Washington man Gary Leon Ridgway pleaded guilty on Wednesday to strangling 48 drug addicts and prostitutes to death — in a killing spree known as the Green River murders — and said in a confession, “I killed so many women I have a hard time keeping them straight.” Some law enforcement officials believed he may have killed as many as 100 women. His guilty plea came as part of a deal to spare his own life.

Ridgeway 54, said in a confession read by a prosecutor in open court that he murdered the women because he hated prostitutes and knew that they would not be missed. As details of his grisly crimes unfolded, relatives of the victims wept in court and the owlish-looking Ridgway showed no emotion.

Ridgway’s confession included details of how he gained his victims’ confidence by showing them pictures of his son, had sex with them and then took pleasure in strangling them from behind, often in his house or truck.

Before disposing of the bodies, he had sex with them again, often over several days, according to court documents.

Dressed in red prison garb, Ridgway confirmed through questioning with prosecutor Jeff Baird that he murdered 48 women, mostly prostitutes, in a killing spree that started in 1982.

Relatives of his victims broke down sobbing in the courtroom, some hurrying to exit with tears streaming down their reddened faces.

Families of Ridgway’s victims differed sharply over the plea deal, with some relieved to get information on their loved ones and others disappointed that he will not be executed.

The 48 convictions are the most for any serial killer in U.S. history and the case is the nation’s longest-running serial killer probe. While always a prime suspect, Ridgway eluded arrest until DNA evidence tied him to several of the murders.

In his confession read to the court, Ridgway said, “I picked prostitutes as my victims because I hate most prostitutes and did not want to pay them for sex. I chose prostitutes because I knew they would not be reported missing right away …. I picked prostitutes because I found I could kill as many of them as I wanted without being caught”

Scroll to Top