Ridgway finally stands trial
Ridgway finally stands trial
On 15 August 1982, a fisherman in his rubber dingy on the Green River thinks he sees a submerged female mannequin. He tries to fish it out but instead, falls into the water. In a cold, sharp instant, he realises his mistake as not one, but two dead women float past him.
He swims back to the safety of the riverbank and rings the police. They cordon off the area, and discover a third murdered woman in nearby grassland. A pair of blue trousers is knotted round her neck. Her name is Opal Mills and she was just 16. She has been murdered less than 24 hours ago.
The other two bodies have also been strangled. Both also have pyramid shaped rocks lodged in their vaginal cavities. (The ‘reason’ this was done is still unknown)
These killings were linked to another female strangle victim recently found in the Green River.
Within just six months, six killings are linked together as the work of one killer.
A massive taskforce is formed and specialists such as FBI profiler John Douglas are called in. But these are the early days of serial killer hunting and the vast information they process is so overwhelming that civilian volunteers have to help out. Inevitably, the results are haphazard.
The police focus on prostitutes, the main profession of the victims so far.
Two separate prostitutes claim a man in a blue and white truck abducted and raped them and tried to kill them. A suspect is picked up who confesses, but to these two attacks, not to the Green River killings. Then a taxi driver is investigated because he fits the profile suggested by FBI man, John Douglas.
Then, on 26 September, less than two months after the first victims were found, the decomposing remains of a 17 year old prostitute named Gisele A. Lovvorn are discovered. She’s been strangled with a pair of men’s black socks. And her blonde hair has been dyed black.
Over the following nine months, 14 more females disappear, many of them prostitutes. The last of these, Marie Malvar, is last seen on 30 April 1983. Her boyfriend sees her arguing with a potential customer.
It’s the last time he will ever see her.
But he later identifies the truck they drove off in and follows it to a house. The police interview the owner, one Gary Ridgway. Ridgway denies ever seeing her, and the police believe him.
They never connect this to reports of a pockmarked face man in a pick-up truck seen driving off a prostitute called Kimi Kai Pitsor, another victim of the Green River killer.
As more women disappear, the police even engage the local Boy Scouts to help search for more bodies.
One scout finds a skeleton covered with rubbish.
More police are assigned to the case but this seems to only increase the discovery of more bodies. The first of 1984 is the skeletal remains of Denise Louise Plager. As a girl, Denise had been adopted and spent time in various institutions. She later attempted suicide, became a mother, and addicted to drugs, finally entering prostitution to pay for her habit. She was tragically easy prey.
Nine more bodies are discovered over the next two months.
But where the victims were picked up and dumped showed the police the killer’s hunting ground.
The serial killer Ted Bundy offers to further profile the killer but even his insights can’t stop the death toll rising.
A decade after forming, an investigation that’s accumulated four thousand pieces of physical evidence, winds up at a cost of $15m, and with no result.