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Essay: The Green River Killer (Gary Ridgway)

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  • Published: January 19, 2020*
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  • The Green River Killer (Gary Ridgway)
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The Green River Killer, or Gary Ridgway, was an American serial killer who was convicted of 49 killings, and confessed to 71. Gary was a very troubled man with instability and impulsive decisions wired to his brain. In his early life, he grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, he was troubled in his at home life, his mother was very controlling of the house, and many arguments between the two became violent. His father was a bus driver who often complained about the prostitutes in the area, foreshadowing the future of Gary. He said to a therapist in his teenage years, he had conflicting thoughts of anger and sexual attraction towards his mother, fantasizing about killing her. When he was 16, he lured another boy into the woods and stabbed him in his liver, the boy survived. He proved from an early age this was the path he would choose to go down.
In his murders, he had qualifications to his victims, which would be a woman who often was a sex trafficker, he would show them a picture of his son, to gain their trust. Afterwards he would rxxx them, strangle them from behind, Killing most in his truck, house, or a secluded area. After the murders were found, the Green River task force began investigating, which they investigated Ted Bundy, who gave them ideas to find who it was by backtracking evidence. The samples collected in 1987 were later subjected to a DNA analysis, providing the evidence for his arrest warrant. On November 30, 2001, Ridgway was at the Kenworth Truck factory, where he worked as a spray painter, when police arrived to arrest him. Ridgway was arrested on suspicion of murdering four women nearly 20 years earlier after first being identified as a potential suspect, when DNA evidence conclusively linked semen left in the victims to the saliva swab taken by the police. The four victims named in the original indictment were Marcia Chapman, Opal Mills, Cynthia Hinds, and Carol Ann Christensen. Three more victims—Wendy Coffield, Debra Bonner, and Debra Estes—were added to the indictment after a forensic scientist identified microscopic spray paint spheres as a specific brand and composition of paint used at the Kenworth factory during the specific time frame when these victims were killed.
When young runaways and prostitutes began disappearing from state Route 99 in south King County, Washington. He brought many of them to his home and strangled them, then left them in woods. The first few bodies turned up along the Green River. He went on to rxxx, strangle and kill many more. Many believe his motive was oedipal complex, redirected revenge against abusive mother and a drive to be stronger and more powerful than his father. DNA and sophisticated computer systems weren’t around during the early 1980s, so the task force relied on old-fashioned police work to piece together a profile. He was convicted based largely on DNA evidence.
His motives were simple: scared since being a child, he was turned down a path that was unlike any other. From a young age his parents would argue and fight constantly, which, according to sources “the child or young person’s perceptions of the abuse: worse outcomes are likely if the victim/survivor experiences feelings of self-blame, shame or stigmatisation.” Unfortunately, this steered him down the wrong path, with him turning to hookers which eventually gave him STD’s. To get revenge, most of his victims were prostitutes. He was caught after Ted Bundy gave the authorities information that could help them find who the “Green River Killer” was. Eventually he was caught by authorities, 20 years after committing his crimes.

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