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20070521: Wife Of Nation’s Worst Serial Killer Shares Her Story WA Serial Killer News
Judith Ridgway, the ex-wife of the nation’s worst serial killer Gary Ridgway, shared her story with KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Karen O’Leary.

Judith was married to Gary Ridgway, the man known as the “Green River Killer," when he was arrested on suspicion of multiple murders in 2001 after his DNA linked him to victims.

Gary Ridgway, a truck painter from Auburn, pleaded guilty Nov. 5, 2003, to 48 murders. He has more convictions than any other serial killer in U.S. history.

Judith said she was shocked when her husband was arrested.

“No, this can’t be true. Are you sure you have the right person?” Judith asked detectives when they informed her of Gary Ridgway's arrest.

“It wasn’t possible, he was too kind and gentle…he couldn’t have done that,” Judith said.

Judith and Gary Ridgway were married in 1988 after dating for three years.

“After being with this man for three years I thought my life was perfect,” Judith said.

Judith Ridgway said during their married life together Gary Ridgway always came home on time, always turned over his full paycheck, spent the weekends with her camping or going to garage sales and he was romantic.

“Right now I remember him picking me up and putting me on the counter, so he could reach me because he was a little taller than I was, and I’d put my arms around him and he’d kiss me,” Judith recalled.

When asked if she missed Gary Ridgway, Judith replied, “I miss the man I knew…I hate the man who took him away from me.”

Judith said she thinks Gary Ridgway had a split personality.

“Now I think whenever he left the house he was a different person, he wasn’t the Gary I met,” Judith said.

The Green River killings began in 1982 and Gary Ridgway said his latest killing was in 1998.

In a statement read at his plea hearing, Gary Ridgway said he hated prostitutes and didn't want to pay them for sex. He said he killed so many he had a hard time keeping them straight.

He dumped the bodies in the Green River and in clusters in wooded areas around Seattle.

Judith Ridgway said she believed he was innocent for two years after his arrest, until he confessed.

“And I just sat there with tears coming down my face, I had to listen to it and accept it. This is real, he did it and he’s gone,” Judith Ridgway said.

Judith Ridgway said she thinks about the victims every day, the vast majority of whom were killed before she and Gary Ridgway were married.

The rate of the Green River murders slowed dramatically after they were married.

“I feel I have saved lives,” Judith Ridgway said.

“By being his wife?” O’Leary asked.

“By being his wife and making him happy,” Judith Ridgway replied.

The Ridgways are now divorced but according to Judith Ridgway, Gary until recently wrote her from prison, sometimes several letters a week, all full of words of affection.

“I wish I could give you some flowers, plants, candy,” Judith Ridgway read from one of her ex-husband's letters, “You have given me so much, you’ve given me love, you’ve cared for me, you’ve taught me honor and respect, you’ve cared for me. You taught me courage to go on. Next time you hear the theme song from Titanic, this is the song for you, I will always love you, Gary.”


20060120: Judge tries a serial killer's message to warn prostitutes TX Houston Serial Killer News

Defendants cry, but the jury's out on whether it makes a difference

In his effort to fight prostitution in Harris County, Judge Larry Standley is getting help from a convicted serial killer.
Standley, a county criminal court at law judge, has begun doing more than just sentencing people who are convicted of prostitution in his court. In recent weeks, he has enlisted the aid of Gary Leon Ridgway, the so-called "Green River Killer" who admitted murdering 48 women and girls in Washington state.

During sentencing hearings in prostitution cases, Standley reads statements Ridgway gave about his almost two-decade reign of terror in the Seattle area in the 1980s and 1990s.

Ridgway received 48 consecutive life sentences in 2003 in a plea agreement that spared him from a possible death sentence and helped police find some missing victims and clear some unsolved cases.

Standley said he hopes Ridgway's accounts will help show prostitutes who end up in his court that they are putting themselves in danger.

He said he doesn't try to humiliate them but warns that they could end up murder victims.

Ridgway, he tells them, preyed upon prostitutes because he considered them disposable, easy to pick up without being noticed and rarely missed because they tend to have few relatives or friends who care about them.

Ridgway thought he was doing society a favor by killing the prostitutes he picked up, Standley said.

'Not here to shame you'

"I'm not making a moral judgment on prostitution," Standley told a woman this week after she pleaded guilty. "I'm not here to shame you. My hope is that, the next time you're on the street, you'll think twice. You don't know if you might find the next Gary Ridgway in Harris County."

The woman wept. Standley sentenced her to 30 days in the county jail.

