Anybody who has ever lost a loved one knows how difficult it can be to reach the “acceptance” stage of grief. It’s hard enough when the person lost had passed away from natural causes or an illness, but when the cause of death was a violent one, their grief reaches another level entirely.
Serial killer Gary Leon Ridgway, also known as the Green River Killer, was directly responsible for a great deal of heartbreak due to his heinous crimes. When his victims’ families were given the opportunity to confront him, they were about as grief-stricken and angry as one would expect.
Yet one father of Ridgway’s many victims took an entirely different approach. What he did was both shocking… and commendable.
Gary Leon Ridgway committed dozens of murders beginning in 1982. He was convicted of killing 48 different women around Washington’s South King County (that number was changed to 49 as part of his plea bargain), but it’s believed that he may have actually taken the lives of 90 women in all.
Whatever the actual count is, with 49 confirmed murders, the fact remains that Ridgway has been the most prolific serial killer in history. He was given the nickname of “The Green River Killer” after five of his victims were found in the Washington River before his identity was revealed.
Many of Ridgway’s victims were prostitutes or runaways. He would bring them to his home, where he would strangle them to death before dumping them in far-off wooded areas; he would often return to have intercourse with the bodies. He did all of this while maintaining the facade of a married man of faith. Yet his evasion of the authorities tracking his crimes couldn’t go on forever…
After Ridgway was caught and he plead guilty to the murders in 2003, the families of his victims were allowed to make statements directed at him in the presence of the court. While they remained relatively calm, they certainly didn’t hide their disdain.
This statement by the father of one of the victims, however, was truly remarkable. He had every reason to be furious with Ridgway, and few would have blamed him for becoming emotional. Yet nobody could have expected what the man would actually say—and how Ridgway would react…
It would have been hard to blame this father if he had outright hated his daughter’s murderer, let alone refusing to forgive him. Instead, though, he chose to rise above these feelings.
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