In this two-part episode, we dive deep into the green river killer. Make some jokes about his ED because well, he's not a nice person, and talk about the first half of his gruesome murders.
Not as publicized on as much as say, Ted Bundy, he was just as notorious and well had some serious mommy issues.
Trigger Warning! Child molestation, incest, rape, necrophilia and dismemberment.
Green River Killer: The unsuspecting Life by Pennie Morehead
Green River Running Red by Ann Rule
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Green River Killer
In Kent Washington, July 15th 1982, it was reported that the body of a young woman was found under the Peck Bridge on Meeker street. She floated in from the Green River and she was bound and tangled up with a rope. She was white and estimated to be about 5’4” and 140lbs. She wore a white trimmed blue and white striped shirt, white tennis shoes and unhemmed jeans. She had identifying tattoos, although no one at the time came forward to identify her. The king county medical examiner noted that she had a vine around a heart on her left arm, two tiny butterflies above her breasts, a cross with a vine around it on her shoulder, a Harley Davidson motorcycle insignia on her back, and the unfinished outline of a unicorn on her lower abdomen. The medical examiner noted that the tattoos may have a gang affiliation and King county police interviewed some gang members but none admitted to knowing her.
She had been placed in the river and she was strangled with her own panties. Later a tattoo artist identified her tattoos and came forward with an identification. Wendy Lee Coffield who lived in Puyallup Washington, 16 years old. (The paper reported she was between the ages of 20-25 but with decomp its easy to make a mistake like that because of bloating and degrading of the organic matter of the body)
When her mother was located she said “I kinda expected it, she worked as a prostitute and I think she was killed by a John. I know that was the life she chose for herself, we taught her the best we could.” Her mother said she was a good country girl but she became troubled when they moved to Auburn and Kent Washington. Her family struggled growing up and they didn’t have much money. Things had gotten even worse when her mother and her father had divorced and she was left to raise Wendy and her sibling as a single mother. At one point they lived in a tent and sold blackberries so they could buy food.
Wendy dropped out in junior high and turned to alcohol. She had become pregnant at 16 and gave the baby up for adoption. She enrolled in Kent continuation school and looked older than she was. She was a chronic runaway and stole 140 dollars of food stamps from a neighbor. One night she came home disheveled and said a man had raped her while she was hitchhiking (which was the norm in the 60s 70s and 80s) She was described as a person who wanted more than what she had and took terrible chances to get it.
The last sighting of wendy was when she slipped out of Remann Hall a week before her corpse was found in the green river. She was listed as a runaway, and no one was actively seeking her until two boys stumbled across her body under the bridge.
The seatac strip was what the locals referred to when talking about the Pac HiWay that ran from the Seattle Tacoma Airport, now referred to as the International Parkway. There were little motels called “cabin camps” along the highway and marginal hotels that featured male and female exotic dancers. A lot of runaways lived in these seedy hotel rooms and worked out of them along the strip as sex workers. Travelers from all over the country would pick up dates on the seatac strip which made it easy to make a quick buck. Drugs and pimps flooded the streets, so with that, sex workers also flooded the area. With so many johns and travelers coming in and out it made it easy for a predator to come and go without being seen.
Things quieted down for a while until August 12th, 1982 when the body of Debra Bonner was found. She was easy to identify because her fingerprints were already in the police database. She had been arrested for offering sex for money, twice. She was an active sex worker who moved along the Seatac strip. She was last seen alive July 25th, 18 days before her body was discovered. She left the 3 bears motel and told some friends she was hoping to “catch some dates” was picked up and never seen again.
Debra was an exotic looking woman, slender and grew up in Tacoma Washington. She had two brothers and dropped out of school two years before graduating. She had trouble finding jobs because of her lack of education and even failed the Navy test but still planned on getting her GED. She fell in love with a hobosapien ( a man who lets his woman work to support him) (fuck boi) and the only way to make the kind of money she needed to support her and her boyfriend was to work on the streets. Her boyfriend had a newer model Thunderbird, and they would travel often but soon they discovered heroin and once she became addicted she couldn’t get out. She told friends she was working the circuit but had been trying to turn her life around. She would check in regularly with her family through collect calls and the last time she spoke to them it was after her father had eye surgery on July 20th and she told him she loved him. Her boyfriend/ pimp was stalking her and at a local bar she told friends she owed him several thousand dollars and she was scared because she didn’t know how she was going to pay him. She had reason to fear him because he had been convicted of manslaughter when he shot and killed a man and spent 5 years in prison for the crime.
