Gary Ridgway, the accused "Green River Killer" from Seattle, Washington, is apparently planning to change his plea to guilty next Wednesday in exchange for King County prosecutors not seeking the dealth penalty against him. This will make him the person with the most murder convictions ever in the United States. I have a particular fascination with this case, since I was raised in the Seattle area during the time the murders were going on during the early 1980s. I recall there was near-hysteria in Seattle as police kept discovering new bodies, sometimes several in one week. The victims were mostly young female prostitutes or runaways. The final "official" victim was found about 2 miles from my house, in the forest behind Panther Lake Elementary School. I think that was in 1989, but she had been murdered in 1984. But the years went on, the body count seemed to dry up, and no one was ever charged with the crime. Books were written, and a lone detective continued working on the case, but I really felt, as did most people I'm sure, that they would never find their killer. Finally last year, a man whom the police had pegged as their number one suspect since 1984 was arrested for four of the murders, linked by DNA from semen matched to a DNA sample he had given back in '84. I was in the lunch room at work when I saw that report scroll by on CNN last year, and I RAN up the hall, all in a frenzy: "My God, they just arrested the Green River Killer!" I was out of breath, I was shaking. People were like, "What's the Green River Killer?" I guess it's hard to explain my reaction if you didn't live in the Seattle area in the early 1980s, but this case CONSUMED the news media up there for years. It was at the top of the news EVERY DAY for months on end. I remember having a nightmare when I was a teenager that I knew who the killer was, he lived next door to me -- and he knew I knew who he was, so he was after me. Then the case just seemed to dry up... They stopped finding bodies, the Green River Task Force disbanded, and there was little mention of the case for over a decade. To hear out of the blue that they'd made an arrest just knocked me for a loop. The man they arrested, Gary Ridgway, had been questioned by police in 1982 when a pimp called police to say his "girlfriend" had climbed into a black pickup truck with a white primer spot to turn a trick, then the truck sped off and the girl disappeared. Her name was Marie Malvar. The pimp and the girl's father drove around in the neighborhood where she'd disappeared and found the truck. They called the police, who went to the house and questioned the man living there, who claimed he'd never seen the girl before. That man was Gary Ridgway. Two years later, Ridgway's name came up on a list of men who'd been arrested for prostitution, and among the many intriguing details in his background, police found that he'd NEVER reported to work at his night-shift job on any night that a Green River victim disappeared. But they could never come up with anything more than circumstantial evidence, and he passed a lie detector test, so he remained free until the DNA test last year. Several months ago, according to "sources within the prosecutor's office," Ridgway began secretly leading detectives to additional bodies as part of a plea deal. Four additional bodies have been discovered so far, women that had been on the Green River "missing" list, but had never been found. And after all these years, the body of Marie Malvar, the young woman who had climbed into his black truck, was finally found just last month. Now the AP and other media outlets are reporting that he's prepared to plead guilty to all but seven of the "official" Green River victims, and will also confess to six others that were not on the Green River list -- including one in 1998, a case that had been ruled a drug overdose. (He apparently won't confess to anything outside of King County, where he's being charged.) Anyway, I just think it's a terribly interesting case, and I wondered if anyone else had been following it.