-Gary Ridgway, in full Gary Leon Ridgway, byname Green River Killer, (born February 18, 1949, Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.), American criminal who was the country’s deadliest convicted serial killer. He claimed to have killed as many as 80 women—many of whom were prostitutes—in Washington during the 1980s and ’90s, although he pled guilty (2003) to only 48 murders.

-younger Ridgway later claimed that his mother engaged in inappropriate behavior. Notably, he alleged that after wetting the bed—a habit that persisted into his early teens—she would wash his genitals. At some point he began fantasizing about killing her, and in the mid-1960s he stabbed a young boy.

Tikkanen, A. (2023, February 14). Gary Ridgway. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Gary-Ridgway

-The Times obtained a revised version of the profile, which was originated by FBI Special Agent John Douglas shortly after the first five bodies were found in or near the Green River in 1982.

The profile depicts the murderer as a white male, probably between the ages of 25 and 35 — although it acknowledges that that range could be off.

The killer also is depicted as someone who probably has a criminal history, is a beer drinker and a smoker, drives a lot and at the time of the murders drove an older-model vehicle, either a van or a four-door car.

The profile also notes that the killer probably “has very strong personal feelings of inadequacy,” and theorizes he grew up in a family fragmented by marital discord. He was likely raised by a single parent.

“His mother attempted to fill the role of both parents by inflicting severe physical as well as mental pain on the victim,” Douglas suggests in the profile.

“She consistently nagged her son, particularly when he rebelled against all authority figures. The subject had difficulty in school, which caused him to probably drop out during his junior or senior year, and he has average or slightly above-average intelligence.”

The killer has probably been separated or divorced if he has ever been married, the profile continues.

“He does not, nor has he ever had, (a sexual) aversion towards women,” Douglas notes. “He 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. When he sees women openly prostituting themselves, this makes his blood boil.”

But, the profile goes on, the killer is “drawn to the vicinity where there is open prostitution because of recent failure with other significant women in his life, and in all probability he has been dumped by a woman for another man.”

He is also said to have trouble sleeping, and has a “generally nocturnal nature.”

Douglas suggests the killer probably continued to have relations with prostitutes even after the murders were discovered, and might have even preached to such women. He may pose as a policeman or other authority figure. He may talk to prostitutes about the murders, and he may keep news clippings about the crimes.

“The subject is killing,” Douglas concludes, “because the victims are not listening to his preaching regarding their activities, or they’re making fun or laughing at him.

“He is an angry individual who demonstrates power over his victim and enjoys the publicity he is receiving.”

Guillen, T., & Smith, C. (2003, November 6). The Seattle Times: Green River killings. https://special.seattletimes.com/o/news/local/greenriver/1987/part6a.html

-Gary Leon Ridgway was born February 18, 1949, in Utah and raisedin Seattle, WA. His mother, Mary Ridgway, dominated the householdwith her brazenness and odd forms of childrearing. Ridgway’sfather, Tom, was a meek man who never stood up to his wife.There are tales of Mary Ridgway breaking plates over her husband’shead with no reaction from Tom Ridgway other than to get upand leave the room. In Ridgway’s history, it seems that hisfather does not play a central role except in that he neverstood up to women and he introduced the idea of necrophiliato his son. He worked in a mortuary when Ridgway was a youngboy. He would often come home and tell stories of a coworkerwho enjoyed engaging in necrophilia at the mortuary. In time,this story would become the subject of Ridgway’s teenage sexualfantasies. He loved the idea of “having sex with someone whois dead because you wouldn’t get caught. No feelings. She wouldn’tfeel it”.

Aside from his parents’ dysfunctional relationship and his father’soutrageous work stories, Gary Ridgway’s childhood was full ofother problems. Ridgway was a chronic bed-wetter in his earlyyears. When this happened, his mother would berate him in frontof his brothers and stand him up in the shower to give him acold bath while paying special attention to his “dirtiest” parts,that is, his genitals. Often, Mary Ridgway did these ritualisticcleansings while barely clothed herself.

His teenage years were filled with other warning signs of problemsbrewing within Ridgway’s psyche. He began killing animals, settingfires, and obsessing over true crime stories. After Ridgwaywas caught for the Green River killings, he alludes to the factthat he might have killed before. He claimed he was unsure ofwhether or not he did it, but he has vivid recollections ofdrowning a boy in a particular lake. Interestingly, public recordsof that year show two young boys as having drowned in that lake.Another memory takes place when he was 16 years old and he stabbeda young boy in the woods after school one day. Thankfully, Ridgway’syoung victim survived the attack, though, oddly enough, Ridgwaywas never arrested for this offense.

As Gary Ridgway grew up, he began stalking many women in hisneighborhood who had previously rejected him.