Police didn’t see any links between Debra and Wendy’s murder so they focused on her boyfriend Max tackley. King county police kept an open mind and interviewed over 100 people on the strip anyone from servers to cocktail waitresses, bar tenders and taxi drivers. They even contacted Portland and Spokane to see if they had any unsolved cases of women who worked on the circuit.
Three days later a man was looking for antique bottles and trash that was floating in the Green River. He was on a rubber raft and while looking along the bottom of the water he squinted and was horrified at what he saw. Two fingers floating beneath the surface and open eyes staring blankly up at the sky. At first he thought it was a mannequin but said it was too detailed to be a mannequin. He rowed down the river a bit and signaled a passersby to call the authorities.
Dave Reichert and Sue peters were the first responding officers to the scene. As he approached the green river it was evident there was a second body in the river. As the detective was coming down the bank of the river to secure the scene, through the thick vegetation, he slipped and almost stepped onto a third body of another young woman. The first two women were weighted down by large rocks that were placed on their abdomen and breasts. The third victim, detectives thought, the killer was spooked by a passerby and just left the body without carrying her all the way down to the water.
She was a biracial woman who looked to be in her midteens and had been strangled with her own shorts. The two other women were of African ethnicity and weighted down by rocks with signs of strangulation. The police requested radio silence during this time as to not alert the media of what was going on. The first victim identified was Marcia Chapman, through fingerprints. She was known by friends as Tiny because of her small stature, she was beautiful with symmetrical features and pouty lips. She had 3 children (3,9 & 11) and supported them through sex work. She left her apartment on August 1st 1982 and never returned.
Police sketches of the other two women were drawn up because they still weren’t identified. The two unidentified women had been raped and triangular shaped stones were placed in their vaginas so tightly they had to be surgically removed. Police think that the killer had a case of E.D. and shoved the stones in there as a rape substitute.
Soon after the two other victims were identified. The first was Cynthia Hinds and was a17 year old vibrant girl who went by the name “Cookie”. She was a sex worker on the Seatac strip with a pimp. She was last seen on the highway getting into a black Jeep with a male driver and the pimp did not get the license plate number. She then rode off into the distance with no protection at all after that.
The woman found on the bank was finally identified after the police published her picture in the newspaper and family finally came forward. She was Opal Mills, barely 16 years old, with Reddish hair and freckles. She had a big brother and a mother and father who lived in the East hill outskirts of Kent Washington. She was last seen by her mother 3 days before her body was found. She told her mother she was going to work and called home again in the early afternoon saying she was at a phone booth in Angle lake state park. Opal wasn’t going to work on the seatac strip, she was going to paint houses with Cookie. She was a new friend of opals. Opal would run away from home from time to time but was not known to be a sex worker. She was just a regular girl with a bright smile and loved by her friends and family. Her brother said she would get excited when she was little when she carried her “hair bear lunch box” to kindergarten. She was a tiny little peanut with baby fat and her hair braided into pigtails.” He was always in charge of opal and he knew it was his responsibility so he took her everywhere with him. Even to drive in movies where she would hang out in the back seat when he was on a date.
She talked about having a ton of kids and buying her mother a house someday. She had a big heart and cared for others more than she did herself. She struggled with her weight and was always trying to slim down. She was boy crazy and wore her heart on her sleeve. She dropped out of school and went to continuum school the mystery always remained whether or not opal dabbled in sex work because of her association with Cookie but it was believed she was just friends with Cookie and not “coworkers”.
Dick Kraske didn’t want the media finding out there were now 5 bodies in the green river and eager to find this monster he organized the Green River Task Force on August 16 1982. It consisted of 25 investigators from King county, the Seattle police department, the Tacoma Police Department, and the Kent police department. At the time, they thought they were looking for more than one killer being that they were dumped either at the same time or within a day or two of each other. They were sure the killer was watching the news because the bodies stopped showing up at the Green River after the 5 bodies were found.
The local police told the girls to get off the streets and some were really afraid, moving from Seatac strip to Portland. One sex worker said the killer, like the sex workers was a trick and tricks moved different places like the sex workers did. He could be anywhere. Some of the girls thought they would be able to tell who the killer was and ignored the advice and the news. They kept working on the strip regardless of their fears, some to keep up drug habits and some to just provide for themselves and their children.
