Kenworth employee charged in Green River slayings

| 12/7/2001

A Kenworth truck painter was charged Dec. 5 with four long-unsolved deaths linked to the Green River killings. The case has long been considered to be the biggest unsolved serial-killing case in the nation.

Gary Leon Ridgway, 52, of Auburn, WA, is charged with four counts of aggravated first-degree murder, which, if he's convicted, would carry the death penalty or life in prison without parole. He was arrested Nov. 30 at the Kenworth plant in Reston, WA.

Advances in DNA science has allowed investigators to link Ridgway to three of the slayings, coupled with circumstantial evidence connecting him to a fourth victim. Prosecutors are reviewing other homicides linked to the Green River killer to see if he could be charged in those cases.

Authorities say the Green River killer murdered as many as 49 women in the Seattle area from 1982 to 1984. Most were runaways or prostitutes.

Ridgway was once identified as a prime suspect in the case. He was accused by one prostitute of trying to choke her to death in a wooded area in 1984, but charges were dropped after he told the authorities the woman had tried to bite him.

Co-workers describe Ridgway, who has worked at Kenworth for 32 years, as "out-of-the way friendly," "creepy-friendly" and "just goofy," according to a published report.

Ridgway's arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 18 in King County Superior Court. He is being held without bail.