- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2003

SEATTLE (AP) — Gary Ridgway, the former truck painter long suspected of being the Green River Killer, pleaded guilty yesterday to 48 murders, more than any other serial killer in U.S. history.

“I killed so many women I have a hard time keeping them straight,” he said in a confession read aloud in court.

Ridgway, 54, uttered the word “guilty” 48 times in a plea bargain that will spare him from execution for those killings and result in a sentence of life in prison without parole.

“I wanted to kill as many women as I thought were prostitutes as I possibly could,” he said in the statement. He said he left some bodies in “clusters,” and that he enjoyed driving by the sites afterward, thinking about what he had done.

Some victims’ relatives wept quietly in the courtroom as Ridgway, in a clear but subdued voice, admitted killing each woman.

However, no deal was cut that might spare him from death penalties in other jurisdictions. Ridgway has not been charged elsewhere, but admitted dumping victims outside the county and in Oregon.

Other serial killers have bragged of murdering dozens of victims, but Ridgway’s plea agreement, signed June 13, puts more murders on his record than any other serial killer in U.S. history.

Since signing off on the deal, Ridgway has worked with investigators to recover remains of some victims in one of the most baffling and chilling serial killer cases the nation has seen.

The Green River Killer’s murderous frenzy began in 1982, targeting women in the Seattle area, mainly runaways and prostitutes. The first victims turned up in the Green River, giving the killer his name. Other bodies were found near ravines, airports and freeways.

The killing seemed to stop as suddenly as it started, with prosecutors believing the last victim had disappeared in 1984. But one of the killings to which Ridgway admitted occurred in 1990 and another in 1998.

In court yesterday, Ridgway entered the 48 guilty pleas, one by one.

He said in his statement that he killed all the women in King County, mostly near his home or in his truck not far from where he picked them up.

“In most cases, when I killed these women, I did not know their names,” Ridgway said in the statement. “Most of the time I killed them the first time I met them, and I do not have a good memory of their faces.”

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