Follow Gary Ridgeway through his abusive second marriage, a brief period of fanatical churchgoing, and the first phase of his life as The Green River Killer.
Publish Date: Feb 16, 2021
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About two years after he divorced, Claudia Ridgeway met Marcia Winslow, a larger woman who struggled with a weight problem for most of her life. In 1973 Marcia became Ridgeway's second wife, and their marriage, though peculiar, was not violent. from the get go. A couple of years into their marriage, Ridgeway and Marshall had a son together named Matthew. Ridgeway was 26 years old at the time, and Matthew would be is one and only child. Soon after Matthew's birth, Ridgeway joined a Baptist and Pentecostal church, and he became fanatically religious. Ridgeway went door to door, trying to convert his neighbors. Ridgeway frequently cried during church services. He compulsively read the Bible allowed at work, and he even watch television at night while clutching the Bible in his lap. Vanessa, what do you make of this religious turn for Rich way, it seems rather contradictory for such a violent and sexually perverted man to become obsessed with religion. The Ridgeway himself has not explained this contradictory phase of his life. I would guess that religion was his attempt to suppress his violent urges with a new marriage and the birth of his son. Perhaps Ridgeway sought an alternate path for himself rather than killing the sex workers he both used and despised, Ridgeway maybe tried to focus on religion to suppress his disturbed sexuality in this more healthy way, another aspect of his religiosity that interests me is his obsessive tendencies. Ridgeway is a man of great extremes. He despises his mother so much that he wants to murder her. He desires sex so desperately that he rapes women and becomes addicted to prostitution. And now, in trying out religion, he becomes madly fanatical and obsessive, hardly able to sit on the couch without his Bible. It seems as though Ridgeway is unable to act in moderation to enact a level of normal self control. This extreme behavior surely factored into his prolific murdering spree. As he took on his new for lack of a better word hobby on this religious phase did not last long. He became angry at his inability to convert his neighbors as doors were frequently shut in his face. Soon Ridgway began coming home later and later from his job as a painter. He never had any explanation for his wife, but he returned dirty and wet on. Marsha began suspecting something devious. This possibly marks the beginning of Ridgway's killings. Though the identity and date of Ridgway's first victim is unknown, Ridgeway told detectives that it was very possible that he murdered women during this time when he lived with Marcia and was frequently out late at night. Bridgeway described one day with a woman, went quote. Someone went wrong with the date and I killed her. End quote. Ridgeway was simultaneously sexually devious with his wife, Marsha. She stated that Ridgeway demanded sex several times every day and was especially interested in bondage and sex outdoors. They even had sex by the banks of the Green River, where several of his victims bodies would be found. Years later, exactly on other occasions, Ridgeway would lead Marcia deep into the woods. Ridgeway would suddenly disappear from the path he'd hide behind trees. Marcia would look around, not sure where which way went. Then he creep up behind her. Ridgeway would jump out, scaring her, and, according to Marcia Ridgeway, frequently practiced walking silently as he pretended to attack her. Ridgeway clearly used these outings with his wife, is training for his future murders. This is the earliest indication of him refining the details of his M. O in the months leading up to his first kills, and Ridgeway also choked his wife on at least one occasion. One night is they returned home from a party. Marcia stepped out of their car and stumbled toward their house when bam, suddenly someone was grabbing her, choking her, she felt a police type hold around her neck. Ah, forearm and upper arms squeezed tightly, cutting off her airflow. Marcia fought back and panicked, not yet realizing the assailant was her own husband. But a moment later, Ridgeway let go and dashed to the other side of the car. Then he hopelessly tried to convince her someone else had done it. Not surprisingly, their relationship soon deteriorated after this, causing more damage to their marriage. Marcia decided to have a gastric bypass surgery, resulting in extreme weight loss. Ridgeway worried that other men would now find her attractive, so he became increasingly jealous. Though he clearly had no problem cheating on his wives with many other women, Ridgeway could not bear the thought of his wife with anyone else. And so seven years into their marriage, they finally got divorced. Ridgeway's religious years were far gone, and his rage was about to reach new heights. I don't believe in man, God or the devil. I hate the whole damn human race, including myself, to give you a sense of timing. Ridgeway's marriage with Marcia ended in 1981 and his first known victims body would be found around a year later, the summer of 82. And as Ridgeway inched closer and closer to murder, this marriage ended more aggressively than his first. Yes, Marcia received custody of their son, Matthew, and Ridgway was forced to pay child support $275 a month. A notoriously cheap man. Ridgeway was so furious at this that he actually claims he considered killing Marcia. However, he actually never followed through. Vanessa. Does it surprise you that Ridgeway never killed anyone close to him? Well, it doesn't. Though Ridgeway was clearly very violent and malicious towards women. He was also manipulative and smart about his crimes. If he had actually killed his wife, he would have been more likely caught. Investigators usually treat the husbands of murdered women as prime suspects. Ridgeway thus knew that he would have to restrain himself, a rare occurrence for him if he wanted to remain under the radar. His future victims would be strangers that investigators would have a hard time tying back to Ridgeway. That makes sense. Ridgway had to create a normal seeming life so his neighbors and peers wouldn't be suspicious. The following is from a reporter who interviewed Ridgeway's neighbors after his eventual arrest. Neighbors described the 52 year old is ordinary. His arrest and search that included digging up his yard shocked the neighborhood south of Seattle. Ridgway had the same job for 30 years after his divorce with Marcia. Ridgeway did, however, become more engrossed in the local prostitution scene. With an insatiable sex drive, he began soliciting sex workers rather frequently while simultaneously developing an even greater hatred toward them. He felt the sex workers judged him as disdainful. Whether or not the sex workers actually judged him, it's likely that Ridgeway was simply projecting his own insecurities onto them. In other words, he might have been judging himself as disgusting for using sex workers. And so he transferred his self hatred onto others around him. And as he continues listening sex workers, he also tried dating again. He joined a Parents Without Partners Group, which would prove to be a fertile breeding ground for several short relationships. Ridgeway's sexual demands persisted into these new flings even as he slept with several these women. Concurrently, Ridgeway constantly demanded sex from them. He preferred having intercourse outdoors and tying the women up. And as Ridgeway edged closer to the starting point of his killing spree, he seemingly became less interested in long term relationships and