One of America’s most prolific serial killers is back behind bars in the state where he committed his crimes after a move that angered many, including a congressman who helped catch the Green River Killer.
Gary Ridgway, 66, was convicted of 49 murders and confessed to dozens more. He wasn’t arrested until 2001 for the killings of women and girls, mostly prostitutes and runaways, that spanned the 1980s and 1990s.
Officials said they transferred Ridgway from solitary confinement at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla to the United States Penitentiary near Florence, Colo., to save money and to bring the killer out of solitary and into the general prison population.
Ridgway is serving a life sentence in a plea bargain that included assisting authorities in bringing closure to other unsolved crimes.
But those investigators argued that they’d have less access to Ridgway with the killer in Colorado, thus he wouldn’t be able to provide the sort of help to which he’d agreed.
The Washington Department of Corrections said Ridgway has been returned to Walla Walla.
Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) was sheriff of King County, Wash., before being elected to Congress. He’d been with the sheriff’s department since 1972 and worked on the Green River Killer task force, writing a book about the experience after Ridgway’s capture.
“Today, the victims’ families and loved ones can once again take comfort in knowing that the monster that terrorized our region for nearly two decades is back in his cell in Washington State,” Reichert said in a statement Sunday. “Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Gary Ridgway preyed on some of the most vulnerable members of our community, some of them just 14 or 15 years old. One by one he stole the future of countless young women and left their families forever scared by inconsolable grief.”
Reichert said that when it was learned that the Department of Corrections “justified the transfer of Ridgway to Colorado by describing him as a model prisoner, the victims’ families, dedicated detectives, scientists, patrol officers, and hundreds of volunteers involved in the Green River case were rightly shocked and outraged.”
The victims families were reportedly not notified before the move to Colorado.
“This sociopath, a man who is convicted of 49 murders, deserves to be called nothing more than the evil human being that he is,” Reichert added. “On behalf of those that lost their loved ones, I will do everything in my power to ensure that Ridgway spends the rest of his days where he belongs, alone behind thick cement cell walls.”