Green River Killer

Born Feb. 18, 1949, in Salt Lake City, Utah, Ridgway was the middle son of Mary Rita Steinman and Thomas Newton Ridgway. From an early age, Ridgway was sexually attracted to his domineering mother. When he was 11, the family moved from Utah to Washington State. First of all men obsessed with their mothers are crazy as shit.. cough cough Ed Gein

Ridgway was a poor student, with a below average I.Q. of 82 and dyslexia. Most of his teenage years were unremarkable until age 16 when he led a 6-year-old boy into the woods and stabbed him. The boy survived and said Ridgway walked away laughing.

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First Wife

In 1969, when Ridgway was 20 and just out of high school, he joined the Navy rather than be drafted. He married his first steady girlfriend, Claudia Barrows, before going to Vietnam.

Ridgway had an insatiable sex drive and spent a lot of time with prostitutes during his military service. He contracted gonorrhea and, although it angered him, he didn’t stop having unprotected sex with prostitutes. Claudia began dating while Ridgway was in Vietnam and in less than a year the marriage ended.

Second Wife

In 1973 Marcia Winslow and Ridgway married and had a son. During the marriage, Ridgway became a religious fanatic, proselytizing door-to-door, reading the Bible aloud at work and home, and insisting that Marcia follow the church pastor’s strict preaching. Ridgway also insisted that Marcia have sex outdoors and in inappropriate places and demanded sex several times a day. He continued to hire prostitutes throughout their marriage. She struggled with weight problems and decided to have gastric bypass in the late 1970s. This sudden weight loss made Ridgway jealous that others were looking at his wife and caused them more issues.

Marcia struggled to accept Ridgway’s relationship with his mother, who controlled their spending and made decisions on their purchases, including buying Ridgway’s clothing. She also accused Marcia of not properly taking care of their son, which Marcia resented. Since Ridgway wouldn’t defend her, Marcia was left on her own to compete with her mother-in-law. Seven years into the marriage the couple divorced. Later Marcia claimed that Ridgway placed her in a chokehold during one of their fights.

Third Wife

Ridgway met his third wife, Judith Mawson, in 1985 at Parents Without Partners. Judith found Ridgway to be gentle, responsible, and structured. She appreciated that he had worked as a truck painter for 15 years. Before moving in together, Ridgway updated the house.

Unlike Marcia, Judith praised her mother-in-law for helping Ridgway handle challenging tasks for him, such as his checking account and major purchases. Eventually, Judith took over those responsibilities.

Between 1982 and 1988, Gary Ridgway, known by police as America’s “most prolific serial killer,” murdered 71 women. He was convicted for 49 of them but admitted that the number could have been closer to 90.

Most of Ridgway’s victims were prostitutes or underage runaways, whom he picked up at truck stops and dive bars along Highway 99 outside Seattle. He would then rape and strangle them, sometimes by hand and sometimes with ligatures, before dumping their bodies in wooded areas around the Green River, leading to his nickname.

He would also purposely contaminate the crime scene with litter, gum and cigarette butts to throw authorities off. Occasionally he would dump the body in one place, leave it for a time, then transport to another location to create a false trail. At least two victims were transported as far away as Portland.

When the bodies started appearing, the King County Sheriff’s Office started up the Green River Task Force, hoping to discover the person responsible.

Though Ted Bundy was charged with murder in the 1970s and sentenced to death, he managed to make one final contribution to society before his execution, when he aided in the capture and arrest of Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer. Having deplorable, but valuable, first-hand experience with the same kinds of killings that had been happening in the Green River area, Bundy proved to be an asset to the case.

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Bundy suggested that the killer was most likely revisiting his dump sites to engage in sexual intercourse with the bodies. He advised the investigators that in case they find a fresh grave, stake it out and wait for the killer to return.

Bundy’s theories turned out to be true, and the police were able to use them to collect samples and provide evidence for an arrest warrant. However, it took police until 2001 to finally arrest Gary Ridgway.

Twenty years after committing his crimes, Ridgway was arrested on suspicions of murdering four women, and his DNA was later conclusively linked to them. Forensic testing later revealed that the same spray paint Ridgway used at work during his crime spree was present at other crime scenes, and added those murders to the list of charges.

Plea Bargain

In a plea bargain to avoid execution, Ridgway agreed to cooperate with the investigation into the remaining Green River murders. For months Ridgway disclosed details of each murder he had committed. He took investigators to locations where he had left bodies and disclosed how he killed each one.

Ridgway’s preferred method of murder was strangulation. He started with a choke hold and later used a ruler to twist fabric around the victims’ necks. Sometimes he killed them inside his house, other times in the woods.

In one confession that revealed Ridgway’s darkest side, he said he used a picture of his son to gain his victims’ trust. He also admitted to killing one of his victims while his young son waited in the truck. When asked if he would have killed his son had the son realized what he was doing, he said yes.

He confessed once to killing 61 women and another time 71 women. At the conclusion of the interviews, Ridgway could recall only 48 murders, all of which he said occurred in King County.

On Nov. 2, 2003, Ridgway pleaded guilty to 48 charges of aggravated first-degree murder. He also confessed to having sex with six of the bodies after he had killed them and to moving body parts to Oregon to throw off the investigation. On Dec. 18, 2003, Gary Ridgway was sentenced to 480 years without parole. As of July 2018, he was in the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. I seriously wonder if the cops would’ve gotten him without Bundy’s help. Either way I guess we should be grateful Bundy helped the cops at all.