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March 9, 2022

Gary Ridgway - The Green River Killer - Raped and Strangled 49 Teenage Girls and Young Women. WARNING: Graphic Sexual Assault Content

Gary Ridgway - The Green River Killer - Raped and Strangled 49 Teenage Girls and Young Women. WARNING: Graphic Sexual Assault Content

Gary Ridgway, also known as The Green River Killer who raped, strangled, and murdered at least 49 teenage girls and women. He was convicted of those 49 murders receiving 48 consecutive life sentences making him the second most prolific serial killer in US history, second only to Samuel Little who we covered in our last episode so make sure to check it out.

He received his name after the first five victims were found along the banks of the Green River in Washington state. Ridgway was fond of returning to where he dumped his victims and having sex with their corpses but told investigators he would draw the line if they were too rotten or had maggots on them. Ridgway claims to have killed over 70 victims before finally being stopped and some are still being identified to this day.

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In this week's episode, we’re investigating the life and crimes of Gary Ridgway, also known as The Green River Killer who raped, strangled, and murdered at least 49 teenage girls and women. He was convicted of those 49 murders receiving 48 consecutive life sentences making him the second most prolific serial killer in US history, second only to Samuel Little who we covered in our last episode so make sure to check it out.

He received his name after the first five victims were found along the banks of the Green River in Washington state. Ridgway was fond of returning to where he dumped his victims and having sex with their corpses but told investigators he would draw the line if they were too rotten or had maggots on them. Ridgway claims to have killed over 70 victims before finally being stopped and some are still being identified to this day.

Make sure to visit us on the web at TASKG.net where you can listen to all of our episodes and visit our store. Click the visit our store link at the top to find all of your serial killer and true crime gear from shirts, hoodies, mugs, masks, and pretty much anything your true crime heart desires. You can also find the link to our store in the episode description along with the links to support our show through Patreon or Buy us a coffee and you’ll also find the link to get a free $20 Amazon gift card when you sign up for a paid Buzzsprout account to start a podcast of your own.

HELP SUPPORT OUR SHOW

Preferred - Cashapp: $TASKGUS


Visit our store
  HERE for all of your favorite serial killer gear!!!

Following the link lets Buzzsprout know we sent you, gets you a $20 Amazon gift card if you sign up for a paid plan, and helps support our show:
https://www.buzzsprout.com/?referrer_id=1876119

Buy Me a Coffee
Patreon

Review us on PodChaser

Please send all correspondence to:
The American Serial Killer Guidebook or TASKG
P.O. Box 3689
Lawton, Ok. 73502

Email Us:

Elton@taskg.net

Cherish@taskg.net

Website:
www.taskg.net

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/TASKG)


Transcript

[Intro]

[Opening]

Hey everyone, welcome to this week’s episode of The American Serial Killer Guidebook. I’m your host Elton Morgan [and I’m your co-host Cherish Morgan] and we’re The Morgan’s. In this weeks episode we’re investigating the life and crimes of Gary Ridgway, also known as The Green River Killer who raped, strangled, and murdered at least 49 teenage girls and women. He was convicted of those 49 murders receiving 48 consecutive life sentences making him the second most prolific serial killer in US history, second only to Samuel Little who we covered in our last episode so make sure to check it out.

He received his name after the first five victims were found along the banks of the Green River in Washington state. Ridgway was fond of returning to where he dumped his victims and having sex with their corpses but told investigators he would draw the line if they were too rotten or had maggots on them. Ridgway claims to have killed over 70 victims before finally being stopped and some are still being identified to this day.

Make sure to visit us on the web at TASKG.net where you can listen to all of our episodes and visit our store. Click the visit our store link at the top to find all of your serial killer and true crime gear from shirts, hoodies, mugs, masks, and pretty much anything your true crime heart desires. You can also find the link to our store in the episode description along with the links to support our show through Patreon or Buy us a coffee and you’ll also find the link to get a free $20 Amazon gift card when you sign up for a paid Buzzsprout account to start a podcast of your own.

