What Happened To The Green River Killer's Son?

Between July 1982 and August 1998, Gary Ridgway, who became known as the "Green River Killer," admittedly murdered 49 women in King County, Washington. As reported by Biography, authorities initially suspected Ridgway in 1987, as he was the last person seen with two of the victims. Although Ridgway was questioned and provided a saliva sample, DNA testing was not advanced enough at the time to conclusively connect him to the murders.

Ridgway remained free and continued his killing spree until November 2001, when advances in DNA technology proved he was involved in at least four murders. The Seattle Times reports Ridgway was arrested on November 30, 2001. Following his arrest, Ridgway ultimately admitted to killing 48 women and pleaded guilty to 48 counts of aggravated first-degree murder per a plea agreement. In 2011, he pled guilty to another (per History).

The plea agreement, which spared Ridgway from the death penalty, required the killer to provide the court with a detailed account of each murder he committed and the location of his victims' remains. In his official statement to the court, which was published by CNN, Ridgway admittedly targeted sex workers. He said, "I picked prostitutes as my victims because I hate most prostitutes and I did not want to pay them for sex ... they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away, and might never be reported missing ... I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught."

The Green River killer was a good father, according to his son

As reported by History, Gary Ridgway was ultimately sentenced to 49 life sentences, which are to be served consecutively. He will not be eligible for parole. It is often assumed that serial killers are either uninterested or incapable of forming personal relationships. However, Ridgway was married three times. Practical Psychology reports that Ridgway and his second wife, Marcia Lorene Brown, had a son together, who they named Matthew.

Gary and Marcia's relationship was reportedly contentious and sometimes physically violent. As a result, the couple divorced after eight years. However, Gary maintained a close — and apparently loving — relationship with his son. According to The Seattle Times, Matthew does not remember seeing any indication that his father was a serial killer. In fact, he remembers his father as a subdued man who was an active part of his life.

Matthew said his father regularly attended his school functions. The father and son also played baseball together, went on camping trips, and rode bikes together. One specific memory he shared was going to the donut shop with his father after he finished the night shift at a local truck plant. As reported by The Seattle Times, Matthew said his father seemed to be a compassionate man. He recounted an incident where Gary pulled over at the scene of a car accident and spread a blanket over someone who was injured in the crash.

Matthew Ridgway does not remember anything unusual about his father

Matthew Ridgway said he only remembers his father spanking him on one occasion. According to The Seattle Times, Matthew said that his father did not seem to hold grudges or carry anger. As reported by The News Tribune, he said he never heard his father yell and did not witness any arguments between his parents. Although Gary Ridgway later admitted he left his son in the car while he met with and ultimately killed a sex worker, Matthew had no recollection of the incident. At some point, his mother told him his father was arrested for soliciting a sex worker, but Matthew never discussed the incident with Gary and never witnessed anything to indicate his father visited sex workers.

Following his arrest, The News Tribune says Ridgeway admitted he showed many of his victims' photographs of his son in an attempt to portray himself as a family man and therefore gain their trust. Matthew remembers when his father was questioned about the Green River killings in 1987. However, Matthew simply did not believe Gary could have been involved. In an interview with The News Tribune, Matthew said, "He's my dad. He didn't do it, you know."

At the time of Gary's arrest, Matthew was 26 years old. He was a member of the United States Marine Corps stationed at Camp Pendleton. Gary had also served in the armed forces as a member of the Navy from 1969 to 1971.

Matthew Ridgway has avoided the media since 2003

Attorney Michele Shaw, who was part of Gary Ridgway's defense team, spent a lot of time with his family following his arrest and during the subsequent legal proceedings. During an interview with Kitsap Sun, Shaw said Gary's entire family was devastated to learn what he had done. However, she thinks they may have been questioning his involvement since his first interview with police in 1987.

Shaw said he had the impression that Matthew Ridgway "took it so well" because he may have "held out the possibility that his dad could have been" the Green River killer since 1987. Although Gary's family was disturbed to learn he was a serial killer and the specific details of his crimes, Shaw said they wanted to try to forgive him and "continue to have a relationship" with him in some capacity.

Although he consented to an interview with authorities in preparation for his father's trial, Matthew avoided the media and has refused to comment on his father's crimes following his conviction and subsequent incarceration. According to Crimes Lab, Matthew last spoke with the media 2003. At that time, he was married and living in California. He expressed that he will always remember his father as the man who raised and supported him throughout his childhood and early adulthood.

Gary Ridgway remains incarcerated at the Washington State Penitentiary. In March 2019, former reporter John McCoy spoke to AETV and said he was told the Green River killer "was in poor health and kept in close confinement."