Advances in DNA technology: 3 more Ridgway victims possibly identified


The remains of three victims of Green River killer Gary Ridgway may finally yield their identities.

New DNA technology and testing have allowed Bode Technology of Lorton, Va., to extract DNA profiles of the remains, two of which were recovered in Auburn and Burien in the early 1980s.

The third set of remains was found in Kent in 2003 where Kent-Kangley Road curves up the side of the Valley just above the Green River.

The remains in Auburn were recovered in 1985 near the Mountain View Cemetery; the Burien remains were found in 1984 in a Little League field.

Gary Ridgway of Auburn pleaded guilty in 2003 to the murders of 48 women, including four that were never identified. He's serving a life sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.

It was advances in DNA technology that led to his arrest in November 2001 outside the Kenworth Truck Co. plant in Renton, where he had worked for 30 years.

The three remains are among eight unidentified remains in the state the Virginia company was able to identify, under a National Institute of Justice grant. Seven of the eight are "full" profiles, while the eighth is a "strong" profile.

"These are remains that in some cases have gone to several prior labs without profiles being developed," said Sgt. Cindi West, a spokeswoman for the King County Sheriff's Office.

Dave Reichert, a Sheriff's Office detective who went on to become sheriff and then a U.S. congressman, led the investigation from its beginning three decades ago in 1982 on the banks of the Green River in Kent.

Now the profiles will go to the University of North Texas for review and uploading into the national DNA database. Investigators will attempt to match them against missing persons cases that have DNA profiles in the database.

"Typically, family members of missing persons provide DNA samples to be used in 'building' a DNA profile that would represent their missing family member," said West.

The DNA is often obtained from a toothbrush, comb or other personal item left behind by the victim.

Here are the eight cases described by the King County Sheriff's Office. The first seven have full DNA profiles, while the last one has a "strong" DNA profile.

• Case number: 69-014372

Case moniker: “Tolt Hill 1969 Jane Doe” murder victim.

Location: One mile west of the Tolt River Bridge near Carnation on what is now 290th Avenue Northeast.

Date of recovery: June 5, 1969

Facts: The woman was described as white, 23 to 25 years old, 5-foot-1 to 5-foot-2, 105-115 pounds, with dark hair. She had been dead for up to six months.

Case number: 83-198246

Case moniker: "North Bend Male"

Location: one miles south of 42003 S.E. 166th St.

Date of recovery: Oct. 12, 1983

Facts: Male skeletal remains. Victim died from a gunshot wound to the head.

• Case number: 88-260904

Case moniker: "Cascade Tunnel Man"

Facts: This man died in an apparent accident in King County on Nov. 2, 1988, after falling from a train in the tunnel through Stevens Pass. He was possibly living in the Wenatchee area in the fall of 1988.

• Case number: 91-280335

Case moniker: "Snoqualmie River Skull"

Date of recovery: Sept. 5, 1991

Facts: Partial female skull and vertebra remains. Estimated age at time of recovery, 29.

• Case number: 06-353095

Case moniker: "Tolt Hill Female 2006"

Location: 2110 290th Ave. N.E., Carnation (Tolt Hill Road)

Date of recovery: Nov. 25, 2006

Facts: Top portion of skull found in horse pasture. The remains very old and may be a related victim to the "Tolt Hill 1969 Jane Doe" homicide whose unidentified body was recovered three blocks away in 1969.

• Case number: 84-054800 (ME 84-0346)

Moniker: Green River killer homicides, "Bones 10"

Date of recovery: March 21, 1984, at a Little League filed in Burien.

Gary Ridgway pleaded guilty to this murder.

• Case number: 85-260579 (ME 85-1462)

Green River Killer homicides, "Bones 16"

Recovered: Dec. 30, 1985, near Mountain View Cemetery in Auburn.

Gary Ridgway pleaded guilty to this murder.

• Case number: 03-263862 (ME 03-1139)

Moniker: Green River Killer homicides, "Bones 20"

Recovered: Aug. 21, 2003, in the 24000 block of Kent-Des Moines Road in Kent.

Gary Ridgway led detectives to these remains and pleaded guilty to this murder.

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