The crimes, methods, and bizarre behaviors of serial killers never cease to amaze us. Sadly, the most interesting cases are typically the ones that baffle authorities and allow the killer to ply his trade unhindered, upping his body count as the murderous days tick by.
The name of this case derives from the Green River, a river that begins in Washington State and empties into the Puget Sound in Seattle. Near the river is the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac), built in 1942. As with any international airport, the area around it quickly grew as businesses sprouted to cater to the many travelers who crossed through its gates. One major throughway that runs near the airport is Aurora Avenue. Just off the Pacific Coast Highway, Aurora Avenue is known casually as the Sea-Tac Strip. This hustle and bustle Strip is a haven of dingy clubs, seedy motels, and of course, many prostitutes. On any given night, hundreds of prostitutes could be seen hanging around the street corners propositioning passerbys as they drove by. When a customer was found and a transaction initiated, they could simply take their tricks to one of the nearby motels or one of the many vacant buildings or empty side streets.
These empty buildings and dingy streets are not the result of an area gone into decay but rather the result of the airport’s desire for expansion. The airport purchased much of the land around the airport and then terminated all utilities leading to the buildings. The result? Lots of vacant abandoned buildings and empty streets that make ideal locations for the prostitutes to conduct their business. During the early 80’s, this ghost town of deserted houses, businesses, and shops became the scene of one of the most baffling serial killing cases this country has ever witnessed.
The first body is discovered
The story began on July 15, 1982 when two boys riding their bicycles noticed something in the water. Riding alongside the Peck Bridge near Kent, Washington, the boys found the body of a young woman floating in the Green River. Kent County police were notified and arrived on the scene to find a 16 year old girl, later identified as Wendy Lee Coffield, with a pair of jeans wrapped tightly around her neck. She had been raped and strangled to death. Wendy, a local prostitute who had been missing from a nearby foster home for 8 days, would soon gain the unfortunate legacy of being the first official victim of the Green River Killer.
More bodies found – police fear an active serial killer is operating in SeaTac
A few weeks later, on August 12, 1982, a worker at a meat packing company, just south of the Peck Bridge, was gassing up his truck when he noticed what he thought was a dead animal floating in the river water. The foam circulating around the body is what first drew his attention. He walked over to the body and discovered a young woman, floating dead in the water. Police identified her as 23 year old Deborah Lynn Bonner. Deborah, another known local prostitute, had been missing for over a week.
From this point on the body count grew rapidly. Three days after Deborah’s body was found, three more bodies were discovered in the area. Two bodies were found, floating face down in the water, by a rafter near the Peck Bridge. The rafter told police that just before he spotted the bodies, he had been approached by two men on the river bank. The men had asked him if he had seen anything in the water. When he responded negatively, both men left hurriedly in a pickup truck. Police investigated the scene thoroughly and later in the day they discovered another body in the grass nearby.
Police estimated that the two bodies had been in the water for over a week while the body found on the bank had been there less than a day. They presumed that the “fresher” body had been left in a hurry, possibly because the killer was spooked by the police when they arrived to investigate the bodies discovered by the rafter.
Police noticed several similarities. The bodies had all been weighted down with rocks in their clothes and also had rocks inserted into body cavities. They had all been strangled, often with articles of their own clothing. Police were certain that the murders were related and were the result of a serial killer.
Surmising that a serial killer may be on the loose, the police began researching earlier case records. They discovered two more victims they attributed to the Green River Killer. 16 year old Leann Wilcox had been found strangled in a field on January 21, 1982 and on July 07, 1982, 36 year old Amina Agisheff had been found strangled in a similar manner.
Profile of the Green River Killer emerges
There was another, more obvious similarity – all of the victims had been prostitutes. Police began staking out the Strip and casually questioning prostitutes about their activities. Most of the prostitutes were apprehensive but some provided additional clues. Many of the prostitutes thought the killer was probably a policeman or someone masquerading as a policeman. Several told stories of a man brandishing a badge and ordering them into the car. Twenty years later, their statements would become very important clues to the identity of the killer.
