Longest serial murder investigation in U.S. history comes to a close.
November 5, 2003 11:57 AM   Subscribe

"I killed so many women I have a hard time keeping them straight." With those chilling words, Gary Leon Ridgway (better known as the Green River Killer), plead guilty to the murder of 48 women. Previous discussion here...
posted by vito90 (35 comments total)
In his statement read in court today, Ridgway said he thought the fact that his murder victims were prostitutes might enable him to avoid capture.

Creep, feel most cases like this go unsolved because the victim is not well known to the area, usually no ID too.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:10 PM on November 5, 2003

I just don't know
posted by tiamat at 12:42 PM on November 5, 2003

I read the previous discussion - and sucked in my breath when I read that a MeFier wrote that his sister was one of the 49.

If this is anything like the Robert Picton case in B.C., this took a long time to solve mainly because the women were prostitutes and the cops had a cavalier attitude towards the murder of prostitutes. This kind of thing has to change. The police have no business making these kind of value judgments.
posted by orange swan at 12:47 PM on November 5, 2003

This makes him the number one serial killer in US history, in case anyone is keeping track.
posted by stbalbach at 1:01 PM on November 5, 2003

Wow, I thought they would never get this guy. As I recall, it was suspected that the Green River killer might also be the Zodiac as well. I hope that is true, cause it would be nice to put an end to so much horrible wondering.
posted by thirteen at 1:11 PM on November 5, 2003

I wonder how many other women he killed that he has yet to 'mention' or possibly even remember . . .
posted by cinderful at 1:12 PM on November 5, 2003

This also cements Washington State's reputation as being a haven for serial killers.
posted by vito90 at 1:13 PM on November 5, 2003

Some of the victims were found in Oregon, weren't they - a death penalty state, I think. I am generally not pro-death penalty, but I remember the fear when these women started going missing and part of me hopes he is convicted in Oregon.

I am with Orange Swan - a lot of value judgements that have no place ina murder investigation. And something about the list of Jane Doe victims just brings tears to my eyes.
posted by sperare at 1:21 PM on November 5, 2003

thirteen: Last I heard, it was considered unlikely that Zodiac and the Green River Killer were the same person. Too many differences in their MO's and what-not.

Also, kids, we all need to remember that there is a difference between serial killers and serial murderers. A serial killer is someone like Ted Bundy or the Green River Killer who usually targets a specific kind of target, kills them in a specific way, and usually has some other identifying traits. A serial murderer is merely someone who has killed a lot of people, but not to fulfill some sort of compulsion. A hit man would be an excellent example of a serial murderer.

Before anybody asks: No, people like Hitler, Pol Pot, or Stalin do not count as serial killers.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 1:22 PM on November 5, 2003

You got documentation to back that up, Cap'n? While I consider myself by no means an expert, I have done a good amount of reading on serial killers, and I've never heard of a distinction between the terms "serial killer" and "serial murderer". I always thought it was the word "serial" that categorized the act as a deliberate choosing of victim and a specific MO.
posted by starvingartist at 1:44 PM on November 5, 2003

Obviously, Tiamat is a spam-bot that has somehow gained posting access to the biggest collection of trendsetting intellectuals the internet has ever seen. Activate the meme-shields captain!
posted by mecran01 at 1:45 PM on November 5, 2003

Oh. Boy. Wait until I tell my friends. We were at a site in Northern Oregon (forgot exactly where) drinking and talking about how the very spot we were sitting was a marker for the Green River Killer. Then the girls got scared so we had to drive back to my friends house.
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:50 PM on November 5, 2003

Another thing that makes serial killer cases difficult to solve is that there is usually no previous connection between the killer and victim. The police don't know where to look. In a non-serial murder, the police look at family of the victim, people who knew the victim, etc., and eventually something won't add up and they'll at least have a suspect. In a murder committed during a robbery, they can look at surveillance tapes, or people who are already known for committing that type of crime. That being said, I'm sure that there is some truth to the police not working as hard to solve crimes against prostitutes or other criminals. It's well known that cops will work harder to solve crimes committed against other cops or their families. Non-criminal, non-law enforcement regular citizens fall somewhere inbetween. Right or wrong, that's the way it is.
posted by Shoeburyness at 1:54 PM on November 5, 2003

I've never heard of a distinction between the terms "serial killer" and "serial murderer".
Yeah. The distinction I'm familiar with is Serial Killer v. Assasin personality (snipers, etc.)

number one serial killer in US history, in case anyone is keeping track.
Now I have to go home and update that damn pegboard.
posted by yerfatma at 2:01 PM on November 5, 2003

I think if I was a cop, I would subconciously devote more time to a murder that happened within one of my fellow officers family. I'm not familiar with the scientific term but people tend to protect their "team" with greater vigor than a stranger, right or wrong.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:01 PM on November 5, 2003

In this case, as with the Robert Picton case, the police did have reason to suspect the real killer many years before he was ever arrested, so this is not a case of the police not knowing where to look.
posted by orange swan at 2:04 PM on November 5, 2003

Hey Orange Swan.

It's very much a good thing, at least my family... It's been a little over 20 years since my sister was killed, and it's nice to finally have some answers, some closure.

I've heard allegations that the police would have done more had so many of the victims not been hookers or street people... but in this case, I don't believe it.

Overworked and under-funded? Yeah... but not complacent.

I don't have any complaints (except that they never seemed to spell her name correctly, and they had lost some one-of-a-kind photographs my mom had sent them).

