Archive for Thursday, December 6, 2001

Charges filed in ‘80s killings

December 6, 2001


— Authorities charged a 52-year-old truck company worker with murder Wednesday in the deaths of four women blamed on the Green River serial killer.

Gary Leon Ridgway, who was arrested last week, was charged with four counts of aggravated murder after authorities said they had linked him to three of the victims with DNA evidence.

The victims were killed in the early 1980s. King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng said "justice is a concept that never gets old."

"For the victim, the loss is ultimate. For the family, the grief is permanent and for the community the harm and danger do not diminish for the passage of time," he said.

Maleng said he has not decided whether to seek the death penalty in the case.

Public defender Mark Prothero said he would question the techniques used to collect, preserve and test DNA taken long ago, a saliva sample given in 1987.

The case had baffled investigators since 1982, when authorities began finding women's bodies in or near the Green River, south of Seattle. Forty-nine women most of them prostitutes or runaways were believed to be victims of the Green River killer in Washington and Oregon.

Ridgway is accused of killing Opal Mills, Marcia Chapman and Cynthia Hinds, whose bodies were found Aug. 15, 1982, in the river, and Carol Christensen, whose body was found May 8, 1983, in woods in nearby Maple Valley. Hinds and Mills were teen-agers. Christensen was 21 and Chapman was 31.

Ridgway was identified as a suspect in 1984 and questioned after witnesses identified his pickup truck and said he had been seen with two of the victims, according to court documents. He allegedly said in a police interview that he knew Christensen.

Authorities said they were finally able to link Ridgway to the crimes by using new DNA technology to match the saliva to fluids found on three of the victims.

The fourth victim, Hinds, was linked to Ridgway through circumstantial evidence, investigators said.

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