On January 21, 1982 Leanne wilcox was found face down in a weed patch S. 380th and Military Road south. She was strangled and beaten to death. Leanne was described as a bright young teenager and at age 13 was troubled and spent time in a group home. She was a runaway who would come and go at her mother’s home. She turned to sex work and her mother told her that as long as you live as you are you are not welcome in our home, but our door is always open. A month later Leanne’s body was found.
On January 29th 1982 Virginia taylor 18 years old, Headed for a bus to work at a peep show in southwest Seattle. Despite her job as an exotic dancer she was generally cautious but she occasionally hitchhiked to work and different places. No one saw her get onto the number 20 bus that day and she was last seen two blocks from her sister’s house. School kids found her body the same day in a muddy field, fully clothed and strangled.
Joann Conner, 16 years old, lived with her mother in Seattle. On Feb. 4th 1982 she left to look for a job and told her mother she was going to try to sell some Campfire Mints too. She was a high school drop out and hadn’t had a job since she was working at mc Donald’s the previous year. She was found the same day, beaten and strangled. She was thrown out of a car on Freemont street near the ship canal. When she didn’t come home that night her mother watched the news and saw a body bag being loaded into a van and knew it was Joan’s body. Joan had no ties to sex work, she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
These three murders weren’t originally linked to the green river investigation until later on. All three women didn’t know each other and the dump sites were in different places. Captain Brooks started looking into criminologists to help them solve the case because the numbers were in the double digits now. He coined the term Serial Killer. In March of 1983 he enlisted special agents of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI to help with the case. They all agreed with Brooks’s theory that there was a multiple murderer who was roaming the streets undetectable by law enforcement.
Dick Kraske linked all the victims together and was able to determine these women were all victims of the Green River Killer.
April 1982 Theresa Kline , 27, was last seen Alive in Windy’s Pub. She was a beautiful woman who lit up a room and everyone remembered her. She had long auburn hair and was meeting her boyfriend, who was a professional gambler, later that night. She tried to catch a ride with patrons in Windy’s Pub but none of them were going that way. She told them she would catch a bus or hitchhike three blocks away to see her boyfriend. 12:35 am was the last time anyone saw Theresa. Three hours later Theresa’s body was found in an Alley Strangled.
Three other women were found in different areas strangled and stabbed. These cases went unsolved. Some made it to the Green River Killer victim list and some didn’t. It wasn’t unusual for cases like this to remain unsolved because there was also a rapist that went by the name of “Duke” who threatened women with his Doberman to do what he said. He went on a killing spree and a lot of the unsolved murders were attributed to other killers during that time in 1982.
Guiselle Lovvorn 17 years old had blonde wavy hair that cascaded down her back and freckles. She loved concerts and her boyfriend who persuaded her to leave California and go with him to Washington and had no ties to Seattle. Her boyfriend known as “jak-bak” had gotten a job as a cab driver and she was turning tricks. They had their problems and were on and off for a time. She went to South Dakota and he sent her a money order to come back to seattle. She told her parents this was the last trip to Seattle before she came home and turned her life around. Jak-bak persuaded her to stay in Seattle with him. He didn’t like her turning tricks and said eventually their relationship became completely platonic. She left on July 13th to pull 3 or 4 tricks after a concert and never returned that afternoon. She hadn’t seen the news or knew about the green river. “Jak-Bak” reported her missing right away but the police didn’t take the case seriously and they filed the report on July 17th (4 days later).
A blind story reported that the police linked two more missing women to the Green river killer. Guiselle Lovvorn and Mary Meehan 18. The police interviewed over 300 people at this time and they had some suspects but they were questioned and there was little to no evidence to go on.
On September 25th Guiselle Lovvorns body was finally found in the brush along the seatac airport. She was in advanced stages of decomp and had men’s socks tight tightly against her neck.
What left investigators baffled was that the Green river killer killed interracially. There was no method to his killings like there were with Ted Bundy. He usually went for a specific type. The Green River killer usually killed sex workers but there were victims that weren’t sex workers and just hitchhikers. He killed Latina, white and black women. They were usually young but some were in their late 20’s. Because these women traveled a lot and met a lot of strange men it was hard to narrow down suspects and they kept their lives private. He went on killing for a long time because police and the community didn’t take it that seriously because these women were on the outskirts of society. They were coined “the less dead”.
