River Of Death

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DUANE HAMAMURA/SOUTH COUNTY JOURNAL/AP

The body of Wendy Lee Coffield is removed from the Green River in 1982

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The mystery of the Green River Killer still has not been solved. The official Green River victims' list, from 1982 to '84, has 49 entries--45 names and four unidentified sets of remains. The DNA tests cleared the way for three of the charges; circumstantial evidence, the police claim, ties Ridgway to the murder of Cynthia Hinds. If Ridgway does get the death penalty, some wonder if the mystery will follow him to his grave.

So should he be kept alive to tell his tales? Seattle is divided on the issue. Many of the victims' relatives are in favor of the death penalty, and the prosecutor, Norm Maleng, has indicated that he is not interested in engaging in any plea bargaining. As sheriff, Reichert is torn between wanting to know the whole story and wanting to inflict the ultimate punishment. A cautious man, he makes the point that Ridgway is innocent until proved guilty. "I would love to have the opportunity to visit with him and learn the what, where, why, when, who and how for each case...but if anyone deserves to get the death penalty, it would be the person responsible for this series of murders."

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