tv Chasing the Devil MSNBC November 7, 2015 4:00pm-6:01pm PST
i killed him because i wanted to kill him. along this lonely stretch of river, body after body turns up in the dark waters. a serial killer stalking young women, showing no mercy. >> she fought and she fought. >> over the years he struck 48 times. for this dedicated detective, it would become the case of a lifetime. >> we only knew we had young girls and young women being killed at the prime of their life. >> but after clues along the river evaporate, he's told to give up. >> it's like the scene out of a movie where they tell the guy stop working this case. >> but he couldn't, wouldn't. >> what would you have me do if
it were your daughter on the list? >> for two decades the killer remained on the loose. finally, after so much death, this sheriff will come face to face with the man who murdered so many. >> women had control of me and i don't like being controlled. >> and front a heart of darkness. >> i was more interested in killing them than in sex. >> the biggest serial killer case in u.s. history. for this sheriff, a personal 20-year journey for justice along a river of death. john larson with "chasing the devil." here is stone phillips. good evening. it all started with one body found floating in a lonely stretch of river. it became a desperate hunt for the man believed to be the deadliest serial killer in u.s. history. tonight, a story that stretched over two decades. there were dozens of victims, hundreds of shattered loved ones left behind and one determined
law man. he had to be dedicated, because along with vital clues came serious setbacks. along with reasons for hope came orders to give up. one thing that's never wavered, his commitment to those he has only known in death. here's john larson. >> he was on top of me, weight's on top of me. >> the sea-tac strip. >> i just was begging him to let me go. >> a gritty river of traffic, cheap motels, and neon. >> his hands are on my neck. >> a river that draws the troubled. >> i'm still fighting. i was trying to live. >> the hitchhikers and the hookers, into the darkness along its shores. and for a time in the early 1980s, those tragically unlucky,
desperate, sometimes naive young women flowed with it. only to end violently, tossed into another fast-running current nearby. the green river. >> my desire was to have sex with them and to kill them. >> the words of a man who bragged "i am evil, i am satan, i am a monster." >> i was more interested in killing them than in sex. >> a serial killer who claimed more victims than any other person in u.s. history. >> i killed them before i had a chance to torture them. >> a driven demonic slayer who strangled dozens of prostitutes and littered the misty waters and woods of the northwest with their bodies. >> he chose to murder to satisfy his own sex desires. you tried to play god. >> may god have no mercy on your soul. >> back then, dave reichert was a bright young detective at king
county sheriff's department. optimistic, eager, he had no way of knowing he was about to be hit with a case that would haunt him for decades. that he would become obsessed with catching the killer and ultimately he would have to make his own deal with the devil. it began on july 15th, 1982. two boys bicycling across the peck bridge over the green river in the seattle suburb of kent spotted a nude body floating down below. it was wendy lee caufield, age 16. she had run away from a juvenile detention home a week before. she had been strangled. reichert knew that murders of street prostitutes are hard to crack. it's the way they live and become victims. >> you stand on a street corner. you wait for a john to drive up. they pull up next to you. they reach over, they unlock the door. no struggle, no screaming. nobody sees it.
>> reichert had scarcely begun to look into the caufield death when four weeks later there was a second horrifying discovery. an employee of a meat company on the banks of the green river noticed a body in the water lodged against a log. that young woman was also nude, also strangled. her name was deborah bonner. she was 23. >> we had started working on the possibly of wendy caufield and debbie bonner being connected. >> but only three days later, august 15th -- >> when i got the phone call at home on that sunday afternoon, august 15th, and i was told there were two more bodies found in the river. it's a feeling you can't describe at all. >> was there a moment where it occurred to you, i think we have a serial killer here? >> the moment i got that phone call, i knew. >> chillingly aware of what
awaited him in the water below, the almost-nude bodies of the two young women, floating, pulsating by one account in the current. rik ert was about to uncover yet another gruesome sight. >> when i arrived there, my job is to find a way down to the river that's going to disturb the least amount of evidence. as i'm working my way down, we find opal mills on the bank just off to the right as we're pushing aside grass that's five to six feet tall, and i saw her bare legs. >> suddenly, it's three dead women, all strangled, all sexually assaulted. all three, cynthia heins, marsha chapman, opal mills, all engaged in prostitution. now the total stands at five. any doubt is gone. reichert realizes a warped and vicious killer is stalking women who work the sea-tac strip. what dave reichert could have never imagined was that the number would eventually reach
48. 48 women or maybe more. and that he would spend the next 20 years pursuing one way or another the man who came to be called the green river killer. nor could he have appreciated that finding that third body, the one on the bank and not in the water, the body of opal mills, would turn out to be of critical importance. ultimately in tracking down a suspect. >> we were three days behind him. that's the closest we had ever gotten to him. the body was in tact, the ligatures were there. we were able to find bodily fluids there. >> fluids containing dna that 20 years later would point back to one man. of course, back in 1982, dna was unknown as a crime fighting tool. sheriffs investigators desperate to find the killer meticulously employed the methods they had at that time. reichert had 20 detectives on the trail. but it soon went cold. and the community grew
impatient, fearful and angry. denise griffin knew all three women found at the green river that august 15th. >> they died in a very brutal fashion. very brutal fashion. >> opal mills was her best friend. >> opal was a fighter. the fact that she had a lot of scratches on her knuckles, nails broken which meant to me that she fought. but for her to have fought and lost i think was probably -- i think that's the thing that scares me the most. >> bodies kept turning up week after week. the task force was working hard but at the end of three months they came up empty. politicians fretted about all the money being spent with no results. and ordered the sheriff to pull all the cops working the case. all but one. dave reichert did not give up. >> i became the sole investigator from about end of september to about august of 1983.
and there was a lot of frustration on my part. >> worse still, more young women went missing from the sea-tac strip. ten more by the end of 1983. 25 the next. a poster with the faces of the murdered went up at headquarters. but despite the detective's hard work, there was no arrest. cynics said police were not trying hard enough to find the killer, because the victims were thought to be disposable, prostitutes, after all, a case not worth pursuing. >> absolutely false. that's what drove us to continue every day. we didn't care what their background was, we didn't care what they were on the street doing. we only knew we had young girls and young women being killed at the prime of their life, and their future was erased, taken from them. and the families' lives were
destroyed. >> dave reichert served as a pallbearer at several funerals. it wasn't surprising that he did. reichert had grown up in the same seattle suburb, kent, where the first bodies were found. he had overcome a difficult childhood, sometimes spending nights in those very woods, escaping a father who drank too much. he worked his way through a small lutheran college and after service in the air force, became a cop so he could live out his dream of rescuing the vulnerable. after the first five bodies left at the river, the killer turned to new, favorite dumping sites. the remains of six women were uncovered near the remote star lake road. their names and faces haunted reichert. terry milligan, alma smith, delores williams, gail matthews, sandra gabbert, carey royce. two were found underneath a tree next to this little league field.
