Did you know that one of the most prolific serial killers was active for over 20 years?
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of Green River Killer facts, the nickname of a man named Gary Ridgway who turned murder into a career.
1. Gary Ridgway was born in Salt Lake City
The man referred to as the Green River Killer was born Gary Leon Ridgway on February 18, 1949, in Salt Lake City in the US State of Utah.
He’s the son of Mary and Thomas Ridgway and has two older brothers with whom he had a pretty close relationship. The family went often out on camping trips and he grew up in a relatively good home.
Nobody could really predict that Ridgway would eventually end up murdering dozens of women.
2. He fantasized about killing his mother as a kid
Close examinations and psychiatric reports only found one trigger so to speak that could have caused Ridgway to commit his heinous crimes.
It appears that Gary had a bed-wetting problem until the age of 13. When talking to detectives, he remarked that his mother would wash his genitals every time this happened.
This certainly isn’t normal behavior and it would have been pretty humiliating for the adolescent Ridgway. After these events, he developed a fantasy about killing his mother, while at the same time sexually dreaming of her.
This was the prelude to him killing prostitutes while he was using their service. Experts agree that he was killing his mother over and over on his nightly escapades.
3. He wasn’t the brightest fellow in his high school class
Most serial killers are fairly intelligent, but this doesn’t seem to apply to Gary Ridgway. He is dyslexic, was held a year back, and barely managed to graduate from high school, which he did in 1969 from Tyee High School in Seatac, in the state of Washington.
His low intelligence was proven by the fact he scored in the low 80’s when an IQ test was conducted during his murder investigation.
4. Gary Ridgway saw combat in Vietnam and discovered the world of sex workers
Ridgway certainly didn’t waste any time as he got married to his high school girlfriend named Claudia Kraig at the age of 19. Shortly after, he joined the US Navy and was sent to Vietnam where he both worked on a supply ship and saw combat.
More important for the development of Ridgway was the fact that it was during his time in the Navy that he started visiting prostitutes, something he would do for the remainder of his free life.
5. He was married 3 times and divorced twice
His first marriage didn’t last long because both partners were unfaithful to each other. he also contracted gonorrhea because of having unprotected sex with prostitutes, resulting in divorce less than 1 year after Gary and Claudia got married.
His second marriage to Marcia Winslow ended similarly. Both partners were unfaithful and it all culminated in Gary holding her in a chokehold, the exact way he murdered his victims.
His third marriage proved to be the best one as he was married for 17 years before being caught for his crimes in 2001.
6. He suddenly became extremely religious
Another of those peculiar Green River Killer facts is that Gary didn’t just cheat on his second wife, he also became extremely religious during this period.
He even went door to door to read the Bible to people, all the while keeping his “hobby” of murdering prostitutes secret.
7. Gary Ridgway committed at least 71 murders in the 1980s and 1990s
One of the most horrific Green River Killer facts is that he confessed to 71 murders and was able to give the detectives who interviewed him extremely clear details about each event.
The prosecution had a total of 133 pages of his confession in which he elaborately explained how he killed every victim, a chilling account of one of the most cold-blooded murderers in history.
His method of murder was to choke his victims as they were having intercourse using his arms.
8. How did he get away with murdering prostitutes for 2 decades?
One of the most remarkable Green River Killer facts isn’t just that he is the second-most prolific serial killer in American history, but also the most extensive when it came to the longevity of his crimes.
Spanning nearly 2 decades, he was only caught in the year 2001 after starting in the early 1980s. What’s equally remarkable is that most of the crimes took place just a few miles away from where he grew up and lived.
How did Gary Ridgway get away with this for so long?
The answer lies in the fact that he was extremely pragmatic when it came to his crimes. Some examples of things he did to emphasize the level of cautiousness he used were:
- He always picked up women when they were alone.
- He left chewing gum and cigarettes near the crime scene even he didn’t chew nor smoked.
