Green River Killer Essay

Gary Ridgway: Serial Killer Essay

In 1982, police received a call about a body floating in the Green River in Salt Lake City, Utah (it was just one of many bodies that they were going to find). Police were stunned when they started receiving more calls about bodies found in parks, play grounds, and near highways. When police learned that all of the victims were prostitutes, they knew this was a key piece of evidence in their investigation. No one could have ever known that Gary Ridgway just started one of the largest killing sprees in American history. Ridgway grew up in a house where he was abused and harassed by his mother, Mary Ridgway. Ridgway soon began growing a strong hatred towards his abusive mother. Ridgway had begun thinking of some ways he could get back at her by hurting her, but he never did. According to American Murder, Ridgway went through numerous divorces and had a history of interacting with prostitutes (Mayo). ). Ridgway’s past with women soon made him develop a strong dislike for them and led to his killings.
Ridgway’s mother loved to embarrass him in front of her friends. As a child, Ridgway would occasionally wet the bed. Ridgway’s mother loved to point this out to her friends. This caused Ridgway to get very embarrassed. His mother would also abuse him by hitting and mistreating him. Ridgway would be full of hatred while all of this was happening. Ridgway began to think differently of his mother. After being tormented so long, Ridgway began thinking of sexual and physical torments he wanted to do to his mother (Gary Ridgway). Mary Ridgway had no care for her son (whose I.Q. of 82 showed very low intelligence). This I.Q. score was a good indicator that he was not being helped at home (Gary Ridgway).
Ridgway was soon able to graduate high school and decided to enroll in the Navy. While in the Navy, Ridgway loved picking up prostitutes. Finally, his criminal actions caught up with him. After having frequent sexual relations with prostitutes’, Ridgway contracted gonorrhea. Ridgway thought he could tell a fellow crew member, whom he trusted and who was part of the navy crew with him, about the disease. After Ridgway told the woman, she later told their fellow crew members, resulting in his honorable discharge from the Navy (Gary Ridgway). This upset Ridgway, who loved being in the Navy. He saw this as the prostitutes’ fault, and he wanted to punish them for it. In American murder, it states that “even though Ridgway contracted gonorrhea, he was still unable to stop having unprotected relations with prostitutes” (Mayo). This shows that Ridgway had a strong obsession with prostitutes.
Even though Ridgway was addicted to picking up prostitutes, Ridgway met Claudia Barrows before going to war. When Ridgway returned home, they decided to get married. Their marriage was doomed from the start seeing as it only lasted a year. This wasn’t Ridgway’s only failed marriage; he would soon marry three other women. Friends of Ridgway would describe all of his...

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Gary Leon Ridgway: The Green River Killer


Elijah K. Hurnes

Criminal Justice 395 Ð'- Criminal Profiling

Spring 2007

There is not too much known about Gary Leon Ridgeway's past. He was born on February 18, 1949 to Tom and Mary Ridgway. Gary was the middle child, his brother Greg was one year older and his brother Thomas was two years younger. They lived in Utah at the time Gary was born and in 1960 the family moved to McMicken Heights, Washington. The family lived by a highway. They called it the "Night of the Living Dead", a procession of streetwalkers, johns, drug dealers, and runaways. This is where Gary Leon Ridgway grew up, and where he always returned. Gary's father, Tom Ridgway, was a Metro Transit bus driver. Gary's parents and family were generally very reserved people. They kept to themselves and did not associate with their neighbors often. In one account, it was said that Gary's mother, Mary Ridgway, was "frequently yelling at his father". It was also reported that Gary's mother once, "got so angry at his father that she broke a dinner plate over her husband's head while he was sitting at the dinner table. Ridgway's father didn't retaliate; he simply got up from the table and left". Conspicuously enough, was the way that Gary's mother dressed, "She wore tight clothes and excessive makeupÐ'...She looked like a prostitute". Gary's prime suspects in his killings were prostitutes.

It would be decades later that Ridgway would tell detectives of his real relationship with his mother, of his sexual attraction to her, of his sexual attraction to her, of his feelings of lust and humiliation. After Gary got married, his mother remained an influence in his life. His wives, all three, often said that Gary's mother was very overbearing and far too controlling. His father died in 1998 and his mother died in 2001. (Horvitz)

In the early years of his life, Gary never exhibited the usual characteristics of a serial killer. He was a nice reserved boy who was rather slow when it came to learning. He did not graduate from high school until the age of 20. A generally typical teenager, neighbors and classmates describe Gary in the following ways:

- "He didn't strike me as somebody who had a lot of anger."

- "I never ever imagined that (he would become a killer)Ð'...He was just kind of there like the rest of us. There were few standouts, but he wasn't one of them".

- "There was nothing that would draw your attention to Gary as being different form anybody else."

- "He was just a normal guy who was quick to smile. He was just one of the kids trying to make it through school". (Horvitz)

After Ridgway was taken into custody, he did admit to several things that are characteristics of a serial killer. He told a psychologist, "about wetting the bed until his early teens and that he had vivid memories of his mother washing his genitals afterward". (Harden) The issue with his mother was the only thing that psychologists say was a quality or characteristic of serial killers. Ridgway

also thought of killing his mother on several occasions because of his feelings for her. One psychologist said, "With humiliation would come rage toward the mother. That is very common in serial murderersÐ'--displaced matricide. Unconsciously, he is killing his mother over and over again". (Harden)

Aside from his problems with his mother, Gary never was a typical serial killer. He was very self-disciplined and never told anyone about his killings. "To have strong feelings of pride in one's career as a serial murderer and then not communicate that to anyone for 21 years is a measure of remarkable discipline". This said by Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist and associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California in San Diego. (Harden) Prosecutors from Ridgway's case said that he suffered from no mental illness that would absolve him of responsibility for these heinous crimesÐ'...In five months of interviews, he displayed no empathy for his victims and expressed no genuine remorse. He killed because he wanted to. He killed because he could. He killed to satisfy his evil and unfathomable desires. (Harden)

However, according to Ridgway's lawyer, Michele Shaw, he was very remorseful. By her account, Gary frequently broke down in tears. He worried about whether news of his crimes would ruin his elder brother's marriage. He thanked God that his mother (who had died three months before his arrest) was not around to learn the truth. He talked about how any profits from a book or movie about the crimes should go to the families of his victims. (Harden)

The Green River murders took place between the years 1982-1984. The entire ordeal started out with women, mainly young prostitutes, in the Seattle, Washington area going missing. Bodies all over the Green River area started to turn up. At first the bodies were found whole. Then after increased publicity, the bodies started showing up in "clusters". There were no big breaks in the case for years. Throughout the investigation, dozens of bodies kept turning up. After the case came to a close, a total of around 49 bodies were found.

At one time during the early investigation, Ted Bundy was called upon to aid in the investigation. He gave detectives a greater insight into the profile of the Green River killer. Even after all of the help, and evidence, a killer was not found. Then at one point during the search, Gary Ridgway became a suspect. One of the victim's boyfriends had last seen her get into Ridgway's car. The police thoroughly searched Ridgway's car and home but found nothing to hold him on. Gary was released and left the police with the one thing that broke the case about a dozen years later, a saliva sample. In July, 1991, the investigation came to a close due to lack of moral support and suspects. Ten years later, in 2001, Detective Dave Reichert decided to reopen the case. New technology assisted the newly formed team in matching Ridgway's DNA to DNA found on some of the victims. (Bell)

On September 10, 2001, Reichert received news from the labs that reduced the hardened detective to tears. There was a match found between the semen samples taken from the



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