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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 December, 2003, 20:58 GMT
'Green River' killer gets life
Gary Ridgway
Ridgway wept as he apologised to his victims' families
A man who killed 48 young women near Seattle over about 15 years has been sentenced to life in prison.

Gary Ridgway avoided the death penalty because he agreed to help police locate the bodies of his victims.

Ridgway, a former industrial painter labelled the "Green River killer" after the site where he dumped some of the women's bodies, cried in the courtroom as judgment was passed.

He apologised for the pain he had caused to his victims' family members.


Ridgway wept as he made his apologies after a series of damning comments delivered by the judge.

Judge Richard Jones said he hoped Ridgway would remember the faces of his victims in his "dreams and the private thoughts of your grisly deeds".

"If you have a drop of emotion, you will be haunted for the balance of your life," he said.

Ridgway told families gathered in the court he tried for "a long time to keep from killing any ladies".

"I'm very sorry for the ladies that were not found. May they rest in peace, they need a better place than where I gave them," he said.

"I'm sorry for killing these ladies. They had their whole lives ahead them still. I'm sorry for causing so much pain for so many people."

Dark record

The 54-year-old from Auburn, Washington, will have more murders on his record than any other serial killer in US history.

Most of the women - strangled by Ridgway between 1982 and 1984 - were prostitutes who worked on "the strip" close to Sea-Tac airport, which serves Seattle and nearby Tacoma.

"I hate most prostitutes and I did not want to pay them for sex," he said in his statement.

He said he left some bodies in "clusters" and enjoyed driving by the sites afterward, thinking about what he had done.

Grim legacy

For weeks, Ridgway has been leading police to sites where he dumped the bodies of young women.

He had been a prime suspect in the case for years before a breakthrough DNA test linked him to several victims.

The bodies of his initial victims were fished out of the Green River in 1982 and later bodies, typically naked and mutilated, were found in other parts of western Washington state.

Ridgway's arrest in 2001 ended the longest-running serial killer investigation in US history.

The BBC's Linden Kemkaran
"Ridgway began his killing spree in 1982"

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