The remains of the last known victim of the Green River Killer have been identified as a teenage girl from Washington state – but officials say there are “other unsolved cases” that may be connected to the infamous murderer.
Law enforcement identified the remains as 16-year-old Tammie Liles of Everett, Washington, the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) announced on Monday.
Liles had previously been identified as a victim of Gary Ridgway, known as the Green River Killer, by matching her dental records to remains discovered near Tigard, Oregon, in 1988.
Ridgway later led authorities to the second set of Liles’ remains in southern King County in 2003. However, the partial remains found at that time were labeled “Bones 20,” due to an inability to confirm identity.
Investigators took a DNA sample from that second set of remains and uploaded it to a national law enforcement database to search for matches at the time, but none were found.
In 2022, the Sheriff’s Office contracted with Othram, a Texas-based genetic genealogy company that specializes in forensic DNA work.
Othram built a DNA profile for the unknown victim and the company’s in-house forensic genetic genealogy team tentatively identified her as Liles. Investigators then got a DNA sample from her mother and confirmed the match.
There are no other unidentified remains believed to be connected to Ridgway, according to the sheriff’s office.
However, while all the remains in the medical examiner’s office have been identified, there are still more unsolved cases, Dave Reichert with the King County Sheriff’s Office told KIRO-TV.
“Ridgway said that he killed 65 to 70 young women and little girls and so far he’s plead guilty to 49 and we’ve closed 51 cases,” Mr Reichert pointed out.
“So as I said there are other unsolved cases out there that may or may not be connected to Ridgway but there are parents still out there looking for answers about the death and murder of their daughter.”
Ridgeway was long a suspect in the Green River killings — so called because the first victims were found in the waterway, which runs through suburbs south of Seattle.
Detectives were unable to prove his role until 2001, when advances in DNA technology allowed them to link a saliva sample they had obtained from him in 1987 to semen found on several victims.
On Monday, King County sheriff’s spokesperson Eric White told The Seattle Times that they felt a sense of relief that they’ve been able to give closure to the killer’s victims.
“It’s an immense feeling of satisfaction that in this case, that started in the early 80s, we are able to identify all of Gary Ridgway’s victims,” Mr White said.. “All 49 of them.”
The identification of Liles comes about a month after another of Ridgway’s victims was identified.
Lori Anne Razpotnik was just 15 years old when she ran away from her family home in Lewis County in 1982. Her family never saw her again.
Three years later on 30 December 1985, a car was found abandoned on Mountain View Drive in Auburn. When investigators got a closer look, they found human remains inside.
The Green River Task Force at the time searched the nearby area after the discovery and found a second set of human remains. For almost 40 years, the two sets of remains would be known only as “Bones 16” and “Bones 17”.
Detectives were eventually able to track down Razpotnik’s mother, who provided a saliva sample which the University of North Texas experts then used to identify the victim.
Before Razpotnik, Wendy Stephens was the last Green River killer victim identified in 2020. Her body was found in 1984 in a swamp near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Ridgway, thought to be one of the most prolific serial killers in the United States, has pleaded guilty to 49 slayings, including Liles’. He is serving life without the possibility of parole at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.