Gary Ridgeway was born on February 18, 1949 to a middleclass family in Salt Lake City, Utah. His father was a bus driver and his mother was a sales clerk. He was the middle of three boys. According to his later statements, his mother was inappropriately sexual towards him and often cleaned his genitals. His father was known to have a strong dissatisfaction towards sex workers and made that evident in the home.
Later in life, Gary was known to have an insatiable sexual appetite. He was married three times and was known to have issues with infidelity. He frequented sex workers while he was serving in the Navy for a short period of time. He eventually settled in the Seattle area, but his relationships with sex workers were far from over.
Gary was in his thirties at the height of his killings. He targeted sex workers and runaways, the most vulnerable women and young girls he could find. He gained his infamous name, the Green River Killer, when many of his victims were found on the shores of the Green River.
Gary was not careful in the slightest. He often put many bodies in one area and would return to the scene to molest the bodies. However, he did work to trick investigators by bringing in items from other people such as notes, gum, and cigarettes. In 1984, Gary Ridgeway was looked at for the murders, but was cleared when he passed a polygraph. This proves polygraphs are not reliable at all when it comes to proving innocence or guilt. Even so, the police took Gary’s DNA in case they were able to link it in the future.
When DNA was able to be compared, Gary Ridgeway was eventually linked to the murders. He was arrested at work in a truck factory on November 30, 2001. The DNA only matched evidence in four different victims: Opal Mills, Marcia Chapman, Cynthia Hinds, and Carol Ann Christensen. He was later also connected to Wendy Coffield, Debra Bonner, and Debra Estes.
On November 5, 2003, Gary plead guilty to a surprising 48 charges of first degree murder. He agreed to a plead and agreed to cooperate to help find the bodies of missing victims. To this date, he has the most confirmed kills of any American serial killer. However, he has confessed to 71 killings.
Gary Ridgeway was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He is currently in Walla Walla, Washington at the Washington State Penitentiary.