitutes conducting business in his neighborhood, yet he frequently took advantages of their favors. He was also known to have been obsessed with sex and he would often demand sex multiple times a day.
      • "I killed some of them outside. I remember leaving each woman's body in the place where she was found," he said. "I killed most of them in my house near Military Road, and I killed a lot of them in my truck not far from where I picked them up."

      • "I picked prostitutes as my victims because I hate most prostitutes and I did not want to pay them for sex. I also picked prostitutes as victims because 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."

      • He buried his victims in clusters so that he could drive by and remember the the pleasure he experienced while murdering them.

    • He would have sex with them, either in his house or in the back of his car and when he was finished he would strangle them.
    • They meant nothing to him.
    • He revisited one of the dead bodies and had sex with it.
    • There was a time period after he married his third wife that he stopped killing for a while. His wife said he was so sweet and understanding.

Evidence

    • Carpet fibers

    • Ropes

    • Plastic tarps

    • Shoe impressions, possibly that of the killer, were revealed. They were made by a size 10 or 11 man's shoe
    • Paint samples - spray paint on clothing, matched DuPont Imron paint used at the truck plant where Gary Ridgway worked
    • Analyized pubic hairs and found dna that matched Gary Ridgway

    • Skeletal remains of some of the victims were found

Conclusion

    • He was sentenced to life in prison in December 2003 having committed more murders than any serial killer in U.S. history.

Other Theories

  • As I went through the case I started to believe that since little evidence connects him to any of the other murders that there must've been another killer, but as I watched videos of him confessing and further learned about the case I know without a doubt that he killed all of those women.