“I’m sorry for killing all those young ladys … I’m sorry for the scare I put in the community… I know how horrible my acts were. I have tried for a long time to get these things out of my mind. I have tried for a long time to keep from killing any more ladys.”
So said Seattle’s Green River killer, Gary Leon Ridgway, before he was sentenced yesterday to 48 consecutive life terms.
The Seattle Times says victims’ relatives “united in their disappointment in Ridgway’s words.” “I tried to believe it, but I couldn’t,” said Garrett Mills, whose sister, Opal, was 16 in 1982 when Ridgway killed her. “He sounded like a robot to me.”
King County Superior Court Judge Richard A. Jones called Ridgway an “emissary of death” and forced the 54-year-old truck painter to get a good look at the survivors of his victims. “The remarkable thing about you, sir, is your Teflon-coated emotions and absolute lack of compassion for the women you murdered,” Jones said. “The women you killed were not throwaways, or pieces of candy in a dish, put upon this earth to satisfy your murderous desires.”
Jones’ words capped four hours of emotional testimony as relatives of two dozen Ridgway victims told him of the toll his two-decade murder spree took on them and the community. Ridgway pleaded guilty to 48 counts of aggravated murder after prosecutors stopped seeking the death penalty in exchange for his cooperation in closing unsolved murders. The judge tacked on a $480,000 fine – $10,000 for each victim – and ordered Ridgway never to contact any of the victims’ families. He warned Ridgway that he cannot profit from telling his story.
Ridgway is “afraid for his future in prison,” said King County sheriff’s Detective Frank Spence, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. More than one relative at his sentencing yesterday expressed the hope he would be killed in prison. One went so far as to say she knew people in prison who would do it.
“I think he would be dead in a month if they put him in the general population,” said Tony Savage, one of Ridgway’s attorneys.
Ridgway is expected to be classified as a close-security inmate, who will be under visual supervision at all times. The state has 1,936 close-custody offenders in an inmate population of more than 16,000. The close-custody inmates make up slightly more than 10 percent of the population, and they account for more than 60 percent of the inmate-on-inmate assaults. There are perhaps 125 inmates in a higher security level called protective custody. Those include former law enforcement officers, some high-profile sex offenders and inmates who have testified in criminal trials or provided information against other inmates.