parents of players later remarked they had wondered about the smell. five bodies were uncovered in this wooded area south of the airport. by the end of 1984, 2 1/2 years after the killings started, the total stood at 40. the task force was reinstated. but by now, the green river killer was way ahead of them. unlike opal mills, these women had been dead so long that their bodies were decomposed, ravaged by animals and the elements. there was one important exception, on may 8th, 1983, the body of carol ann christensen was found. like the others she had been strangled but unlike theirs, her body was clothed and the scene elaborately staged. >> over the years we've seen lots of bizarre crime scenes. we don't understand all the symbolism of some of the things that he did there. >> christensen had two fish,
trout, placed on her chest. an empty bottle of wine on her stomach and sausage on her hands. so bizarre that at first reichert didn't think the murder fit the green river killer's m.o. he was puzzled, worried, was there a second murderer? even christensen mother and sister had their doubts. >> at the time we didn't connect it. she wasn't found in the green river, she was found in maple valley. >> what matters to us right now is the evidence that's left behind. >> what was left behind would later link christensen's murder to that of the other young victims dragged to the green river the year before. there were suspects, of course. the fbi did a profile, a profile that was so general it could have fit half the young men in seattle. what's more, the sketches the police were using were pretty much useless, too. >> there was one magazine that came out, a picture of me, a picture of this artist drawing,
and the author of this article makes a comment, it's as plain as the nose on your face. the lead detective is the killer. >> there were 40,000 tips and that was the problem. there were hundreds, even thousands of suspects. >> i was amazed at the number of people that matched the profile that was given to us. so i was always shocked and surprised that my wife and my two daughters, you go from point a to point b during the day and not run into one of these guys. because they looked like to me they're all over the place. >> most were eventually crossed off the list. but were investigators being blinded by conventional wisdom about serial killers? were mistakes made early on that would hamper the search for years to come? was crime scene evidence overlooked because of the lack
of manpower? >> it did get politically rough for us. we were called the green river task farce because no progress was seen. money went away. they saw no hope. they pulled the task force plug. >> the poster with the victim's names and faces, a sorrow first half reminder of failure, was yanked off the wall at headquarters. the once daunted task force became one investigator, tom jenson, assigned to monitor any tips that came in. dave reichert, the original investigator, was reassigned. >> i was given orders to, you are now a patrol sergeant. stay away from green river. it's not your job any longer. >> it's like the scene out of a movie where they tell the guy stop working this case. >> right. >> but this movie had other scenes. flashbacks. the investigators had already encountered the man they would one day arrest. but it would take a combination
of modern science and old fashioned police work and the dedication of one man, dave reichert, to nail him. like the sea-tac strip itself, it would be a long road with many dark turns. >> and for this woman, it would mean coming face to face with the green river killer. amazingly, she would live to tell the tale. >> he was on top of me trying to choke me. >> when "chasing the devil" continues. eveloped our most revolutionary feature yet. a car that can see trouble... ...and stop itself to avoid it. when the insurance institute for highway safety tested front crash prevention nobody beat subaru models with eyesight. not honda. not ford or any other brand. subaru eyesight. an extra set of eyes, every time you drive. if you have high blood pressure like i do, many cold medicines may raise your blood pressure.
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we now return to "chasing the devil." >> while the green river task force was being cut back, losing manpower and looking at all the wrong people, the man who would, in the end, become the chief suspect continued to solicit prostitutes on the sea-tac strip. a man who would later admit to investigators that he was addicted to prostitutes in the same way that alcohol can be an addiction. >> it wasn't for sex. i don't think that he enjoyed sex really personally. if he did, he sure didn't show it. >> rebecca guarde is one of only a couple of prostitutes assaulted by the green river killer who lived to tell about it. >> he says you want to make $20? >> the first thing she noticed about the guy in the pickup truck who pulled up to the bus stop where she was standing is he was wearing only gym shorts
and a t-shirt. it was a cold, rainy november evening in 1982. not exactly shorts weather. he seemed nervous. >> he asked me if i'm a cop. i'm not a cop. >> she was worried, too. the first of the green river victims had been discovered that summer. he knew how to calm her fears. >> he shows me his i.d. when i said, are you sure you're not the green river killer? and he just -- da, just nothing. >> reassured for the moment, she suggested they drive to a place she knew nearby. >> he didn't want to sit in the car. he wanted to go up in the woods. that's when i knew something was strange. this was very strange. why did he want to go up there? why can't we do it here? >> reluctantly, because she didn't want to forfeit the $20, she agreed to follow him up the slope into the trees.
she says he didn't get aroused during the oral sex he had paid for. then he got angry and attacked. >> he starts choking me. claiming i bit him. and he does call me a bitch, i do remember that. then he tackled me to the ground and is smothering me. he's on top of me at that time, trying to choke me. i turned around somehow. i tried my hardest to keep breathing and to be able to get away. that's all i could think about was trying to get away from him. i noticed he was getting very excited. >> guarde says she kicked, rolled, pushed and somehow got loose and ran to a nearby mobile home for help. he did not chase her. >> i thought for many years that he was out still looking for me.
>> unfortunately guarde waited two years to call police and tell them about her encounter. if she had called earlier, the man who had boldly showed her his identification might have moved onto the list of suspects a lot sooner. by the time rebecca decided to make that call, the same man had already been involved in another incident that brought him to the attention of dave reichert. that encounter began on april 30th, 1983, nearly a year after the first five bodies had been found at the river. 18-year-old marie malvar got into a blue pickup truck at a bus stop just a few blocks where rebecca was picked up. her boyfriend, who watched out for her when she worked the streets, noticed she seemed to be arguing with the customer. so he decided to follow them but lost the truck at a light. he panicked when marie did not return after several hours. he told marie's father the next morning.
