Essay, 10 pages (2500 words)

Green river killer

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Despite the gruesome nature of their works, serial killers have always been fascinating. Serial killers such as Jack the Ripper and Ted Bundy had caught the public’s attention, not because they were exceptional individuals who contributed to the advancement of humanity, but rather, serial killers have amazed the public because their methods and bizarre behaviours are so unique and interesting that they most of them elude arrest for a long period of time.

Sadly though, like the Green River Killer, a number of lives were yet taken, before the authorities were able to correctly and successfully drew up a profile of the killer thus ending the killing spree of the serial killer. The Green River Serial Killing got its name from a river that starts in the Washington State ending in the Puget Sound of Seattle. The Green River has been the major dumping site of bodies for the killer. Near the Green River is the Seattle –Tacoma International Airport which was built in 1942.

A little farther down the Pacific Coast Highway is a little strip known as Sea-Tac Strip where seedy motels and dingy clubs sprouted. This became a haven for men and prostitutes. As can be seen at nights, prostitutes lined the streets of Sea-Tac waiting and peddling their wares to passerbys. If a customer happens to successfully conclude his transaction, they simply get to these nearby motels or simply occupy the vacant buildings or streets lining Sea-Tac.

Unlike other areas, these rows of empty buildings and streets are not the results of an economic depression, but rather these are products of the airport’s desire to continue with its expansion that it purchased the surrounding areas and stopped all the utilities and activities bounding it. As a result, these empty buildings and streets became the haven of prostitutes to continue and conduct their business instead of going to motels. Furthermore, these places became a scene of one of the most baffling cases of serial killings in the country.

The Beginning The first officially reported death was in July 15, 1982, when two boys riding their bicycles along the Peck Bridge near Kent, Washington found the body of Wendy Lee Coffield floating down the Green River. Coffield was strangled to death with a pair of jeans wrapped tightly around her neck. She was raped before she was strangled to death. Coffield was a local prostitute who had been missing for 8 days from a nearby foster home.

Wendy Lee Coffield became the first officially reported victim of the Green River Killer although six months prior to the discovery of Coffield’s body, the body of her friend, Leane Wilcox was found several miles from the river in an empty lot. Wilcox was believed to have also been a victim of the Green River Killer. A month after the discovery of Coffield’s body, three more bodies were discovered. A man, while coursing through the Green River found a floating figure. Believing that it was a mannequin, Robert Ainsworth who discovered the bodies tried to turn the figure but accidentally fell into the river.

He however, realized that the figure was not a mannequin at all but a corpse of a black young woman. Prior to finding the bodies in July 15, Ainsworth saw two men in a pick-up truck sitting nearby who asked him if he has seen anything. After answering that in the negative, the two men hurriedly left. Seconds later, Ainsworth saw another corpse partially submerged in the water. When the police finally arrived and cordoned the area, searching for evidence, another detective found another body of a young girl.

In contrast to the two bodies found earlier, the newly-found body was found 30 feet from where the two bodies were found and was still partially clothed. A pair of pants was found knotted around her neck and her body showed signs of struggle because she had bruises on her arms and legs. The young woman was later identified as Opal Mills, 16 years old. Mill died from asphyxiation. The police were able to estimate that the two bodies found by Ainsworth had been in the water for nearly a week, while the body found later in the day was dumped less than a day.

The police presumed that the Mills’ body was hurriedly dumped because the killer was alarmed at the arrival of the authorities who were summoned to investigate the bodies discovered by Ainsworth. The bodies found did not stop. Within six months, several more bodies turned up around and near the Green River. The police was then able to conclude that they were dealing with a serial killer after researching police records, and found the same manner of killing their victims. Profiling and the Victims Soon after, a task force was formed to investigate the murders at Green River.

The Seattle Times commented that the investigation was the largest since the time of Ted Bundy. The group gathered FBI personnel to conduct profiling of the killer and compilation of evidences. But, the investigation did not go as smoothly as expected because the task force was swamped with massive deluge of information. The investigators however were able to point out an obvious trait of the victims. All the victims had been prostitutes or had histories of prostitution and basically knew each other. The investigators then started to investigate and research the areas that the victims frequented.

