SEATTLE – Children playing in a ravine south of Seattle this week found the skull of a young mother who vanished nearly three decades ago and has long been thought to be a victim of Green River serial killer Gary Ridgway.
The King County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday that dental records identified the remains as those of 20-year-old Rebecca “Becky” Marrero, who was last seen Dec. 3, 1982, as she left a motel room on Pacific Highway South.
Ridgway, a commercial truck painter, is one of the nation’s most prolific serial killers, having confessed to 48 murders and been suspected in dozens of others. He preyed upon women and girls at the margins of society – runaways, prostitutes and drug addicts strangled in a spree that terrorized Seattle and its south suburbs in the 1980s. Several victims were dumped in or posed along the Green River.
He was arrested in 2001 after advances in DNA technology enabled authorities to link a saliva sample he gave authorities in 1987 to some of the bodies. He pleaded guilty two years later, agreeing to help authorities locate as many remains as possible in exchange for avoiding the death penalty, and is now serving life without release.
Marrero, who had a 3-year-old daughter, was believed to be one of Ridgway’s early victims, but he was not charged in her case because her body wasn’t found and because Ridgway couldn’t provide investigators with enough information about her to prove he killed her.
Marrero’s skull was found Tuesday by children playing in a ravine in Auburn, about 25 miles south of Seattle. It was the same area where the remains of another Ridgway victim, Marie Malvar, were found in September 2003.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the King County prosecutor’s office planned to charge Ridgway with Marrero’s death.
“With the discovery of Ms. Marrero’s remains, detectives and prosecutors will now review the investigation into her disappearance and death,” the office said in a written statement. “Investigators will examine all aspects of the case including any potential involvement of Ridgway.”
One of Ridgway’s attorneys, Mark Prothero, was out of the office and could not immediately be reached for comment.