Hot Topic (More than 15 Replies) Gary Leon Ridgway, Deadliest Serial Killer in U.S. History, Passed Polygraph and Killed Again (Read 117579 times)
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Gary Leon Ridgway, Deadliest Serial Killer in U.S. History, Passed Polygraph and Killed Again
Nov 4th, 2003 at 9:31am
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Gary Leon Ridgway is expected to plead guilty to 48 murders this week, including Oregon's Green River killings:

http://edition.cnn.com/2003/LAW/11/03/green.river.killings.ap/

Ridgway, an early suspect in the Green River killings, passed a polygraph "test" in 1984 and continued his killing spree. It was ultimately DNA evidence that linked him to the killings in 2001.

Melvin Foster, another early suspect in the case, took a polygraph test in September 1982 and failed. Ridgway's confession (and DNA evidence) exonerates him:

Quote:
http://www.kingcountyjournal.com/sited/story/html/147551

Former Green River suspect wants apology - -- - and his stuff
2003-10-31
by Dean A. Radford
Journal Reporter

A taxi driver who was once considered a prime suspect in the Green River killings now wants the cops to apologize and return his rock tumbler and all the rest of the stuff police took from his home in 1982.

Now that he appears cleared of the murders, 65-year-old Melvin Foster wants an apology from the King County Sheriff's Office.

``Someone owes me something. I'll start with that,'' said Foster, who lives near Lacey, just south of Olympia. ``I want to see egg on their face.''

In the 1980s, Foster was famous, named in newspapers and on TV as possibly being the Green River killer.

Not any more. Next week, Gary Leon Ridgway, 54, of Auburn is expected to change his plea to guilty in the killing of nearly all the 49 known victims.

That exonerates Foster.

``You betcha,'' he said.

Foster figures he was cleared when DNA testing in October 2001 linked Ridgway to three of the Green River victims.

Foster said he had given a sample of his own DNA to a King County detective a month earlier for testing.

``If I had had my hands dirty, I would have been the one facing this,'' he said Thursday.

King County Sheriff Dave Reichert, who as a young detective led the Green River investigation, wasn't available for comment. Foster said he and Reichert often clashed in the early years of the investigation.

But Detective Kathleen Larson, a spokeswoman for the Green River Task Force, said Thursday that Foster needs to call the King County Sheriff's Office about getting his belongings back. An apology, she said, ``would not be up to me.''

Foster has remained in contact with Detective Jim Doyon, one of the original Green River investigators who is on the current task force.

In September 1982, about two months after the killer's first victim was found in the Green River in Kent, Foster called detectives investigating the murders to offer his help. Instead, he raised their suspicions. It was assumed the killer would have an interest in police work.

More than two decades later, he said he wished he had never made that call. Instead, he would have sat and watched.

``If they had come close to me, I would have lawyered up,'' he said.

After Foster failed a polygraph test in late September, detectives obtained search warrants to look for evidence at the Lacey-area home where he lived with his father. He failed the polygraph, he said, because of a nervous tic.

The officers from King and Thurston counties were looking for any evidence related to the deaths of six young women in King County.

Foster can't remember everything they took, but it included a rock-polishing machine. At the time, Foster was quoted as saying police took clothing belonging to his dead mother and his ex-wife, and jewelry, photos and letters.

``They have it bagged up and stapled shut in their warehouse,'' Foster said, referring to the secure warehouse in South Seattle where the King County Sheriff's Office stores evidence in the Green River case.

What Foster wants now is simple: all his belongings back and an apology.

``I want a formal public apology on tape. I want it in print. I want it on all the TV news they can reach,'' he said. He's no longer angry with Reichert and thinks he should run for governor.

Foster watched the late news Wednesday when TV stations in Seattle were reporting yet again a possible plea bargain with Ridgway. He had a big grin, just like the one he said Reichert had when Ridgway was arrested on Nov. 30, 2001.

``I know Dave Reichert lived, ate and breathed that case,'' he said. ``I was glad for him.''

And glad, too, he's no longer on Reichert's list.

Dean Radford covers King County. He can be reached at dean.radford@kingcountyjournal.com or 253-872-6719.

« Last Edit: Apr 15th, 2007 at 7:40am by George W. Maschke »  

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Re: Deadliest Killer in U.S. History Passed Polygr
Reply #1 - Nov 5th, 2003 at 4:30am
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There is is there...The polygraph failed, twice, and a killer got away and an innocent man was branded a murderer.
  
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Re: Deadliest Killer in U.S. History Passed Polygr
Reply #2 - Nov 5th, 2003 at 6:23am
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The article states;

Quote:
…..Ridgway contacted the King County Sheriff's Green River task force -- ostensibly to offer information about the case -- and passed a polygraph test.


