News & Politics

Insanity: Wash. State Came One Vote Away From Releasing Green River Serial Killer So He Wouldn't Get Wuhan Virus

Gary Ridgway mugshot. Taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Throughout the country, law enforcement has set free thousands of prisoners to “protect them” from COVID-19 inside jails and prisons.

While innocents are locked in their homes hiding from “the invisible enemy,” as President Trump calls it, county sheriffs, prison overseers, and governors have been busy freeing convicted criminals to stop them from getting the coronavirus.

The rogue’s gallery of convicts is a justice reformer’s dream. Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva bragged he let prisoners out of his jail before he was even asked by the ACLU and other justice groups – this while he shut down gun stores so people could not buy guns to protect themselves.

But nothing is more, what’s the word for it? Ah, yes – INSANE – than what Washington State prison reformers nearly succeeded in doing last week.

The man we now know as the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgeway, was sent to prison for more than 500 years. He was convicted of 49 murders of prostitutes, girls on the streets and vulnerable runaways, but he was suspected of committing 71 murders in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

He would take the women and girls, have sex with them, and then strangle them, watching the light go out of their eyes as he squeezed the life out of them. Sometimes he’d use a rope and sometimes he’d use his bare hands. He’d pose their bodies and sometimes come back and have sex with the corpses. His first victims were found in the Green River, giving the monster his moniker.

He was arrested in the ’80s but let go for lack of evidence. A task force was formed to track down the serial killer and in 2001 – decades and multiple victims later – Gary Ridgeway was busted again and confessed to 71 murders.

Ridgeway was spared the death penalty because prosecutors knew it would take many millions of taxpayers dollars to give him appeals for the rest of his natural life. There was understandable outrage at the time, but prosecutors assured victims’ families and the general public that he would never ever, ever get out of prison. Never.

Predictably, the move also lowered the bar for any other death penalty cases coming thereafter. “Well, if you didn’t give the Green River Killer the death penalty then my client, who is a much nicer murderer, shouldn’t get it … ”

And then came the coronavirus and everything changed.

A legal activist group, Columbia Legal Services, began agitating for inmates over 50 years old to be set free to save them from the virus. Ridgeway is 71 years old.

Q13 News reports prosecutors argued in court that “The Petitioners [Columbia Legal Services] demand that 2/3 of the prison population be released into the community, a number which includes serial killers and capital murderers.”

Among the killers to possibly be released, besides the Green River Killer, was Isaac Zamora, a multiple murderer who went on a shooting rampage and killed five people. He’s serving a life sentence, whatever that means anymore.

The Skagit Valley Herald reported that the legal group didn’t take into consideration the horrific nature of the crimes committed by the 2/3 of the inmates who would be released.

The response to the lawsuit by the state Office of the Attorney General notes that the request doesn’t account for severity of crimes. It contends that what the lawsuit seeks could result in the release of almost 12,000 inmates, possibly even “Green River Killer” Gary Ridgway and Isaac Zamora, who killed six people and injured four others in a shooting spree in Skagit County in 2008.

“We’re not talking about low-level druggies and low-level property crimes,” Skagit County Chief Deputy Criminal Prosecutor Rosemary Kaholokula told the Skagit Valley Herald Tuesday. “We’re talking about really bad people.”

On Thursday, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that those “really bad people,” including The Green River Killer, would face the coronavirus locked up like everyone else in the country.

The vote was 5-4. That means four of the Washington State Supreme Court were ready to empty the state prisons of 2/3 of the prisoners, including Gary Ridgeway.

We note that Columbia Legal Services has just welcomed a new member of the Washington State Supreme Court to the bench, Justice G. Helen Whitener.

 

One vote saved Washington State from this legal tyranny, but it wasn’t hers. Justice G. Helen Whitener’s name was not among those who voted to keep the “really bad people” in prison.