Although most of the women questioned were reluctant to talk, they were able to provide some helpful insights as to the characteristics and profile of the killer. Several of the prostitutes thought that the killer was a member of the law enforcement because a man was sighted to have been brandishing a badge and ordering prostitutes inside the car. This clue was helpful in the investigation later on. There have been various and different reports concerning the killer. Many women reported cases of rape and they were able to point out that the suspect mentioned the Green River killings.

A suspect, Charles Clinton Clark was apprehended and investigated. But there were apprehensions that Clark was the Green River killer because he released his victims after raping them. Furthermore, Clark could not be pinned down on the murders of the Green River killing because he had a solid alibi when the women started disappearing. A profiler who was commissioned by the task force to assist in the case theorized that the killer was probably a very organized person because of the manner of which he took to weigh down the bodies before dumping them into the river.

Moreover, the killer was said to be confident because despite the discovery of the bodies, he continued to use the same location all over again. This theory pointed out that the killer may have done so because the he wanted to relive the moments of the murder. The killer may also a longstanding resident of the area, probably a fisherman or a hunter because he knew the area. Primary in the modus operandi of the Green River killer was that the victims were all prostitutes or who had histories of prostitution. One third of the suspect’s victims were women and girls of colour and majority of them are under the age of 22.

Methods and Manners of Killing The atrocities of the Green River killer encompass the imagination. The bodies of the victims indicated that they were raped first before being choked and dumped into the Green River. These have become the signatures of the Green River killer. The first officially reported victim, Wendy Lee Coffield had been raped and was strangled to death with a pair of jeans wound tightly around her neck. The killer, who seemed to have an inclination for prostitutes, as evidenced by the profile of his victims, would solicit the services of his victims, usually picking them up in Sea-Tac.

The distinctive traits of the killings showed that the killer was organized. He weighted the bodies down and inserted their clothes and body cavities with rocks. Clothing was used to strangle the victims. Still the killer did not limit himself with his usual signature. In May 1983, a family discovered the body of a young woman who was fully clothed. However, what caught the attention was the unusual characteristic of the body. The head was covered with a paper sack, the arms crossed in front of the body, and a fish was draped across the woman’s throat.

She had a bottle gripped tightly in her right hand and freshly ground meat clinched in her left hand. She had a driver’s license in her pocket that identified her as Carol Ann Christensen. (Alterdimension). Upon closer inspection at the morgue however, the victim appeared to have been raped and strangled by a cord and immersed under water. Although the police initially discounted the possibility that this is a work of another killer, they threw away the theory as they soon realized that the Green River killer used another site to dump the bodies of his victims.

It soon became evident that the killer had expanded his dumping grounds. The police was able to identify three distinct dumping grounds of the killer: the Green River, the area around Raper’s road and the I-90 area where skeletons and decomposing bodies have been discovered, still attributed to the Green River killer. The three sites, upon closer scrutiny indicated intricate pattern of deserted, back roads offering the killer an ideal method of isolated transport. (Alterdimension). This further concretized the investigation’s theory that the killer is a local and knew the back roads.

In all the killing rampages of the Green River killer, only one victim and her unborn child were fully buried. The police however were baffled by the presence of unexplainable items where the body was discovered. Items such as two small pieces of plastic, a large clump of hair near the pubic region of the body, a patch of skin attached to the skull, which contained fibers on it, three small bones, two halved yellow pencils and clear plastic tubing. (Bell). Nevertheless, in the months that followed, bodies of women turned up although a number of them did not fit the killer’s modus operandi.

The Suspect and Killer The body count continued to mount as 14 more victims were discovered. In the spring and summer of 1983, 11 more bodies were discovered, and in 9 more during winter. Despite the piling number of bodies and the pressure on the investigative team, the killer continued to elude the investigators. As each disappearance was placed in limelight, and each body was recovered, it became more evident that the killer was dumping the bodies close to each other, probably reliving his previous murders. Still the killer was way ahead of the investigative team.