Standley said he has used the unusual approach for about a month and has yet to determine its effectiveness but thinks it is reaching most defendants. They usually cry, and one man who pleaded guilty to promotion of prostitution blurted out that he did not normally "sell women," Standley said.

Troy Bollinger, attorney for the woman in Standley's court this week, applauded the judge's extra effort. Bollinger said he was shocked when Standley read Ridgway's comments but was glad he did.

"It's an attempt to do the right thing," he said. "Will it be effective for everybody he talks to? No. But if it helps one person, then it's good."

Judges traditionally express a community's views about a crime when they sentence defendants, said Sandra Guerra Thompson, a criminal law specialist and professor at the University of Houston Law Center. As long as Standley makes it clear that he is not making a moral judgment, he is not overstepping his bounds, she said.

"It's hard to take issue with his effort to help," Thompson said.

Creative sentencing

Standley, a former county prosecutor who has been on the bench since 1999, is known for his creative sentencing.

In 2004, he ordered a man convicted of slapping his wife to take a yoga class twice a week for anger management as part of his one-year probation. He also requires people convicted of drunken driving to compile scrapbooks about drunken driving as part of their probation.

"I try to think outside the box," he said.


20051222: Green River Killer expert explores investigation issues WA Seattle Serial Killer News

New book and CD set includes interrogation footage of Green River killer, Gary Leon Ridgway

As a former crime reporter, Seattle University Associate Professor of Communication Tomás Guillén has drawn from his 23 years of journalistic investigation into the Green River Killer and other serial murder cases to write "Serial Killers: Issues Explored Through the Green River Murders." Guillén, a former investigative reporter with the Seattle Times, co-authored the first book on the Green River Killer in 1991.

"Serial Killers: Issues Explored Through the Green River Murders," due to be released on January 6, 2006, focuses on the historic Green River murders and the turbulent relationship of the many people it touched for over two decades. The book provides a comprehensive look at serial killer-related issues, including politics in murder investigations, female victimology, interrogation techniques, murder as popular culture, and media coverage of criminal investigations.

The book is also written to address the academic needs for professors of sociology, psychology, political science, mass communications, law, criminology and women studies. A CD and teacher's instruction manual are included in the book set to serve as a multimedia curriculum guide for courses such as Guillén’s interdisciplinary class, "Cops, Crooks, Justice & The Media."

Before joining Seattle University, Guillén worked as a journalist for more than twenty years at several daily newspapers. His investigative stories on criminal justice issues won numerous awards. He was also named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his articles on the Green River Killer. Guillén co-authored the New York Times bestseller, "The Search for the Green River Killer."

For additional information or to arrange an interview with Tomás Guillén, please call Melanie Apostol, media relations manager, at (206) 296-6114 or by email at


20051129: Girl's murderer says if serial killer lives, he shouldn't die WA Serial Killer News

South King County's Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, admitted killing 48 women and he escaped the death penalty with life in prison without parole.

Richard Matthew Clark raped and killed one little girl in 1995, and that's one reason why a judge should throw out the prosecutor's attempt to execute him, Clark's lawyer argued Monday.

In short, he argued that the death penalty for Clark would not be proportional.

The reference to Ridgway arose during argument on five motions to dismiss prosecutors' attempt to seek the death penalty for Clark. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne denied three of the motions outright and said he would issue written decisions on the other two.

One of the two undecided motions is a demand that the death penalty be withdrawn on the basis of "evolving standards of decency."

Lawyer Jeffrey Ellis of Seattle told the judge that society now frowns on or outlaws execution of juveniles or the mentally retarded who commit murders - even though those executions were commonplace years ago.

"From an objective standpoint, do the citizens of this state still support the death penalty for a person convicted of a single-victim murder?" he asked the judge.

The question becomes important for Clark because the state's most "prolific killer," Ridgway, made a deal with King County prosecutors to avoid the death penalty. Ridgway pleaded guilty to 48 homicides and received 48 consecutive life prison terms.

Deputy prosecutor Charles Blackman told Wynne that Ellis ignored the nature of killing 7-year-old Roxanne Doll, who was brutally stabbed to death, raped and had numerous defensive wounds.

"The defense argument focuses on how many people were killed," Blackman said. "How can the facts not matter?"

Although a jury convicted Clark, 36, of aggravated murder and sentenced him to death, the state Supreme Court overturned the sentence and sent the case back to Superior Court for another proceeding.

He remains convicted of the murder, and the only thing to be decided is whether he will be executed or face prison without a chance of release.

His sentencing trial is scheduled for March, but Ellis and Mercer Island attorney Kevin Cole have filed a flurry of motions trying to get Wynne to throw out the possibility of death.

