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An undated photo provided by the King County Sheriff's Dept., shows Sandra Denise Major who has been missing since 1982. (AP Photo/King Co. Sheriff's Dept.)

An undated photo provided by the King County Sheriff's Dept., shows Sandra Denise Major who has been missing since 1982. (AP Photo/King Co. Sheriff's Dept.)

KUOW News

Another Green River Victim Identified

Staff Reporter
06/20/2012

Another victim of the Green River murders was identified earlier this week. It's the longest serial killing investigation in American history.

TRANSCRIPT

King County Sheriff's Department Sergeant Katie Larson joined the Green River investigation when Gary Ridgeway was first arrested for the crimes.

Larson: "I was a Ridgeway detective, so I investigated several of the victims, as well as being assigned specifically to Gary Ridgeway, and I also handled all the media relations for the task force."

In a plea deal, Ridgeway avoided the death penalty by confessing to killing 49 women, but the actual number of Green River victims is believed to be higher — 60 or maybe more, according to Sergeant Larson.

For months, the serial killer was held in a converted closet cell in the task force offices and debriefed about the women he killed and where he dumped their bodies.

We know most of their names and home towns, but several have remained unidentified since the 1980s. These included B–16, or "bones–16." The remains were found in 1985 outside of King County's Mountain View Cemetery.

Earlier this year, the family of Sandra Denise Major of Rochester, New York, was watching a program about Ridgeway and his crimes and something just clicked.

Larson: "You know, her family's watching the show in New York, they think it may be her, and then we go about getting the DNA. And then, you know, then they do the DNA sampling and then we're able to get the positive identification for Sandra Major — "

— bones, number 16.

Major was 20 when she was last seen alive some 30 years ago. Back then, they didn't have the same kind of DNA testing as we do now.

Sergeant Larson marvels at how quickly the match was made in Sandra's case.

Larson: "It is incredible. And I hope that the family, that Sandra's family has some measure at least — they may never have closure, I learned that in Green River from our victims — there's no such thing as closure. That's something we say, hope and try and think we're making people feel better. But at this point I hope they now have an answer. They know where she is, who she is, and they can take, maybe, some small measure of comfort in that."

Three more young women's remains are still unidentified.

I'm Lisa Brooks, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW

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