was really scared of him. "He's a small man not ..."
32 years Ridgway worked in the paint department at Kenworth
Truck Co., a subsidiary of Bellevue based Paccar, the world's
No. 3 truck maker. Ridgway worked steadily as a journeyman painter
making $21 an hour applying designs to trucks before they entered
paint booths. He was good at his job. It's precise and tedious
work, requiring a sharp eye. Neatness is everything. The perfect
job for a meticulous man.
- The manager at work worked pulled Ridgway off way from his
work for an hour. Ridgway was back in time to eat lunch without
an explanation. "One of his coworkers joked that maybe it was
another Green River thing," said Doug Cady. "There were jokes
about DNA. "Little did we know."
he is described as a reliable employee. Attendance records reveal
he was not at work on the days the victims he is charged with
shared impressions of him: Hard worker, smart, meticulous, nice,
friendly, too friendly. Others called him odd, off the wall
the Bible at work and tried to save others. "He was always talking
about church and the savior," Troy Rowden said. The
religious discussions stopped, perhaps because the bosses had
told him to back off.
Lau, a former retired plant manager, worked with Ridgway for
a decade. "He was a Steady Eddie. He was a very normal
employee. Very trouble-free." He was quiet. He ate lunch
with coworkers. I wouldn't say he was shy, but he wouldn't go
out of his way to engage people. Socially, he got along, but
if you'd have told me yesterday he was a serial killer, I would
have said no way. Nothing in his behavior would suggest that."
sat at the same lunch table with me. He did so every day at
the same time," Douglas Cady, worked with Ridgway for 24 years.
"He always had his little coffee or tea. He was very meticulous."
He read a shopping guide for swap meets. "He was really into
making a deal and saving a nickel," Cady said. Trading and selling
was about the only hobby police could find for Ridgway.
knew law enforcement searched his locker at work and pored over
time sheets in 1984 as a possible Green River Suspect, but weren't
called him "Green River Gary," or "GR" for short. "It was a
joke," said Bob Schweiss, a coworker. No one brought the subject
up with Ridgway.
arrive at work with lunch in hand dressed in jeans with a plaid
or cowboy shirt. He'd
spritz his hair in an outdated style. Throughout the day he'd
comb his mustache. "He was so particular about his appearance
he reminded me of a rooster in a chicken yard," said Martha
Parkhill. "He held his head high and almost strutted."
he announced he married Judith, coworkers were shocked. The
knew about his divorce, but not that he was dating again. Coworkers
really rallied around him when they heard the news.
be the first to introduce himself to newcomers and welcome them,
he was also the first person newcomers heard whispers about.
could be a gregarious and hearty fellow. "He always called me
'Smiley,'" Troy Rowden said. "If you got too close to him, you
almost had to make an excuse to get away," Rowden said. "He
would talk so much." He liked jokes, too, and sometimes told
first day on the job, Gary walked right up to me and shook my
hand and said, 'Rich, how you doing?' even though I'd never
seen him before," said Richard Boltz, a union representative.
all had people who tried too hard to be your friend," said
Bob Schweiss. "That was Gary. He was out-of-the way friendly.
Creepy friendly. Just goofy."
Cady, worked with Ridgway for 24 years, recalls him discussing
everything from coffin sizes to swap meets to in-laws fighting
over his mother's estate.
months ago Ridgway volunteered to find Cady a prostitute. "He
wanted me to know that if I was interested in a girl he could
help me find one. I took it with a grain of salt. Most of the
time, we didn't stick around long enough to find out what he
time Ridgway joked to a friend the reason he frequented prostitutes
was to "keep the girls off the street."
was friends with Gary," says Diane LaPointe, former Kenworth
employee who worked with for 8 years knowing the rumors.
said male coworkers ignored him while female workers were fending
off unwanted advances.
who worked with him say he made them uncomfortable.
come up and he'd whisper something like, I don't know, like
nasty, like 'you'd better not bend over in front of me like
that' and then he would like turn red and go away like he was
embarrassed, ashamed of himself for saying it. And that would
like give me the creeps."
would come up behind you and stand there until you knew he was
there," Diane says. "You would turn around and he
would be right there. I'd jump and scream and he thought that
was pretty funny and he'd walk off."
would come up behind you and massage your shoulders and neck
and stuff and make weird comments about your appearance,"
a woman changed anything about her appearance, no matter how
little, he'd be the first to notice."
recalled him gently grilling her after she married. "I
felt cornered by him, but he kept trying to keep the conversation
going. He was a nice man, but you never felt comfortable around
didn't consider him a threat. She met his family, even bought
a car from him. She says she followed him to his house, alone
one night. She'd
consider visiting him in jail because he was a friend and she
has a question. "Yeah,
I would ask him if he did this."