Green River killer’s last known victim’s remains are identified
Jan 22, 2024, 6:43 PM
SEATTLE (AP) — The last known set of remains linked to the Green River serial killer in Washington state belonged to a teenage girl who had previously been identified as a victim, authorities confirmed on Monday.
The remains were identified as those of 16-year-old Tammie Liles, the King County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. She was from Everett, Washington, north of Seattle, according to local media reports.
Authorities had previously identified another set of partial remains as also belonging to Liles. There are no other unidentified remains believed to be connected to Gary Ridgway, known as the Green River killer, according to the sheriff’s office.
Ridgway preyed on girls and young women in the Seattle area who were in vulnerable positions, including sex workers and runaways, in the 1980s and 1990s. He was long a suspect in the Green River killings — so called because the first victims were found in the waterway, which runs through suburbs south of Seattle. Detectives were unable to prove his role until 2001, when advances in DNA technology allowed them to link a saliva sample they had obtained from him in 1987 to semen found on several victims.
King County sheriff’s spokesperson Eric White told The Seattle Times that officials feel a sense of relief that they’ve been able to give family members of Ridgway’s victims answers about what happened to their loved ones.
“It’s an immense feeling of satisfaction that in this case, that started in the early 80s, we are able to identify all of Gary Ridgway’s victims,” White said Monday. “All 49 of them.”
Law enforcement identified Liles as a victim of the Green River killer in 1988 by matching her dental records to remains discovered near Tigard, Oregon. Ridgway led authorities to the second set of Liles’ remains in southern King County in 2003.
Investigators took a DNA sample from that second set of remains and uploaded it to a national law enforcement database to search for matches at the time, but none were found. In 2022, the Sheriff’s Office contracted with Othram, a Texas-based genetic genealogy company that specializes in forensic DNA work.
Othram built a DNA profile for the unknown victim and the company’s in-house forensic genetic genealogy team tentatively identified her as Liles. Investigators then got a DNA sample from her mother and confirmed the match.
Ridgway has pleaded guilty to 49 slayings, including Liles’. He is serving life without the possibility of parole at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.