A profiler was commissioned by the police to assist. The profiler theorized that the killer was probably an organized person since he took the time to properly weight down the bodies before dumping them in the water. The profiler deduced that the killer must be confident since he reused the same location over and over again (and likely also to relive the murders). He thought the killer must be a longstanding local resident and possibly a fisherman or hunter since he seemed to be familiar with the remote areas where the bodies were being found. Just as the prostitutes had earlier mentioned, the profiler believed the killer had a strong interest in police or detective work.
The killings continue
Meanwhile, prostitutes continued disappearing from the Strip at an alarming rate. In October of 1982, Denise Bush lost a coin toss with her pimp and another prostitute, to determine who would go out and retrieve cigarettes from a local store – she was never seen alive again. Two months later, 18 year old Rebecca Marrero disappeared on the Sea-Tac Strip. In April of 1983, Sandra Kay Gabbert was last seen by friends, entering a pickup truck on the Strip. That same night, about 2 hours later after Gabbert’s friends noted her climbing into a truck, Kimi Kai Pastor, a 17-year-old prostitute, was last seen entering a green pickup truck with a camper on it.
The Marie Malvar murder – police brush with the killer goes unnoticed
In the month of April, the case took an interesting turn. On 04/30/83, Marie Malvar and her pimp were working the Pacific Coast Highway. Marie left with a trick in a vehicle, described by her pimp, as a green pickup with a camper on it and a primer patch on the side (possibly blocking out a logo). Curious, the pimp followed them a short distance and noticed that they appeared to be arguing. He attempted to chase the truck down but lost the vehicle in traffic.
One week later, he notified the police that Marie had never returned. Fearing that the police would be of little help, he contacted Marie’s father and the two began looking for Marie on their own. After searching for some time they found a pickup truck that looked like the one the pimp had seen Marie enter. They contacted the police immediately. The police arrived at the home and questioned two men located inside – Dale Wells and Gary Ridgway. They made a cursory search and found no trace of the woman. The police explained to Marie’s father that nothing appeared out of the ordinary. Marie’s father accepted this without question since he was suspicious of the pimp’s story anyway.
In May of 1983 a very important piece of evidence surfaced that if handled properly, could have been the biggest lead in the case. An airport maintenance man was emptying trash when he found a driver’s license behind some chairs near gate B4 of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The license belonged to a Marie Malvar. The police were immediately notified but strangely, they never showed up to retrieve the evidence. Two years later it dawned on them that they could check the flight records for that departing gate and possibly even retrieve fingerprints from the license itself. They contacted the airport and were disappointed to discover that the license had already been destroyed and the flight records were no longer available.
Body of Carol Christensen presents an unusual crime scene
Later in the month of May 1983, a family looking for mushrooms several miles east of the Strip, discovered a woman’s body partially covered with brush. The woman was fully clothed but otherwise displayed a few unusual characteristics. The head was covered with a paper sack, the arms crossed in front of the body, and a fish was draped across the woman’s throat. She had a bottle gripped tightly in her right hand and freshly ground meat clinched in her left hand. She had a driver’s license in her pocket that identified her as Carol Ann Christensen.
The body was taken to the morgue for a more thorough examination where it was discovered that her bra was on inside out and her shoelaces were untied. They also determined that she had been strangled with a thin cord and the body immersed under water. Since the body was found several miles from the Strip and the conditions of the body were substantially different from the other killings, the police wondered if they had another killer on their hands. This was soon discounted when they tracked down the origin of the sack found on the victim’s head – the sack was from a 7-11 store located on South 144th Street, a store that lies right in the middle of the Strip and often noted as the location where many of the victim’s were last seen. It appeared that the killer had begun using a different location to dump his victims.
More women disappear, more bodies discovered
Several other victims disappeared in May 1983. Martina Authorlee, 18 years old, was working the Strip when she was picked up by a trick and never seen again. Cheryl Wims, also 18 years old, was picked up at the same spot and never seen again. Tammy Liles, 16 years old, was picked up on the Strip and never returned. Keli Kay McGuiness left the Three Bars motel to work the Strip near 216th Street never to be seen again. And Costance Elizabeth Naon, 20 years old and strangely, the only victim that was not a prostitute, called her boyfriend from the Red Lion bar on the Strip, and told him she would be home in 20 minutes. She never returned home.
