Gary Leon Ridgway is famous for admitting to the most serial killings. He is linked to the deaths of 48 young women; most were strangled to death around Seattle and Tacoma, Washington.
It took nearly 20 years for Ridgway to be caught and brought to justice. He committed the majority of his murders between 1982 and 1984, during which time the bodies of many of his victims were found near Green River in Washington. This earned the then unknown assailant the title of “the Green River Killer.”
Police officers discovered the bodies of many of Ridgeway’s victims naked along the river bank. They were often placed together in groups, and sometimes the bodies were even posed. Almost all of the victims were prostitutes, so the police were able to identify a common trait that the killer looked for and used that information in their ongoing investigation. The sheriff’s department founded the “Green River Task Force” and assigned the men involved with the responsibility of tracking down the serial killer.
In 1982, Gary Ridgway was arrested on a prostitution charge. He was a suspect in the killings, but after passing a polygraph test in which he claimed to be innocent, he was released from custody. Despite this, members of the task force held on to their suspicions and to samples of his hair and saliva.
After 1984, the murders seemed to have stopped but the search continued for the killer. By 2001, investigators had DNA evidence of the murderer and it was compared to the strands of Ridgway’s hair still in police custody. The samples matched. Ridgway was arrested on November 30, 2001 after being linked to the murder of four women.
During the trial that followed in 2003, Ridgway pleaded guilty to the murders of 48 women. He confessed to 71 murders, but there are suspicions of as many as 90 in total. To avoid the death penalty, he agreed to help police officials locate the remains of his victims that had not yet been discovered.
Ridgway was sentenced to 48 consecutive life terms with an additional 480 years for tampering with evidence (10 years for each of the 48 victims). He currently resides at the Washington State Penitentiary and has no hope of parole.
For more information, please visit:
The Gary Ridgway Biography