>> the boyfriend come to the restaurant and told me marie did not come home last night. what happened? she disappeared. what do you mean, disappear? she get into the truck and i follow the truck but at a stop light i could not go ahead. >> marie's boyfriend said the truck had some distinctive markings. >> blue truck with primer on the back. >> you mean, like a gray primer? >> yes, yes. >> so very easy to identify. >> yes. yes, to identify. >> jose and his daughter's boyfriend drove around for hours looking for the truck. finally, they spotted it in the driveway of this house. was there any doubt in either of your minds this was the same truck? >> no, because the boyfriend and of my daughter told me that this is the truck. >> what did you do? >> so i call the police. >> the house belonged to gary
ridgway, a truck painter who had lived near the sea-tac strip most of his life. in 1982, when the green river killings began, he was 33 years old. he had been twice married and divorced and he had been arrested for soliciting prostitution earlier that year. since ridgway's house was located in a suburb of seattle, it was the local police who questioned him. >> the following day i went to the police department and asked them, what's happened? and they said he doesn't know nothing about it. >> do you feel like police at the time made a good effort? >> i don't think so. >> malvar believes that by giving up too easily, police lost an opportunity to determine his daughter's fate. and you never heard a word from her again? >> no. >> jose malvar and rebecca guarde weren't the only ones to tell the green river task force about gary ridgway. in 1984 and again in '86, two
other prostitutes told them they thought ridgway was connected to the disappearance of two of their friends who were working the streets. but it took until 1987 before detectives launched an investigation. they interviewed ridgway's former girlfriends and wives. and the picture that emerged was that of a sexually aggressive young man who had trouble with relationships from early on. police learned that gary ridgway was already 20 when he graduated from high school in 1969. that he joined the navy and got married that same summer. he and his wife moved to san diego. by the time gary returned from a six-month tour of duty cruise, his wife was romantically involved with another man. according to police documents, he accused her of being a whore and giving him sexually transmitted diseases, diseases navy records show he had before going to sea. ridgway acquaintances said he
often complained that he gotten venereal diseases from prostitutes. ridgeway's second wife gave police still more tantalizing clues. his wife said he liked to have sex outdoors, on the banks of the green river. and in the woods. she took them on a tour of places they had gone and locations where they had camped or bicycled. the locations matched the dump site where multiple bodies had been discovered. she also told officers that ridgway had once come up behind her in their driveway and started choking her. that he had tied her up during sex and often come home late at night wet and dirty. seattle sheriff deputies got a search warrant and went through his home, his truck and his locker at work. they asked him to take a lie detector test. he passed. what about that lie detector test? >> contrary to popular belief,
cops know that the lie detector test is a tool. i mean, we take that and we look at all the other things that we have. we don't get a polygraph test here and if they fail it say, we got the guy. >> and there were facts about gary ridgway that did not fit with the conventional profile of a serial killer. a profile that may have misled investigators from the beginning. for one thing, he was happily married, although it was his third marriage. >> we were also told about serial killers is they can't keep a relationship with one woman. they can't hold down a job. they won't stay in the same area. they're irresponsible. none of those things fit with gary ridgway. he's been working the same place for over 30 years. he's been married to the same woman for 13 years. he has been in this community for 30-plus years. >> even though they turned up nothing conclusive then, detectives decided to ask for a court order requiring gary
ridgway to chew on a piece of gauze to leave them a sample of his saliva, his dna. it was just a tiny amount but that was all they were legally allowed to get. of course, back then the science of dna was in its infancy. so investigators simply stored it in the evidence freezer, along with what they had on other suspects. >> we got to a point where there was nothing else we could do. >> one more thing argued against ridgway and other suspects. there seemed to be a reprieve from the terror. it had been three years since a prostitute disappeared from the sea-tac strip. had the green river killer disappeared, too? the original profile said this is a serial killer, he's going to keep killing, and all of a sudden the killing stopped. or they appeared to. >> right. >> so you guys logically assume the guy is either in jail, he's dead or he's left. >> we never grabbed onto any one
of these ideas and said that's the end of this. if we did that we wouldn't be where we are today. >> more than ten years would pass. while the technology needed to solve the crime moved slowly forward. then the seattle sheriff's department got both the scientific breakthrough it had been hoping for and a new champion. because even though he had been ordered off the case back in 1990, dave reichert had made his mark in the department, commanding special operations and other high profile areas. so when the county held an election for sheriff in 1996, he easily won. and he was back in pursuit of the green river killer. [ applause ] >> and that pursuit is about to pay off. the sheriff and his team are about to get a break they've waited for, for almost two decades. >> you just don't seem like the guy that would run around the room slapping high fives, but you had to be tempted.
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>> your top stories, investigators in egypt are working to identify a sound heard in the final second of the cockpit voice recorder from the russian airliner that crashed last weekend, killing 224 on board. officials are saying it's too early to say if it's from an explosive device. in romania, the death toll from a nightclub fire has risen to 39. the cause being blamed on lax government standards. there's a manhunt under way right now in central texas for a gunman who shot a judge in her own driveway. she survived but it's unclear
why she was targeted. [ protesters chanting ] and donald trump protesters fired up outside nbc studios in new york city, ahead of his hosting appearance later tonight on "saturday night live." now back to our msnbc special. we return to "chasing the devil" with stone phillips. >> flash forward to 2001. after ten years of no new leads and no progress and no murders that looked like the work of the green river killer, this cold case was about to come out of the freezer. two things were about to make a difference in the search for a suspect. first, dave reichert was now the sheriff. now he could set priorities. even though you'd think it's the last thing a new guy would do,
remind people of a failure, the murders still haunted him. what would you have me do if it were your daughter on the list? you would have me investigate that case until i tracked that person down. >> reichert knew that tom jenson, the sole remaining detective from the original task force, left alone to babysit the case for more than a decade, had not wavered. >> keep going. that's all you can do. keep plugging away. >> dna technology was much more sophisticated now and reichert and jenson believed that something detectives had done about a decade before, collecting dna from potential suspects, could be the key that unlocked the secret of the murderer's identity. >> knowing there wasn't that much sample left, hoping when we went for it there would be enough there to get what he needed. >> now scientists had a way to make copies of the dna. >> with this technique, you can just have a few cells.
it's like a chemical photocopying process. >> dr. beverly himmic is in charge of forensic testing at the washington state crime lab. so she went to work at it, putting the dna cells into what she calls a cocktail and then thermocycling, heating and cooling it. in the final step, the dna that had been copied was taken into a special room and placed in this machine. then holding her breath, dr. himmic watched to see what popped up on the screen. >> we immediately see the profile that's been generated and when we found dna that was able to be copied up from the crime scenes and to generate profiles, there was a lot of excitement here in the room. >> i got a message from the lab saying we need to talk to you right away. so i went down to the lab. >> and? >> they told me they matched it. >> it was a great moment. i know it was a great moment for him. it's something i know he's been waiting to hear for a long time. >> tom jenson is not an effusive
kind of guy. so it's sometimes hard to know when he's having a great moment. tom, you don't seem like the kind of guy that would run around the room slapping high fives, but you had to be tempted. it had been almost 20 years. can you even smile about it? >> sure. >> was that a smile? so you're pleased. to say the least? >> i was elated. >> the detective decided to play a little guessing game with his old pal, the sheriff. >> he came into my office and he says sheriff, there's the dna profile on the marcia chapman evidence and here's the dna profile on the opal mills evidence. and then he flips over the last piece of paper and says here's the dna profile on our suspect. and they all matched. and he didn't give me the name right away. >> so that was it? and, here, by the way? >> yes. >> i think we may have just broken the biggest case in u.s. history? >> right. well, i did jump up out of the
chair. >> i had his picture in an envelope it was going to be -- >> karnak. >> he guessed it right away. >> the picture was that of gary ridgway. they arrested ridgway on november 30th, as he was ending his shift at the renton truck factory where he had worked for 30 years. >> i wanted to be there the day he was arrested. the personal desire was very strong, but the professional side said, you know, you can't do that. so i sat in the office and listened to the arrest over the police radio. >> reichert was annoyed by ridgway's nonchalance, his knowing calm when he was taken into custody. >> our detectives drive up in an unmarked suv, get out of the vehicle, back up to ridgway and say, we're king county sheriff's deputies and you're under arrest for the murder of four women. and his response is, okay. and gets in the car. >> sheriff reichert did allow
himself one small moment of satisfaction. >> i couldn't resist, at least standing in the hallway as he was taken from the regional justice center to the king county jail. >> gary ridgway was charged in the deaths of four of the green river victims. the three found together on august 15th, opal mills, marcia chapman and cynthia hinds and carol christensen, whose body was discovered the following may. he pled not guilty. matching gary ridgway's dna with the evidence left in the bodies of the murder victims was only the beginning of the next phase of the green river investigation. many questions still needed to be answered. reichert hoped to link him to other victims on the list. >> i think we're going to find that he's responsible for some other cases after the mid-1980s. i'm looking forward this morning to hear more about where you are and the progress of the investigation. >> but what if the dna was not enough?
what if after years of pursuit just when he finally got his man, he could not make the charges stick? ridgway's defense lawyer was already attacking the core of the case. >> it proves he was a customer, not a killer. assuming that they can show it was mr. ridgway's dna, and we're not conceding that for a minute, they're not going to show he was the last customer. >> reichert was determined to do whatever he could to put gary ridgway away for good. he launched a full-bore investigation. >> would they be able to prove their case against gary ridgway beyond a reasonable doubt? was the dna evidence found on the murdered prostitutes conclusive? >> it proves he was a customer, not a killer. >> when "chasing the devil" continues.
