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Ridgway’s ex-wife, victim’s mom at odds over money

Associated Press

SEATTLE – The mother of one of the Green River Killer’s first victims sued Gary Ridgway and his third wife for wrongful death shortly after Ridgway was arrested in 2001.

Her intent was to ensure the couple made no money off the story. State law would bar such profits for Ridgway, but there are no such restrictions for his ex-wife, now Judith Mawson.

Kathy Mills, whose 16-year-old daughter, Opal, was murdered in 1982, says she’ll drop the lawsuit as long as part of any profits go to help vulnerable young women.

Ridgway pleaded guilty in 2003 to killing 48 such women from 1982 to 1998.

Mills “just wants closure at this point” and hopes it is possible some good can come out of the serial murders, said her attorney, William Bailey.

An agreement was reached with Mawson last year, providing for a third of any profits to go to Harborview Medical Center’s Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress, Bailey said.

“Then the former Mrs. Ridgway discharged her lawyer and hired a new one and refused to sign,” he said.

Mawson’s attorney, Jeffrey Burnham, said she “is basically just trying to free herself from this entire episode in her life” and “wants the freedom she should have as an innocent victim.”

Burnham contends his client has no liability for what Ridgway did before they were married, and he’s asking to have the case dismissed.

A hearing is set for May 20 in King County Superior Court.

As far as he knows, Burnham said, Mawson doesn’t have a book deal or anything else in the works, and he doubts there would be much interest in her story at this point. But he says she should be free to do whatever she wants in the future.

Bailey says Mawson has refused to answer formal questions about whether she plans to sell her story of marriage to the notorious serial killer, who worked for 32 years as a truck painter.

In addition to being barred by law from making any money from his case, Ridgway “hasn’t got two cents … and is never going to have any money,” said his attorney, Tony Savage.

Ridgway is subject to a $480,000 fine for his crimes and liable for damages of $74,459 to his victims’ families.

He’s now at the state prison in Walla Walla, serving 48 consecutive life sentences under a deal he made with King County.

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