Well babe, what say we crack open a couple of beers and discuss the sexual deviancy of Gary Ridgway?

[Segue to main]

 

Claiming to have murdered as many as 70 women, Gary Ridgway — known as the Green River Killer for the Seattle, Washington, location where many of his victims were discovered — was America’s deadliest convicted serial killer when, in 2003, he pleaded guilty to 48 counts of murder.

 

Born on February 18, 1949, Gary was the second of Mary and Thomas Ridgway's three sons.

 

Living a troubled childhood, he was often the witness of violent arguments between his parents. Ridgway grew up in what became SeaTac, Washington. His father was a bus driver and his mother a salesclerk. Ridgway later claimed that his mother engaged in inappropriate behavior. He alleged that after wetting the bed—a habit that persisted into his early teens—she would wash his genitals.

At some point he began fantasizing about having sex with and killing her, and in the mid-1960s, when he was 15 or 16, Ridgway stabbed a 6-year-old boy, he said, just to see how stabbing worked. After graduating from Tyee high school in 1969 Gary married his high-school girlfriend, Claudia Kraig, before joining the United States Navy at the age of 20—Ridgway served a two-year stint in the U.S. Navy on board a supply ship during the Vietnam war, where he had frequent sexual intercourse with sex workers that led to him contracting gonorrhea which began his hatred of prostitutes and when he left the Navy he settled in the Seattle area.

The use of hookers ultimately caused the breakup of his first marriage within a year.

 

He found love again in the arms of Marcia Winslow, whom he married. The couple welcomed a son named Matthew in 1975.

 

During his second marriage, Gary became highly religious, preaching door-to-door.

 

Despite his firm beliefs, he continued to solicit the services of sex workers, encouraging his wife to engage in risky sexual activities in public and inappropriate places.

Women in his life claimed that he had an insatiable sexual appetite and that his first two marriages ended in divorce due to infidelity.

Over 20 years, Ridgway methodically raped and strangled scores of women, many of them prostitutes or runaways, dumping their bodies across a wide area of King County Washington to confuse authorities. Investigators believe that, throughout his murderous spree, the seemingly mild-mannered Ridgway never spoke to anyone of his killings or kept trophies of the grisly crimes. All the while, he maintained his longtime job as a truck painter at the Kenworth Truck plant in Renton and he eventually married for the third time.

 

In 1980 Ridgway was arrested for allegedly choking a prostitute, but no charges were filed after he claimed that the woman had bit him. Two years later he was arrested for solicitation. Ridgway was believed to have begun his killing spree shortly thereafter.

[Insert Clip Pressure Release]

 

July 15, 1982: The body of Ridgway's first victim is discovered

On July 15th, 1982, children found the strangled body of 16 yr. old prostitute Wendy Caulfield, of nearby Puyallup, WA., floating in Seattle’s Green River near the city of Kent, WA. Over the following weeks four more bodies were discovered in or along its banks — all women, all strangled. August 12th, the body of 23 yr. old Debra Lynn Bonner is found along the banks of the Green River. She went missing on July 15, 1982, from South 216th Street and Pacific Highway South.

 

Growing up in an impoverished environment, Debra - nicknamed "Dub" by her close relatives and friends - fell in with the wrong friends.

 

She eventually dropped out of high school, began abusing alcohol and fought regularly with her parents.

 

After losing her job at the Dairy Queen in South Tacoma she failed a test to join the Navy.

 

Debra started getting her GED before she met 27-year-old Robert L. Martin, a known drug-dealing pimp in the Tacoma area.

 

Infatuated with him, Debra agreed to work as a prostitute to support him financially. 3 days later and 100 yards South, on August 15, three more bodies were found.

