The terms of sexual homicide and necrophilia brings many questions to the minds of the sane. These are the terms that criminologists use to identify the mind of the disturbed. Gary Ridgeway had a hate for young women and prostitutes, seeing them as vermin to society. He was a notorious killer, having the most kills in serial killer history. He claims to have killed over 90 women and young girls. There are many factors in his life that play a part in his hatred, as well as a deep love-hate relationship with his mother, and public humiliation to his siblings.
Even with Ridgway being a notorious killer, there is not much detail found from his childhood. Ridgeway claims on a few reports that his childhood was not a good one. Reports indicate, that he was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 18, 1949. He seemed to have gotten in many violent arguments with both parents, but was closer to his mother than he was his father. Ridgway’s father was a bus driver, who would talk about prostitutes and their ways to Ridgway. He would often tell him stories of his co-workers acting on necrophilia. This influenced as a main factor behind Ridgway’s motives, as well as other things. Ridgeway reported that his mother often dressed like a prostitute, and seemed to act like one. As a teen, Ridgeway would often wet his bed, which embarrassed his mother. She would then humiliate him in front of siblings and his father. Despite this upsetting him, it also aroused him. In addition to that, he had an angry sexual frustration towards his mother, for a reason that even he could not explain. Possibly because of her domineering manner and her overly protective care for him throughout his life, and even through adulthood (Montaldo, 2017).
This is believed to be tied into Sigmund Freud’s ‘Oedipus Complex’, in which the child has a sexual attraction to the parent of the opposite gender, and is always in competition with the parent of the same sex for love. Freud states that this is more so common with young boys and their mothers, and that this develops around the ages of five. At this age, Freud believed that young children desired to have all of their mothers’ love. So therefore, jealousy would develop against the father, as well as a competitive mindset. However, Freud also claimed that later in the child’s life that these sexual feelings would move on from the mother, and would focus onto female peers (Ahmed, 2012).
Ridgway had a very low IQ at 82 and was held back a few times throughout his school career. He suffered greatly from dyslexia and ended up graduating at the age of 20. Despite this, his classmates would often describe him as hospitable and a ladies’ man. At age 16, Gary committed his first crime by attempting to murder a six-year old boy. He stabbed the boy through the ribs, and into the liver. He made a claim to the young boy afterwards, saying that he ‘always wondered what it was like to kill someone.’ His alibi was not accounted for in the crime, and the stabbing was brushed off by police (Billig, 2013). According to some reports, Ridgway also had psychopathic tendencies. He had an antisocial disorder, and did not show remorse for others (Billig, 2013).
In 1969, Ridgway graduated from Tyee High School, and married the first of his three wives, Claudia Kraig. He got a job as a truck painter at Kenworth’s trucking co., at which he would stay at for the next 30 years. Before he continued with his life-long career, he enlisted into the Navy and served in Vietnam on a supply ship. At the time, Ridgway would hire prostitutes and usually did so, unprotected. He ended up diagnosed with gonorrhea during a medical exam. The idea of this angered him, yet, he still had intercourse without protection. Later, Kraig had an affair that Ridgway found out about, and the marriage ended. They divorced in 1972. Ridgway made a claim that she had moved in with multiple men and became a prostitute herself (Robinson,2008).
In 1973, Ridgway married a second wife, Marcia Winslow, and she noted that he became very religious at the time. She reported that he read the bible aloud at work and home, and even cried during some passages and church sermons. He ordered for Marcia to strictly follow the pastor’s teachings. During the marriage, Ridgway’s mother was constantly involved. She would buy Ridgway’s clothes, and even made the final decisions on all their major purchases (Montaldo,2017). In 1975, Their only son Matthew was born. Ridgway’s mother would often blame Marcia for not taking care of Ridgway. Ridgway would never stick up for Marcia, making her feel alone. She reported that he once strangled her after an argument. Seven years later in 1980, the two divorced (Robinson,2008).
