How DNA Evidence Finally Convicted America's Most Prolific Serial Killer

Gary Leon Ridgway (born February 18, 1949) is an American serial killer known as the Green River Killer. He was initially convicted of 48 separate murders and is presumed to be responsible for more than 90. As part of his plea bargain, an additional conviction was added, bringing the total number of convictions to 49, making him the most prolific American serial killer in history according to confirmed murders.

He murdered numerous women and girls in Washington State during the 1980s and 1990s. Most of his victims were alleged to be sex workers and other women in vulnerable situations, including underage runaways. The press gave him his nickname after the first five victims were found in the Green River before his identity was known. He strangled the women, usually by hand but sometimes using ligatures. After strangling them, he would dump their bodies in forested and overgrown areas in King County, often returning to the dead bodies to have sexual intercourse with them.

On November 30, 2001, as he was leaving the Kenworth truck factory where he worked in Renton, Washington, he was arrested for the murders of four women whose cases were linked to him through DNA evidence. As part of a plea bargain wherein he agreed to disclose the locations of still-missing women, he was spared the death penalty and received a sentence of life imprisonment without parole.

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