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addictive fervor. >> gary ridgway, even up until the time he was arrested, enjoyed the excitement of hunting for prostitutes. he enjoyed the control that it gave him when he got one in his car. and whatever he did afterwards, this was all about gary ridgeway's pleasure. >> in fact, only weeks before he was charged in the green river murders, he was picked up once again by the vice squad for soliciting prostitution. and ridgway's chief defense attorney tony savage used that fact. arguing that his client patronized hundreds of prostitutes, even prostitutes who later turned up dead. and that it proved nothing. >> it proves he was a customer, not a killer. i mean, you don't commit prostitution by waving at somebody from 50 yards away. it's a full contact proposition. >> so by definition, there's dna evidence?
>> well, from the male point of view, that's the object is to leave some dna behind. assuming that they can show it was mr. ridgway's dna, and we're not conceding that for a minute, they're not going to show that he was the last customer. >> savage said the defense would contest the dna evidence itself as well. >> you don't have to go back any further than california versus o.j. simpson to understand that dna can be mishandled, it can be disintegrated, it can be tainted, it can be flawed. >> this is one of our first kind of official meetings in our new facility. >> sheriff reichert's team of detectives and some veterans was charged with picking through all of the hundreds of thousands of pieces of evidence that had been stored to look for items from crime scenes that could be checked for ridgway's dna. evidence that might prove ridgway was more than just a customer, that he was indeed a killer. reichert worried if something were missed back then when there
were only a few overworked investigators, there was little chance it would be found 20 years later. but hoping against hope, they revisited crime scenes even though they had changed dramatically. >> the river is a lot lower. obviously, the grass is probably higher, much higher actually. >> we've been wading through arm-high grass? >> at least. >> katie larsen says surprisingly this small section of the green river where the killer dragged his first five victims down to the water is much the same. although the area around it has been developed. what seems odd is that the killer would have had to go through so much work to put a body here. i don't know if the tv audience can see it, but this is a real cliff here. another site where six bodies were discarded was near a well-traveled road that now runs through a subdivision. this is not a secluded area. obviously there was less
building back then -- >> right. >> you figure it was just off this road. >> yeah. you could park here and walk off a couple hundred feet, maybe a little bit further than that, and that's where we started recovering all the bodies. >> and the dump near the ball field is surrounded by buildings, though the trees still stand. this is kind of a wilderness area. we're still only a few hundred yards off the strip. >> absolutely. it's close and this is a place that a lot of the women that worked on the highway for purposes of prostitution would bring their johns back here. >> in addition for looking for physical evidence, investigators interviewed people they did not question back in the '80s. friends, neighbors, co-workers who helped paint a portrait of their main suspect. >> with him it was more recognition of, yeah, i guess it's possible he could do those things. >> bruce grew up next door to
gary ridgway's family. his sister married ridgway's older brother. he hung out with ridgway's younger brother. he says on the surface, the ridgways seemed like a normal, middle class family. gary's father was a bus driver. his mother a sales woman at jcpenneys. but he recalls a dark side. >> there didn't seem to be any love in that family. it was very strict and structured and any disobedience resulted in, seemed to me, very harsh punishment. >> and there was talk of trouble in high school. the attempted rape of a girl hushed up. >> he abused girls in high school, and once the word got out, girls were afraid of him. they wouldn't date him because of that. he had a reputation. >> martha parkhill worked next to ridgway at the truck plant for ten years. she says she felt intimidated too. >> he would come up behind me and like rub my shoulders.
>> put his hands on you? >> yes. i just felt uncomfortable around him. >> parkhill says everybody at work knew he had been questioned about the green river murders in the 1980s. >> when i first started there, that was the first thing people pointed out to me was gary ridgway and telling me his nickname, green river gary. >> but ridgway had an explanation for that. he told his co-workers it was all a misunderstanding. >> his claim when he was picked up, he wasn't down there actually trying to get prostitutes, he was trying to preach to them and help them stop being a prostitute. >> all this information about his life was useful, but it was not evidence. the new work was excruciatingly detailed, building a case that would hold up in court. but it was just another battle in dave reichert's 20-year personal crusade. >> i am passionate about it and i do have a personal relationship with the victims.
>> families and friends of the dead women were looking forward to the trial of gary ridgway. hoping for answers to questions that had haunted them for 20 years. >> i want to know a reason why. there was an unexpected development, a twist in the case. it would change everything. >> and it would allow detectives to finally get gary ridgway right where they wanted him. but could they get this killer to crack? >> the investigators are very creative thinkers and it was a plan that i immediately approved of. >> when "chasing the devil" continues. pecially important.
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bankrupt local government and a few family members dreaded the prospect of reliving the horror of a loved one's death. meanwhile task force investigators were working hard to build the case within months they were able to confirm that paint flecks found on the bodies of other victims matched paint that gary ridgeway used in his job at kenworth. they filed three new murder charges, bringing the total to seven. with that the defense, confident about challenging, 20-year-old dna, blinked. lead attorney tony savage knew he had to change tactics. what happens to a defense attorney i talked to months ago who sat there and said that dna evidence can be questioned. they were, after all, prostitutes. he was with them. i can challenge all of this. >> that's right, i could have and i would have. but the problem came when there was paint evidence that could be traced to gary's place of
employment. now you got gary's dna and you got the paint. it's a little bit difficult, i think, to sell to any reasonable person, the idea has this is all a big coincidence. >> when the three new murder charges were filed in march of 2003, it fell to another member of the defense, michelle shaw, to broach the subject of changing his plea with ridgway. she met with ridgway's brother, wife and son. the next day, she went to see him. >> i told him his family loved him and they didn't want him to die, and i asked him if he wanted to live, and he said, yes. then he just broke down and started sobbing. >> did you know where this was going? >> yes. >> it's been over 20 years and he's never confessed this crime or any of these crimes to anyone. was there a moment where he actually said, i did these things? >> my recollection is that he
said, i want to cooperate. i want to cooperate. i want to live. i want to do whatever i can. >> here's the deal ridgway was offering. he would plead guilty, not just to the seven murders he was currently charged with, but to all the murders. he would lead detectives to the places where he had tossed the bodies of young women missing for decades that had never been recovered 37. he would tell families and investigators how and why he had killed again and again and how he had eluded police for years. and in exchange, he would escape the death penalty. it was a deal no one agreed to at first. king county prosecutor norm maleng was completely opposed. >> this office does not plea bargain with the death penalty. >> sheriff reichert looked at it if ridgway were to be convicted of seven murders and get the death penalty, ridgway would
never have to tell what happened to all the other missing women. >> when we arrested him, we wanted answers. the investigators have always wanted to know why. the families have always wanted to know why. >> at first reichert worried about a plea bargain. he was concerned ridgway wouldn't come clean, wouldn't provide the answers they wanted. on the other hand, reichert says he knew ridgway was not acting out of concern for the investigators or the victims. >> he wanted to live. this was always about him. >> do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? >> i do. >> so ultimately the deal was struck. ridgway signed the agreement. >> sign here and here. >> are you pleased with the decision not to go with the death penalty? >> yes. not everyone agrees with this decision, but the opportunity to bring some sort of finality to 48 families versus seven was just overwhelming. >> so began one of the most bizarre chapters in criminal justice.
