In April 2001, a new taskforce forms. Forensics, not profiling, is the new emphasis.
On 30 November 2001, a married, 52 year old father, from the Seattle suburbs, Gary Ridgway, is arrested as he leaves his truck painting job.
It is the end of the longest running serial killer investigation in US history.
The break in the case had been connecting the DNA taken when Gary Ridgway was arrested for the relatively minor offence of ‘loitering for the purposes of soliciting prostitution’.
This wasn’t the first time Ridgway’s connection to prostitutes had come to the attention of the police. In 1980, a prostitute he’d picked up accused him of driving her to the woods and trying to strangle her. Charges were dropped when Ridgway explained it away by saying she’d started to bite him while performing oral sex, and he only choked her to make her stop.
In 1982, he was stopped with a prostitute in his truck and questioned by police.
A few years later he was again arrested after propositioning an undercover police officer posing as a prostitute. Pleading essentially prostitution addiction, his guilty plea meant a lenient sentence.
In 1987, he was a prime suspect in the disappearance of one of the Green River Killer’s victims but he passed a polygraph test and the investigation moved on.
By 1988, Ridgway is again suspected and a warrant to search his house as well as a court order requiring him to give a saliva sample.
It’s this sample that catches him when he’s arrested in autumn 2001 for soliciting prostitution.
His saliva sample matches with that of the semen found in three of the victims of the Green River killer.
His employment records are checked revealing a correlation between his absences, and victims going missing.
On Wednesday 5 December 2001, Gary Ridgway is formally charged with the deaths of four women.
In November 2003, as part of a plea agreement to avoid the death penalty, Ridgway admits to the murder of forty eight women.
At his sentencing in December 2003, some of the victim's families say they hope he’ll be killed by his fellow inmates in jail.
He breaks down as he listens to them and then reads out a note he’s prepared earlier in which he references his numerous other victims whose bodies are still missing.
“I am very for sorry for the ladys (sic) that were not found. May they rest in peace. They need a better place that what I gave them.”
Since his sentencing in 2003, Gary Ridgway has been in solitary confinement.