Known as the most prolific American serial killer, Gary Ridgway was convicted of several murders in Washington state. The conviction, based on guilty plea of 48 charges of aggravated first degree murder, occurred in 2003. For these crimes, Ridgway was sentenced to life in prison.
At the time of Ridgway's conviction, the death penalty was considered. However, a plea bargain was made. Ridgway agreed to plead guilty to the charges if the death penalty was taken off of the table. He also agreed to help law enforcement locate the remains of his victims that had not yet been found.
In 2011, Ridgway pled guilty to a 49th murder charge after the remains of the victim were found. He had originally admitted to the murder so the charge fell under the previous plea bargain. At the time of the original trial, the admittance of the murder could not be confirmed.
At the time of the 2003 conviction, forty-eight victims were confirmed. Ridgway confessed of many more. He is suspected in several murder cases that he has not yet been charged with.
The Green River investigation is still ongoing as some of the suspected or admitted victims have still not been found, and some of the victims have not been identified.
The spree of murders is thought to have begun in July of 1982. At that time the first victim was found in the Green River. The majority of the murders attributed to the Green River Killer occurred between 1982 and 1984; although sparse killings continued into the late 90s.
Gary Ridgway admits to targeting prostitutes. Several of the victims did engage in prostitution; however, runaways and hitchhikers also fell into the mix of victims of this serial killer. Prostitutes were his preference because he hated them, they were easy to pickup, and he thought he could kill them without being caught.
Over the twenty-some years prior to his arrest for the murders, Ridgway had been arrested. His prior arrests were related to soliciting prostitution. At one time he was a suspect in the Green River murders. He had even been investigated in relation the murders. He passed a polygraph test at that time.
A DNA sample was taken years before he was arrested for the serial murders. When new DNA-testing technology became available, the evidence is the case was re-examined. Gary Ridgway was identified as the killer of several of the victims through a DNA match.
Ridgway would pick up women, have sex with them or rape them, strangle them and dump their bodies. Sometimes he revisited the dump site to engage in necrophilia, or he would drive by the areas where he disposed of the remains in clusters to think about the women he had killed.
In describing the murder sites, Ridgway admitted to killing women in his house on Military Road. He also stated that sometimes he killed them outside, or in his truck near where the women were picked up.You Shall Not Murder > Serial Killers > Gary Ridgway, The Green River Killer