Victim body goes unnoticed in plain sight
In June of 1983, a woman called the police to report a strange smell in the area of Raper’s Road, a dark alley near the airport. The police investigated and determined the smell was nothing more than a pile of dead fish. Later that month, players and parents at a little league game near Raper’s Road, noticed the same foul smell. The smell was bad enough that the games for that day were called off. One month later, a man picking apples in the same area found a skeleton under a pile of brush.
The body’s location was near the dividing line between the airport and King County. The two authorities argued about jurisdiction and finally called in a surveyor to determine whose responsibility the body was. The surveyor determined that the body laid in King County and not the Port Authority area. With the jurisdiction question out of the way, the investigation continued which in the end, never resulted in a positive identification of the body. To complicate matters even further, about a month later another skeleton was found in the same location. The second body found near the little league fields was eventually identified and determined to be Shawndra Summers who had disappeared while working the Strip in 1982.
Psychics provide evidence
On July 17, 1983, James Tindal walked into the police station and filed a report on his missing ‘girlfriend’, Gisele Loworn, who had left the house to ‘turn a few tricks’ and never returned. Tindal felt the police didn’t offer much help so he went out to search on his own. After days of unsuccessful searching, Tindal resorted to contacting a psychic.
The psychic calmly told Tindal that she was sad to inform him that Gisele was dead. She explained that Gisele would be found lying facedown in the mud near a big tangle of bush and that she had something tied around her neck. Tindal searched some more using the psychic’s description of the incident, but still had no luck finding Gisele. Then, nine days later, a man riding a trail bike stumbled across the badly decomposed body of Gisele in some bushes near the deserted houses south of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. She was nude and had a pair of men’s socks tied around her neck.
The killings continue throughout 1983. In October 1983, a skeleton was found 12 miles south of the airport. The skeleton was determined to be the remains of Yvonne Shelley who had disappeared five months earlier from the Strip. The police classified this as another Green River Killer victim and they now had yet another spot that the killer was using to dispose of his bodies. A more thorough search of the area was initiated and still more skeletal remains were found in the area.
The Green River Task Force
In January of 1984, the Green River Task Force was formed. The members of the task force wore distinctly colored green jackets with “Green River Task Force” emblazoned in yellow on the back. Until now, the investigation had been quite disorganized. In one instance the only source of data was stored on a single computer that was destroyed during a power surge. With the new force, individual duties were assigned to each of the members so that each could specialize in an assigned area. One of their first tasks was to investigate the claims of the infamous Henry Lee Lucas that he was the Green River Killer. He was quickly ruled out when they determined that he had been nowhere near the area.
In 1984, the Task Force found yet another dump spot. On 02/14/84, near a park off of I-90, 40 miles east of Seattle, a body was found. Although the details of the murder made it appear to be the Green River Killer, the location was so far away from the others that the police ruled him out. About a month later, a convoy of US Army trucks pulled over near the same park for a quick break. One of the soldiers trotted off into the woods to relieve himself. On his trek back to the trucks he stumbled across the skeletal remains of a young woman. The body was only 200 yards away from the body found earlier in the month.
A police search of the area was initiated and two more bodies were found. One of the bodies was discovered alongside the remains of a dog, both lined up head to head. Footprints were found on the scene (with the aid of a professional US Border Patrol tracker) that were determined to be from a size 10 or 11 shoe.
Another psychic provides more clues – and finds a body
In the weeks ahead, several more bodies were found in the area bringing the total body count up to 22. During the I-90 search, the area was crawling with media activity. Police had cordoned off all roads and parks forcing the news media to camp around the perimeter of the search area. A psychic heard of the search on the news and immediately had a vision of another body in the area. She drove to the scene and gave details of her vision to a policeman who was parked on an overpass. The policeman shrugged her off saying if she actually found a body then she should contact the Green River Task Force. Discouraged, she drove off with her children and continued homeward until she was mysteriously drawn towards a service road. She stopped her car and unloaded the kids and began walking around a dump site located just off the road. She was looking at the skull of an animal when she noticed her daughter standing off to the side staring at a piece of large plastic. She walked over to the plastic, lifted it up, and found the decaying body of a young girl. She rushed back to the search area and told the nearest policeman of her find. Once again the policeman shrugged her off. Disgusted, she drove down the road and stopped at the reporter’s camp. She had just began telling the group of reporters about the body she had found when the Task Force swarmed the area and whisked her away to a private location where they could discuss the details of her find.
