The term ‘serial killer’ often seems to have varying definitions across law enforcement, researchers, and others. However, the commonly accepted definition is ‘a series of three or more murders with comparable aspects that indicate the possibility of the crimes being committed by the same person or people. Though their motivation often differs, some traits are deemed common to most serial killers, including predatory behavior, need for control, and a lack of remorse. Considering these common traits, it is easy to assume that people around these murderers would notice something was amiss. Turns out, it isn’t. Case in point: Gary Ridgway a.k.a. Green River Killer’s wife, Judith Mawson.
They first met at a Seattle bar in 1985 and went on to date for three years before getting married in 1988. Little did she know that the man who made her “smile everyday” had been killing women, mostly harlots, since 1982. In an interview with the People Magazine, Judith recounted her visit to his home in SeaTac, Washington. She saw there was no carpet – instead just a mattress and box springs. Ridgway explained that while the carpets had been destroyed by his tenants’ children, the bed belonged to an ex-girlfriend, who had decided to take it back. It was only after he was arrested (2001) and confessed to 48 murders that Judith found out that he got rid of the bed and the carpets because he had intercourse with some of his victims on them before killing them.
After Gary Ridgway’s arrest in November 2001, Judith was also subjected to the public’s indignation. From having people scream at her to breaking her flowerpots in her driveway, Judith suffered a lot. In fact, a neighbor, who she had requested to watch one of her cats, refused to return the feline. She told People, “The husband said, ‘You’re married to the Green River Killer. You can’t have it back.'”
Judith visited Ridgway in jail for the first two years and he continued to insist that he had been wrongfully accused of the crimes. However when Gary confessed in 2003, she stopped visiting. And to get him to stop writing letters to her, she roped in a friend to lie to him and tell him that she had found in love again. But that was barely any solace to the woman who had unknowingly spent over 16 years with a serial killer. Judith passed the next few years practically isolated as she bottled up misery with wine and pain killers. Though she did go to therapy in an attempt to get help, she eventually stopped because she spent most of the sessions only crying.
Gary Ridgway, deemed among the most prolific serial killers in history, was initially charged for 48 counts of murder – with the 49th being added in 2011. He eventually confessed to having murdered at least 75 – 80 women.
Judith Mawson now spends most of her days with friends from a local church in Graham, Washington.