A suspect came to the investigators’ attention early on. This was Gary Leon Ridgway. Ridgway became a suspect of the disappearance of Marie Malvar. Malvar was last seen by her pimp in a green pick up truck. The pimp who followed the truck saw that Malvar and the driver were arguing. After notifying the police, the pimp and the family of Malvar went out to search for the truck. Upon seeing the truck, they notified the police searched and questioned the two men inside the house, Dale Wells and Gary Ridgway. Finding no trace of the woman, the police left and continued on with the investigation.

The same truck was also spotted attributed to the disappearance of another young prostitute. Because of the increasing pressure on the investigative team, the team leader consulted with psychics and Ted Bundy in order to elicit insights on the killer’s profile. Significantly, Ridgway again appeared under police scrutiny as he was arrested for soliciting an undercover police officer who posed as a prostitute. Although his workplace was searched and he was questioned extensively, Ridgway still managed to pass the lie detector test and was again taken off as a suspect.

With the little progress made by the task force, the group was scaled down by 1986, due to bad publicity. Even if the attacks have diminished, the body count continued to climb. The investigative team leader was assigned elsewhere and the new Chief, Captain James Pompey took over. Pompey who oversaw the collation and gathering of the evidences saw the number of times that Ridgway had appeared in the various instances: first the choking incident with Keli McGinnes in 1982, suspected in the disappearance and killing of Marie Malvar in 1983 and the solicitation charge of an undercover police in 1984.

In 1987, Ridgway’s home was searched under a warrant. The police found no evidence of any kind that would link him to the murders although they took sample saliva from him for DNA testing. But with the death of Pompey, the investigation was again halted. Gary Leon Ridgway When the police acquired a new computer system in 1986, they were able to easily track and catalogue evidences and lists of suspects. Not surprisingly, Gary Ridgway’s name kept popping out of the computer system. Ridgway was a married man from Auburn, Washington.

He was arrested in 1982 for soliciting an undercover policewoman who posed as a prostitute. Prior to that, he was also arrested for choking a prostitute although he claimed he made so in self-defense because the prostitute bit him while giving him oral sex. Furthermore, Ridgway was approached by policemen near the little league field. He was with a prostitute that time, who later became a victim of the Green River killer. This new lead prompted the police to delve into Ridgway’s records.

They discovered that Ridgway had owned several vehicles including pick up trucks. True to the statements given by the witnesses at the onset of the investigation, the killer may have been a member of the law enforcement agency because some women from the Strip saw a man brandishing a badge while ordering the prostitutes inside his car. Ridgway was a former Navy personnel and worked as painter at night. According to his wife, Ridgway would often go out at night to search “ dump sites” for old car parts.

When the police accompanied the wife to these so-called “ dump sites” they found out that these were the exact locations to which the bodies of the Green River killings were dumped. They also discovered that he attempted to illegally obtain government license plates. Moreover, the police discovered that a house Ridgway previously owned contained two of the victim’s skulls. Ridgway’s ex-wives and girlfriends claimed that he had an insatiable sexual appetite. He would demand to have sex several times a day and often wanted to do it in public areas like parks and woods.

Some of these areas were dumping sites of the victims. When Ridgway’s acquaintances were interviewed and questioned, they were able to point out that Ridgway had an inclination for the Green River killings. He would often discuss the mistakes that Ted Bundy committed. His deep hatred for prostitutes was also evident as he would talk about them in disgust, as he complained how the prostitutes conducted their trade in the area. Nevertheless, he would still seek the services of prostitutes, often taking advantage of the favors they gave.

With the suspicion mounting, the police dug deeper. They learned that Ridgway attended law school and began to investigate his financial records and background. The police theorized that Ridgway was using his victims’ credit cards to finance himself. True enough, when they tracked down the location of the purchases made in the credit cards, all of these pointed to the places where the killings had occurred. After obtaining a warrant, the police searched Ridgway’s home and facility under his father’s name. The search also yielded fake police uniforms, IDs and badges.

Several names and photos of prostitutes were also gathered. And yet despite all these material evidences, the police were thwarted with their investigation when Ridgway’s brother pointed out that Ridgway was allegedly travelling with his parents when the stolen credit cards were used. Nevertheless, Ridgway was sentenced to prison although for a different charge. Even while in prison, Ridgway did not cooperate with the police. It was only after he was released that he talked about a person whom he implicated in the killings.

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