Melvyn Foster became a target suspect when police were able to figure out he had links to some of the victims. He was a local cab driver that drove to and from the Airport down the seatac strip. Sometimes he would get sexual favors to settle debts from the local sex workers to pay their fare ride. On September 20th, 1982, he was questioned and was asked to submit a polygraph test. He lied on the test not admitting to knowing the women and later said he might have known the women. Melvyn gave investigators permission to search his residence and they announced they found a suspect. To their dismay the search came up with nothing and they were fixating on the wrong person.
Barbara Kubik-Patton was a private detective/psychic who came forward to police that something drew her to the green river, she heard screaming and the word “opal” or “opel” and a car speeding away. Police thought her psychic vision must have meant that she was present during the murder or a witness to it. She inserted herself in the investigation and pestered law enforcement. Even going as far as to record conversations with one suspect Melvyn the cab driver and played these tapes for his father. She was adamant on solving opals murder. David Reichart was sure Melvyn was the murderer.
At this point they were desperate enough to try to get the media to flush the GRK out into the public eye. They developed a full profile at this time and suggested the killer was Caucasian in his midtwenties to early thirties, an outdoors man, not too thin and not too fat. That he had a hatred for women especially sex workers because he found them immoral or dirty. That he had probably been cheated on and felt scorned by women.
Penny Bristow was finishing work at her minimum wage job on the seatac strip. She was in early pregnancy and was too tired to walk home. She stuck out her thumb to hitch hike and a man in a pickup truck stopped. He asked if she was a “working girl” and he offered her 20 dollars for oral sex. She wasn’t really into that life but agreed to do it. She asked him if he was the green river killer and he said no, obviously. He drove her to a wooded area to perform oral sex. Unfortunately, he was unable to get an erection and that made him furious. He accused her of biting his penis and knocked her into the dirt with his fist. He got behind her and wrapped his arm around her neck squeezing. She struggled and begged hm to stop but he got an even tighter grip and she twisted and fought her way out of his grip long enough to start running through the woods to a near by mobile home. His shorts were around his ankles, + he tried to chase after her but they tripped him up. She banged on the door of the mobile home screaming to let her in. When police arrived at the scene, she gave them a description of a white male with brown hair and a mustache.
The rest of 1982 more bodies were being found and missing persons were piling up. Of the dozens of cases, these women were linked to the Green river killings.
1. September 26, 1982, Linda Rule (16 years old) last seen leaving a motel on Aurora Ave heading to a department store to shop for clothing.
2. Dec 23, 1982, Colleen Brockman, 15 years old. Found near Sumner in Pierce County.
3. Denise Bush went missing on October 8 1982 but her skeletal remains were found in a wooded area in Tukwila, south of Seattle in feb of 1990 and her skull was found in June of 1985 in oregan.
4. Nov 7 1982 Shirley Sherril 18 went missing near Seattle’s international district. Her remains were found in June of 1985 in Tigard Oregan
5. Terry Milligan 16 went missing August 29tj 1982 and her remains ere found off star lake road in south king county in November of 1983.
6. Debra Estes, 15 went missing in sept 1982 and was found may of 1988 in federal.
7. Shwanda Summers 17 who went missing in 1982 was found in august of 1983. dental charts were able to identify her. Her body was found beneath the apples trees right under the airport flight path.
Marie Malvar was a beautiful 18-year-old Filipino woman who turned tricks to get by. Her boyfriend, Richie, used to watch out for her and he would note the cars she would get in and out of because he feared for her safety. They sat and watched as a dark truck approached and Richie noticed a hint of primer paint on the passenger door. Richie followed the car as he usually did and pulled up aside them. He said Marie looked as if she was in distress, waving her hands around clearly upset. He couldn’t hear what she was saying but said she looked as if she wanted to get out of the truck. The truck driver pulled a U-ie and headed around the corner. Richie tried to follow but was stopped by a light that turned red. He caught up to the truck and noticed there were no taillights. He followed as the driver drove down a street that didn’t have any noticeable turn offs but out of no where the driver pulled down an almost hidden cul-de-sac on the right of military road. Richie drove back to the parking lot to wait for Marie to return… but she never did.
In maries line of work it was hard for Richie to go to the police right away, in fear she might be arrested. Instead, he called her father, Jose. They went reluctantly to the police station and spoke to Bob Fox and told him what had happened. ON May 3rd Richie, jose and maries brother followed the path from the parking lot and down to the col-de-sac that Marie and the driver turned onto. They went down the street and spotted a truck, parked in a residential driveway, with the primer splotch on the passenger’s door. They immediately called police and they questioned the resident of the home.