gary ridgway was taken out of jail and sequestered with the detectives detailing his crimes here at task force headquarters. >> the investigators are very creative thinkers and it was a plan i immediately approved of. >> for 106 days he was grilled and prodded, paraded and coaxed, he was taken on field trips to the scenes of his crimes, and every word of his confession and they were videotaped. what he would reveal is even more horrifying than anyone knew. but would reichert get the whole truth? would it be worth sparing gary ridgway's life? what you're about to see rivals any true crime story you've ever seen or could ever imagine. >> investigators are about to shine a bright light into the mind of the man considered the nation's deadliest serial killer and learn how cunning he could be when choosing his victims.
>> she's a student, you know, nobody would look for her. >> when "chasing the devil" returns. proud of you, son. ge! a manufacturer. well that's why i dug this out for you. it's your grandpappy's hammer and he would have wanted you to have it. it meant a lot to him... yes, ge makes powerful machines. but i'll be writing the code that will allow those machines to share information with each other. i'll be changing the way the world works. (interrupting) you can't pick it up, can you? go ahead. he can't lift the hammer. it's okay though! you're going to change the world. "chasing the devil"
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continues. >> you're a loser, you're a coward. you're a nobody. you're an animal. >> mr. ridgway, i want you to look me in the face. >> families of gary ridgway's victims would get to confront him, but they would have to wait. while police conducted a videotaped interrogation that laid bare the mind of a monster. >> i killed her because i wanted to. >> came here in the first place? >> the hate, wanting to get even with them. >> why? >> because she's a prostitute. nobody would look for her. >> why did you hate them so much? >> why did i hate them? because women had control of me and i don't like being controlled. i had control when i killed the women. i got my rage out for the time. >> could we walk down near that tree? it looks familiar.
>> a team of detectives and psychologists, led my tom jenson, who had stayed on the case all those years, began their intense interrogation of gary ridgway in june of 2003. fittingly, on friday the 13th. even though under the terms of his plea agreement he was obligated to tell the truth, getting the truth from a killer who had lied for 20 years wasn't easy. >> he's not only a psychopath, but he's a pathological liar. so in the months of investigation and interrogation, we had to weed out the lies and find the truth. >> i admit it, i had a lie in my head and it kept on coming out kept on coming out. >> during the questioning, ridgway alternated between rage and contrition, between pride and what he called his career of killing and stonewalling, pretending he didn't remember the details of his crime, but he
wasn't a very big guy, only 151 pounds. and he admitted that in the beginning he had to figure out the best way to kill. >> the first one was the hardest one, just i fought all over with them like this, and, then i'd wrap my legged around them and twist. >> these are all things you learned over time? >> over time and then i killed them, yes. one of them turned around one time when i was choking her until she died. >> that one was 16-year-old wendy coughfield, the first women found on july 15th, 1982. ridgway claims not to recognize the faces of his victims. didn't know their names. in fact, he never wanted to know. >> i learned a lesson, never to kill from the front. i just didn't like looking them in the face and then the pain they were having in their face.
>> the 16-year-old girl, she was looking in your face, it's not the way you want it? >> no, it isn't. the way she was looking at me and begging for her life, i wanted the back of their head so i couldn't see their face. >> so ridgway worked on his killing style. he hunted for prostitutes on the strip. most of them were just teenagers. once he got them into his truck, he took them to the woods or his house. on the wall in his bedroom, this mural, a depiction of trees, like the forested dump sites for which his victims were destined. he was divorced from his second wife at this point, and saw his son only on alternate weekends. if the prostitutes were reluctant, he convinced them to get into the bask his canopied pickup. little by little he revealed the specifics of certain crimes. one especially horrifying murder happened a week or so into his
killing spree. horrifying because even though he had his 7-year-old son matthew with him, and even though it was the middle of the afternoon, ridgway picked up 19-year-old gisele lovvorn and drove to a deserted place where they could have sex outdoors. >> matthew was sitting in the back of the truck, i don't know what he was doing. i told matthew i would be back in a couple of minutes, i was going to go for a walk. i had her move around so i could get behind her. and in doing so, i needed to have -- to raise her head up to wrap my arm around her and kill her. i said oh, no, there's my son getting out of the car or something similar to that. so she raised her head up and that's when i put my arm around
her, my right arm and i started choking her. >> ridgway says he promised if she didn't make any noise, he would let her go. then he finished strangling her using his socks and calmly walked back to the truck and his son. >> did he ask where the lady was? >> i said she wanted to walk home. she doesn't live that far away. my urge to have sex and to kill her was more than for the safety of matthew. >> sheriff reichert had a lot riding on the interrogation. he wanted to make sure ridgway was pushed hard. and reichert couldn't resist coming face to face with the monster he had chased for years. so even though he was busy running a department with more than 1,000 employees, he carved out time to cup and confront ridgway himself. this day he asked ridgway what he would have done if matthew had seen him committing the murder. >> i would have killed him if he was a witness, yes.
>> isn't that something? kill your own son, if he was a witness? >> ridgway bragged that he used matthew to lure women into his truck, placing his son's toys on the seat. sometimes showing his picture to the women to trick them into believing he was a devoted dad, that he was a safe guy to go with. >> which one do you think this is, gary? >> this is the very last white woman. >> detectives wanted to revisit sites where he dumped bodies with ridgway along for two reasons. they hoped to find remains of victims that had never been recovered and they also used the trips as a kind of check, pushing for details to see whether he was telling the truth. >> there are certain details around some of those cases that he shared with us that only the killer would know. we never took him anywhere. he took us. >> at the green river site where the bodies of cynthia hinds, marsha chapman and opal mills
were discovered, ridgway admitted he shoved rocks into two of them. a detail never publicized. >> the people that found them would know that i put rocks in them and it's kind of like my secret and the task force's secret. >> ridgway confessed something the task force had long suspected, that he had had sex with some of the victims after they were dead. >> i was getting more twisted. >> that, he revealed, was why he had chosen new body dumping sites that were farther away from his home. detectives had long wondered about that and it gave them a glimpse into how the mind of this serial killer worked. >> i started leaving them out further so i wouldn't have sex with them. just kill another prostitute. >> investigators had agonized
over are whether they could have caught him earlier and perhaps saved the lives of dozens of young women. they were almost afraid of the answer. ridgway was about to tell them just how many times they had come close. >> and he tells of a victim who came close to getting away. >> she fought more than any of the other women and caused more damage than the other women. >> when "chasing the devil" returns. towing-ability and stowing-ability. rack-ability and hvac-ability. it's fully customizable and sized just right to give you cupcake-ability, entourage-ability... ...garage-ability and even afford-ability. starting at $28,950. available in cargo or passenger. from mercedes-benz.