His third wife was Judith Lynch, whom he met at a ‘Parents Without Partners’ function. After two years of courtship the two married in 1987. She saw Ridgway as a gentle and kind man, as well as the perfect suitor. She even praised his mother for taking diligent care of her son. They both enjoyed going to garage sales and yard sales, having an abundant of collections throughout their house. The marriage lasted 14 years ending in divorce in 2002 after Ridgway was arrested.
Gary Ridgway is known as the serial killer with the most kills in history, as well as the serial killer that outsmarted cops for over 20 years. He started his killings in 1982, with one of his first victims being Wendy Coffield. She was found in the summer of 1982, floating in the green river in King County, Washington. When she was found she had been strangled by her own piece of clothing. Wendy Coffield was only 16 years old when she was killed by Ridgway. Her case went unsolved for many years before being connected to Gary Ridgway in 2001; after a second DNA testing was done on a fingerprint with modern technology. After this, many more women of all ages started to go missing along the same strip Wendy had. It was a strip along the highway, where cheap hotels and topless bars were located; a local spot that Ridgway favored as his preying spot for innocent women (Montaldo, 2017). He was brought into questioning in 1983 after a boyfriend of a missing prostitute identified the truck Ridgway had picked her up in the night before. He was cleared after he passed two polygraph tests that claimed him innocent. He was brought in again in 1984 when he tried to convince an undercover cop to come with him. Though despite getting away twice, Ridgway was placed under police surveillance. They discovered Ridgway was not at work whenever another girl was reported missing, but never looked in depth at this major detail. (Montaldo, 2017). Ridgway ended up having over 70 victims, between the ages of 15 to 31. Though he confessed to 90 victims, he was only convicted for 48 (Rule, 2004).
He told police that he thought he was doing them a ‘favor’ by killing these innocent women after having sexual acts with these women, figuring the police wouldn’t look for them. In some cases, he would even perform sexual acts on their corpses. He would bury a lot of them together in groups, and even posed some of them. He was asked about his sexual tendencies with the corpses of these prostitutes and runaways, and he replied to them that he did this simply because he had an urge to. He claimed it was a sexual release, that he did not to have to pay and that it gave him a sense of empowerment (Rule, 2004).
This, known as necrophilia, is a paraphilia in which a person has a sexual attraction to dead bodies. It classified under the ‘Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders IV’, and is an unclassified paraphilia that no one can agree diagnostic symptoms on. It is reportedly very rare and it’s commonness is unknown. The pattern of necrophilia seems to be associated with working in morgue and funeral parlors. These types of jobs enable a person who has this type of disorder to be alone with dead bodies. In many cases, necrophiles have acted upon their urges, and have even killed to be able to carry out their unnatural urges (Stein, Schlesinger, Pinizzotto, 2010).
Ridgway claimed to have performed necrophilia acts for two to three days on a couple of corpses, before flies started appearing on the corpses. In other cases, he would drive by the dumping sites and feel pride in what he had done. He also showed this by trying to have intercourse with the second wife in some of the same spots of the later discovered dumping areas, and in other public areas. Many of his past girlfriend and all three of his ex-wives, claimed that Ridgway had an unquenchable sexual appetite, and demanded sex from them multiple times a day (Billig, 2013).
Many of the women were murdered by strangulation. Most of the time he used his bare hands. Other times he would use a ligature of sort, fearing in some cases that he would leave behind handprints. Ridgway told police during interrogation, that he thought he was quite good at choking, and used it to his advantage. When asked about his motives behind the killings, he told them he simply wanted to, so he wouldn’t have to pay for intercourse. On November 30th, 2001, Gary Ridgway was arrested after twenty long years. Modern technology was used to identify Ridgway after a second DNA test on a fingerprint that had been found years prior. A year later, November 2nd,2003, Ridgway pleaded guilty to 48 murder charges, as well as admitting to necrophilia with at least six of the 48 bodies, and for moving some of the bodies to Oregon to throw off the investigation. He was sentenced to 480 years in jail with no parole. To this day, he resides in the Walla Walla, Washington State Prison (Montaldo, 2017).
