TW: serial murders and mentions of strangulation, dismemberment, and necrophilia (although not in graphic detail)
Never in my life did I ever think I’d put the word “necrophilia” on this blog, but here we are today. Welcome to talking about true crime and serial killers. Today, it’s Gary Ridgway, also known as the Green River Killer.
He was active from 1982 to 1988 (but it’s speculated he could have killed up to his capture) and confessed to killing 71 women. He was convicted of killing 49 after pleading guilty. I won’t get into what he did, but he mainly picked up high risk targets (i.e. sex workers and hitchhikers).
I’ve been on a huge serial killer kick, so when I saw one of the libraries I have a card to had this as an e-copy, I scooped it up. The only other book I’ve read by Ann Rule is The Stranger Beside Me, her magnum opus about Ted Bundy. Admittedly, I DNFed that book because it was too long and meandering.
This one is about the same. It’s over 650 pages long and felt far too much. But it covers everything that you might want to know, focusing mainly on Ridgway’s victims. I liked that. I liked that the victims and their lives weren’t forgotten. She didn’t get too in depth about what Ridgway did to his victims (another nice thing if you don’t want to read gore) but it was chilling.
While reading this, I watched A&E’s “The Killing Season”, a documentary series about the Long Island Serial Killer and other unsolved serial murders along the east coast. It was so interesting to watch it and then read this book, knowing about this subset of missing people that we don’t even know are missing, called “the missing missing.”
It made me think of this book because of the targets for serial killers. They’re called high-risk targets because they lead high-risk lives. Sex work (and by that I mean sex work on the streets and those who advertise on websites like Craigslist or Backpages, both of which are gone now and were important vetting sites — but, another time and place for my issue with how sex workers are vilified), drug users, runaways, hitchhikers, etc. Basically, those who might not even be noticed if they were suddenly gone. Those who have no one to file that missing person’s report. Those who will never be truly missed except by the people who love them.
While this book isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it’s important because it shows what’s wrong with policing the people who need the most help. Police officers are feared because they threaten, arrest, and even rape those just trying to get by. And they offer no way out of that life. Then they go missing and, well, who cares? One less thing that we need to “clean up.”
At the end, it also shows how the police in this area changed their approach and perhaps help prevent future crimes like this. In other words, this book is a long and hard read, but it’s rewarding because it shows there are ways to reform.
Do you have a favorite true crime novel?
Are you thinking to yourself “Caidyn, please keep this one murdery interest to yourself”?