- He changed his tires if he felt he drove his car too close to the crime scene.
- He disguised wounds he might have had by pouring battery acid over them.
- He clipped the victim’s fingernails when she might have scratched him.
- He always had a clear plan of where to dispose of the bodies before committing the crime.
It’s clear that Gary Ridgway was good at what he did, and he became even better in time. He was also way more careful than other serial killers such as John Wayne Gacy, the “Killer Clown” who buried the bodies below his house which left an unbearable stench, and Jeffrey Dahmer, “The Milwaukee Cannibal” who kept trophies of his victims in his apartment.
9. He used his son to gain the prostitute’s trust
One of the most disgusting Green River Killer facts which clearly prove he can be considered a true sociopath without any empathy is that he used a picture of his son to gain the prostitute’s trust before killing her.
He would show a picture of his son to make the victim feel at ease and kill her minutes later.
If that’s not creepy, then what is, right?
10. He indulged in necrophilia because of a particular reason
Necrophilia is the act of having sexual intercourse with somebody who already died. As George Carlin once said, “it takes a special kind of guy to indulge in necrophilia, don’t you think?”
Well, Gary Ridgway is a pretty unique necrophiliac because he didn’t just rape dead bodies because he enjoyed it, he did because it was the easiest option.
In his own words, he claimed that “sometimes it was easier to visit dead victims than to find another woman to kill.”
11. He got his nickname because of the area he dumped the bodies
Bodies were found all across King County in the state of Washington where Ridgway lived, and especially the area around Seattle. The press gave him the name “Green River Killer” in the early 1980s.
That’s because he dumped his 5 initial victims in the Green River, a 65-mile (105 kilometers) long river in King County.
12. Some advice to catch the killer came from a very unlikely source
Another infamous serial killer and necrophiliac named Ted Bundy offered some advice to catch the killer. After all, he was an expert in the matter and safely locked up on Florida’s death row in the 1980s.
The main investigator of the Green River Killer case was Robert Keppler, who also led the team trying to catch Ted Bundy himself.
His advice was spot on because he told Keppler to set up a trap when they found a new victim because it was very likely that the murderer visited the murder scene again. Bundy turned out to be right.
13. His third wife probably saved a lot of lives
One of the most fascinating Green River Killer facts is that his third wife was most probably the reason why the death toll wasn’t much higher. Ridgway’s most prolific period was between 1982 and 1984 when he was divorced.
After he got married for the third time in 1988, he “only” claimed to have murdered 3 more prostitutes. He also claimed that he really loved his third wife Judith Mawson, and she was absolutely baffled when he was finally caught.
14. He was caught because of DNA analysis
Ridgway was already on the radar of police in the 1980s but because of his cautious and pragmatic nature, he was always able to get away with his crimes. He was arrested once in 1982 and 1987, DNA material was taken from him.,
This could finally be linked to the DNA of semen found in one of the victims in 2001, after which he was finally arrested at his work, the Kenworth truck factory, where he worked as a spray painter for the past 30 years.
He clearly hadn’t been careful enough to avoid being caught forever!
15. He was convicted of 49 murders and got life in prison
The game for Gary Ridgway was up, so he made a plea deal with prosecutors to confess to all his crimes. He ended up confessing to 71 murders, which ended up saving his own life as he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
He is currently serving his sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, where he will spend the rest of his life.
16. This is probably one of the creepiest Green River Killer facts
So why is Gary Ridgway one of the creepiest serial killers in history?
because he appeared to be perfectly normal. he had a steady job for over 30 years where he was awarded for perfect attendance, he was married for 17 years and it was an apparently happy marriage, and he went out camping with his extended family.
The list goes on as Gary Ridgway lived a normal life while keeping his horrible hobby secret from everybody around him. This also clearly shows that he doesn’t have the capacity to feel any remorse for his victims, which is one of the main reasons nobody ever noticed something was off!