King County Detective David Reichert was one of the first authorities to arrive at the scene. Marcia Fay Chapman, 31, a single mother of 3 who was supporting her children through prostitution and went missing on August 1st was found in the shallow water alongside the naked body of 17-year-old Cynthia Jean Hinds who was a 14 yr. old prostitute who went missing on August 11th, and nearby in the undergrowth lay the body of Opal Charmaine Mills, 16 who went missing on August 12th, blue pants tied around her neck, breasts exposed, bruises apparent on her arms and legs. Opal Mills and Cynthia Hinds were friends, and their bodies were found together having gone missing one day apart, but authorities never figured out how Ridgway managed to link them together because Opal Mills was not engaged in prostitution.

 

August 16, 1982: A police task force is set up

The first task force, formed in 1982 by Major Richard Kraske, then head of the Criminal Investigation Division, had 25 officers mostly from King County, but also from Kent and Pierce County.

 

That group was dismantled in November 1982 after investigators concluded that the most likely suspect for the crimes was a Lacey cabdriver, who was then placed under periodic surveillance as detectives worked to assemble evidence against him.

 

While officials have never officially cleared the cabdriver, it soon became apparent that he could not have committed the crimes — especially since a number of eventual Green River victims disappeared while the cabdriver was under surveillance.

Over the next two years, the Green River Killer sexually assaulted and murdered more than 40 other women. “Every time you found a body, it was like being hit on the head with a baseball bat,” Reichert told Time magazine.

January 31st, 1983: The body of 16 yr. old Linda Jane Rule was found on the campus of Northwest Hospital. Much like other Green River victims, Linda had a troubled background, dropping out of middle school and leaving her family home by the age of 14.

 

An occasional drug user, she turned to sex work to support herself.

 

On September 26, 1982, 16-year-old Linda left her motel room seemingly in a good mood.

 

She was engaged to her boyfriend Bobby, who was eight years her senior, and she was hoping to have a regular life.

 

She was last seen walking towards a Kmart in Seattle.

April 27, 1983: Green River killer becomes target of largest murder investigation in the country. Sheriff Vern Thomas estimates cost for 1983 at $2 million.

 

April 30, 1983: Ridgway first becomes a suspect

In the spring of 1983, prostitute Marie Malvar, 18, was last seen by her boyfriend getting into a paint-patched pickup with a dark-haired man about 30 to 40 years old. The boyfriend followed Ridgway’s truck but eventually lost it and never saw Marie Malvar alive again. The truck is identified as belonging to Ridgway and four days later, police questioned him at his home about his knowledge of Malvar, whom he denied knowing. In November, police once again spoke with Ridgway about the murders, but he denied any knowledge of the victims, and authorities lacked evidence to connect him to any of the crimes.

 

In 2003, Ridgway told investigators he stood against a fence during his original 1983 questioning to conceal scratches Malvar had left on his arm while trying to escape. Ridgway said he then burned the scratches with battery acid to disguise them once the detectives had left.

[Insert Battery Acid Clip]

May 3, 1983: Carol Christensen, 21, disappears from Pacific Highway S., south of Seattle. Her body is found five days later in wooded area in Maple Valley, southeast of Seattle. Her head is covered by a brown paper bag. When removed, a fish sits arranged on her neck.

August 11th, 1983: The body of Shawnda Leea Summers is found in one of Ridgway’s dumpsites. Shawnda is believed to be born some time in 1965, although her birth date still remains to be confirmed.

 

She was one of three children, had a history of prostitution and was only 17 years old at the time of her disappearance and she also disappeared along Pacific Highway South in October of 1982.

 

Nov. 20, 1983: Police say the same man killed 11 young women found murdered in south King County since summer 1982.

January 1984, head of the department's major-crimes section Capt. Frank Adamson and then-Sheriff Vern Thomas announced the formation of the second Green River task force, 43 officers including detectives, plainclothes patrol officers and support staff such as crime analysts and forensic experts.

 

April 1, 1984: The body of 16 yr. old Terry Rene Milligan is found near Star Lake Road. She went missing on August 29th, 1982. According to my research she was a brilliant student dreaming of attending Yale to study computer science, her life took a turn when she became pregnant in middle school.

 

This forced her to drop out of school and she never had the chance to go back.

