Gary Ridgeway: The Green River Killer

The Green River killer was the name given to a mysterious killer and rapist who actually broke the record with his horrific body count. To date, he is considered to be the killer in America with the highest number of murders at a shocking 49 in total. He was known for targeting the vulnerable, but the reasoning behind it might be more sinister than you would expect. In this article, we will explore what made him so dangerous and how police finally managed to catch him.

A Young Ridgeway

Records show that Gary Ridgeway was far from the average guy. According to family, he grew up in a violent household with a mother who was always overstepping her boundaries. Like many serial killers, Ridgeway wet the bed well into his early teen years. It has been reported that his mother would clean him up despite his autonomy and this led him to feel sexually confused about her, with his feelings turning towards violence. Ridgeway was also believed to have had a very low IQ, which might contribute to his lack of control and understanding to some extent, though it doesn’t justify it. This, when combined with a father who had a near lethal rage towards sex workers, led to a very confused and dangerous man.

As he grew older, his rage and confused emotions continued to surface. At the age of sixteen, Ridgeway lured a six-year-old boy into the woods and stabbed him. Though the child did survive, he was stabbed clear into the liver in a complete act of terror. It is unclear if this was the only violent crime that he committed as a child, but it shows a tendency to prey on the small and vulnerable.

Seeking the Vulnerable

Photo of Gary Ridgway’s victims | Photo found at

Likely spurred on by his father’s hatred for sex workers, Ridgeway killed a wide range of women in this group. He seemed to target them, like many other serial killers, because it would be easier to get away with. While his decision to choose sex workers was likely spurred on by his father, their vulnerability likely played a role. In addition to targeting sex workers, he also sought out vulnerable young women. He would search for runaways because he knew that no one would come looking for them in most cases. Unfortunately, by targeting these groups, he was able to easily access a wide range of women and murder them.

Sexual Psychosis

Gary Ridgeway was not just known for murdering these women. While he clearly had aggression towards women, like we saw with his mother, this seemed to be connected with a confused sexuality. After murdering the women, which he did by strangling them in almost every case, he would hide the bodies—but the crimes don’t stop there. After he was done murdering them, he would return on multiple occasions to have sex with the corpses. It is believed that his murders were largely driven by a twisted sexual urge, but it is unclear if he raped the women before murdering them, as well as after.

Though we aren’t quite sure about this, there does seem to be some evidence to suggest that he might have raped some of the women. This is presented in how he addresses his interest in necrophilia. According to him, he preferred to return to have sex with the victims because it was easier than simply finding a new one. Even though his IQ was low, he was very aware of the risks of getting caught—which makes his crimes that much more sinister.

Aided by Another Killer

In a shocking turn of events, police were aided by Ted Bundy in this case. Bundy was consulted by police to discuss the behavioral profile of the killer, which would ultimately be beneficial in determining his identity. Though consulting an expert is fairly common, in this case, it was just plain disturbing.

The End of the Line

Photo of Gary Ridgway arrested | Found at

In the end, police were able to identify this killer through his DNA—a most of us will sleep easier knowing this. When he was arrested, the majority of people wanted to see him receive the death penalty. However, he was given the opportunity to receive a plea bargain in exchange for revealing the locations of additional bodies. He will spend the rest of his life in prison and deserves much worse, but at least some of the victims were able to be found. Still, we don’t know how many victims were returned to their families—or even the fullest extent of his crimes.

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