It was difficult from the get-go to gather forensic evidence, what with the wet weather and rough terrain. They had fingered Ridgway at the start, but couldn't nail him... eventually, forensic science caught up, but by that time the priority on processing the evidence was necessarily behind other, fresher, cases.
posted by silusGROK at 2:20 PM on November 5, 2003

I'll bet he's a republican.
I kid, I kid.

I'm totally not kidding

On a serious note, silusGROK, I am so sorry about your sister. I hope this is a positive thing for you and your family.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 2:25 PM on November 5, 2003

Oops, looks like LittleMissCranky forgot to close her tags.

[/unfunny, off-topic troll]

You're welcome.
posted by dhoyt at 2:39 PM on November 5, 2003

I only heard of this case a few years back -- surprising since I have a morbid fascination with Zodiac, Son of Sam, Jack the Ripper, et al. But not a single person I asked in my office (I'm in Nebraska) had ever heard of the case until these closing days of the trial. Not one. I guess I'm frogging about trying to say that it amazes me that we can be obsessed with any number of individual murders in the press (ie: Laci Peterson, Nicole Simpson, Jon Benet Ramsey) yet something of this magnitude hits our blind spot. Granted, the time span explains part of it, but still.
posted by RavinDave at 3:10 PM on November 5, 2003

silusGROK, my heart goes out to you and your family.
posted by sperare at 3:40 PM on November 5, 2003

Obviously, Tiamat is a spam-bot that has somehow gained posting access to the biggest collection of trendsetting intellectuals the internet has ever seen.

Somebody hit Tiamat. He's stuck.
posted by eddydamascene at 4:01 PM on November 5, 2003

I was talking to a friend about this, and he mentioned that it was interesting that serial killers are demonised more for who they kill than for the number of people they killed. A case like this is chilling, and yet Harold Shipman with 215 elderly bodies under his belt seems to be nothing more than a prime time joke. (See "Have I got news for you" or any other damn teenager friendly comedy show). I remember the horror that people expressed when the Fred West thing blew up, and the initial media coverage was a lot more sympathetic towards the victims than with Harold Shipman. Is there something in people that enables them to say "Ach - they were old, they would have died sooner or later anyway."

Caveat: There's no justification for what Ridgeway did, and my sympathies go out to all who have been affected by this terrible situation.
posted by seanyboy at 4:43 PM on November 5, 2003

silusGROK, I hope this means closure for you and you family. My deepest sympathies.
posted by Keyser Soze at 5:11 PM on November 5, 2003

With all the attention on Ridgway today, please take a moment to see the faces of the women he murdered. (This is the canonical list of GR victims -- whoa, GR is both "Green River" and "Gary Ridgway" -- anyway, he didn't confess to all of these, and confessed to some who aren't shown here, but this is the majority of those listed in the confession.)

silusGROK ... even having the closure, I know this must be hard. I am freaked out by all of this and I only knew one of the victims in school; we weren't close. I cannot even imagine what it is like when it is one of your family members. My thoughts are with you today.
posted by litlnemo at 6:23 PM on November 5, 2003

What I really find most unnerving about the whole thing is the death culture of the west. Things which defy logic:

1) The inherent value of the individual. And yet, "Every 100 years, all new people." What real value is left when you are dead, so why be obsessive about it? Granted, there is a heaping dollop of self-pity in this philosophy. What essential thing of a person remains?

2) There is a difference between "murder" and "kill". If you can feel the hot breath of your victim it's worse than if you market cigarettes to tens of thousands of victims?

3) Life in prison for murder, death for mutilating the body afterwards?

4) Ever been to a funeral parlor? Eek! Why throw away a perfectly good dead body when you can *play* with it first?
posted by kablam at 8:02 PM on November 5, 2003

What are you talking about kablam?
posted by ginz at 10:32 PM on November 5, 2003

One of his victims was a girl I went to Jr. High School with. She sat next to me at our "graduation" from 9th grade. I was totally floored to hear her name on the news just a short while later (I was living near Atlanta then). I'm so glad they got this bastard. Maybe he'll meet the same fate as Dahlmer.
posted by black8 at 11:46 PM on November 5, 2003

Shipman killed with an injection and it's bloody hard to imagine 200+ people being killed by someone who looks like father christmas.

West killed just 8-10 people but did it in a rather horrific way and then burried them in his garden. Oh, and his own daughter was a victim.
posted by twine42 at 12:51 AM on November 6, 2003

I have trouble believing in cases like this that the confessed murderer really killed all of the claimed victims. The temptation to pin a cold murder case on someone who's willing to confess in bulk is pretty strong.
posted by rcade at 3:43 AM on November 6, 2003

Yeah, but in this case he was able to provide information that only the killer would have known, and was able to lead the police to several of the bodies that had not been found until now. Then there is also the DNA evidence, etc. It looks pretty solid that this is the guy.

Anyway, to amend my earlier posting -- here's a more up-to-date page showing the faces of all of the named victims.
posted by litlnemo at 3:55 AM on November 6, 2003

But I do see your point, in that Lucas was fed incriminating details, so possibly Ridgway could have been as well. My first thought, too, was that it was too easy for him to confess to everything. But I don't think that is the case this time.
posted by litlnemo at 4:01 AM on November 6, 2003

(Thank you for all your kind words.)
posted by silusGROK at 4:34 PM on November 6, 2003

I wish we had something better to offer you than words, silusGROK.
posted by orange swan at 10:00 PM on November 6, 2003

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