Green River Killer victim, unidentified since 1984, found to be 14-year-old girl

SEATTLE — A victim of Green River Killer Gary Ridgway has been identified after decades of being a “Jane Doe.”

Wendy Stephens was one of four victims who were unidentified when Ridgway pleaded guilty in 2003 to murdering 48 women. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to the 2002 murder of Rebecca “Becky” Marrero, bringing the total number of women killed to 49.

Ridgway, who was not identified as the Green River Killer until 2001, started his killing spree at least as early as 1982.

The King County Sheriff’s Office, working with forensic anthropologist Dr. Katherine Taylor, the DNA Doe Project and other scientists, identified Stephens, who was only 14 years old when she ran away from her Denver, Colo. home in 1983.

She is believed to be Ridgway’s youngest victim. Her remains were discovered on March 21, 1984 at the Highline Baseball Field, just west of the intersection of 16th Avenue South and South 146th Street, which is now in the city of SeaTac.

Stephens was able to be identified through the work of detectives, scientists and others who used the latest in emerging DNA and genealogical technologies.

“Cases once thought unsolvable are now within reach thanks to such pioneering work,” the King County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

In the words of Dr. Taylor, “Every person needs their name.”

“It is our hope today’s development brings those who love Wendy one step closer to healing,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

Watch KIRO 7 coverage of Ridgway pleading guilty in 2003 and other videos below.