 

A devoted mother to a baby boy, she was living in a motel with her boyfriend and was supporting both of them through sex work. Four other skeletons were found at the same time putting the official number of victims at 20.

 

April 20, 1984: Two more sets of remains found, including those of unconfirmed Green River victim Amina Agisheff, 36, near North Bend.

 

May 1984: Ridgway passes a polygraph test

Already a person of interest due to his known association with area prostitutes, Ridgway contacted police with the supposed intention of assistance. He then passed a polygraph test in which he denied killing any women. Detectives later discovered a 1982 report about police finding Ridgway with a prostitute in a parked car; two years later a body was found nearby.

Dec. 9, 1984: The suspected toll of victims rises to 42 — 28 identified bodies and 14 other women missing.

 

 

1986: The police talk with Ted Bundy

With few reliable leads in the Green River Killer case, authorities were desperate for any information to further the investigation. King County homicide detective Robert Keppel started talking to Bundy in Florida in November 1984, after receiving a startling letter. “One day in October 1984, I was buried in a pile of paperwork on my desk. I looked up to see Detective Ed Striedinger of the Seattle Police Department.

He had retrieved a letter from a judge in Pierce County who wanted it delivered to task-force staff. It was a letter from a ‘wanna-be’ consultant and the most unlikely person I ever expected to be of assistance in the Green River murders. The letter came from a cell on death row in Florida; the sender was Theodore Robert Bundy. Reichert and Keppel flew to Florida where Bundy was being held on death row.

During discussions, Bundy reportedly advised authorities that the killer may be revisiting his victim’s corpses and performing sexual acts on them, a hypothesis Ridgway later confirmed.

[Insert Revisited Body for Sex Clip]

 

April 8th, 1987: Ridgway provides a DNA sample that would eventually be his downfall

Because Ridgway was the last person allegedly seen with two of the victims, police eventually searched his home and vehicles in 1987 in connection with the murders. However, none of the items found—including carpet fibers and ropes—could be linked to the victims. It was at that time Ridgway finally provided police with a saliva sample that would later tie him to the crimes. but the technology then available was unable to match it with semen recovered from the bodies.

May 30, 1988: Body of Debra Estes, 15, found in Federal Way. Debra went missing at the age of 15 on September 20, 1982.

 

At 12 years old, she often ran away from home after arguments with her parents.

 

She left the family home in 1982, stealing $250 from her mother's purse.

 

It was then that she began to live in various motels with an older boyfriend.

 

After being forced to perform oral sex at gunpoint by a man in September 1982, she agreed to work with police in the hope of filing charges against the perpetrator.

 

She eagerly agreed to testify against him in court before her disappearance.

 

Sept. 20, 1990: Body of Marta Reeves found along Highway 410 near Enumclaw southeast of Seattle. At 36 years old, Marta was last heard from when she made a phone call to her husband on March 5, 1990.

 

July 1991: Green River task force reduced to one investigator.

 

Aug. 16, 1998: Wrecking crew finds body of Patricia Ann Yellow Robe, 38, Seattle. Death certificate says she died of accidental drug and alcohol overdose, but investigators later tell relatives she was among the Green River killer’s victims. Patricia was the eldest of Gary's known victims.

 

She was last seen in the Seattle area in January 1998, before being found in Seattle on August 16, 1998.

 

Nov. 2, 1999: New DNA process used to identify remains found near the Green River in 1986 as Tracy Ann Winston, 19, last seen near Northgate Mall in Seattle on September 12th, 1983.

March 2001: DNA testing expands and connects Ridgway to three murders

With new techniques in forensic testing at their disposal, investigators re-examined evidence from across the years the killer had been active. “It was a last-ditch effort,” Beverly Himick, a Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory forensic scientist, told The New York Times. “We didn’t have a lot to work with, but we went through a lot of evidence again. We rinsed all the fingernails to look for trace evidence and swabbed the ligatures for cellular material. With one girl, we were able to find a few sperm clinging to her pubic hair.”

