Between 1982 to 1998, many women in the Seattle area were targeted by a serial killer known in the media as the ‘Green River Killer’.
Gary Leon Ridgway was eventually arrested and he confessed to more murders than any other serial killer in U.S. history.
Here are the most twisted facts about the serial killer and the sinister tricks he used to commit his crimes.
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5. He Targeted Victims He Believed Nobody Would Care About
Ridgway shockingly told investigators he was so good at killing prostitutes that he regarded it as his “career”. He confessed to killing as many as 80 women but police only ever confirmed up to 49 murders.
In a Seattle courtroom, Ridgway said he targeted sex workers “because I thought I could kill as many as I wanted without getting caught.”
His statement began: “I killed the 48 women. In most cases, when I murdered these women I did not know their names. Most of the time I killed them the first time I met them, and I did not have a good memory for their faces. I killed so many women, I have a hard time keeping them straight.”
“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.”
He would target sex workers on the highways – watching them from a distance before persuading them into the truck.
Detectives also believed the Green River Killer was taunting them as bodies were often dumped in disturbing poses. King County sheriff Dave Reichert said, “The killer was out there killing, and we were collecting bodies.”
4. He Scattered Toys In His Truck To Gain His Victim’s Trust
The former truck painter admitted that when he picked up a victim it was with the intent to kill them.
Many of the victims did not immediately trust Ridgway so he thought of a new way to gain their trust. His trick was to scatter toys in his truck and show them a photo of his young son.
Ridgway’s chief lawyer, Anthony Savage, stated, “(Ridgway) breaks the mold in a lot of different directions. The man is obviously off the rails, around the bend, down the river, whatever you want to call it. I don’t think we’ll ever know what fueled his anger.”
3. He Meticulously Covered His Tracks At Every Crime Scene
For a man who barely graduated high school and with a below-average IQ – Ridgway had an intuitive understanding of forensics.
Ridgway thought gun and knives were too messy – so he killed his victims by strangling them. In his own words, “Choking is what I did and I was pretty good at it.”
He meticulously hid their bodies and any evidence that might link him to the crime:
- If they scratched him, he clipped their fingernails.
- If tire tracks were found at the scene, he bought new tires.
- In one case when he was scratched, he poured battery acid on his arms to cover the wounds.
- He planted bogus clues and repeatedly relocated his victims’ remains.
He also kept the bodies in “clusters” near a recognizable landmark so he could return to them later. Ridgway said, “I liked to drive by the clusters around the county and think about the women I placed there.”
2. He Was A Master Manipulator And Could Pass A Lie Detector Test
In the 1980s, King County Sheriff’s Office formed The Green River Task Force which included Robert Keppel and Dave Reichert.
Finally, the break came when semen samples corresponded with a saliva swab taken from the serial killer back in 1987. Ridgway was finally arrested in 2001.
There had been a previous incident that took place in 1980; Ridgway was arrested for choking a sex worker but charges were dropped as he claimed self-defense after she bit him. He voluntarily took a polygraph test and passed.
A middle-class husband and father, who engaged politely with work colleagues – Ridgway was, in reality, leading a double life.
Randy Mullinax, a task force member, explained, “He had a compartmentalized life. He had his work, he had his family, he had his killing.”
1. He Continued To Play Cat and Mouse With Detectives After His Arrest
Judge Richard A. Jones agreed sentencing would be postponed for up to six months to allow investigators more time to question Ridgway about each murder in detail.
Ridgway knew where he hid the bodies and negotiated a plea deal to avoid the death penalty. He even requested fresh salmon and specific books on serial killers in exchange for more information.
Kathy Mills, whose 16-year-old daughter Opal was one of the victims, said, “It’s hard to sit there and not see him show any feeling or anything – any remorse or anything and to know that he strangled every one of them. He wants out of it. He wants out of his death penalty, but he didn’t give (the victims) any chance.”
Now 71-years-old, he is currently imprisoned at Washington State Penitentiary, Walla Walla, Washington.