A man answered the door calm cool and collected. Told the police there was no woman in there and hadn’t been a woman in there. The police were like “ok sir, have a nice day” and just left. Not knowing that the body of Marie Malvar was in the home already deceased.
In the year of 1983 there were 20 more victims. The police were frustrated, all leads were going nowhere. The task force was spending tons of money and the cases grew bigger and bigger by the moment with no resolution.
In 1983 the green river killer victims were:
1. Delores Williams, 17. Went missing on March 8th, 1983, at a bus stop on Pacific highway South and was found March 31 198 near star lake.
2. Gail Matthews, 24. Went missing April 10th, 1983, on pacific highway south and found sept 18 1983 near star lake.
3. Andrea Childers, 19. Went missing April 16th, 1983, and was found Oct 11, 1989, South of sea-tac airport.
4. Sandra Gabbert, 17. Went missing on April 17th, 1983, on pacific highway south. Her body was found April 1, 1984, in the star lake area.
5. Kimi-Kai Pitsor, 16. Went missing on April 17th, 1983, in Seattle. Her skull was found December 15th, 1983, near Auburn cemetery and her other remains were found there in January of 1986.
6. Marie Malvars body was discovered September 29th, 2003, near auburn almost 20 years after she went missing.
7. Carol Christensen, 21. Went missing on May 3rd, 1983, on pacific highway south and was found may 8th 1983 in Maple Valley.
8. Martina Authorlee, 18. Went missing on May 22,1983, at a hotel on Pacific highway south. She was found Nov 14th, 1984, near Enumclaw.
9. Cheryl Wims, 18. Went missing on May 23rd, 1983, in Seattle. She was found March 22, 1984, just north of sea-tac airport.
10. Yvonne Antosh, 19. Went missing May 31st, 1983, on pacific highway south. She was found October 15th, 1983, near lake sawyer.
11. Carrie A Rois, 15. Went missing between May and June 1983, in south Seattle suburbs. She was found March 10th, 1985, in the star lake area.
12. Constance Naon, 21. Went missing June 8th, 1983, on pacific highway south. She was found oct 27th, 1983, just south of sea-tac airport.
13. Kelly Ware, 22. Went missing July 19th, 1983, at a Seattle Bus stop. Her remains found Oct. 29th, 1983, in the south Seattle suburbs.
14. Tina Thompson, 22. Went missing august 18th, 1983. She was found august 30th 2003 in a wooded area near Snoqualmie, 26 miles east of Seattle.
15. Debbie Abernathy, 26. Went missing sept 5th 1983, in Seattle’s Northgate mall. Found March 27th, 1986, near the green River in Kent.
16. Maureen Feeney, 19. Went missing September 28th, 1983, at a Seattle bus stop. She was found May 2nd, 1986, off interstate 90 near North Bend.
17. Mary bello, 25. Went missing on October 11th, 1983, on the sea-tac strip. Was found October 12th, 1984, east of Enumclaw.
18. Pammy Avent went missing October 26th, 1983, on the 4600 block of 44th avenue south Seattle. She was found august 16, 2003 off state highway 410 near Enumclaw
19. Delise Plager, 22. Went missing October 30th, 1983, at a bus stop in south Seattle suburbs. She was found February 14th, 1984, near interstate 90 east of north bend.
20. Kimberly Nelson aka Tina Tomson aka Linda Barkey, 26. Went missing Nov 1st, 1983. She was found June 14th, 1986, off insterstate 90 near north bend.
21. Lisa Yates, 26. Went missing December 23rd, 1983, in south Seattle. She was found March 13th, 1984, off interstate 90 east of north bend.
The second most well known dump site of the Green river killer was the stars Lake site. A passerby noticed some skeletal remains very close to the road and most of the “graves” weren’t graves at all. The seasons of flowers and brush that sprouted up covering the bodies of 5 women. The second biggest dump site of the green river killer.
Gary Ridgway’s childhood was a bit odd and a bit boring. He was pale with deep set eyes and very vanilla brown hair. He wasn’t the smartest cookie when it came to school. He had memory problems and there would always be gaps in things he could recall. School was very difficult for him, he had undiagnosed dyslexia and told people he didn’t know how the other kids could read because he saw words jumbled all around each other. He sat in the back of the class, as not to bother anyone or he would sit in the front where the teacher could keep an eye on him.