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we return to "chasing the devil" with stone phillips. >> that's one of mine. >> to look back in the history of any serial killer, as sick as it sounds, to be proud of the work they did and they want to be known as the best serial killer. >> gary ridgway is no exception. >> i rate myself as number one. >> if that were true, and investigators suspected it was, they wanted to know why they had failed to capture him while he was in the midst of his murderous spree. in finding out what they did wrong, ridgway told them how close they had often been. one of the missing women detectives were especially curious about was marie malvar. you may remember in april of '83, her boyfriend saw her getting into ridgway's truck at a bus stop and then seemed to argue with him. the boyfriend tried to follow them but lost the truck at a
light. the boyfriend and marie's father, jose, searched the neighborhood the next day and located the truck in ridgway's driveway. apparently they didn't think about contacting the green river task force. they called local police in the seattle suburb of des moines. jose malvar had to be restrained from going in and looking for marie himself. >> i wanted to go in because she is my daughter and i love my kids. >> the officers who looked around ridgway's home found nothing. ridgway told investigators they would never have been quick enough to find malvar at his house. >> she had already been disposed of by then. i killed her and an hour after i killed her, she was dropped off. >> even if there was no body, should police have done a more thorough search, would they have turned up clues in his bedroom? ridgway admitted there had been a struggle. >> i first picked her up, i
thought she would be easy to kill and not a fighter. >> she was tiny, 5'2", only 105 pounds. >> i didn't notice her long fingernails and she fought and fought. she scratched me on my arms. that made me tighten my hold more to kill her as fast as i could. she fought more than any of the other women and caused me more damage than any of the other women. i had police coming to the door a couple days later about her being missing. >> ridgway said he was so worried that the officers would notice the scratches, that he hid his arm. but they apparently never checked him for cuts. later, he disfigured his arms by pouring battery acid on them. the suburban police did file a report, but it did not come to the task force's attention until
four years later. it showed up in a computer search the task force did when they brought ridgway in for questioning. because of his contacts with other missing prostitutes. sheriff reichert said if they had the information sooner, it might have made a difference. did they miss an opportunity to save dozens of lives? ridgway said one reason he dumped bodies in clusters was so he could remember where they all were. but he never took another one to where he put marie malvar's body because it was too risky. >> i just couldn't put anymore out there because of getting caught, because they find one body and there's three or four and i'm already a suspect for her. >> until 2003, marie remained one of the missing. ridgway finally led detectives to the place where he had thrown her body. and 20 years later, they were able to find her remains and turn them over to her family. >> to me, my daughter is still alive.
until now, we always celebrate her birthday. >> another time police narrowly missed gary ridgway was after the murder of carol christensen in may of '83. her case had always been the most puzzling to the task force. the rest of the victims were found nude but she was dressed and her body was posed. two trout were placed on her upper body, an empty bottle of wine on her stomach and sausage on her hand. at the time investigators wondered whether this could be religious symbolism. wondered why the killer had carefully chosen these items. wondered what he was trying to communicate. indeed, some wondered whether this was the work of the green river killer at all. the murder scene was so different, even her family thought someone else had killed her. >> at the time we really didn't connect it. >> i brought them out of the fridge before we talked.
>> when he started to talk, gary ridgway seemed mystified. the items were just stuff he had around the house, not carefully chosen at all. almost an afterthought, tossed in the back of his pickup. >> i was just going to put them on her to throw off the task force. make it stand out from the rest of them so they would have to think is this a green river case or is this not a green river case? >> jerking them around. >> ironically, in taking the time to trip up his pursuers, he almost got tripped up himself. just as he finished laying out the items on her body and got in his truck to leave, a police car drove by. >> they didn't go down that road. otherwise, he would have had her that day. >> it turns out that christensen's posed body did
ultimately play a role in catching ridgway. because he left her near a busy road where she could be found easily, his dna was still in tact. and 18 years later, that linked him to the murder. hers was one of the first four cases filed. >> he's on top of me, weights on top of me. i was just begging him to let me go. i'm still fighting. i was trying to live. >> remember rebecca guarde, the victim who got away? the prostitute who struggled and ran? ridgway, you recall, had shown her his kenworth i.d. in an attempt to make her believe he was not the green river killer. of course, he didn't intend to let her live to tell about it, but she did live and tell police, just not soon enough. >> i thought for many years that he was out still looking for me. >> he later admitted to investigators that she was one of his biggest mistakes.
>> she eventually told the task force and that was one of the reasons why they were investigating me. that was my downfall. of it. the detective says if you would have killed her, we wouldn't have found you like this. >> after hours and hours of tough questioning, task force interrogators could not resist rubbing it in. they taunted ridgway about getting caught literally with his pants down. >> if you were such an accomplished killer, gary, how did rebecca guarde get away from you? >> i had my pants down around my ankles and i couldn't get them around her waist to hold her. otherwise if i would have, i would have killed her, but they were down around my ankles and i couldn't get them loose. >> sheriff reichert and the other task force members wanted to learn not just the how of the green river murders, but, also, the why.
a career spent chasing the devil, as reichert's new book is called, recovering the mangled bodies of teenage girls creates a powerful incentive to understand what forces forge a serial killer. >> over those years, those visions are very fresh. those images are burned into your mind forever. >> it turns out there were other opportunities to stop gary ridgway from killing that had been missed. his violent acts began years before, way back in his teen years. could something have been done back then? weeks of questioning brought forth secrets from ridgway's childhood and the story of his first attack. in his first interview, gary ridgway's youngest victim tells "dateline" his story of encountering and surviving an assault by the teenager who would become the green river killer. >> a tale so horrifying, it would haunt the victim forever. and foreshadow a killer's lifetime of cruelty.
>> the blood is pumping out of my shirt, running down into my pants and i told him why did you kill him? >> when "chasing the devil" continues. blv (unenthusiastic) oh... ha ha ha! joanne? is that you? it's me... you don't look a day over 70. am i right? jingle jingle. if you're peter pan, you stay young forever. it's what you do. if you want to save fifteen percent or more on car insurance you switch to geico. ♪ you make me feel so young... ♪ it's what you do. ♪ you make me feel ♪ ♪ so spring has sprung. ♪ at ally bank no branches equals great rates. it's a fact. kind of like mute buttons equal danger. ...that sound good? not being on this phone call sounds good. it's not muted. was that you jason? it was geoffrey! it was jason. it could've been brenda.
