Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Green River Killer Victims

Real Name: Unrevealed
Aliases: No known nicknames
Wanted For: Murder
Missing Since: 1984


Details: Between 1982 and 1984, forty-nine young women, most of them prostitutes, were found murdered and dumped near the Green River near Seattle. The first five victims were found in 1982. All of them had been strangled and dumped in remote areas. Almost all of them had worked along the Sea-Tac strip near the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. The case remains one of the largest unsolved serial murder cases in United States history.
Over the years, investigators have followed hundreds of leads and looked into dozens of suspects. One was William J. "Bill" Stevens, a petty thief; in 1981, he casually walked away from a minimum security facility while doing time for burglary. Over the next eight years, he avoided the authorities, spending time in Seattle, Spokane, and Portland. Roderick Thorp, author of the book "River", noted that Stevens seemed the perfect suspect. He fit the FBI profile of a serial killer, including having a poor relationship with women, a mother that throttled his personality and development, and a hatred for prostitutes. He told friends that the prostitutes were "spreading the AIDS epidemic along the Sea-Tac strip," According to his adopted brother, Robert "Bob" Stevens, he often told people that he wanted to kidnap, torture, kill, and dissect women. He also wanted to fill them with rocks and tape his crimes.

William Stevens

In January of 1989, investigators received a tip about Bill Stevens and searched his parents' home in Spokane. They found a cache of guns and police badges. They also found dozens of Polaroids of nude women, most of them prostitutes. In another room, they found several pornographic tapes and fraudulent credit card receipts from 1981 to 1989. Investigators later discovered that Stevens had a fully-equipped police car that he was able to get registered to a non-existent city. He also had an ambulance and a police motorcycle. This would have made it easier for him to find potential victims.
Investigators later searched a second house in Portland, where Stevens had lived until 1985. The new owners showed the detectives that, in the basement, Stevens had a secret room hidden behind a bookshelf. It could only be accessed by using an automatic garage door opener. A neighbor later told investigators that Stevens had brought her into the room. She claimed that inside there was a bed with a mannequin laying on it. It was dressed in woman's underwear and placed in an obscene pose.
Later in January of 1989, Stevens was finally arrested and charged with felony escape, along with several weapons charges. That summer, he was also publicly named a suspect in the Green River killings. However, within a few months, the police cleared him, partially due to an alibi. Bob claims that he met with his brother while in prison. Bill told him that he could not have committed the killings because he was on a trip with their parents at the time. Specifically, he was visiting Bob in Connecticut in 1982 when the killings first started.
After the visit, Bill and his parents continued on a cross-country trip. Bob produced receipts that seemed to prove that Bill was travelling with their parents when the first five victims were murdered. Additionally, investigators determined that he was not in the Seattle area when most of the killings occurred; he was either in Spokane, Portland, or Vancouver. However, some still believe that Bill Stevens got away with murder.
Bob now questions whether or not Bill was with their parents when the first five murders were committed. According to their father, Bill would not always be with them during the trip. On some occasions, he would join them in certain places and then leave again. Bob now believes that Bill used their parents as his alibi. He believes that Bill would travel to certain parts of the country, establish that he was there, fly back to Seattle to commit murder, and then return to the vacation spot to confirm his alibi.
However, investigators claim that Bob never contacted them with information contrary to what he initially gave them in 1989. Roderick Thorp believes that investigators are not re-investigating Bill Stevens because he was a police informant. He claims that the police "overlooked" Stevens's crimes so that they could get information on more serious criminals. Investigators, however, claim that he was never an informant.
Bill Stevens died of cancer in 1991. Officially, the murders stopped in 1984. However, some believe that the killer has not stopped. At least six unsolved murders in Seattle in the late 1980s and early 1990s bare an eerie resemblance to the Green River killings. This has led Bob Stevens and Roderick Thorp to believe that Bill had an accomplice when committing the murders. They believe that this accomplice is still murdering prostitutes. Thorp learned that Bill had several unexplained long-distance calls on his phone bills. Investigators, however, believe that there was only one killer.
There is one tangible piece of evidence that connects Stevens to the killings. When investigators searched his house, they discovered a medical appointment card that belonged to a prostitute who had been murdered in Portland, Oregon. However, it has not been released who the victim was.
Investigators do not believe that the Green River Killer was Bill Stevens; his brother believes otherwise. The murders remain unsolved.
Extra Notes: This segment originally ran on the February 16, 1996 episode. It was also featured on the series Deranged.

Gary Ridgeway

Results: Captured. In 2001, investigators re-examining the case looked at some of the early suspects in the case. They discovered that they had the DNA of suspect Gary Leon Ridgway on file. Ridgway first became a suspect after a boyfriend of one of the victims identified him as the man she was last seen with. However, investigators did not have enough evidence to charge him at the time. DNA testing confirmed that Ridgway was the Green River Killer and he was arrested on November 30. Along with the DNA evidence, testing on paint found on some of the victims showed that it was the same paint that Ridgway had used at one of his jobs during the early 1980s. After his arrest, Ridgway confessed to murdering over 48 women.
In 2003, he pleaded guilty to the murders and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In 2011, he was connected to a forty-ninth murder; he later pleaded guilty to that murder as well. He is currently a suspect in several other unsolved murders; investigators believe he may have killed up to ninety women.
William Stevens is no longer a suspect in the Green River Killings, but his brother Bob still thinks he's connected to the case. Roderick Thorp died in 1999 of a massive heart attack, not living to see the outcome of this case.