 

New DNA profiles from three victims were compared with Ridgway’s DNA, thanks to the saliva sample he had provided in 1987. It was a match in all three cases.

 

November 30, 2001: Police announce the arrest of the Green River Killer

Nearly two decades after the first murder, and by this time King County Sheriff and later to become Congressman, David Reichert announced that Ridgway, 52, was arrested in connection with four of the Green River Killer’s early victims: Marcia Chapman, Opal Mills, Cynthia Hinds and Carol Ann Christensen — whose body was recovered in 1983.

March 27, 2003: Ridgway is charged with three more counts of aggravated first-degree murder in deaths of Wendy Lee Caulfield, Debra Estes and Debra Bonner. He again pleads innocent.

June 13: Ridgway agrees to plead guilty in a deal to avoid the death penalty. The deal requires that he help investigators solve as many Green River cases as possible.

 

Aug. 16: Crews searching a wooded area east of Enumclaw find remains of Pammy Annette Avent, 16, of Seattle, who disappeared on October 26th, 1983, after leaving her house in Seattle.

 

Aug. 21-23: Detectives find human bones in wooded area in Kent.

 

Aug. 30 and Sept. 2: Detectives searching area near Snoqualmie find remains of April Dawn Buttram, 17, last seen in 1983 waiting at a bus stop in the Rainier Valley.

 

Sept. 28-29: Crews searching wooded area near Auburn find remains of Marie M. Malvar, 18, who disappeared April 30, 1983.

 

November 5, 2003: Ridgway pleads guilty

Although he initially proclaimed his innocence, Ridgway soon confessed to the crimes, stating that he wanted to kill as many prostitutes as possible. In a plea bargain that would spare him the death penalty in return for his confession and information regarding the details of the murders and locations of the bodies, Ridgway entered a guilty plea to 48 charges of aggravated first-degree murder.

[Insert Pleading Guilty Clip]

 

“I killed so many women I have a hard time keeping them straight,” Ridgway said in a statement, admitting he killed most of his victims in his house or truck before disposing of the bodies, adding that in most cases he did not even know his victim’s names. “Most of the time I killed them the first time I met them, and I do not have a good memory for their faces.”

 

Explaining why he chose women he thought to be prostitutes, Ridgway said 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.”

[Insert Best Serial Killer Clip]

December 18, 2003: Ridgway is sentenced

For his crimes, a King County Superior Court Judge sentenced Ridgway to 48 life sentences, to be served consecutively, with no possibility of parole and ordered to pay $480,000 in fines. In 2011, Ridgway pleaded guilty to a 49th homicide, admitting he killed 20-year-old Rebecca Marrero among his first victims. She was last seen in 1982. A tearful Ridgway gave his apologies to the families in court before being led away but none of them appeared to show the slightest interest.

[Insert Apology in Court Clip]

 

Ridgway is serving a sentence of life without parole at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla Washington.

[Segue to Closing]

Thanks for stopping by this week to visit Cherish and I as we discussed the sexual deviancy and murderous rampage of Gary Ridgway over 20 years. Check out our next episode to find out which of America’s most notorious serial killers we will be showcasing for your listening pleasure. Find the link to our store on our website and in the episode description to get the coolest serial killer clothes and collectibles you’ve ever seen and help support the show by visiting our Patreon or Buy us a coffee. Thanks again and we’ll see you next crime.

[Outro]

HELP SUPPORT OUR SHOW

Preferred - Cashapp: $TASKGUS


Visit our store
  HERE for all of your favorite serial killer gear!!!

Following the link lets Buzzsprout know we sent you, gets you a $20 Amazon gift card if you sign up for a paid plan, and helps support our show:
https://www.buzzsprout.com/?referrer_id=1876119

Buy Me a Coffee
Patreon

Review us on PodChaser

Please send all correspondence to:
The American Serial Killer Guidebook or TASKG
P.O. Box 3689
Lawton, Ok. 73502

Email Us:

Elton@taskg.net

Cherish@taskg.net

Website:
www.taskg.net

Support the show

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