Unbelievable death toll
At this point, the Task Force had three distinct dumping grounds – the Green River itself, the area around Raper’s Road, and the I-90 area. Plotting the area of the sites, a pattern was discovered. The three sites formed a distinct triangle. The points of this triangle were all connected by an intricate pattern of deserted, back roads offering the killer an ideal method of isolated transport. The areas were all near illegal dumping grounds too. This lead police to believe that the killer must be a local who was familiar with the area. This belief was compounded by the fact that many of the roads were not even drawn on area maps.
By the middle of 1984 the death toll reached 26. At this point yet another infamous serial killer, Ted Bundy offered his assistance. Bundy told the Green River Task Force that he believed the Green River Killer was known and trusted by the prostitutes, possible someone posing as a policeman or some other type of law enforcement official. He felt that as time went on, the bodies were being dumped closer and closer to the killer’s home. The Green River Task Force continued interviewing Bundy for several months at the Florida penitentiary where he was sitting on death row, until he was finally executed in the late 80’s.
Have the killings stopped or is the Green River Killer getting better at hiding bodies?
To the Green River Task Force’s surprise, the killings seemed to have mysteriously stopped in 1984 (although additional bodies were discovered for many years after). Many times bodies were found in the exact locations where previous searches had occurred leading many to believe the investigation was being handled carelessly. By 1985 the police had almost 4,000 pieces of evidence and over 4,000 people to interrogate. Of the 4,000 questionable persons, almost 1000 were considered top suspects. Searching prior year’s unsolved murders, they found 38 killings since 1973 that could have been the work of the Green River Killer.
A body was found in early 1985 in Portland that was determined to be the remains of Denise Darcel Bush, a prostitute who had disappeared off of the Strip three years earlier. Since the location crossed state lines (it’s 3 hours distance from Seattle), the FBI became involved in the case. They immediately began to wonder if two killers were involved, particularly since the method of body disposal seemed to differ at times – sometimes the bodies were left in wide opened areas (e.g. the Green River) and sometimes they were hidden, buried or partially covered with brush. In late 1985, another prostitute told a strange tale that made the police wonder if the killings were starting again (or if they had ever really stopped).
A sketch of the killer emerges after a victim plays dead
A 15 year old prostitute was picked up on the Strip by a “pocked face man” with a blonde mustache. After climbing into the car, the man forced her by knife, to lie down on the floorboard. He drove her to an area called Horsetail Falls where he beat and tortured her. He forced her to lie on the hood of the car while he raped her. After the rape he stabbed her repeatedly with a knife. Due to the loss of blood, the prostitute passed out and awoke some time later to discover that she had been covered with brush. Peering through the brush, she could see the man standing there, calmly smoking a cigarette and staring at the pile of brush. She lay still for some time until the man finally drove away, after which she crawled to the road and summoned help from a passing car. The police created a sketch of the killer from her detailed description, a picture that was broadcast on national TV 4 years later.
A new computer system identifies one suspect over and over again
In 1986, the case involving the disappearance of Marie Malvar (04/30/83) surfaced again. At the time, the police still had no strong leads. They acquired a new computer system that made the task of cataloging and tracking the massive quantity of evidence and suspects much easier. The computer system began spitting out one name over and over again – Gary Ridgway.
Ridgway had been arrested in 1982 for attempting to pick up an undercover policewoman posing as a prostitute. Two years earlier he had been arrested for attempting to choke a prostitute (he claimed “self defense” – the prostitute had bitten him while performing oral sex). Also in 1982 he had been approached by the police as he sat in his pickup truck near the little league fields. He had a prostitute in the truck, a prostitute that later became a victim of the Green River Killer. In 1984 he had come forth to the police and offered to assist in their search, claiming that he had known one of the victims.