Of the five motions heard Monday, Wynne took the "evolving standards" request under advisement, as well as one claiming that Clark is no longer eligible for the death penalty because his original sentence was invalidated by the Supreme Court.

Wynne denied three other motions, including one that the Supreme Court failed to follow the law by not determining if the death sentence was supported by the evidence or proportional to other death sentences handed out within the state.


20050521: Ridgway's ex-wife cleared to profit from any future books WA Seattle Serial Killer News
Gary Ridgway's ex-wife can write a tell-all memoir about her life with the Green River Killer and not have to share the profits with families of his victims, a King County judge ruled yesterday.

Judith Mawson, formerly Judith Ridgway, was named along with her ex-husband in a 2001 wrongful death suit brought by Kathy Mills, the mother of one of Gary Ridgway's victims, Opal Mills.

But Superior Court Judge Brian Gain ruled that the claim against Mawson had to be dropped, in part because the "Son of Sam" law in Washington that prohibits serial murderers and other violent criminals from exploiting and making money from their crimes by writing books or making movies about them does not apply to innocent relatives. Family members, said Gain, "shouldn't suffer because of the actions of the individual."

Mills had been willing to drop her case against Mawson if she at least would have agreed to donate a portion of the profits from any potential book sales to help the sort of defenseless young women Ridgway preyed upon.

Mills' attorney said that Mawson had once agreed to donate one-third of any future book proceeds to the Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress at Harborview Medical Center, but then she backed away from the informal agreement without saying why.

The lawyer, William Bailey, said that Mawson's former attorney told him that Mawson intended to write and sell a book "as sort of a retirement fund."

"She's going to try," said Bailey, who added that any book written from her perspective would be hurtful to the families of all of Ridgway's 48 victims. "The question is: Will anyone be interested in her story?"

Kathy Mills and her son Garrett attended yesterday's hearing at the Regional Justice Center in Kent. Mawson, who still lives in Washington, did not. Kathy Mills said afterward she is hoping for the whole matter to be over soon. About the possibility that Mawson may profit from her marriage to Ridgway, Mills said: "Whatever she does, she's going to have to deal with it. It's on her."

Jeffrey Burnham, Mawson's attorney, said he doesn't believe Mawson has any plans to write a book, making the whole issue largely moot.

"To me, her story is not all that interesting," Burnham said.

Burnham noted that in 1982, when Ridgway killed Opal Mills, Mawson didn't know Ridgway and wouldn't marry him for another six years.

The suit -- which is the only lawsuit filed against Ridgway or his wife by any of his victims' families -- will continue against the remaining defendant, Ridgway.

But Bailey noted that the matter may largely be over now. Ridgway is flat broke, his own attorney has said, and owes more than $500,000 in fines. What's more, the state's Son of Sam law would prevent him from profiting in any way from the slayings, Bailey said.


20050510: Green River killer's ex-wife says she has right to sell her story WA Seattle Serial Killer News

The ex-wife of Green River Killer Gary Ridgway is expected to be in court later this month to argue she has the right to sell her story and enjoy any profits that result from talking about her life with the serial killer.

The very idea is unsettling to William S. Bailey, a Seattle lawyer who is representing the mother of one of Ridgway's victims in a wrongful-death civil suit that was filed shortly after Ridgway's 2001 arrest.

"Not one person would be interested in Judith Mawson Ridgway's story if she hadn't been married to Gary Ridgway," Bailey said. "There's no intrinsic value to her story, apart from her being married to a mass murderer."

By law, Gary Ridgway is not allowed to financially profit from books, movie deals or any other publicity related to his crimes. Convicted of killing 48 young women between 1982 and 1998, Ridgway is currently serving 48 consecutive life sentences at the state prison in Walla Walla.

Bailey - who represents Kathy Mills, the mother of one of Ridgway's first victims, 16-year-old Opal Mills - said Ridgway's son and other family members "have already done the decent thing" in refusing to publicize and profit from their relationships with the Green River Killer.

Mills, according to Bailey, would have dropped her civil suit against Mawson had Mawson agreed not to publicly talk about her marriage to Ridgway. When it became clear that would not happen, Bailey said, he negotiated an agreement with Mawson's former attorney whereby a third of any profits Mawson received would go to the Sexual Assault Center at Harborview Medical Center.

According to documents filed in King County Superior Court, Bailey contends Mawson verbally agreed to the arrangement. But after changing lawyers, it appears Mawson also changed her mind.

"She feels it's unfair and she is being victimized," Bailey said. "She retained new counsel and her position is she can sell whatever she wants to anybody without contributing any money to the plight of victims."


Copyright 1995-2006 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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