He felt like he didn’t fit into his own family. His father recalled a time where he almost drown but he obviously didn’t die. The fact that his parents were so worried about that, it made him feel like they actually cared about him. His mother was always busy and his father would come home from work and sit in his reclining chair watching tv. The basic vanilla cookie cutter American family.
Gary was a bed wetter and well into junior high school he was still wetting the bed. He was obviously humiliated by this and it annoyed his mother. She never let him know with words how pissed off she was but she would make faces at him and make him sit in a cold bath until she threw the sheets in the wash. She would then come in and wash his penis and balls. Which I found super fucking weird.
His parents moved around a lot and he was always getting lost in the new towns he was in. Especially when they moved to Utah. He was always complaining that he thought he would die before age 21 from an illness. He never was able to get to know the kids in school and was quiet. When he was in highschool in Idaho, he had a highschool bully who would wait for him after class to beat him up. It really agitated his dad and instead of being mad at the bully he was pissed off at Gary. So one day he taught him to fight after school so he could defend himself. His dad was waiting for the bully to come into the alley to make sure gary beat his ass. When gary got him on the ground his dad was smiling in agreeance and left once the fight was over.
At this point he felt good about being able to defend himself but then he fantasized about doing it again and hurting someone else. Not in self defense. He was held back in school and started vandalizing houses. He started committing arson and set garages and outbuildings on fire.
At 13 he started hating his mother and getting sexually aroused by her when she would wash his genitals after he wet the bed. She was a tough cookie who bossed his father around and they called her the “warden”. In confessions of a serial killer, Gary Divulged that he sexually fantasized about his mother. He would stare at her while she was sunbathing and fantasize about having sex with her. He liked looking at her as an object to have sex with but didn’t like looking at her as his mother.
At 14 Gary became obsessed with sex. He exposed himself to his friends older sister hoping she would want to have sex with him but she ignored him and so he started watching her through her window. He started peeping on girls all over the neighborhood and even lured his younger cousin into the woods and sexually molested her. He started crowding women at school and brushing his penis and hands against their bodies as they walked by which upset a lot of the girls at school but he never got into trouble.
He started killing birds with BB guns with his brothers and one day he was really angry and took the house cat out into the woods. Put it in a cooler and shut the lid. He came back the next day and it was stiff and dead. It looked like the cat tried to scratch its way out but he washed the inside of the cooler and no one was the wiser.
Walking home from a dance one night he hid in the bushes as a 6 year old boy walked by. He had a knife he was playing with all day and jabbed the boy in the stomach. He pierced the boys kidney and then slightly ashamed he ran away and hid in a basement so the boy couldn’t identify him.
In 65 and 66 he worked as a Bus boy at the Hyatt hotel and then later at the Gov-mart Bazaar. He lost his virginity around this time to an older girl but they never had sex again because his performance was sub-par. He finally found a steady girlfriend after buying a burger from a burger joint when a cashier slipped him her number. The first time they tried to have sex he prematurely ejaculated but she still wanted to be with him and they went steady.
Since he was so bad at reading and math he toyed with the idea of joining the military to learn a trade and the Vietnam war was still going strong at the time. So he joined the navy instead. He was stationed in san diego and had gotten married to his steady girlfriend heather. When he was shipped off they would accuse each other of cheating which caused a rift in the relationship. Both of them were actually cheating. He was frequenting sex workers while over seas and she was having an affair with other men and another woman who was married to a marine.
Once he caught a venereal disease from the sex workers he blamed them and became very angry that these women gave him a disease when he was so nice to them. The marriage wasn’t working out and he moved to seattle. He asked his estranged wife to move with him and she only stayed a week before leaving him. He branded her a whore and they divorced after a year of marriage.
He frequented places you could meet other singles and kept frequenting sex workers also.
In 1981 he married a woman named Dana and had a child with her. They continually hung out at country western bars and she thought he was a really nice man and described him as someone who would stop and help you if your car broke down on the highway. The marriage failed when he found out she was cheating on him because of his absence in the marriage. He had now been scorned by two women.
