Gary Ridgeway

The Green River Killer

Background

Gary Ridgeway was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, he has two brothers-Gregory, and Thomas Ridgeway. As a boy Ridgeway had a habit of wetting the bed. His mother would often be the one to discover the accidents and would bathe him immediately, she would be belittle him and embarrass him in front of the family. As a young child, Ridgeway was tested with an I.Q. of 82, signifying low intelligence, and his academic performance in school was so poor that at one point in high school he had to repeat a single school year three times in order to attain grades decent enough to pass. His classmates at Tyee High School described Gary to be congenial but largely forgettable. His teenage years were troubled, he stabbed a six year old boy who survived the attack and according to the victim Ridgeway walked away laughing and saying "I always wondered what it would be like to kill someone." At age 18, while in high school, Ridgeway joined the Navy. After graduation, he married his high school girlfriend, Claudia Barrows, and was sent to Vietnam, where he served onboard a supply ship and saw combat. During his time in the military, he began spending a lot of time with prostitutes, after the war he and Claudia were quickly divorced. He was married twice but divorced twice and his second wife gave birth to his only child and son, Mathew.

Murders

Throughout the 1980's and 1990's Ridgeway is believed to have murdered at least 71 women (according to Ridgeway, in an interview with Sheriff Reichert in 2001) near Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. His court statement later reported that he had killed so many that he had lost count. The victims were often found to be prostitutes or runaways picked up along the Pacific Highway, Most of the bodies were dumped in wooded areas around the Green River, Ridgeway would leave the bodies in clusters, sometimes posed, usually nude and it was believed he did this so he could return and take act in necrophiliac, (Intercourse with the bodies). Gary would begin each murder by picking up a woman, show them a picture of his son to gain trust, have sex with them the strangle her from behind, most victims were killed in his home, his truck, or a secluded area.

The Capture

Ridgeways capture was one that came through in an unusual manner, Detective Reichert in charge of the case spent endless hours with an enormous group of colleagues on finding the Green River Killer, however with the help of technology and Ted Bundy Gary was caught. The bodies were first discovered by a man fishing along the green river, the man saw what was to be a body floating farther down the river, after poking the body several times, the man began seeing several bodies in this area, he immediately retreated from the location and called the police.

Gary avoided the death penalty in King County by confessing to the murders of 48 women, however because some of the victims were buried and possibly killed in Oregon and other areas outside King County, Ridgeway could still face death in other jurisdictions.