Police turn their focus on Gary Ridgway
Police searched records of Ridgway’s previous vehicle ownership since he was known to have owned a truck with a distinctive primer patch on the door. They found he had owned over nine vehicles in the past few years, several of them pickup trucks (police had stopped following leads on reported vehicles since it became apparent that the killer changed vehicles often). He was an ex-Navy personnel and worked at night as a painter. His wife claimed that the often searched remote dump areas where he would collect old car parts. Police were unnerved when his wife drove them to some of the garbage dumps he frequented – they were the same dump locations for the Green River Killer’s victims.
Ridgway was asked to take a lie detector test and he refused. The police discovered that Ridgway had previously attempted to illegally obtain government license plates. They found that he had owned an old police car and also an ambulance. To make matters even more suspicious – he had once lived in a house where two of the victim’s skulls had been found. Police began questioning Ridgway’s friends and acquaintances. They indicated that Ridgway had a peculiar fascination with the Green River Killer (Ridgway theorized that they were killed during the making of snuff films). He often talked of the stupid mistakes that infamous serial killer Ted Bundy had committed. He was known to have had a hatred for prostitutes (he felt they were responsible for spreading AIDS). He had often told casual acquaintances that he worked for the CIA and often arrived home in an agitated state and would have to watch TV for several hours to calm down.
The police dug deeper into Ridgway’s whereabouts during the time of the killings. They found that he had been attending law school. Curious about how he funded his studies, they began researching his financial records and determined that Ridgway had paid for his schooling using stolen credit cards. Tracking the purchases on the credit cards they found records of purchases in Spokane, Vancouver, Portland, and Tigard – all places that were suspected as locations where Green River killings had occurred.
With all this evidence in hand, police obtained a warrant and searched Ridgway’s home and a warehouse facility that Ridgway had rented in his father’s name. A search of his house produced several fake police uniforms and badges, several different licenses with factious names, and graphic photos of known Spokane prostitutes. Fifty boxes of papers were taken away along with over a thousand videotapes. Police collected carpet fibers, ropes, paint samples, and plastic tarps. They also took with them a saliva sample from Ridgway.
Police were certain they had their man until Ridgway’s brother came forth and pointed out that the credit card records indicated Ridgway had been on the road (with his parents) during the time of several of the killings. Police first discounted this since they already suspected more than one killer could be involved. Meanwhile, Ridgway was sentenced to prison on an unrelated charge. While in prison he refused to talk to the police.
Finally, shortly before his release, he agreed to talk to the police, not about his involvement, but about another person who he claimed the police had implicated in the killings. Two days later, his accomplice Dale Wells committed suicide. Well’s apartment was searched and police found an unfinished letter to the infamous Anne Rule, a well-known crime writer who had just completed a book about Ted Bundy. In the letter, Wells indicated that he knew a person very similar to Ted Bundy.
In 1988, San Diego began experiencing the same sort of killings. These killings also involved prostitutes abducted from a popular strip in downtown San Diego. All the victim’s bodies were dumped a few miles away from the Strip, in remote locations, often covered by brush. Did the killer really stop killing or did he simply move to another location?
Are killings in San Diego related to the Green River Killer?
The San Diego police had considered the Green River Killer could be responsible for their killings but eventually decided their murders had nothing to do with the Green River killings. The Green River Task Force wasn’t so sure. The two areas had a lot in common. Both were near the United State’s border with another country. Both were near water and had large military installations located close by. Both had heavy fishing and shipping industries.
The Green River Task force and the FBI traveled to San Diego in an attempt to gain their cooperation but the San Diego police refused to consider that the two killings could be related. This fact soon made it to the local newspapers where stories of the San Diego Police Department’s contrary attitude were made public. Word traveled to outreaching area newspapers and even eventually made it to national TV. Due to the extra, undesired exposure, the San Diego police changed their tune and assisted in forming a joint task force.
