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June 18, 2012 at 12:20 PM

Remains of Green River Killer victim identified

Green River Killer Gary L. Ridgway. (Seattle Times file photo)

The King County Sheriff’s Office announced today the remains of a woman killed by Green River Killer Gary L. Ridgway have been positively identified.

Since their discovery in 1985, the remains have been referred to as Jane Doe B16, or bones 16, authorities said. But on Monday, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman confirmed that through DNA they have identified the remains as belonging to Sandra Denise Major.

The identity was made after Major’s family in New York State called police after seeing a reconstruction of what the slain woman could have looked like on a television show about Ridgway’s crimes, the Sheriff’s Office said. The King County Medical Examiner’s Office found that DNA in the bones matched the New York family’s DNA.

Major, 20, was last seen in 1982 getting into a pickup in North Seattle.

Major’s remains were found down a steep embankment on the outskirts of Mountain View Cemetery in Auburn on Dec. 30, 1985, according to court filings.

Until now, the B16 was believed to be an African-American woman between the ages of 20 and 25. She was between 5-feet-1 and 5-feet-4, according to court filings. Her body “had been placed along a large fallen log,” court filings said.

When questioned in 2003, as part of his plea agreement, Ridgway “claimed that he could not recall any specifics” about the woman or another set of remains found nearby. Ridgway told investigators that he killed one of the victims, then killed a 16-year-old girl identified as Kimi-Kai Pitsor, and then killed a another woman.

The three sets of remains were found around the cemetery; Ridgway pleaded guilty to all three. Until now, Pitsor was the only one of the three who had been identified.

The third victim’s remains found near Mountain View Cemetery have not been identified. She is believed to be a Caucasian female in her teens, court filings said.

After Ridgway’s arrest in 2001, then-King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng agreed he would not seek the death penalty against him in exchange for his cooperation in locating the remains of dozens of victims. Ultimately, Ridgway admitted to nearly 70 slayings, but at the time prosecutors said they only had evidence linking him to 48 cases.

In February 2011, he pleaded guilty to a 49th homicide, admitting to a packed Kent courtroom that among his first victims was a 20-year-old prostitute named Rebecca “Becky” Marrero. Marrero was last seen walking out of a SeaTac motel on Dec. 3, 1982.

Ridgway admitted to killing Marrero years ago, but her remains weren’t found until December 2010.

Most of Ridgway’s victims were young runaways, prostitutes or drug addicts picked up on Pacific Highway South.

Mystery still surrounds three Ridgway victims, whose remains have been found but never identified. Ridgway implied that the three were killed in spring or summer 1983.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the remains belonged to:

— A white female, possibly as young as 12; found March 21, 1984, in the Burien area off Des Moines Memorial Drive South.

— A white female, between 14 and 17; found Jan. 2, 1986, near Mountain View Cemetery in Auburn.

— A white female, between 16 and 20; found July 2003, in a wooded area along Kent-Des Moines Road.

Also in 2003, Ridgway claimed to have killed three other women: Kelly Kay McGinness, 18; Kassee Lee, 16; and Patricia Osborn, 19. But the women’s remains have never been found and he wasn’t charged in their slayings because of a lack of sufficient evidence.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Gary L. Ridgway, homicide, King County Sheriff's Office

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