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and help stop joint damage. enbrel, the number one rheumatologist-prescribed biologic. . hi i'm richard lui with your hour's top stories. investigators are focusing on a noise heard in the last second of the cockpit voice recording from a russian plane that went down in egypt last week. that noise bolsters suspicions that a bomb caused the crash.
though officials say they continue to look at all possible scenarios, including a fuel tanker explosion. five tanker cars involved in a railroad collision are leaking into the mississippi river. a male runner has died while taking part in the rock and roll marathon in savannah georgia. no immediate cause of death has been released. unseasonably warm temperatures during that race the national weather service saying there's a high of 84 degrees. protesters are gaeg outside of nbc studios in new york city. protesting donald trump's appearance tonight as host of "saturday night live." now back to our msnbc special. now back to "chasing the devil." >> i was more interested in killing than in sex. i wanted to torture them but not
kill them before i got a chance to torture her. you can't torture a woman when she's dead. >> what turn as man into a serial killer? why would gary ridgway be driven to kill and kill again? no one knew. but everyone in law enforcement wanted to find out. how important do you think it is that we try, at least, to get some sense of why? of where does something this dark come from? >> one of the mothers said to me the other day, he didn't come from outer space. he's a member of our community. like it or not. >> so once ridgway signed the plea bargain, agreeing to tell all, psychologists who work with law enforcement and profilers from the fbi spent weeks questioning him about his childhood, searching for the key, the definitive experience that brought forth the killer within. they were hoping to learn something that might be useful when tracking murderers in the future.
because the profiles of the green river killer generated during the search in the '80s were either wrong or too general to be useful. ridgway described himself as slow in school, held back two grades. >> people knew where i lived and knew i wasn't that bright. >> a kid so dense he needed his older brother to help him find his way home. he said he never learned to read well and he was still wetting the bed when he was 13 or 14. he told the fbi psychologist that really upset his mother. >> what would your mother say to you, what were her words to you? >> why are you doing this to me? only babies wet the bed is what she said sometimes. >> by age 14, something a lot deeper than his mother's exacerbation with his bed wetting was driving gary ridgway. he was already honing his killer impulses. pushed by psychologists to talk
about early violence, he confessed this episode. >> i was down on the corner of chinook and 188. the boy was playing up there. >> how long had you known this boy? >> never seen him before. >> what caused you to approach him? >> he just looked vulnerable for some reason. >> jim davis was vulnerable, all right. he was only 6 years old and alone on the grounds of a junior high school near his home. >> we played cowboys and indians and my friends left to get some things to fix our fort up. >> for 40 years davis never knew the name of the teenager who walked up to him that day. until now, he had no reason to speak publicly about it. this was an unknown teenager? >> i had never seen him before. >> davis says the boy, he now knows as gary ridgway, pretended to show him where to get material for his fort.
>> he said across the street, a lot of tall grass over there. i said i wasn't allowed across that highway. he said, you know there's some kids around this neighborhood that like to kill little boys like you. and i said no, i didn't know that. >> at that point you had no reason to think he was a threat? >> not him. he was very nice. >> the two walked around school grounds, chatting. until ridgway whispered -- >> duck, here comes one of those kids. he ducked down beside me. >> jim davis says when he didn't see anyone coming, he told ridgway he wanted to get up. i. rolled over from my stomach on my side to my stomach facing him and he had the knife out and he put it through my liver. blood is pumping out running down into my pants and boots and i said, why did you kill me?
and he said, i always wanted to know what it felt like to kill somebody. and he took his knife and wiped it off on my left shoulder. >> wiped it on your shirt? >> wiped it on my shoulder, both sides of the blade. he said, you'll be dead in a little while. >> when he turned to you and said, i just wanted to see what it was like to kill somebody, what was in his eyes? what was in his face? >> he seemed to be real happy. >> seemed pleased with himself? >> that's a good way to put it. >> here's how gary ridgway remembered it. >> just a spur of the moment. it wasn't planned. he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. >> i don't even remember what i did. wiped the knife on my leg. it wasn't all the way in, just -- >> how far in did the knife go? >> probably an inch, i think. i don't know. >> ridgway told his interrogators that he ran home. but jim davis recalls he made a slow, cold, almost diabolical exit.
>> he walked away. he walked away laughing. he didn't run. he didn't have a care in the world. >> jim davis did run, trying to get home. luckily a teacher at the junior high school saw him and called an ambulance. he had lost so much blood he almost died. but transfusions from police and firefighters and emergency surgery saved his life. a few days later police brought yearbooks from high schools and junior highs in the area to jim's hospital room, hoping he could identify his assailant. >> i don't remember ever seeing him in the yearbooks that they showed. >> davis recalls when police were unable to come up with a suspect, his grandfather hired a private investigator. the p.i. told his grand father that police had identified the assailant. >> the father had some connections somewhere, had made a deal that he would get the boy some private help, and that he would guarantee this would never happen again. >> there's almost no way to tell whether this is true.
jim davis' grandfather is dead. jim cannot remember the private investigator's name and seattle police can find no records pertaining to the case. one thing is for certain, gary ridgway was never arrested or punished for the attempted murder. and he told his questioners that if he had been, it might have changed things. >> could you have been stopped at any point along the way? ever asked yourself that? >> either get counseling or go to jail could have stopped me. >> how often in the years before you found out who ridgway was did you find yourself thinking i wonder where that guy is? >> over the years i always wondered what happened to him, what kind of person he became, had he killed somebody else. i don't believe that he stopped after he tried to kill he and just started 20 years later to kill prostitutes. i believe that he killed people in all those years in between. >> police and psychologists believe that, too, but in the
hundreds of hours they spent interviewing gary ridgway, trying to get him to come clean, a process that generated more than 8,500 pages of transcripts, they were never able to get any definitive information about murders during those years. they did learn that gary ridgway's rage against women was so all-consuming that he wanted to kill his mother and all three of his wives. what stopped him? >> the answer to that and then, the sheriff himself faces down the man he hunted for 20 years. one on one, he'll stare him down. but can he get the truth out of the green river killer? when "chasing the devil" returns.