At that time the San Diego killings involved over 100 persons in which 48 were finally attributed to a serial killer. A man was arrested and eventually convicted but he was only convicted of 2 of the 48 murders. This once again caused the FBI to consider that more than one killer could be involved. Apparently it is not so uncommon for serial killers to hear of another rash of killings and begin working that same area. Their rational is that their killings will get mingled up and confused with the other serial killer’s deeds and possibly confuse the police. The majority of the San Diego killings remain unresolved and nobody has yet to determine if the murders were related to the Green River killings.
Related killings in the Portland area?
Meanwhile, although the Green River killings appeared to have ceased in the Portland area, bodies were still being found on a regular basis. In 1990, shortly before the Green River Task Force was disbanded, a headless skeleton was found in a Seattle park. This one sparked a particular interest with the police and served as a very strong indication that the killer was moving to other areas. Along with the headless corpse, a piece of medical equipment was found which was eventually deemed to be the property of a Denise Bush. This proved troubling since Bush’s head had already been found – in Tigrad, Portland. It was later discovered that other victims had similar missing pieces that were eventually found in other locations. Police theorized that the killer was returning to the scene and retrieving body parts then distributing them to other locations, possibly in an effort to confuse the police. It also seemed as if the killer had listened to police reports and quickly changed his location in an effort to elude them. Unlike most serial killers, this one seemed to want to avoid the public eye.
In 1990 the Green River Task Force was disbanded. They had accumulated over 500 volumes of evidence during their investigation. By 2003, the area where the Strip was located has been cleaned up. Many of the secluded dumpsites are now commercially developed and some are even residential developments. In 1997, workers building a new home found a thighbone. The police dug the site and found 3 more victims. Beginning in the middle of 1999, the area around Vancouver, British Columbia, began experiencing a rash of prostitute disappearances. 25 prostitutes had vanished without a trace. Vancouver is less than 2 hours north of Seattle…
At last, DNA provides the truth
After the dissolution of the Green River Task Force, one man remained to handle the case and to review new tips – Tom Jensen. In March 2001, Jensen heard of new advances made in the analysis of DNA evidence. Hoping to take advantage of these new techniques, Jensen sent biological evidence, including the saliva sample taken from the 1987 search of Ridgway’s home, and swabs taken from several of the victims, to the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory for DNA typing.
Forensic scientist Beverly Himick examined the evidence. A vaginal swab from victim Marcia Chapman was first examined and produced a partial DNA match to Gary Ridgway. Analyzing pubic hairs from victim Opal Mills also produced a partial DNA match to Gary Ridgway.
At the same time, forensic scientist Jean Johnston, using a vaginal swab from victim Carol Christenson, produced a better match to Gary Ridgway. Jean calculate that not more than one individual in the entire world would exhibit this DNA profile. The police knew that they had their man and began assembling another task force to prepare the cases against Ridgway and to review the remaining unsolved murders.
As the task force began assembling the multitude of case evidence, Gary Ridgway was arrested, on November 16, 2001, when he attempted to pick up an undercover police officer posing as a prostitute. He was arrested and brought into the station for booking. While being booked, Ridgway casually requested that they not contact his wife. Instead, he stated “You can contact the Green River Task Force, they know me real well.” Gary was released later that day. Two weeks later, on November 30, 2001, Ridgway was arrested for four counts of murder as he left work at the Kenworth plant.
The task force continued compiling evidence, basing their case on DNA evidence from three of the murders. In an effort to ensure a speedy trial, King County Superior Court set a deadline of March 28, 2003, for the police to submit all their evidence to the court. Three days before the deadline, Microtrace labs reported finding tiny spheres of spray paint on the clothing of two uncharged victims – Wendy Coffeld and Debra Estes. The paint was identical to the highly specialized paint that Ridgway used in the Kenworth truck plant where Ridgway worked as a painter. Ridgway entered a plea of “not guilty” and the court set a trial date for July 2004.
