Plans for Gary Ridgway to plead guilty next week to the Green River killings have prompted growing tensions between police investigators and King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, the Seattle Times reports. The Green River Task Force wants more time to interview Ridgway about more than 40 slayings he is said to have admitted to, in hopes of closing still more cases. Maleng is reluctant to prolong the relentless publicity about what could become the largest serial-killing case in U.S. history. That media attention has focused on Maleng’s previous declarations that he would never bargain with the death penalty.
Task-force spokeswoman Detective Kathleen Larson said that regardless of what happens in court, the task force, “we still have searches planned, and we’ll continue working on this case until all investigative leads are exhausted.”
One source said that when all the slayings linked to Ridgway are tallied, it will be clear he continued killing right up to his arrest in November 2001. Ridgway, 54, a truck painter, has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder in seven of the Green River slayings from the early 1980s.
The official list of victims spans 1982 to 1984, during the height of women’s disappearances. Since then, it has been a matter of debate whether the Green River killer really stopped killing, or women’s deaths were just not being attributed to the case.
Sources said prosecutors are scrambling to write charging papers for more than 40 slayings Ridgway will admit to committing through two decades. A plea deal that will spare Ridgway the death penalty is reportedly to be signed Wednesday.