We talk about the Green River Killer.


This is part of a series of episodes on Serial Killer Files.

The Green River Killer

The Green River Killer terrorized the state of Washington in the 80’s and 90’s. This is a story of a man who was well hidden within the society in plain sight. As always, be advised, it ain’t pretty.

  • Born: Feb 18, 1949, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Crime: 49 convicted murders
  • Targets: Sex workers, underage runaway, vulnerable women
  • Locations: Seattle and Tacoma (Green River)
  • Killing span: 1982 - 1998 (presumed to be as recent as 2001)
  • Date of Apprehension: Nov 30, 2001

Family and Personal Life:

  • Domineering mother towards whom he had lustful feelings
  • Bedwetting episodes leading to low self-esteem
  • Lust and hate towards women
  • Low IQ (in the eighties). Below average student
  • Married thrice

First wife: Claudia Kraig Barrows (1970-72)

  • Highschool sweetheart
  • Cheated on him while he was in Vietnam
  • Divorced in 1972

Second wife: Marcia Lorene Brown (1973-81)

  • Ridgway became extremely religious
  • Birth of son, Matthew, resulted in a change in the relationship.
  • Ridgway became abusive and Marcia filed for divorce
  • This divorce is said to be one reason why Ridgway began murdering

Third wife: Judith Lorraine Lynch (1988-2002)


  • Served in Vietnam for two years
  • Worked at the Kenworth Truck Factory after discharging from the Navy

Killing Spree:

  • Gary Ridgway is said to have killed 71 women during the span of 1982-1998.
  • Most of the murders took place between 1982-84 and he is said to have killed many that he lost count.
  • The bodies were dumped in the Green River, giving him the name The Green River Killer.
  • He would also visit the corpse later to have sex with it.
  • He contaminated the body with gum, cigarettes, and other materials to throw off the police.

The Green River Task Force

  • A task force of 25 full-time detectives was set up to investigate the murders.
  • The team included Dave Reichert, Robert Kepper, and John E. Douglas.
  • Ted Bundy, another serial killer, helped in the case to find out the behaviour, psychology, and motivation behind the murders.
  • He suggests the possibility of necrophilia and suggests the police to stake out fresh grave to capture the killer.

Modus Operandi:

  • Ridgway picked up women from Pacific South Highway
  • Lured them using his family man personality and the picture of his son
  • Took them to secluded areas and strangled them to death
  • He used his hand in the beginning but began using ligatures to avoid injuries
  • Most of the murders were committed in the woods, his truck or his room

Close calls:

  • He was arrested in 1982 and 2001 with regards to prostitution
  • One of his victims, Rebecca Gardey escaped from his chokehold
  • Sketches made during the eighties matched Ridgway, but no arrests were made
  • He underwent a polygraph test and passed in 1984
  • His saliva and hair samples were collected in 1987, but the technology back then could not connect him to the murders


  • The saliva and hair samples came to use when DNA technology in the 2000s helped develop a profile of the killer.
  • The DNA profile of Ridgway matched with the evidence found at the crime scenes and victims’.
  • The paint traces found in the ligature and clothing of the victim traced back to Kenworth Truck Factory.


  • Gary Ridgway stabbed a six-year-old boy when he was 16 just to know how it feels to kill someone.

Image: Wikipedia