One month later, Ridgway’s attorney contacted the King County Prosecuting Attorney and asked whether the Prosecutor would forgo seeking the death penalty against Ridgway in exchange for pleas of guilty to the charged accounts. The Prosecutor’s office countered and on June 13, 2003, Rideway entered into an agreement where, in exchange for avoiding the possibility of execution, Ridgway agreed to supply complete, truthful, and candid information on not just the murders he was charged with, but on any and all crimes he may have committed. The contract provided that if Ridgway was not completely candid, he could face the death penalty for any murder which he had failed to disclose. Ridgway had to come clean on all murders or risk the penalty of being put to death. Ridgway recounted all of his murderous activities to the police.
The following are confirmed victims of the Green River Killer:
Wendy Lee Coffield, Debra Lynn Bonner, Cynthia Jean Hinds, Opal Charmaine Mills, Marcia Faye Chapman, Giselle Lovvorn, Terry Rene Milligan, Mary Bridget Meehan, Debra Lorraine Estes, Denise Darcel Bush, Shawnda Leea Summers, Shirley Marie Sherrill, Colleen Renee Brockman, Rebecca Marrero, Kase Ann Lee, Linda Jane Rule, Alma Ann Smith, Delores LaVerne Williams, Sandra Kay Gabbert, Kimi-Kai Pitsor, Gail Lynn Mathews, Andrea M. Childers, Marie Malvar, Martina Theresa Authorlee, Cheryle Lee Wims, Yvonne Shelly Antosh, Constance Elizabeth Naon, Carrie Ann Rois, Tammy Liles< “Rose”, Keli Kay McGinness, Kelly Marie Ware, Tina Marie Thompson, Carol Ann Christensen, April Dawn Buttram, Debora May Abernathy, Tracy Ann Winston, Maureen Sue Feeney, Mary Sue Bello, Pammy Avent, Patricia Anne Osborn, Delise Louise Plager, Kimberly Nelson, Lisa Lorraine Yates, Cindy Ann Smith, Mary Exzetta West, Patricia Michelle Barczak, Patricia Yellow Robe, Marta Reeves, Roberta Joseph Hayes, and four “Jane Does”.
Update: 11/05/2003 – Admission
Gary Ridgway had admitted to killing dozens of women in the Pacific Northwest, a confession that gives him more murder convictions than any other serial killer in U.S. history.
“I killed so many women I have a hard time keeping them straight. I wanted to kill as many women as I thought were prostitutes as I possibly could.”, Ridgway said in a statement read in court today.
Update: Mail from reader
I recently received the following from Lisa A. Wilson, author of Don’t Just Sit There.
A woman contacted me over 3 months ago with information that was sifted through and researched further. This data came up with one definite link of her ex-husband and Ridgeway possibly knowing each other and their connection to MARIA MALVAR. I am sending you that info, with the hope that you may be able to help bring this to light. I have already sent this to America’s Most Wanted, the FBI in Seattle, the Green River Task Force, and many members of the media.
NEW INFORMATION ON GREEN RIVER KILLER THIS MAY PROVE TO BE VERY SIGNIFICANT: Like the incident in Vancouver, police are now and have been ignoring the new tips that were sent to their office about a man who should be a ‘person of interest’ in the matter of the investigation of the Green River Killer. Are they going to look at this data in 5 or 10 years and realize that there was some very significant information handed to them, but they had never investigated it further? Why is it that the woman who contacted me over 3 months ago has never been given even 5 minutes of time from detectives about the Green River Killer? She has been trying to get the Task Force to look at her ex-husband since 1988 when she was finally able to leave him. She was told many times by Tom Jensen, who heads the TF that “if his name was not on the computer print-out sheet, they were not going to look at him”. Does the killer have to be a felon with a previous record? Did the Task Force treat Gary Ridgway’s wife & ex-wife in the same manner? Probably not…he was already in police custody when they came forward with all of the information about his very strange HABITS. Did the police in Vancouver treat the family members of the missing women like ‘dirt’ , that they were ‘looney’ or had ‘mental problems’? I certainly KNOW that I do not have any, but they will not even listen to me and have ‘insinuated’ that I was calling on a daily basis…which I was not. I do have my telephone records that will prove this. The Task Force has mishandled evidence and not picked up other meaningful pieces of the puzzle. WHY? I seriously believe that when this is all over, there WILL be another lawsuit in Seattle, like the one that is being put together right now in Vancouver, about not investigating THIS matter properly. My letter has been sent to many important people, including several members of the media, and I ask that you read this VERY carefully. In the message below is the DEFINITE LINK that connects this suspect to not only one of the missing women on the Green River Killer List, but there is also the possibility of him knowing and associating with Gary Ridgway, the man that is in police custody but only charged with murder for 4 of the 49 women who made it onto the OFFICIAL list. Since 1982, there have been approximately 150 missing or murdered women. There was at least one time when bodies had been found, that a witness spoke of 2 men being in that area, and they were seen leaving together in a pick-up truck. Could this suspect have been that other man? Why won’t the Task Force even READ the information that was sent to them over 3 months ago? I KNOW that they have not looked at the information, otherwise they would have been actively pursuing this man…the LINK is right in front of their noses.
