Gary Ridgway is the most prolific serial killer in American history according to known victims, convicted of 49 murders but later confessing to numerous others which takes the total to 71 victims, police believe that the true total may be more than 90. He targeted women and girls in the Washington area throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, with many of his victims being prostitutes and teenage runaways, and his preferred method of death was strangulation.
Despite a huge manhunt for the killer in the 1980’s, and an open file throughout the 1990’s, he wasn’t arrested until 2001 when advances in DNA technology linked him to several of the murders. He confessed to the killings and identified the location of many of the bodies in return for being spared the death penalty and instead received a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, he remains alive in Washington State Penitentiary to this day.
The Green River Killer is a 2003 CBS Biography documentary about the life and crimes of Ridgway, the police hunt for the killer, and his eventual apprehension after a breakthrough in DNA science. Numerous people who knew Ridgway feature in the documentary including former high school friends, neighbors, former co-workers. Also contributing are law enforcement officers who were involved in the search for the killer and the leading criminologist Jack Lewin.
For more insight into the desperate hunt to catch the killer consider purchasing the 2004 book Chasing the Devil: My Twenty-year Quest to Capture the Green River Killer, a riveting personal account of Sheriff David Reichart’s role in trying to catch the killer. At one point he hard Ridgway cornered, but it would be 11 years before forensic science could finally convict him. Available in paperback, hardback, and kindle editions.