The police were begging for more funding for the green river task force but one politician said that it was a disgrace to waste tax payers money investigating the murders of “hookers”. As insensitive as it was people were gathering in the streets in protests. Holding signs that said clean up our neighborhoods and no more prostitution. The public was victim blaming and trying to get the officials to stop this madness. Soccer moms and suburban families littered the streets. One woman said she feared that the green river killer might start abducting “ nice” girls soon if he isn’t stopped. Everyone was criticizing the police department and putting no blame on the men soliciting these women. Forgetting that they do it out of desperation and addiction. Some men even went as far as saying they did it because they liked sex.
Detective adamson developed a new task force to deal with the green river killings. The budget of the previous task force was 10,000 dollars but it went upwards of 30 million when all was said and done. At the time they had tons of forensic evidence but no way to process it because in the 80s DNA wasn’t a thing yet. They held on to it but it was useless at the time.
They didn’t know it but they already questioned The green river killer when he was snared in a trap set up on the sea-tac highway. He was questioned and let go after passing a lie detector test. Which was a big mistake because two more women would turn up missing. Cindy Smith, 17 went missing on March 21, 1984, hitchhiking on pacific highway south. Found June 27th, 1987, off highway 18 near Green river community college. Also Mary West, 16. Disappeared Feb. 6 1984 in south Seattle. She was found sept 8 1984 in Seattle’s Seward park.
Detectives were still at a loss until they received an odd letter from an inmate in Florida State Prison. The letter was from notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. Who also killed in and around Seattle and other states in the 1970’s. The Letter said, "Don't ask me why I believe I'm an expert in this area, just accept that I am and we'll start from there." Dave Reichard and Robert Keppel flew in to visit with Ted after turning up with no real promising leads. Bundy gave them insight on the mind of the killer. Telling the detectives they needed to stake out the kill sites. As most serial killers revisit the sites to preform various acts of necrophilia, or to just go and visit the bodies to remember the crime. Also that he might dump another body on an undisturbed dump site and they could catch him in the act. Ted was right about the necrophilia and about a lot of the insights he gave detectives. Gary later confessed that he performed sex acts post mortem on at least 10 victims. When asked why he did this, he said “ well, for one thing you’d have to pay for it and she was already dead.”
Gary started frequenting Parents without Partners in 1981 and dated a few women he met there. One woman he began a relationship with was Darla. She was the first after his second marriage and they had a very sexual relationship. He moved in with her and they had literally nothing in common but he did like to go camping and was very outdoorsy. She liked that he was strong and woodsy. They would have sex at least 3 times a day and she didn’t mind fulfilling his sexual desires. He did like having sex outdoors and would prefer she stayed naked on their many camping trips. He liked to be seen having sex and they would do it in parking lots and once they had sex where construction workers could see them. She felt uncomfortable with that but he reassured her it was ok. He would take her into a field and tie her to stakes sometimes and put fruit and grapes in her vagina during oral sex. She left Gary after he had gotten full custody of his son because she didn’t want to take on another child, she had four of her own.
In confessions of a serial killer, Gary said that he picked up and killed a woman with his son in the car. He said it made it easy for women to get in knowing he had a child. Sometimes he would even leave the car seat and toys in the car so the women felt more at ease getting into the vehicle.
In 1985 at Parents without Partners he saw Judith. ( a 41 year old woman who had just gotten out of a bad marriage) Gary told Judith he was a car painter and divorced also. He asked her to dance, and she said he had a really nice smile. That night her and three friends went to breakfast and as they turned corners, he kept falling into her. He kissed her for the first time in the backseat of his friend’s car.
Judith’s first husband left her for another woman and it was refreshing to meet a guy like Gary with warm eyes and an inviting smile. They started dating and he worked the swing shift while she worked days and they would have breakfast together and lived a simple life. She said he let her be her authentic self and was in touch with his emotional side. When there were violent scenes in movies he would twitch, and tears would fall from his eyes. They used to hang out with Gary’s two best friends Jim and Linda Bailey. He traveled often for work related trips and brought Judith along. They went to vegas but not really to partake in gambling.
He asked Judith to move in with him and when he had gotten there she noticed bad odors coming from his home and that the carpet had been ripped up. When she asked about the carpets he said he had to tear them up because he had tenants that lived in the home with small children and they would pee on the carpets. He told Judith that they even left dirty diapers on the floor. So they fixed the house up and she decorated to make it their home.
She described Gary as romantic, and she fell in love with him and told him that she wasn’t letting go of him and that they would be married someday. She didn’t know about the Green river murders because she didn’t watch the news or read about it because she believed it was a mans place to do that.