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>> despite his stabbing of 6-year-old jim davis, or maybe because of it, ridgway insisted that he chose to strangle women rather than stab or shoot them. because he didn't want blood all over the inside of his truck. >> tell me why you like killing people. >> just hated women. >> during the months of questioning by detectives and psychologists, ridgway confessed that the rage which ultimately drove him to murder dozens of prostitutes was first directed at the women in his life. profilers eager to understand how to spot serial killers tried to get specifics. he told them that as a teenager, when he was mad at his mother for bugging him about bed wetting and not being able to read, he indulged in fantasies about harming her. >> i thought about stabbing her in the chest or in the heart and cutting her up a little bit. >> how? >> just cut her face and her chest.
she really took good care of herself. so if you want to hurt somebody, you end up going for their beauty, i guess. >> he did not act on those gruesome impulses, transferring them instead to the next woman he was close to. the high school girlfriend who became his first wife. when she left him in 1971 after he got out of the navy, he thought about hurting her, too. >> just to kill her because i -- wanted her more than anybody else. >> but she was living in san diego and he says he didn't know how to find her. so he abandoned the idea. gary ridgway married for the second time in 1973. he claims he was immediately dissatisfied with his choice and avoided being seen in public with his new wife, marcia. >> she was overweight and not attractive. >> he told psychologists he thought he deserved better. >> thoughts of killing her.
i would like to va woman that -- you know, was nice looking. >> one night he acted on his impulse. >> i was just mad and choked her. >> he said after that, the choking became part of sex for him. he didn't kill marcia perhaps because she had told her family about the choking incident. >> i've already got in trouble from her dad. i couldn't even -- you know, i i couldn't set the house on fire, i couldn't arrange any kind of an accident or something like that. >> it was the fear of getting caught that stopped him from killing his wife. marcia divorced him in 1981. the green river murders began that next summer. >> maybe if i would have killed her, i wouldn't have killed the others. that was the cause of my pain.
>> ridgway tried to lay the blame for his murderous rampage on his failed second marriage, which sheriff reichert rejected. >> there's no reason that you can give tha >> the accepted theory on serial killers is they can't stop killing or even slow down. that's why when the bodies of young prostitutes were no longer being discovered in clusters around seattle in the late '80s, many thought the green river killer had moved on to another city, or had been put in prison for some other crime. gary ridgway had not moved on but he had changed. and the reason was surprising. in february of 1985, gary ridgway met the woman who would become his third wife, judith. at first he said the old fantasies returned. but as was the case with his first two wives, ridgway knew that he'd be the prime suspect. ridgway says his new wife was
loving and dependent and accepting. so he tried to stop killing. but he didn't even consider giving up prostitutes. >> you're looking for women every single day on your way to work, on your way home from work and on saturday, and on your day off? >> right. >> so what do you do on sundays? >> usually we're doing family things. >> that's right. on sundays he said he did family things. and only weeks before his arrest for the murders in 2001, gary ridgway, the self-described family man, was picked up for soliciting a prostitute again. >> i still had that problem. it's just like alcohol. it's just like alcohol. prostitution to me is like alcohol is to an alcoholic. >> exactly. but killing was your real addiction, gary, not prostitutes. >> and it turns out that although police thought the green river murders had ended in the mid '80s, they were wrong. >> i did kill after '85, yes. >> okay.
>> but contrary to all those beliefs about serial killers, he was able to slow down, and he changed his style. >> i didn't have that killer mode in my head. it was like starting all over again. the killing was much more of a frenzy in the ' 0s 80s, in the '90s, i was trying to cut back. >> he said he considered himself a semi retired serial killer in the '90s. and he remembered fewer details about the more recent murders. said he had become careless, panicky. he didn't bother to hide the bodies of the women he killed in the '90s, just left them where they fell. they were a blur, not at all like the women he strangled in the '80s.
>> when they were dead, i had power over them. i had power over where i put them. it brought back memories every time i would drive sometimes and see where i put the body. i would dream about a certain place i put a woman. >> ridgway wanted to hang on to that sense of power. detectives knew he loved the attention he got during the questioning. he relished the fact they had to be nice to him. one day a frustrated sheriff reichert tried unsuccessfully to pin him down about exactly how many women he had killed. >> my point is, gary, what are we supposed to believe? i mean, you've gone from 30 to 61, you've pled guilty to 48. we know there's more than 48, you know there's more than 48. you're an evil, murdering, monstrous, cowardly man. >> and even though he agreed to confess to save his life, he still lied and withheld information. he failed to show detectives
where he had left bodies that had not been found and misled them about the location of items like jewelry he had taken from his victims. >> i hate to tell you this again, but there's another spot, there i put some jewelry. >> sometimes their anger was hard to contain. >> [ bleep ]. take your [ bleep ] back and you want to start telling the truth, you let us know. >> on one occasion, sheriff reichert was so exacerbated with ridgway's stonewalling, he literally stared him down. watch the elapsed time here. >> more than five minutes pass. but staring was the worst they could do. >> in the interrogation of this guy, could you threaten him? >> no. >> in the end, the detectives
knew they hadn't plumbed the depths of the horror that gary ridgway wrought. although they use every ploy at their disposal, they believe he did not level with them about how many murders he committed or when he started and they never really came to understand what had triggered his rage in the first place. nonetheless, they felt their plea bargain with the devil has had been worth it. were there ten more victims, 20? they will never find them all. the passage of time and the elements have scattered their bones. the task force settled on the number 48. some victims were removed from the original green river list. some were added. some were not identified. the numbers, the names, the faces made no difference to gary ridgway. but each of those victims had a family who were about to try to make him feel their anguish, anger and hate.
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lee caufield? >> guilty. >> he repeated that guilty plea 48 times. families of the victims got their day in court several weeks later on december 18th, 2003, when ridgway was sentenced. some exploded, releasing 20 years' worth of anger. >> i can only hope that some day, someone gets the opportunity to choke you unconscious 48 times. so you can live through the horror that you put our daughters, our sisters, our mothers through, that they choke you till you're dead and stand on your throat. >> vickie ware, the sister of kelly ware, whose sister was dumped near the airport in july of '83. >> he's an animal. i don't wish for him to die. i wish for him to have a long, suffering cruel death.
hopefully terminal cancer. i know he feels no remorse. >> the brother of marie malvar, the woman who fought the hardest to live. >> i hope you rot in hell, you son of a bitch. >> others, like kathy mills, the mother of the first left bite river expressed a need to put an end to her anguish. >> i forgive you. you can't hold me anymore. i'm through with you. i have a peace that is beyond human understanding. >> the daughter of carol christensen, the woman whose body ridgway posed with the fish and wine, tried one last time to make him understand what he had taken from so many. >> i was only 5 when my mother died. there's nothing that anybody can say or ever do for me that will bring my mother back.
there's nothing that will ever change the things that she's missed. >> gary ridgway did offer his performa apology. >> i'm sorry for killing these ladies. they had their whole lives ahead of them. i'm sorry for causing so much pain to so many families. >> then the judge asked for 48 seconds of silence. one second for every woman gary ridgway admitted killing. >> and i ask this moment of silence in honor of all the young women who were victims in this case and cannot speak for themselves. >> and so 20 years of investigation, six months of interrogation finally came to an end. for sheriff dave reichert, it was a day he will always remember. his moment of triumph. >> the enormity of the whole thing hits you full face. >> a few months later, after two terms as sheriff, reichert ran
for congress and won. his reputation as a straight shooter who finally got his man precedes him. ridgway is now in the washington state penitentiary, serving his 48 consecutive life sentences without possibility of parole. he is considered the worst serial killer in the history of the united states. for ail all of us at nbc news, good night.
due to mature subject matter viewer discretion is advised. follow lock-up producers and crews as they go behind the walls of america's prisons and jails, with scenes you've never seen. "lockup: raw." most of the inmates we meet inside county jails are only accused of crimes. and are awaiting trial at the resolution of their cases. but others are convicted. and awaiting sentencing or