Gary Leon Ridgeway (Green River Killer)
Gary Leon Ridgeway (Green River Killer)

Often we hear of people drowning at a river by accident. However there was a bizarre individual in America who actually killed his victims and later threw them into a lake to conceal his crime. Known and feared by many women Gary Ridgeway goes down in criminal history as the Green River Killer committing his crimes in the 1980s and 1990s in Washington State. He once confessed that murdering young women was his career.

Gary Leon Ridgeway was born on 18 February 1949 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was born into a family that had issues, where his mother was a dominating woman and his father a bus driver. It is interesting that in the childhood of most violent people their homes were unstable and they were confronted with fear: it is in this backdrop that as they grow to be adults they want to establish control over others in various ways. Gary committed his first violent attack when he stabbed a 6 year old boy, who was fortunate to survive. Again initial acts of violence by any teenager must be checked in detail, to see the real reason than simply just warn or punish the teenager.

Gary with wife Claudia

After graduating from college Gary joined the US Navy and served in Vietnam, working onboard a supply ship. He was married to Claudia. It was during this time that he started using the services of prostitutes and ended up with a sexually transmitted disease. This period of his life would impact him in a very negative way: all his 49 victims killed years later were sex workers. During his 3 marriages his wives later complained he had an unusual desire for sex: he often forced them to sleep with him in the woods (this fantasy later gave way to reality as he forced his abducted victims into the woods, raped and killed them).

His friends also stated that he often read the Bible and cried: perhaps a sign of his struggle with lust and his own guilt. He left the bodies of his victims in nude clusters before throwing them into or around heavy woods of the Green River. Gary Ridgeway lured his innocent victims into his car: he often showed them a photo of his son to earn their trust that he was a married man. This ruse is even used today by people who cheat on their wives and try to downplay their role in the marriage.

After driving to a secluded area he would strangle his female victims using his bare hands, which indicates he was a strong man. He would then visit the burial sites, as serial killers often do. As more sex workers went missing a Task Force was formed headed by Robert Keppel, who was diligent in apprehending another most wanted killer Ted Bundy. In 1984 Gary was arrested and subject to a polygraph test by the FBI, yet he astonished everyone by passing the test and claimed he was innocent. During this time he was gainfully employed as a spray painter in a truck company and in his third marriage to Judith Mawson. She later said she was shocked to find her husband was the dreaded Green River Killer.

Criminal psychologists today suggest that young people become addicted to various forms of sexual temptation. If not monitored and checked these cravings would pave way for real life encounters. Once a person becomes ‘hooked’ to such habit, it would spiral out of control and ruin their lives and their families. Ridgeway was a young sailor who got hooked on sex workers in Vietnam, and brought that dangerous addiction back to the US. Perhaps his anger towards sex workers was rooted in the fact that he got an STD (disease) from them. In concluding his trial in 2003 King County Superior Court convicted Gary Ridgeway and sentenced him to life imprisonment without parole with an additional 480 years in jail.

He later confessed to killing 71 women and not 48 as initially charged. We would never know if this confessed figure was true, for the real decayed evidence lies deep at the muddy bottom of the eerie Green River.

Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway stands to be escorted out following his arraignment on charges
of murder in the 1982 death of Rebecca ‘Becky’ Marrero, Friday, Feb. 18, 2011, at the King County Regional Justice
Center in Kent., Wash