In part two of our five-part series we hear from Rebecca Garde, the only woman to escape the twisted Green River Killer with her life. Sadly, at least 49 other women were not so lucky...
Gary Ridgway might look like an average Joe, but he’s one of the world’s most prolific serial killers. He was was convicted of murdering 49 women during the 1980s and 90s, but in truth he’s believed to have slaughtered at least 90. Ridgway got the nickname ‘The Green River Killer’ after dumping the bodies of his first five victims in Washington’s Green River. Most of Ridgway’s victims were sex workers or vulnerable teen runaways, people he assumed wouldn’t be missed.
After picking them up off the street, often with the promise of cash for sex, Ridgway would then strangle his victims either by hand or using a ligature. Perhaps most disturbing was Ridgway’s tendency to return to his victim’s bodies a few days after the murder and rape the corpses.
Clearly, the man was a maniac. But incredibly, one woman got away.
The One That Got Away…
It was a drizzly Seattle night in November 1982, and 20-year-old sex worker Rebecca Garde was walking home when a car pulled up beside her. The man inside offered her $20 in exchange for sex. Rebecca, a drug user, figured it would give her enough money to buy some dope, and anyway it was raining heavily, so at least she’d be in the dry. Only that driver was Gary Ridgway, and after driving Rebecca to a wooded area and forcing her out of the car, he tried to strangle her. Thankfully Rebecca was a tough cookie and somehow managed fight back and run to safety. Luckily for Ridgeway, Rebecca was so traumatised by the attack, not to mention convinced the police wouldn’t believe her due to her history of prostitution and drug abuse, that she didn’t report the attack.
Finally, two years later Rebecca eventually found the courage to speak to the police.
‘I got some guts,’ she later said. ‘I picked him out of a line-up… this stuff has affected me so bad it was hard for me to sleep at night.’
In an interview with CNN in 2010 Rebecca explained where her incredible strength had come from that enabled her to fight back. As Ridgway tried to strangle her, her mind had been racing.
‘No, this is not my time. I want to grow up. I want to get married. I want to have babies,” she recalled thinking. ‘I was like, “This guy is not going to kill me. I don’t belong here. I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time”’
Thankfully for Rebecca, she got out of that hideous situation alive. Unlike so many others. Rebecca Garde is the only known survivor of the Green River Killer.