I've been reading this book, Green River, Running Red, written by Ann Rule, a book all about the exploits of the Green River Killer. It's a big book, and a long read. I'm just about halfway through it; it's hard to read, not because of the vocabulary, but because Rule gives very specific descriptions of locations and people that I am just not intimately acquainted with. I think this book is worth reading twice, or maybe even three times, just in order to absorb all the information presented within.
I also have to make a correction as to the number of murders Gary Ridgway (sp?)(too lazy to go look it up) is guilty of: the official count is 54, if you can believe it (I cannot). In that earlier entry I'd said it was "40+", I think, and while not wholly false, the real number is just that much more staggering.
54. Fifty-four women and girls, murdered. It is unfathomable. It is beyond human linguistic description. It is a number that is difficult to grasp when you're talking in terms of lives lost, let alone considering the number of human lives affected by each of those 54 women: the families, the law enforcement investigating them, and their families. And now those of us reading Ann Rule's account of what happened, or those of us who had been following the story on Dateline.
Mainly, I wanted to say here officially that I rescind my earlier statement that Gary Ridgway, arrested, tried and convicted of murdering all those women, might be innocent. I picked up the book to read to see if there might be more information in there that even a two-hour Dateline report could miss. After seeing Dateline's story, I felt they had the wrong guy; I'm not even done with this mammoth book, and I already see I am wrong. They certainly do have the right guy.
However, in addition to the profiles of all the women who lost their lives at the hands of Gary Ridgway, Rule also provides a profile of the killer, of Mr. Ridgway, and his upbringing and evolution as an adult. While I don't think the police have the "wrong guy", I do feel some compassion for Mr. Ridgway. His was a life of trying to do the right thing, and always winding up being ignored or neglected, and when he did finally get some attention, it was always of the negative sort. I know behavioralists and other righteous-seeming adults are quick to say, "But he was an adult when he committed those murders!! He had choices just like everybody else; and he made the WRONG choices, and he should suffer the consequences!!"
Be that as it may, you also can't argue with the fact that the beliefs and values a person forms when they're growing up are pretty difficult to undo. And honestly, how many people do you know who actually stop to take the time to ask the other people around them, "And how are you doing these days? Do you need some help? Is there anything I can help you with???"
The fact is, we're all struggling as adults, in some way or another. The adults in Gary Ridgway's childhood failed him, and failed him consistently. Perhaps he would have made the same mistakes anyway; but who's to say? And anyway, that's pure speculation. For all intents and purposes, Gary Ridgway was a hard-working man trying to please his loved ones -- is that a crime??? What about the crime of neglect committed by his parents, and all the other adults who came into contact with him as he grew from childhood to manhood?
And no doubt his parents were neglected, and their parents were neglected, and on and on. Gary Ridgway, near as I can tell so far, was *not* trying to be "great"; he was merely longing for, like many of us do, the kind of love and attention and nurturing that every child deserves. And if you don't get it as a child, you spend the rest of your life looking for it, whether people understand what you're doing or not.
At his sentencing, the families of the women he murdered lined up to condemn him. I thought it was as ludicrous as the crimes he committed. That's why I was compelled to say, "two wrongs don't make a right!!" They don't!
Moreover, I saw with my own eyes (ah, the beauty of videotape), Gary Ridgway cried and showed deep remorse when each of those family members stepped forward to cast their stones. Only one person as I recall actually had the decency to say to him, "I forgive you for what you've done". No doubt, the murders he committed was wrong; I'm not saying he should be the exception to the rule. But I am saying take a closer look. Scott Petersen (or 'Peterson', again, I don't feel like looking it up) showed *ZERO* remorse or emotion during his entire trial, nevermind the sentencing part. Now there's a couple of guys who are worlds apart!!! Scott Petersen was a spoiled brat; you could hardly accuse Gary Ridgway of that.
And even the BTK killer ... well, I'm not finished reviewing all the information on that. Although I will say my impression of him is that he was after fame and glory through his murderous spree. And he had a higher IQ than Ridgway. A higher IQ, but no less nondescript.
Oh, I could go on and on. Maybe someday I will. I just mainly wanted to say that my assessment of Gary Ridgway was wrong before; I do think the police have the right guy, now, and for that you can thank the book I'm reading.