HistoricalMullet: Green River Killer Pleads Guilty to 48 Murders

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Listening to CNN as Ridgway is pleading guilty to the Green River Killings. These crimes may not be well known east of the Missippi but I grew up throughout the 80’s hearing about the Green River murders and it was almost like clockwork when bodies were found several times a year. In an odd way the Green River murders are a part of common upbringing in the Northwest, like hearing from everyone that in Seattle it rains too much. The case never seemed to get much attention outside the Northwest, despite the number of victims, but I remember it being “The Story” at least through the 80’s and into the early 90’s. For those not familiar this map shows the extent of the confirmed, and potential killings not included in today’s guilty pleading, of this single individual:


The site also has other information: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/greenriver/ and you can go onto google and just type “green river murders”. A breif summary is that run aways and prostitutes began disappearing in the early 80’s and their bodies would be found along the green river in clusters months or years later. There was no formal suspect or even hard evidence confirming a suspect until 2001. It’s chilling listening to the prosecutor read the pleading, it sounds like a morbid/psychotic Dr. Seus: “I killed so many women I couldn’t even keep track of them. I killed many of them in my house. I killed some of them in my truck.” It’s hard to visually connect the man on the screen with the murders, I have to remind myself his name is Ridgway and that he IS the green river killer.

I’m not personally connected to the case in any way, shape or form, but to me this is an end to a chapter of an open case that I began becoming aware of over 20 years ago so I think it’s worth marking. It’s an odd feeling, to watch now that I’m across the country from when I first heard of them, somewhat disconnected as I haven’t been back to the northwest in over 5years. But to me this is a one of those “important things to resolve” in life that shouldn’t be overlooked. I grew up and old thinking this guy would never be caught, that he was either out there still or (a more popular theory) he had been arrested on an unrelated charge and was either in jail or dead. To me it’s a triumph of the few investigators who stayed with the case for all those decades (at one time the task force was several hundred but then shrank to just a handful). It turns out they had the foresight to get a DNA sample from Ridgway a decade before DNA evidence was credible in trials, and it was that evidence which eventually led to the arrest and guilty confessions.

This probably won’t matter much to most reading this, but those few who are native to the Seattle area probably know what I’m talking about. Tim C.


Being local and interested in law means I get to deal with this case a lot. I get to participate in hot debates about whether or not his plea bargain (to avoid the death penalty) is fair. I also got to listen to a lecture from (now King County Sherrif, former Green River Task Force commander) David Reichert, talking about the case (as well as his political aspirations to the state governers seat).

Was the plea bargain designed to get a clean closure and/or identify remaining victim locations so they could recover the body?

Yeah, they had him on eight, so he copped to 40 more. Families get to bury the bodies of their daughters.

I guess that’s a kina valid reason, wonder how they’ll prosecute the garden-variety murder for capital punishment anymore. “You can’t execute me, you let a guy who killed 48 avoid the death penalty.”, that kind of thing.

I know in the mid-90’s there was speculation that a string of Spokane prostitute murders was linked to the green river killer. I don’t find reference to that in the current documentation, though I’m suprised to see they are linking him to Vancouver B.C. and Portland killings. Did they eventually catch someone else for the Spokane murders?


You can’t execute me, you let a guy who killed 48 avoid the death penalty.”
That’s the center of the debate. Washington’s only executed a few people since the death penalty came back. They might never execute anyone again after this.As to the Spokane murders, I’ve heard no connecting information or other details.

Did some digging and apparently that one was solved with a different serial killer:

“The Ridgway case is raising many of the same questions raised three years ago in another Washington serial murder case. In 2000, decorated Army veteran and father of five Robert Yates, known as the Spokane Serial Killer, pleaded guilty to 13 murders in Spokane in exchange for his life.” http://www.courttv.com/news/2003/1104/greenriver_ctv.html

How is life without parole almost the same as a death sentence in a legal sense?
Sincere question, not a lead-in for a debate 🙂

The non-legal answer is Ridgway’s life expectancy once he hits the state pennitenery can probably be measured in months rather than years.

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