Gary Leon Ridgeway: the Green River Killer

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  • Topic: Gary Ridgway, Ted Bundy, Robert D. Keppel
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CRMJ329: Criminal Profiling
Gary Leon Ridgway
By: Donna Jamison

Born in Salt Lake City Utah in the year 1949, Gary Leon Ridgway was the middle child of three sons. Ridgway was raised in a chaotic and underprivileged household with a domineering mother and a father who reportedly despised prostitutes (Prothero, 2006). Ridgway wet the bed until his late teens. His mother reportedly bathed him until he was well into his teenage years, paying special attention to his genitals (Prothero, and Smith, 2006). His mother frequently berated him in the presence of others and would dress provocatively and regularly spoke of sexualized encounters with the men worked with (Rule, 2004). As a child, Ridgway experimented with arson, suffocated a cat and paid a female child to allow him to molest her. As he grew older his behavior became more violent when he lured a six year old boy into the woods and stabbed him for the purpose of exploring the feeling of killing another human being (Vronsky, 2004). Turvey defines a sociopath as an individual with the same characteristics as a psychopath who is subjected to early childhood trauma. If sociopathic behavior is molded from early childhood experiences, then Gary Ridgway was a sociopath in the making at this point (Turvey, 2008). After completing high school at age twenty, Ridgway enlisted in the United States Navy. During a tour overseas, he engaged in sexual activities with prostitutes where he contracted a sexually transmitted disease on two separate occasions. It is widely speculated that this event may have contributed to Ridgway’s choice in victims. He would loudly proclaim his hatred of prostitutes to anyone who would listen to his ranting (Mayo, 2008). Still others believe that his misogynistic view of women is a reflection of his mother’s unorthodox approach to child rearing (Vronsky, 2004). After returning home from the service, he married. His first marriage failed and he and his wife divorced in 1971(Rule, 2004). He then married his second wife, whom he was admittedly happy with until she became pregnant. Interviews with his second wife later revealed that Ridgway had taken her on outings to the locations where he would later deposit his victim’s bodies. She stated that he enjoyed being outdoors and was obsessed with having sexual intercourse in specific locations outside. Shortly after the birth of their son, Ridgway’s marriage began to fall apart. His wife eventually left the marriage, taking with her their son (Vronsky, 2004). It is widely speculated that this event was instrumental in pushing Ridgway over the edge (Mayo, 2008). Gary Leon Ridgway is best known as the Green River Killer. On July 15, 1982 the first of five bodies was discovered in the Green River on the Kent City Limits side of Washington State. The second body was discovered on August 12, 1982. The second body, however, was discovered on the King County side of the river. This body was outside the jurisdiction of the Kent City authorities and as such, the appropriate authorities would need to be called in to process the crime scene. Detective David Reichert was called in from King County to process the scene. After a brief investigation, the authorities dismissed a connection between the two victims. An acquaintance of the second victim had been overheard threatening her, therefore it was assumed there was no connection between the victims other than the place of discovery (Keppel, 2005). On August 15, 1982, just three days after the discovery of the second body, two more bodies were discovered floating in the Green River. Detective Reichert, having jurisdictional authority, was contacted to process the scene. As Detective Reichert was photographing the scene he discovered a third body which had been concealed by the tall grass that lined the river banks (Keppel, 2005). With the discovery of three additional victims, the investigative team reviewed the evidence in the...
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