Gary Ridgeway, the Green River killer, clearly used encounters with prostitutes to release his aggression against women. He enjoyed the control he had during the encounter and the murder; he was reinforcing his own male privilege that he could never express with his overbearing mother whom he was unable to please; the punishment of his victims compensated for his bruised manhood. Gary fit the profile of the violent john as found by Bell et al. (2002): he had a low education, felt guilty about sex and was even disgusted by his own fantasies, sought prostitutes at a young age (in his 20s while in the military), and was hurt as a child by his mother.

sexual homicide as “one that includes sexual activity before, during, or after commission of the crime”

 The study by Burgess et al. examined 36 sexualmurderers and identified a list of 11 experiential and 13 behavioralindicators of etiological relevance to their developmental stages.The 11 experiential factors are as follows: daydreaming, socialisolation, enuresis, nightmares, poor body image, sleep problems,phobias, accident proneness, headaches, eating problems, andconvulsions. The 13 behavioral indicators are as follows: compulsivemasturbation, chronic lying, rebelliousness, destroying property,fire setting, stealing, cruelty to children, temper tantrums,assaultiveness to adults, running away, animal cruelty, destroyingpossessions, and self-mutilation. However, a limitation of thisstudy identified by it’s authors was the lack of a control group.

 Boer et al. (2003) used 18 psychopathicand 22 nonpsychopathic offenders to examine the relationshipbetween sexual killer, psychopathology, and the sadistic behaviorduring the crime. The results produced from the study concludedthat psychopathic offenders committed significantly more gratuitousand sadistic crimes than the nonpsychopathic group. The studyalso determined that the victims were “female strangers, withno apparent influence of psychopathy on victim choice” (Boer et al., 2003,p. 459).

He experienced[bed wetting] during childhood, which according to Burgess et al. (1986) is prevalent in childhood experiences of sexual murderers. Ridgwayexhibited four of the behavioral indicators prevalent for serialsexual murderers during childhood and adolescence illustratedin the same study by Burgess et al.: fire setting, cruelty tochildren, assaultiveness to adults, and animal cruelty.

Someof Ridgway’s behavioral factors are also reflected in the follow-upstudy by Gray et al. (2003) as being prevalent in the sexualmurderer group: fire setting; cruelty to children, cruelty toanimals, and assaultiveness toward adults in adolescence; andcruelty to children, cruelty to animals, and assaultivenesstoward adults in adulthood. Moreover, further assumptions andcorrelations can be made when applying the data to Ridgway’slife. For example, a correlation can be assumed between Ridgway’sparaphilic tendencies and his childhood emotional abuse by hismother, family dysfunction, and childhood sexual abuse by hismother according to the study by Jackson et al. (2002).

Additionally, another assumption can be made based on the Beech et al. (2005) study and Ridgway’s beliefs about women and, more specifically,prostitutes. Beech et al. found that five theories applied totheir subject pool of 28 sexual murders. Ridgway’s life historypoints to the possible subscription to the theories of entitlement,women as sexual beings, dangerousness of world, and male sexdrive is uncontrollable. Ridgway’s mother had a lot to do withhis beliefs toward women and sex. It is possible that he believedthe world to be full of abusive individuals, like his mother,so he found it necessary to assert his dominance, thus subscribingto the dangerousness of world theory. His mother also mighthave given him the idea that women serve only to meet the sexualneeds of men and that men’s sex drive is unmanageable and exacerbatedby women when she told him stories of the men at work and bydressing provocatively. The final theory that is potentiallyapplicable to Ridgway is entitlement, or the idea that somepeople are superior and more deserving than others. Becauseof Ridgway’s past wherein he was so poorly treated by his mother,he might look at himself as deserving the right to harm womenbecause one harmed him so intensely.

The studies by Boer et al. (2003) and Bradford et al. (1998)point to psychopathology as a possible factor in the motivesof sexual offenders. Although no known official diagnosis hasever been declared for Ridgway, his attitude, life history,and crimes all point to antisocial personality disorder. Accordingto Boer et al., psychopathic offenders had higher levels ofgratuitous and sadistic violence. Ridgway’s crimes were undoubtedlygratuitous and sadistic. Bradford et al. (1998) reported thatthe homicidal sex offender group displayed more psychopathicpersonality traits, atypical paraphilias, and antisocial personalitydisorders. Ridgway participated in necrophilia, which is consideredan atypical paraphilia, and demonstrated aspects of antisocialpersonality disorder.

The above studies have soughtto unravel the mysteries of a serial sexual killer in one wayor another. It is apparent that Ridgway does not fall cleanlyinto one category. He was sexually and emotionally abused asa child, took part in deviant acts as an adolescent, and thengrew up to kill innocent unfamiliar women. Society will nevertruly understand individuals like Ridgway, but by learning moreabout them, prevention and earlier intervention are hopefulpossibilities.

Levi-Minzi, M., & Shields, M. A. (2007). Serial Sexual Murderers and Prostitutes as Their Victims: Difficulty Profiling Perpetrators and Victim Vulnerability as Illustrated by the Green River Case. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention7(1), 77–89. https://doi.org/10.1093/brief-treatment/mhl021

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