A decade after the Green River Killer confessed to murdering nearly 50 women, authorities believe Gary L. Ridgway may be responsible for the deaths of dozens more — including three in Lewis County.
Ridgway was arrested in 2001 after advances in DNA technology enabled authorities to link a 1987 saliva sample to some of the bodies. He pleaded guilty to 48 murders two years later, agreeing to help authorities locate as many remains as possible. He pleaded guilty to a 49th murder in 2011.
Most investigators, however, believe the true number of Ridgway’s victims is much higher than 49, and the murderer himself puts the number closer to 80.
While many of the bodies of Ridgway’s victims were located near the Green River, investigators do not believe the killings were limited to the King County area.
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In Lewis County, it is possible that Ridgway may be responsible for the deaths of three women whose bodies were discovered during the height of the Green River Killer’s slayings.
While there is no definitive evidence linking the three cases to Ridgway, there are similarities, said Detective Sgt. Dusty Breen, from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.
“We don’t have anything to suggest that any of them were related,” Breen said. “(But) they all have common elements.”
None of the women had any ties to Lewis County, and it appears their bodies were left in the area near I-5.
Like many of Ridgway’s victims, all three had disappeared out of Pierce and King counties. All came from troubled backgrounds and had high-risk lifestyles.
After Ridgway’s 2001 arrest, Lewis County detectives asked to interview him; however, the serial killer declined to speak with them, Breen said.
Local authorities are not optimistic Ridgway will change his mind and speak to them or ever confess to the three open Lewis County homicide cases.
Ridgway, 64, is serving a life sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. If he were convicted of another killing outside of King County, he could face the death penalty.
Ridgway once again appeared in regional news last week, as KOMO 4 released a series of phone interviews
over the past year.
In addition to speaking with KOMO, Ridgway also has been in communication with Rob Fitzgerald, a King County man who leads a group of volunteers to search for locations of more of Ridgway’s victims.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has 11 cold-case homicides dating back to 1984 that detectives periodically review. That number does not include the 1985 slayings of Minnie and Ed Maurin, whose suspected killer was arrested in July 2012 and whose trial is to begin next month.
Three of the 11 cold-case homicides are women whose bodies were discovered in the county during the 1980s and ’90s.
On Aug. 12, 1984, Monica Anderson, 32, of Tacoma, was found in the Chehalis River below the Galvin Road bridge. She was last seen June 24 or 25 in Tacoma, getting into a brown van on Commerce Way.
Like many of Ridgway’s victims, Anderson was a known drug user and prostitute, Breen said. Her death was caused by asphyxiation from a ligature around her neck.
On May 5, 1985, Susan L. Krueger, also known as Susan Stuebe, 41 or 42, was found along Lacamas Creek near Drews Prairie Road between Toledo and I-5. She was last seen March 11 after she was released from the Pierce County Jail. She died of blunt-force trauma to the back of her head.
Krueger was not a prostitute, but was considered to be a transient, Breen said.
The third woman, Mignon Hensley, 21, was found in a bushy area half a mile east of I-5 along Highway 12 on Aug. 5, 1991. She was last seen June 19 leaving a Déjà Vu strip club in Federal Way.
Authorities were unable to determine the cause of her death.
Breen requests anyone with information to contact the detective’s unit at the Sheriff’s Office at 360-740-1327 or Lewis County Crime Stoppers at 800-748-6422.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.