Serial Murders can be explained in many ways, including biologically. In one report, having an extra ‘Y’ chromosome in your DNA is found commonly with criminal behaviors. Blood sugar can also affect with violent and aggressive behaviors. Another consideration is found in the works of Cesare Lombrose, who claims that criminals have certain facial features that can be pointed out from non-criminals. Distinctive facial features can include asymmetrical faces, unusually large or small ears, and an unusually shaped nose. Most murderers have a ‘beak -like’ nose, as well as lips that protrude out. Lombroso’s theory excludes women, seeing only prostitution and abortion to be criminal (Lee & Choi, 2014).
In the psychological aspect of figuring out a criminal, it is said there are many theories. One is the instinct and impulse theory, which states whether people have an instinctive urge to commit aggressive and violent behaviors. Then there is the attachment theory that correlates with a mother and child’s bond strengths. In this theory it is brought up that if this bond is broken, the child will be lead into delinquency and ultimately, crime. Following with this theory is the social learning theory, which claims violent books, shows, and games contributes to these aggressive behaviors (Lee & Choi, 2014).
Aggression played a main part in Ridgway’s tactics and actions, despite seeming like the picture-perfect man. Aggression is described as a common social behavior within humans. It is a natural element that rules the lives of animals, given that it is an instinct for survival purposes. It is still considered instinctive in humans as well. Aggression can be expressed in many forms such as arousal to the body, thoughts, verbal anger, competitive and dominant traits, and acts of violence. Dominance is a manifestation of aggression, since men feel the need to affirm their personality, and one way of trying to achieve dominance is sought through aggression (Batrinos, 2012).
This type of behavior is classified and mobilized by the muscular system. A study of testosterone’s play in aggressive behavior was done, alongside with the muscles to see how they both correlated with this instinct. A study on prisoners was done in 1972, found that prisoners who conducted violent crimes during their teenage years had a higher level of testosterone. Out of a saliva test from 10 out of the 11 inmates that had elevated levels of testosterone, they had committed violent crimes. While 9 out of 10 with the lowest testosterone levels had committed non-violent crimes. There was a similar result in other studies done. Studies in a sexual offender’s blood testosterone was found to be in the normal range, or increased. As well as testosterone that was related or not related to aggression was found. A discovery of cortisol, thyroxin and testosterone was in a sample from over 4,000 veterans. It shows that basal testosterone levels were related to antisocial and aggressive behavior. (Batrinos, 2012)
Ridgway’s mind was obviously disturbed, which is believed to be the result of his violent childhood. One report even claims that Ridgway seemed eerily calm and collective during an interrogation. He was an organized killer, and the fact that he could confuse the police at each spot for twenty years, proves this fact. His tactic was actually quite simple. He would leave other peoples’ pieces of gum or cigarette butts around the crime scene, ultimately confusing the police and leading them back to square one. He even took some of the corpses to Oregon to confuse them, and because of that, everyone thought he was moving away from the Washington area.
Ridgway claimed that the reason for these kills were simply because he felt powerful when killing them, and that he felt a strong desirable urge to kill them; as well as stating that it was a free sexual release. These kills were clearly motivated by lust and dominance, or in other words, hedonistic and power-oriented. Ridgway admitted these factors of himself in his own words during investigation after being arrested.
The terms sexual homicide and necrophilia can bring many questions to the mind of the sane and can be used to identify the mind of the disturbed. Gary Ridgway proved this to be true through his power and lust driven killings that spanned from the years of 1982-2001. Gary Ridgway killed over 90 women and young girls that he claimed to be vermin of society. His tactics of staying under the radar from the police also shows how psychologically wrong his mind is. His violently claimed childhood and his relationship with his parents helped shape his disturbed mind and psychotic ways.