On November 30, 2001, police arrest Gary Leon Ridgway as a suspect in the Green River Killer case. The case is one of the nation's worst unsolved serial murder cases, involving the murders of at least 49 young women beginning in 1982. Many of the women were prostitutes. Their bodies were dumped in or near the Green River, which flows from east King County through Auburn and Kent, Washington, toward Seattle's Elliott Bay.
The case opened with the discovery of the body of Debra Lynn Bonner, age 23, on August 12, 1982. A previous Green River murder was that of Wendy Lee Coffield, age 16, whose body was found on July 15, 1982. DNA evidence ties Ridgway not to these two murders, but to those of Opal Mills, 16; Marcia Chapman, 31; and Carol Christensen, 21. Opal Mills was found on the bank of the Green River near Kent on August 15, 1982, the same day the bodies of Marcia Chapman and Cynthia Hinds, 17, were found in the water, weighed down by rocks. The body of Carol Christensen was found in woods outside Maple Valley in May 1983. Circumstantial evidence links Ridgway to a number of the other murders as well.
Ridgway, a truck painter raised near SeaTac, is a Tyee High School graduate. He has been a suspect for a long time. He is circumstantially associated with a number of the cases, but before now, detectives have not found adequate evidence to build a case against him.