Written By: LFG
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Gary Ridgway is a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, born on February 18, 1949. He grew up surrounded by his parents, who would constantly argue as his mother had a domineering personality. Up to he was thirteen, Ridgway suffered from a bed-wetting problem, and his mother was the one who would wash him after every instance. This was possibly the root behind his unusual anger and sexual attraction to his mother. However, he also shared that he often fantasized about murdering her.
When he was in high school, Ridgway did his first known crime by stabbing a six-year-old boy who thankfully survived. It was not clear why he did so, but apparently, he lured the kid to the words and stabbed him there.
After high school, Ridgway married his high school sweetheart, Claudia Kraig, and then briefly served in the Navy for two years abroad. During his stint in Vietnam, he enjoyed frequent trysts with prostitutes. Unfortunately, his marriage ended in a year as his wife was involved in an affair. Ridgway remarried and became quite religious, insisting his new wife to do the same. Despite his newfound beliefs, he would still engage in prostitution. He also encouraged his wife to have sex with him in public places. Ridgway’s appetite for sex was insatiable—a statement that was affirmed by the other woman in his life. He admitted that he had an unhealthy obsession with sex workers, but he hated having them around.
Before starting his serial killer status, Ridgway was initially arrested for choking a prostitute; however, no charges were made. He claimed the woman bit him first, and he just defended himself. Just two years after, he was arrested again for solicitation.
Ridgway then began his murder spree in the early 1980s until well throughout the 1990s. According to reports, Ridgway admitted to murdering at least 71 young girls and women in the Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, area. Most were prostitutes and hitchhikers he picked up in the Pacific Highway South. To earn a woman’s trust, he would present a picture of his son, and the unsuspecting victims were then killed while in the act of sexual activity. Ridgway strangled his victims from behind, and then dump their bodies in a secluded wooded area around the Green River—which earned him his nickname of being the Green River serial killer.
He kept the corpses of the victims and returned to where they were dumped to still have sex with them. Ridgway admitted that he did not enjoy necrophilia as much; however, he only did it to avoid capturing another victim. To cover his tracks, he would contaminate the areas where he dumped the bodies with other people’s belongings. There were also instances wherein he would take a victim’s body to another state line, such as Oregon, to divert police investigation.
Surprisingly, Ridgway remarried for the third time in 1988 to a woman named Judith Mawson. And while he continued his murders under the table, he only killed three women the entire time she was with him. Mawson shared that her husband would often leave extra early in the morning, but she assumed he was only doing so for overtime pay. She never suspected anything unusual until the police reached out to her in 1987, and they weren’t married then.
Arrest and Trial
By early August 1982, police were already suspecting that a serial killer was responsible for the murders, and a task force was created to investigate. Ridgway became a suspect in 1983 after being questioned for the disappearance of a prostitute, yet he got away with it after passing a polygraph test. Finally, in 1987, a search warrant was obtained that allowed them to access Ridgway’s house. The authorities did not find anything that could convict him. A DNA sample obtained from Ridgway was also not matched with the semen sample found in one of the victims due to technology restrictions. Still, thankfully, modern technology made it possible to match both samples in 2001. Another evidence that linked him to the murders was the microscopic paint specks found in the victims, and it was determined it was a kind of paint used by Kenworth, which is where Ridgway worked. After almost 20 years since his first crime, he was arrested on November 30, 2001, while he was at the Kenworth truck factory.
Everyone was shocked when Ridgway confessed to his crimes, especially when he proclaimed that he was hoping to murder as many sex workers as possible. Aside from hating prostitutes, he also assumed no one would go looking for them if they went missing.
The investigation only found 48 remains/bodies, so Ridgway was convicted for these deaths only despite owning up to 71 murders. He got away with a death sentence after agreeing to disclose the locations where he dumped the other victims’ bodies. In total, he received 48 life sentences plus 480 years.
To this date, Gary Ridgway is incarcerated at the Washington State Penitentiary with no chance of parole.
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