Remains of Green River Killer’s 49th and last known victim identified as teen Tammie Liles — but other cases still unsolved

The last known set of remains linked to the Green River serial killer in Washington state belonged to a teenage girl who had previously been identified as a victim, authorities confirmed on Monday. But officials said there are “other unsolved cases” that may be connected to Gary Ridgway.  

The remains were identified as those of 16-year-old Tammie Liles, the King County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. She was from Everett, Washington, north of Seattle, according to local media reports.

Tammie Liles

King County Sheriff’s Office

Authorities had previously identified another set of partial remains — known as the Bones 20 case — as also belonging to Liles. There are no other unidentified remains believed to be connected to Ridgway, known as the Green River killer, according to the sheriff’s office.

Ridgway preyed on girls and young women in the Seattle area who were in vulnerable positions, including sex workers and runaways, in the 1980s and 1990s. He 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.

King County sheriff’s spokesperson Eric White told The Seattle Times that officials feel a sense of relief that they’ve been able to give family members of Ridgway’s victims answers about what happened to their loved ones.

“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,” White said Monday. “All 49 of them.”

Law enforcement identified Liles as a victim of the Green River killer in 1988 by matching her dental records to remains discovered near Tigard, Oregon. Ridgway led authorities to the second set of Liles’ remains in southern King County in 2003.

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.

King County Sheriff Patricia Cole-Tindall said that Liles’ family does not want to speak to the media.

*We appreciate your support in granting the family the privacy they seek during this time,” Cole-Tindall said.

“Parents still out there looking for answers”  

The identification of Liles comes about a month after another of Ridgway’s victims was identified — 15-year-old Lori Anne Ratzpotnik.

Ridgway’s first murder victims were found in 1982 and Ridgway was arrested in 2001. In 2003, Ridgway agreed to plead guilty to all murders that he had committed in King County to avoid the death penalty. Ridgway pleaded guilty to 48 counts of aggravated murder in the first degree, according to King’s County, and remains imprisoned for life without a chance of release at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.

Over 10,000 items of evidence collected and logged and stored prepared to go to trial when Ridgway was arrested, according to Dave Reichert with the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Reichert said that although the last remains in the medical examiner’s office have been identified, there are still more unsolved cases, CBS affiliate KIRO-TV reported.

“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,” said Reichert. “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.”

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