Gary Ridgway – The Green River Killer

Gary_Ridgway_1982_MugshotGary Leon Ridgway was born in 1949 in Utah, the second of three boys. He had a below-average level of intelligence with an IQ of only 82. His home life was troublesome and never short of arguments and violence. School was a struggle for Gary and his classmates would describe him as easily forgotten.

He wet the bed well into his teens. When an ‘incident’ would happen, his mother, who was obviously some kind of fucked up herself, found out, she would make him strip down in his room then walk completely naked through the house and into the bathroom. Once there, SHE would bathe her teenage son! all the while belittling, berating and shaming him. This both aroused and embarrassed young Gary, causing him to have bizarre sexual and violent fantasies about, and toward, his mother.

Gary’s teenage years just grew more troubled and his first act of violence came about when he was just 16. He lured a little boy, six years old, into the woods and then stabbed him through the ribs and into his liver. The boy survived and told the authorities that Gary walked away, leaving him for dead, laughing and saying “I always wondered what it would be like to kill.” 

Gary finally graduated high school at the age of 20. He immediately married his girlfriend, 19 year old Claudia Kraig, then joined the Navy. He was sent to Vietnam, where he started to frequent prostitutes and contracted gonorrhea. That pissed him off but not enough to stop having sex with whores. In the mean time, his wife was having an affair of her own and the marriage ended before the year did.

His second marriage was a bit more peculiar. He became extremely religious, preaching door-to-door to all that would listen. He would read the bible frantically and weep uncontrollably afterwards. He insisted his wife practice the strict laws of the church. All the while he continued to employee the services of prostitutes and tried to get his wife to have sex at inappropriate times and places. The marriage ended in divorce due to infidelities on both sides.

It is said of Gary that he had an ‘insatiable’ sexual appetite and demanded sex several times a day. He had a fixation on prostitutes and having sex in public areas. According to Gary he was caught somewhere between his uncontrollable lusts and his strict religious beliefs. 

His lust obviously won that toss. From about 1982 til 1998, Gary murdered at least 71 women, although the authorities believe the number is closer to 90 and Gary said there were just too many to remember. He killed most of his victims in his home, his truck or a selected secluded area. The victims were all prostitutes or runaways. He would gain the woman to him, rape them and strangle them from behind. He would then dump their bodies in ‘clusters’ around Green River, returning often to have sex with their rotting corpses.

In 1984, the Green River Task Force was formed to investigate the murders and catch an obvious serial killer that was not slowing down. Ted Bundy, a prolific serial killer himself, sitting now on death row, offered his services to help profile the killer. After studying what they knew, Bundy told the authorities that the dump sites were clusters and that they were not far from the killers stomping grounds and that he was a necrophiliac who would return to the clusters for sex with his dead victims. He told them that if they found a fresh grave on the river banks to stake it out and wait.

Ridgway became a suspect in the Green River killings in 1983.

On November 30, 2001, Gary was arrested on suspicion of murdering four women nearly 20 years after first being identified as a potential suspect, when DNA evidence conclusively linked him to each victim. In order to avoid the death penalty, Gary entered a guilty plea to 48 charges of aggravated first degree murder. As part of the plea bargain, Gary agreed to co-operate in locating the remains of his victims and provide details to each of the murders.

Gary was given 48 life sentences, with no possibility of parole, and one life sentence, to be served consecutively. He was also sentenced to an additional 10 years for tampering with evidence, for each of the 48 victims, adding 480 years to his 48 life sentences. They continue to interview Gary about missing women and his list keeps growing.

greenriver killerbook1This book is available if you would like to read more.