Gary Ridgway Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
Childhood and Early Life
American serial killer who became known as The Green River Killer was born Gary Leon Ridgway on the 18 February 1949 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was the second son of Thomas and Mary Ridgway and had two brothers, Greg and Ed. Ridgeway was raised in SeaTac, Washington.
Gary Ridgway was a student at Tyee High School, SeaTac, Washington (1969) and after graduating, he joined the U.S. Navy and was sent to Vietnam.
Rise to Fame
Ridgway first came to the attention of police when, aged 16, he led a young child of six into the wood and stabbed him. The child survived the attack. After returning from Vietnam, he moved to Seattle where he worked as a painter. He was arrested on charges relating to prostitution in the early 1980s and again in 2001.
In 1983, police began to suspect Gary Ridgway of being involved in the Green River killings. He passed a lie-detector test, although later technology showed that he had failed the test. Police also took saliva samples and hair of Ridgway’s saliva and hair in 1987. With improved DNA analysis, when these samples were re-analysed in 2001, it led to Ridgway’s arrest on the 30 November 2001. He was initially charged with the murder of four women in the 1980s.
Further investigation and forensic analysis led to his involvement in multiple killings. On the 5 November 2003, Ridgway pleaded guilty to 48 charges of first-degree murder. He offered to give detailed information about the killings in return for avoiding execution. Ridgway received 48 consecutive life sentences with no parole. He claimed in 2013 that he had murdered over 70 women.
Gary Ridgway has been held in Washington State Penitentiary, Walla Walla since 2004. He was moved to a high-security federal prison in Colorado in September 2015 but after public disquiet and protest, transferred back to Washington State Penitentiary in October 2015. Ridgway has confessed to more killings than any other serial killer in the United States.
Various documentaries and films have been made about the Green River killings including The Riverman which is about serial killer Ted Bundy talking to investigators about how to catch the Green River Killer. This film was an adaptation of Robert D. Keppel’s book, The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer.
Others include Green River Killer (2005), The Capture of the Green River Killer (2008) and My Uncle is the Green River Killer (2014), a documentary featuring members of Ridgway’s family. Non-fiction books about the Green River killings include: Chasing the Devil by Sheriff David Reichert (2004). Green River, Running Red (2005), Defending Gary: Unraveling the Mind of the Green River Killer (2007) and Green River Serial Killer: Biography of an Unsuspecting Wife (2007).
Gary Ridgway's first wife was Claudia Kraig Burrow (m.1970 - div. 1972). He then married Marcia Lorene Winslow (m. 1970 - div. 1981). The couple had one child, a son, Matthew (b.1975). Judith Lorraine Lynch was his third wife (m.1988 - div.2002).