Gary helped her with the wedding plans, and they had a beautiful outdoor wedding with their neighbors and friends. He gave her all his paychecks and call when he would be late home from work. But things got weird one day when she found press clippings about murders in a drawer in the home. She asked Gary why he would collect such macabre things, but he brushed it off saying he just wanted to know what was going on in the world. So she put them away and made sure no one could see them.
In 1986 Patricia Barczak was last seen along Pacific Highway South. Her skull was found by a survey crew in Auburn.
In 1987 Roberta Hayes 21 was last seen leaving Portland oregan jail. Her remains were found in 1990 near emunclaw.
There was a big drop in murders during the time he was married to Judith. He confessed that he tried to stop for her but realized he couldn’t in the long term. The body count from 1983 and 1984 was drastically higher than it was in 1986-1991. But police had some new leads on two of the disappeared women. They finally were looking more closely at Gary because he was he last man seen in the company of two of the victims. Detectives had shown up at Gary’s work and took him in for questioning. Detectives asked him for a DNA sample of his saliva, in which he gave, but at the time, DNA wasn’t evolved enough to do much with it. He lawyered up and they let him go.
Judith was startled by a knock at the door when gary was in police custody. Detectives had shown up with a search warrant for the house the two of them shared. She couldn’t believe they had the right person because the Gary Judith knew was a romantic, simple man, who was kind and good hearted. They searched the home and came up with no physical evidence and left the property and Judith a complete mess. Gary told her they had the wrong man and they just moved on with their lives. She was in complete denial and Gary went back to work like nothing happened.
His coworkers started calling him Green River Gary to kind of mess with him. Little did they know they were right on point. Even his best friend pulled the car to the side of the road and asked him point blank, “ did you do what the cops were accusing you of doing?” Gary said flatly, “ no, I didn’t”
In 1990 Marta Reeves, 37, disappeared. Her Remains were found in September near Enumclaw.
And Patricia Robe, 38 disappeared in 1998. She was fond August 6th in a vacant lot on Des Moines Way South near highway 99.
The task force was at a stand still but they knew they had their man. It wouldn’t be until 2001 that DNA was evolved enough for them to test Gary Ridgway’s saliva against the rocks found in the Green River victims vagina. The rocks kept the seminal fluid inside of them and they had enough to make a match.
Detectives weren’t ready to make an arrest on just DNA evidence so they set up surveillance on Gary and watched him stalk victims. One of the women he picked up was an undercover cop posing as a sex worker and she arrested him and he was charged with soliciting sex. This was a fluke but a happy one for investigators. This gave them enough evidence they needed to charge him. Evidence from other homicides were able to link him to more victims. Including paint chips they found on several of the victims bodies that matched the spray paint they used at his work.
Again the police had shown up at Judith’s home. Her whole world turned upside down when the police said they made a DNA match that proved her husband was the Green River killer. At first she was in shock and denial but after accepting this she went into a full blown depression and was completely devastated. She needed to talk to Gary and ask him if this was all true. So she visited him in jail and he told her he was innocent. She knew he was lying and he told her “ I love you” and she left without saying it back.
He finally confessed to the killings and even took police to his kill sites to find some of the missing girls. He reveled in bringing law enforcement to see his killing grounds. In 2003 he went to court and pled guilty to 48 murders to avoid the death penalty. It was then that Judith said it sunk in. She remembered watching the trial, sitting in the living room of the house her and Gary shared while tears rolled down her cheeks.
She said in hindsight the only inclination anything was amiss was when she would talk about maybe seeing her parents for the weekend and he would push her to go for a few days and enjoy herself. Thinking back on it she broke down in tears.
Gary started talking to investigators about still missing women he had killed. According to ABC news, that led to the discovery of 4 more bodies.
Kathy Mills, whose daughter was among Gary’s victims said,” It was hard to sit there and see him not show any feeling and not show any remorse”
Since then Gary claims he found god while in prison and spends 23 hours in solitary confinement. He told Washington state reporter Charlie Hinger, “the total number (of victims) is 75 to 80”
Correctional officers said Gary hasn’t spoken in years and doesn’t respond to any letters he receives in prison. The only visitors allowed are his immediate family and he is 73 years old.
Green River Killer: The unsuspecting Life by Pennie Morehead
Green River Running Red by Ann Rule