His life story tests the idea of eternal security for those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus.
Gary Ridgway was an American serial killer known as the Green River Murderer. He snuffed out the lives of at least 48 women in the state of Washington in the 1980s and ‘90s. Most of the women he killed were prostitutes or young runaways.
Ridgway grew up in a troubled home where he witnessed violent arguments between his parents. As a young person, Ridgway had a bed-wetting problem until the age of 13, and his mother washed his private parts following each episode.
Held back a year in school, partly due to dyslexia, at 16 he stabbed a six-year-old boy. Fortunately, the boy survived. Ridgway’s IQ was reportedly in the low eighties.
He married his 19-year-old former high school girlfriend. The marriage only lasted a year.
During the Jesus Movement in the 1970s, Ridgway was born again and began sharing the Gospel door-to-door, reading the Bible aloud at work and at home, and insisting that his second wife follow the teachings of their church pastor, according to Private Investigator Charles Montaldo.
Ridgway’s former wives and girlfriends said he had a ravenous libido, often demanding intimate relations several times a day. To satisfy his lust, he visited prostitutes regularly.
In light of the crimes he perpetrated, how could a Christian have fallen so far? Does Ridgway’s troubled background and low IQ offer any explanation? Could a Christian commit so many heinous murders?
In 2003, he was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty. As relative after relative addressed Ridgway in court, he appeared emotionless. Some even thought he was smirking, mocking the family members of his victims.
“He’s an animal,” Vicki Ware said in court at the sentencing hearing, according to a video produced by Alex Suciu. “I wish for him to have a long, suffering, cruel death.”
“He’s going to go to Hell, and that’s where he belongs,” Carol Estes declared.
“You have said that your memory of the women whose lives you took was gone,” said Michele Andrews. “Our memory is not. In your words you said they didn’t mean anything to you. But they meant everything.
“It was like he didn’t have any remorse at all,” Janine Mattoon remembered. “I just couldn’t believe that he could murder all those people and not remember them.”
After the group of relatives uttered imprecatory wishes upon him, one Christian father, Robert Rule, got his turn. Of course, the loss of his daughter, Linda Jane, produced incalculable grief, Rule told the hearing.
“Mr. Ridgway, there are people here who hate you. I am not one of them,” Rule said. “You’ve made it difficult to live up to what I believe and what God says to do and that is to forgive.
“You are forgiven.”
The stone face of the murderer broke and Ridgway cried. Perhaps the Holy Spirit broke through at that moment to bring conviction and remorse.
His life story tests the idea of eternal security for those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus. May God have mercy on Ridgway’s soul and bring comfort to the many victims’ families who have suffered far too much due to one man’s sin.
Ridgway is currently serving a life sentence at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.