Green River Psychological Profile
E-mail Discussion Lists

Psychological profiling involves examining the details crime to describe the psychological state of the offender at the time of the crime and ultimately the type of person who committed the crime.

Serial killers driven to act out the brutality repeatedly, leave psychological markers. "In multiple-victim cases, we always look to see if there is a signature so we can tie victims together," said King County sheriff's Sgt. John Urquhart, a spokesman for the King County Sheriff's Office.

The Green River Task Force's internal investigative tool, unknown to the public was a 12 page FBI profile psychological profile of the Green River killer, written by John Douglas, then an FBI special agent with the Behavioral Science Unit, Quantico, VA in the summer of 1982, revised in 1984. The profile was never made public and will not be now, Urquhart said. Details have surfaced from news stories over the years and from the book "The Search for the Green River Killer," written by former Seattle Times reporters.

Douglas' initial 1982 profile was based on crime scene photographs, the first 5 victims and the bureau's studies of serial killers. It was so vague it could have been 1/2 the men in King County.

In March 1984, a revised profile gave more details based on additional evidence from crime scenes, additional victims and additional experience with psychopathic serial offenders.

The original Task Force officers had doubts about the FBI profile, developed in September 1982 and revised in 1984."It's an art, not a science," said Urquhart. "It's my understanding, talking to the task force people, they never put a lot of stock in the profile," Urquhart said. "We're not now being held to it in very much detail."

Psychological profiling may be useful in eliminating suspects. The profile was used to rank suspects into high, medium and low priorities. An A, B and C system of ranking thousands of suspects.

For years, officers said the killer almost certainly was dead or in prison or had moved from the Pacific Northwest. "That he was unemployed, that he had left the area -- none of that fits Ridgway," Urquhart said.

Gary Leon Ridgway didn't match his profile very closely.

Profile elements include:

  1. All 49 killings were the work of one person
  2. Familiarity with sites where bodies were found
  3. Drives a lot. Drives in a van or 4 door car, at least 3 years old, not well maintained, and drives conservatively.
  4. Average or slightly higher intelligence
  5. Divorced
  6. Low self-esteem
  7. Large man in good physical condition
  8. White
  9. No racial preference in his choice of victims (in revised profile)
  10. Still sees prostitutes
  11. Between his mid 20s and early 30s
  12. Comes from a family background of marital discord
  13. He is basically shy and has strong personal feelings of inadequacy --
    Is not the type who can hustle women in a bar. He is not a smooth talker, is basically shy and has very strong feelings of inadequacy.
  14. Has a prior criminal history of assault and rape, or psychological history.
  15. Did not go with the intentions of killing someone
  16. "He (the killer) has felt that he has been 'burned' or 'lied to and fooled by women one too many times.' In his way of thinking, women are no good and cannot be trusted, and he feels women will prostitute themselves for whatever reason, and when he sees women openly prostituting themselves, this makes his blood boil."
  17. Had nonviolent encounters with prostitutes that ended normally
  18. Has a strong interest in police work. Killer may have initiated contact with victims by posing as a police officer or other authority figure
  19. Raised by a single parent
  20. 2 people were involved
  21. Does not "plan to put his victims through some sort of ritual sexual act or body positioning"
  22. He is an angry individual who demonstrates power over his victim
  23. Enjoys the publicity he is receiving
  24. A beer drinker and probably a smoker.
  25. Is unemployed or chronically underemployed. When he does work he has a job requires more strength than skill.
  26. An outdoorsman, recreational fisherman and hunter.
  27. Not very neat or meticulous
  28. Had trouble in school and dropped out during his junior or senior year.
  29. Possible strong religious feelings.

Does Ridgway fit the profile?

1 -- Unknown - Body clusters are strong evidence that only one person (or perhaps two acting together) was responsible for the murders.

2-- Ridgway was familiar with all of the sites according to his ex wife Marcia

3 -- His vehicles now are from 1992 or older. Ridgway was known to drive extensively in a succession of pickups. Recently, he drove a 1992 Ford Ranger truck. Police searched a 1992 Mercury Sable 4-door sedan and a 1992 Flair motor home. He liked washing his truck and keeping it nice. At the time of the murders he drove an older truck matching the description of witnesses. "One of those things we learned about him is he always drove in an erratic manner we learned this in the mid '80s always looking for anybody who might be following him," King County Sheriff Dave Reichert said.