DEFINITE CONNECTION TO MARIE-JANE MOLINA MALVAR: There is one very strong connection, but apparently the police may not have handled the evidence properly (or never collected it). I will tell you my source’s name to make this explanation easier – this link may also prove that he knows Gary Ridgway. The first part of this is probably already known by you. I will make it as brief as possible. Maria Malvar was last seen on 4-30-83 by her boyfriend/pimp getting into a vehicle, which sped away from the area very quickly. The b/p thought that something might be wrong and followed, but soon lost them and apparently went home. When she did not return that evening, he and the girl’s father went looking for the vehicle. They found it sitting in front of Gary Ridgway’s home, decided to park nearby and called the police to the scene. They arrived at the house, briefly questioned Ridgway and he said that he had not been with the girl. It has also been said that another man was at Ridgway’s home at the time of the questioning….could the other man possibly be our suspect? On 5-27-83, Patricia and her husband were at the Sea Tac Airport to see off his mother & father at Gate B-4. Before getting out of their vehicle, her husband had pulled out a wallet that looked like hers. He then extracted some cards, holding them in his hand. Patricia saw an I.D. card and assumed that it was hers. She grabbed it out of the stack in his hand, and wondered what he would be doing with HER license. She now had it, glanced down at the front and saw that it was NOT hers. The picture was of a medium complexion girl, in her 20’s with long dark hair. She noticed that there were 4 NAMES on the license, but only caught part of the last name MAL ___. He snatched it back from her, then the baby started to fuss in her arms. He gave the BABY the card to play with. They proceeded to pile out of the vehicle and entered the airport terminal. After saying their “goodbyes” to his parents, and getting ready to leave, he went to get the card from the baby. It was not in it’s little hand. He FRANTICALLY searched around on the floor, and asked Patricia what happened to it. She said that she did not know, while he was searching the floor. They were then told to leave, because the gates were about to be closed to that terminal, so there was no time to continue looking for it. Later that afternoon, an employee found the license and reported such to the police. The license was for a Marie-Jane Molina Malvar. There are police records of the finding on that day, and another letter dated 2-8-85 about even “walking with him to see where it was located”, but the license HAD NOT been picked up as evidence and was disposed of by the airport almost two years later. It also appears that the log book for that particular day is nowhere to be found, or they could prove that Patricia and her husband HAD been there. I have in my possession copies of all 5 police reports. The question here is: If the last known place that Maria Malvar was seen had been in Gary Ridgway’s vehicle on 4-30-83, how did Patricia’s husband happen to be in possession of the license that was found at the airport on 5-27-83? Was he the ‘other man’ at Gary Ridgway’s home the night the police questioned him, or was he also involved in her disappearance. Patricia KNEW that there had been 4 names on the license…HOW, if she had not seen it? All newspaper articles that I had found about Ms. Malvar either called her Marie or Maria, NEVER was there any articles with all 4 names in it.
Update: 9/13/2013 – more victims?
Seattle’s KOMO has recently conducted the first interview with Gary Ridgway since he was imprisoned a decade ago. In the interview, Ridgway, who plead guilty to killing 48 women (a 49th was identified in 2011), tells KOMO’s Charlie Hanger that the true number of victims could be closer to 80.