Who is the infamous Green River Killer?
It was one of the largest serial murder cases in U.S. history. Two years, 48 victims, and all young women. Most of them were prostitutes who operated along the Sea-Tac Strip near the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. Nearly all of them were strangled and dumped in a remote area. Thousands of leads were investigated. Hundreds of suspects interrogated. One suspect stood out—William J. Stevens. Bill Stevens was a petty thief, in and out of trouble with the law for most of his life. In 1981, he simply walked away from a minimum-security facility where he was serving time for burglary.
Over the next eight years, Stevens avoided arrest, dividing his time in the cities of Seattle, Spokane, and Portland. According to Roderick Thorp, an author who has written extensively on the Green River murders, Stevens was an alienated individual who never held a job:
Bob Stevens, Bill’s adopted brother, claimed his brother told several people how he wanted to murder women:
Acting on several tips, police searched the house in Spokane where Stevens lived with his parents. They uncovered a cache of guns and police badges. They also found dozens of Polaroids of nude women, most of them prostitutes. In another room, police discovered dozens of pornographic tapes and fraudulent credit card receipts from 1981 to 1989, the years of the Green River killings. Investigators later searched a second house in Portland, where Stevens had lived until 1985. According to Roderick Thorp, the basement held a secret room which could only be accessed by using a garage door opener:
In January of 1989, Bill Stevens was arrested and charged with felony escape and a series of weapons violations. That summer, Stevens was also publicly named as a prime suspect in the Green River killings. But within months, authorities had cleared Stevens, based on an alibi provided by his younger brother, Bob:
After the 1982 visit, Bill Stevens then joined his parents on a cross-country trip. Bob produced receipts which seemed to prove that his brother was still traveling with their parents when the first five victims were murdered. However, Bob now believes that his brother got away with murder—at least 48 times. It was a surprising twist for Bob, the very person who provided his brother with an alibi:
Bob Stevens now questions whether his brother was, in fact, with their parents when the first five murders were committed:
However, authorities did not re-interview William Stevens for the Green River murders. Roderick Thorp believed this was the case because Stevens was a police informant:
Bill Stevens died of cancer in 1991, but critics of the investigation still insist that he could have been the serial killer. Roderick Thorp even proposed a theory that suggested others may have been involved:
Gary Ridgway, an early suspect in the Green River killings, has been arrested. A lab matched his DNA to evidence found with a number of the victims. Ridgway eventually pled guilty to murdering 48 women. In exchange for the plea, he was given life without the possibility of parole. Despite the evidence, Bob Stevens still insists his brother, Bill, was somehow involved with the Green River killings.