4 -- Unknown but seems consistent with what is known

5 -- Divorced twice and married 3 times. Green River Killings were most active after Ridgway's second divorce

6 -- Self Esteem - Some say he is a social person and others say he has few friends and low self-esteem. Read what his former lovers, neighbors and coworkers say about him and decide for yourself.

7 -- Apparently Ridgway is small in stature, unassuming in appearance. 5' 10" tall, 155 pounds, he is in good shape.

8 -- Accurate

9 -- 2 of the 4 victim's Ridgway is charged with killing, are African American, 1 mixed race 1 is Caucasian

10 -- Ridgway has always acknowledged frequent, nonviolent encounters with prostitutes

11 -- Accurate -- Ridgway was 33 when the killings started

12 -- Accurate -- His mother once broke a plate over his father's head. His mother was a domineering woman. His father had an open hatred for prostitutes. Ridgway was close to his mother not his father. His mother is portrayed as being very dominant. His first wife said his mother ran their lives.

13 -- See 6 -- He doesn't sound outwardly shy by most accounts.

14 -- He was arrested only in 1982 on prostitution charges and a couple weeks before being arrested for murder, again on prostitution charges. His ex wife, Marcia did take out a restraining order on him when the first split up. He had no record of arrest for violent crimes. Though there has since been a report of a victim who survived him and ID'd him in a line up.

15 -- Accurate -- Ridgway acknowledged frequent, nonviolent encounters with prostitutes

16 -- Accurate, he accused both of his first two wives of prostituting themselves and spoke of them in degrading ways.

17 -- Accurate see 15

18 -- Interest in law enforcement

  • Ridgway wanted to be a policeman when he was younger.
  • Ridgway told several girlfriends he applied to become a policeman, but was turned down or failed the entrance exam.
  • He met an ex-wife when he pulled her over in what she described as a "police like stop."
  • He was the self-appointed neighborhood crime informer, going around telling neighbors of break-ins or to report prostitutes were working in their neighborhood.
  • He aroused Task Force suspicions when he contacted them with information about one of the prostitutes.

19 -- Not Accurate -- Ridgway was raised by both his natural parents. His mother was very domineering and yelled at the father continually. His mother was even physically abuse to his father at least once.

20 -- Not Accurate from what we know so far

21 -- Not Accurate -- Robert Keppel, a former investigator for the state attorney general and an expert on serial murder, believes some of the victims attributed to Ridgway were posed. Carol Ann Christensen's fully clothed body was found with fish, sausage and a wine bottle on it. At least two other victims had pyramid-shaped stones inserted in their bodies.

22 -- Seems somewhat accurate. I would assume only angry person who got off on power would commit these types of crimes. Ridgway sounds like he displayed some anger over things like prostitution an his ex-wives.

23 -- It doesn't seem that way, so far. He has made no statements, his family is not talking to the media, he waived his initial hearing to avoid the media.

24 -- His girlfriend said he never smoked or used narcotics, but occasionally drank Bud Lite in a can.

25 -- Ridgway worked steadily for Kenworth for 32 years, a journeyman painter, making $21 an hour, applying designs to trucks before they entered the paint booths. Prior to that he served in the Navy for the 2 years.

26 -- He did enjoy the outdoors, hunting and fishing. Gino Duarte, neighbor, said Ridgway seemed only interested in discussing hunting. Ridgway would tell him about how he and a brother liked to hunt in the mountains. His primary hobbies were flea markets, salvage and prostitutes.

27 -- By all accounts Ridgway was a very meticulous person at work and at home.

28 -- He received mostly D's. He didn't graduate from Tyee High School until he was 20.

29 -- In 1975, after his son, was born he and his then wife, were active in a Baptist Church, initially, then a Pentecostal church. That had ceased by the time they divorced in 1981. Though coworkers remember Ridgway carrying a Bible and preaching to others beyond that time.

Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2006


privacy policy