My opinion of the aforementioned statement is that Ridgway offered information as to the killings and was tested on the truthfulness of that information.  I would say, if that is the issue, polygraph did not “fail” in this instance.

If there is further information that you are privy to, please enlighten me on the inconsistencies of the article.
  

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Re: Deadliest Killer in U.S. History Passed Polygr
Reply #3 - Nov 5th, 2003 at 9:59am
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J.B.,

It seems highly unlikely that Gary Ridgway approached the Green River task force to provide accurate information that would help identify himself as the killer. In addition, it is hard to imagine that Ridgway truthfully answered all relevant questions that would have been asked of him in any such polygraph examination.

Note that Melvin Foster, the innocent suspect who failed the polygraph, became a suspect when he, like Ridgway, approached detectives to offer his help. Instead, Foster only raised their suspicions. Ridgway's offer of help may well have similarly raised suspicions -- suspicions that were at least to some extent allayed by his having passed a polygraph "test."
  

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Re: Deadliest Killer in U.S. History Passed Polygr
Reply #4 - Nov 5th, 2003 at 4:38pm
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See Chris Summers' report, "Confessions of a serial killer," on the BBC News Online website. Here's an excerpt of the polygraph-related portions:

Quote:
When Gary Leon Ridgway stands up in a Seattle court on Wednesday and admits 48 counts of aggravated first degree murder he will officially become America's most prolific serial killer.

It is not a very good advertisement for the polygraph, or lie detector test.

In 1987 the man suspected of being the Green River Killer took such a test and passed with flying colours.

Just hours before he appears in court his attorney, Eric Lindell, gave an exclusive interview to BBC News Online, in which he explained why his client had admitted to murdering 48 women and what it might mean for others on Death Row.

...

The Green River Killer is remarkable in the annals of serial killers in many ways, but none more so than Ridgway's ability to pass a polygraph in which he denied responsibility.

Mr Lindell said: "I have asked him about it. The Green River Killer Taskforce asked several suspects to take a polygraph test and he passed it.

"He said he didn't do anything special to pass it. He just relaxed. But then he is a unique individual."
  

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Re: Deadliest Killer in U.S. History Passed Polygr
Reply #5 - Nov 6th, 2003 at 2:54pm
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An article by Kenneth P. Vogel in today's (6 Nov. 2003) Tacoma News Tribune indicates that Ridgway was indeed asked whether he had killed any women during at least one polygraph examination. Vogel writes, "He...passed a polygraph test in the 1980s in which he denied killing any of the women." See, "'Proud of not being caught'":

http://www.tribnet.com/news/story/4346501p-4355663c.html
  

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Re: Deadliest Killer in U.S. History Passed Polygr
Reply #6 - Nov 6th, 2003 at 3:57pm
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The King County Prosecutor's summary of the evidence against Gary Ridgway, cited in an article titled, "In his own words" in today's (6 Nov. 2003) King County Journal, includes the following on how Ridgway passed the polygraph:

Quote:
``I just, uh, relaxed and took the polygraph. I mean, I didn't practice or anything ... just relaxed and answered the questions and whatever it came out. I mean, they weren't precise or, I don't know what the deal was. Uh, maybe I was too relaxed.''


The cited document, "Prosecutor's Summary of the Evidence," may be downloaded here:

http://www.metrokc.gov/kcsc/docs/Ridg_Summary.pdf
  

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Re: Deadliest Killer in U.S. History Passed Polygr
Reply #7 - Nov 7th, 2003 at 6:57am
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Ironically, Gary L. Ridgway's plea agreement includes the stipulation:

Quote:
The Defendant shall submit to polygraph testing, which Law Enforcement or the Prosecuting Attorney may employ to determine his credibility.


Since Ridgway fooled the polygraph after committing multiple pre-meditated murders, it is not clear why law enforcement or the prosecuting attorney would rely on it yet again in an attempt to determine his credibility.

The plea agreement may be downloaded here:

http://www.metrokc.gov/kcsc/docs/plea_agreement.pdf
  

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Re: Deadliest Killer in U.S. History Passed Polygr
Reply #8 - Nov 21st, 2003 at 6:29am
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Quote:
Ironically, Gary L. Ridgway's plea agreement includes the stipulation:


Since Ridgway fooled the polygraph after committing multiple pre-meditated murders, it is not clear why law enforcement or the prosecuting attorney would rely on it yet again in an attempt to determine his credibility.

The plea agreement may be downloaded here:

http://www.metrokc.gov/kcsc/docs/plea_agreement.pdf


If decisions regarding the accuracy and efficacy of the polygraph were rationally grounded in the first place, it wouldn't be used.

