saying is we have not caught the Green River killer.
What we're saying
is we've arrested a suspect in the deaths of 4 women who happen
to be on the list of Green River victims.
We don't know who
killed those other 45 women. Period. We just don't know." --
John Urquhart King County Sheriff spokesman
Homicide has no statute
of limitations, there are many cases back in property rooms where
the case has been closed and not reopened, said John Turner with
the Washington state attorney generals office. Yet technology
today really encourages us as we encourage other agencies to take
a re-look at those cases.
2 of 4 women Ridgway
is accused of killing were missing items of jewelry when their
bodies were found. If DNA from a ring
or a necklace found in Ridgway's residences
or vehicles were to match a victim's, the coincidence would
be hard to explain to a jury.
it a priority?
was suspect for years -- Investigators feared that
if they tried Ridgway without enough evidence he could be acquitted,
he would then be free under double jeopardy laws. So they waited.
Evidence including semen samples, was circumstantial. Semen samples
were only used to determine blood types. Test results could only
narrow down to one in millions, not identify a specific individual.
Ridgway was arrested for soliciting a prostitute just a couple
weeks prior to his arrest for serial killing.
Ridgway never fit the
FBI profile, but he was considered
among prime suspects in the killings, he was cleared in 1985 after
passing a lie detector test. When
his file was reopened the next year, it was dropped by the FBI
after Ridgway's lawyer complained.
An unacceptable amount
of time elapsed between when the DNA
testing technology used became widely available and when the
county decided to use it to solve this investigation. Dispatching
evidence to a private lab, as other counties do, "just wasn't
on our radar" until the state crime lab received a federal
grant to reinvestigate old cases. DNA testing exonerates the falsely
accused and makes an almost indestructible case against the guilty.
Perhaps it should have been in their radar.
Attributing this time
lapse to a heavy caseload at the under
funded state crime lab and that in the weight of solving current
crimes and handling court cases, these unsolved crimes of almost
two decades were
not a top priority.
Aside from the
DNA evidence Ridgway was been a prime suspect for years. There
were eye witness accounts of his truck and the surviving victim.
Ridgway was not at work at the time 27 Green River victims disappeared,
including the 4 he is charged with killing. Law enforcement has
known this since 1984.
Capt. Bruce Kalin,
a member of the original Green River Task Force from 1984 to 1987,
will command the team of 14 officials working full time to investigate
more than 90 women missing or dead, including 45 Green River cases
and 40 women in the Puget Sound region. Reichert said the team
will look at ties Ridgway has to 45 murders attributed to the
Green River killer.
"This has always been
a quest for fact and truth," Kalin said. "We don't want to put
ourselves in an adversarial position with anyone."
``Our first order of
business will be to continue our investigation of the Ridgway
case,'' Kalin said in a press release. ``But we will also begin
to reexamine the deaths of the other women on the Green River
list, as well as numerous others.'' Kalin has been a King County
cop since 1977, promoted to captain in 1999. "Obviously,
I feel a sense of responsibility to not only the former commanders,
but to the surviving friends and family of the victims. .. This
has always been a quest for fact and truth," Kalin said.
The defense is free to make comments," Kalin said. "If we did
the same thing, we would be considered prejudicial, or that would
damage his right to a fair trial. We don't want to do that."
Detectives are interested
in information that might clear a suspect, he said.
Early next year, the
14 detectives and others working on the Green River investigation
will move from their current small space at the Regional Justice
Center in Kent to a new location, not yet selected, to be closer
to the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle.
Over a decade of police
reports fill binders in bookshelves from floor to ceiling. The
Prosecutor's Office is seeking bids to scan the documents onto
compact discs. With advances in computer technology, the organized
information could help determine if the Green River killings ended
in 1984. "I
don't know the answer to that question," Kalin said. "That's
one of the things we will be looking at."
Sheriff Dave Reichert
has put together a team to investigate the cases. Members of the
New Search for Evidence - Now
we can focus on a single person. At the time, there were many
suspects. "There were always people coming up," Matthews said.
"We had to work on each one." A
thorough search of 4 residences from Ridgway's
parents home to his current residence, and 3 vehicles, provided
boxes of evidence that needs to be analyzed but no obvious "smoking
Body Count of Possible Victims Grows - 151
cases statewide share at least one factor with the Green River
killings from body locations to lifestyle according to Homicide
Information Tips Systems.
River Killer or Not? - Police
believed the Green River killings stopped in 1984, but unsolved
cases in the early 1990s have led some to cast doubt on that timing.
Signature of a Serial Killer - A killer's signature,
consists of actions above and beyond the modus operandi. A killer
may arrange, pose or degrade the body after death for his own
gratification and fantasies.
Early Investigation - FBI
profilers deducted the killer was "a white man 30 - 40s who
had issues with women and was familiar with the woods of the Pacific
task force produced the above profile, composite
drawings which "could" be the killer with a tip
he drove a primer splotched pickup truck.
Enforcement's History with Ridgway - In
1980, he was accused of choking a prostitute. The woman escaped
and called police from a nearby house. Ridgway claimed she bit
him. The police let him go.
Helps Detectives - In
1987, Ridgway's former wife, Marcia, provided information that
he liked to search out places where people had dumped things to
scavenge for old auto parts. She said he liked to have sex with
her in these places. At one time she sought a protection order
Falsely Accused - "My
refusal to bow, now they know why."
Medical Examiner with foresight - Knowing
technology would advance, examiner instituted procedures to retain
evidence samples indefinitely.
Force Challenges -
"People around the case felt it was solvable. In this case, the
science had to catch up." Jim Montgomery former King County sheriff.
Arrested at work on 11-30-01 at 3:00 PM
the Courts - The Prosecution and Defense - Ridgway,
remains jailed without bail, was calm though "clearly stressed"
when he met with a team of three court-appointed lawyers to discuss
DNA and Trial Expenses - The
$15 million dollars spent since 1982 investigating 49 Green River
killer related deaths was just the beginning of what will be a
costly case to prosecute.
of key dates in the life of Gary Ridgway, with a map of his
homes since childhood.