Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Green River Killer: River of Death

Gary's Wife Breaks Her Silence

Some time after Gary Ridgway shocked the world with his confession to 48 murders, his third wife, Judith, announced that she would collaborate on a book about him. It was not her intention to "cash in" so much as to let people know that not only had Gary treated her well, he'd been a dream come true. In comparison to the other men with whom she'd been involved (she had previously married a bisexual man), Gary was her hero. She apparently had a positive effect on him as well, because after they married his urge to kill diminished somewhat. Still, he did continue.

Gary Ridgway
Gary Ridgway

Pennie Morehead, an expert on graphology, penned Green River Serial Killer: Biography of an Unsuspecting Wife, concluding it with her own analysis of Ridgway's handwriting. "When I first met Judith Ridgway," she says in the introduction, "she was still clinging to the hope that her husband, the infamous Green River Killer, was innocent." In 2002 Judith and several of her friends hoped a graphology analysis would support their belief that Gary had not committed these crimes. He was then under arrest, but had not yet confessed.

Pennie Morehead
Pennie Morehead

Morehead got the impression that Judith had endured a lot in her life, but to her surprise, Judith's pain proved to have come from prior experiences of abuse. Gary, it turned out, was to her a gentleman, compassionate and caring, so it's little wonder Judith could not imagine him doing the horrendous things to which he ultimately admitted. That alone makes this biography of someone who'd gotten this close to a serial killer worth reading.

Book cover: Green River Serial Killer: Biography of an Unsuspecting Wife
Book cover: Green River Serial Killer: Biography of an Unsuspecting Wife

Once a serial killer is caught, the public tends to believe that anyone close to him — especially a wife — "had to know." In fact, he had actually been questioned by detectives just after he met Judith, but, since he'd been released, she did not suspect. It's difficult to conceive how well psychopaths can compartmentalize and thereby "pass" as normal while still carrying on serial assaults. Yet some can actually be that deceptive. While Gary was only of average intelligence, he was street-smart and had honed his ability to fool others about who he really was.

Judith Ridgway
Judith Ridgway

Despite the stereotype of serial killers as nomadic loners, many have been married or in committed relationships. Few family members of convicted serial killers have been willing to talk in detail, but those who have done so have offered valuable insight into the daily existence of such offenders. Judith, now divorced, not only agreed to participate in a book but has appeared on talk shows to try to describe just how ordinary, even wonderful, her relationship with Gary was. Even so, he did ultimately ruin her life, and she dedicates the book to "those who have had their futures stolen by deceitful lovers."

 

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