News

Ridgway may admit to murdering 49 women

By ERICA HALL

Staff writer

The long wait over the identity of the Green River Killer could soon be over.

Next week, King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng is expected to announce that Gary Leon Ridgway, 54, is pleading guilty to all 49 Green River murders in exchange for his life, according to local media reports.

Maleng’s spokesman Dan Donohoe said a status conference has been scheduled Wednesday at 8:30 a.m., but he declined to confirm whether prosecutors are plea bargaining with Ridgway.

“This is an active prosecution and anything we have to say will be said in court,” he said.

In Nov. 2001, Ridgway, a former truck painter from Auburn, was arrested and charged with four of the Green River murders. Last April, the charges were amended to add three more victims connected to Ridgway through microscopic paint particles.

Ridgway pleaded not guilty to the murders of Wendy Lee Coffield, 16, the first Green River victim, Debra Bonner, 23, and Debra Estes, 15, whose body was discovered in May 1988 in Federal Way, Marcia Chapman, 31, Cynthia Hinds, 17, Opal Mills, 16, and Carol Ann Christiansen, 21.

Within the last several months, rumors have circulated Ridgway was working with prosecutors, revealing the locations where victims’ remains were left in exchange for a plea bargain that would save his life.

Maleng announced in April 2002 he would seek the death penalty against Ridgway.

Since Ridgway allegedly began working with authorities, investigators with the Green River Task Force uncovered four sets of remains believed to be victims of the Green River Killer.

Ridgway was considered a suspect in the Green River investigations after a male friend of one of the victims, Marie Malvar, found the truck in which he last saw her parked in the driveway at Ridgway’s residence in 1983.

Twenty years after she disappeared, Malvar’s remains finally were discovered last month in a ravine off South 292nd Street. Ridgway hasn’t been charged with her murder.

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