Unfortunately, the article implies that Ridgeway's ability to lie without detection on a polygraph stems from some sort of "unique" ability of his.  The evidence, of course, indicates that this is not a singular instance of a person able to pass an otherwise legitimate "test". Instead, it's a rather spectacular demonstration of the polygraph's flaws, and the dangers of relying upon it.  As George noted, the polygraph led investigators astray in this case not once, but twice, with two different people.

Perhaps two unique individuals were involved (one innocent, the other guilty)?

Skeptic
  
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Re: Deadliest Killer in U.S. History Passed Polygr
Reply #9 - Dec 10th, 2003 at 1:55pm
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For a fuller account of the use of the polygraph in the Green River investigation, see Chapter 10 (The Polygraph: Ridgway took pride in fooling police) of "Gary Ridgway: The Green River Killer," by the staff of the King County Journal:

http://www.kingcountyjournal.com/sited/story/html/149126

Excerpt:

Quote:
Gary Ridgway surfaced again and again during the Green River investigation. Hoping to solve the question of whether Ridgway was the killer, Detective Randy Mullinax decided it was time to give him a lie-detector test.

Unbelievably, in the most pivotal event of the early investigation, Ridgway passed.

Ridgway had been cooperative in an earlier interview on April 12, 1984, and agreed to cooperate once again. On May 7 he came in alone for the polygraph test without an attorney, which had the effect of diminishing suspicions. A transcript of the test, administered by Norm Matzke of the King County Police Department, hasn't been made public. But prosecutors acknowledge that Ridgway was asked if he killed any of the victims, and that he said no.

When the results of the test conformed with the results of a follow-up investigation, ``Ridgway was considered to be cleared as a possible Green River suspect,'' according to court documents. In fact, at that time Ridgway had already killed more than 40 women, including one, Cindy Anne Smith, just a few weeks before the test.
  

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Re: Deadliest Killer in U.S. History Passed Polygr
Reply #10 - Jan 16th, 2004 at 5:14am
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Any explanation from the pro-polygraph crowd on this one?
  
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Re: Deadliest Killer in U.S. History Passed Polygr
Reply #11 - Jan 9th, 2007 at 1:46am
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LBCB, before you go on your sabbatical from this board please explain this case.  Stubborn reliance on the pseudo-scientific polygraph allowed Gary Ridgeway to kill again.  Morever. the same stubborness caused an innocent man to be falsely accused, thereby tying up investigative resources that should have been directed at Ridgeway. 

It's a shame the victims' families can't sue the polygraphers in this case.

Since there is no way to explain this polygraph debacle I don't expect LBCB to reply in this thread, though.
  
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Re: Deadliest Killer in U.S. History Passed Polygr
Reply #12 - Jan 9th, 2007 at 9:03pm
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Without knowing all the facts surrounding the polygraphs, I would simply be jumping to unfounded conclusions, as most of you are doing. From the limited information presented, it doesn't show polygraph in a favorable light, that's for sure. However, I didn't conduct these polygraphs, nor did any of you, so do we really have enough information? Obviously, I could speculate just as well as you do, in an effort to blindly support the polygraph in this case, just as you are speculating in an effort to blindly oppose the polygraph not just in this case, but in general.  However, for an example of how some people might jump to ignorant conclusions regarding cases involving polygraphs, see the thread on page 2 in the POLYGRAPH POLICY section entitled "DNA Frees Polygraph Victim Jeffrey Mark Deskovic."
« Last Edit: Jan 9th, 2007 at 9:38pm by LieBabyCryBaby »  
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Re: Deadliest Killer in U.S. History Passed Polygr
Reply #13 - Jan 9th, 2007 at 10:53pm
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LieBabyCryBaby wrote on Jan 9th, 2007 at 9:03pm:
 However, for an example of how some people might jump to ignorant conclusions regarding cases involving polygraphs, see the thread on page 2 in the POLYGRAPH POLICY section entitled "DNA Frees Polygraph Victim Jeffrey Mark Deskovic."
Nice cop out, LBCB. 

Bottom line: Any conclusion made utilizing the pseudo-scientific polygraph has as much validity as a conclusion achieved from astrology.
  
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Re: Deadliest Killer in U.S. History Passed Polygr
Reply #14 - Jan 9th, 2007 at 11:10pm
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There is nothing "blind" about judging polygraphy results on this case.  The polygrapher said he was inocent but he wasn't.  That much is fact.

The other case you referenced in no way supports polygraphy.  Either the polygraph was wrong or the police (or polygrapher) lied.

Perhaps there should be follow-up polygraph tests done on all policemen, polygraphers and testifiers in criminal cases!
  
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Gary Leon Ridgway, Deadliest Serial Killer in U.S. History, Passed Polygraph and Killed Again

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