It seemed like any other day for Judith Mawson Ridgway.
After her husband, Gary, a truck painter, left for work, she got up, had a cup of coffee and was cleaning out the garage when she was interrupted by two police detectives.
They had staggering news: Her husband of 14 years had been arrested. News cameras caught her stunned face just moments after she learned that Gary was accused of being the notorious Green River killer, responsible for a killing spree that terrorized Seattle for more than 20 years.
In her new book, "Green River Serial Killer," writer Pennie Morehead describes Judith's experience. The following is an excerpt.
Buried by Bricks
November 30, 2001:
At exactly 3:30 a.m. he got up from his warm bed. The master bedroom was dark and silent on this chilly fall morning. He did not flip on any lights. Didn't need to. He moved about the room with the automated gestures of a workingman who had been doing this ritual for 32 years.
He's going in early for two hours of overtime, his wife sleepily acknowledged, partially awake.
His routine was intimately familiar to her. She smiled to herself without opening her eyes, rolling over onto her other side. She thought that she was one of the lucky ones. She had finally made it to a place in life she had never thought possible before. She was Mrs. Gary Ridgway. She had a good husband -- a non-abusive husband -- who earned a nice living so she could stay at home and pursue her hobbies.
This morning was no different. Gary was quietly dressing himself: climbing into his work jeans; buttoning his plaid, long-sleeve, flannel shirt down the front of his slim torso; always having his white cotton teeshirt underneath. He crouched down, using both hands to pull white, cotton crew socks over his feet, one at a time while balancing on the opposite foot, and then finally guided his feet into his sturdy, steel-toe work boots. He laced them up tightly.
She knew he would not shower in the early morning. Why bother? He would surely get dirty at work painting trucks all day. She appreciated the fact that when he got to work, he would put on big, industrial coveralls to keep his own clothing from being ruined.
She stretched her legs and moved them to a spot in the bed that still held Gary's warmth. As she fell back to sleep, she could imagine Gary finding the hot coffee ready downstairs that she had set up the night before. They had a fancy coffee maker now with a timer that could be set at bedtime, and somehow the machine would make the coffee at the precise time she had set it for. She was simply amazed by this advancement in coffee- making technology. Gary's habit was to pour himself a cup of hot coffee to begin sipping after adding a dribble of cold milk from the refrigerator.