Oregon teen remains may be Green River victim

AP News
|
Posted: Dec 15, 2009 7:47 PM

Investigators are looking for a possible Oregon link to Seattle's Green River serial killer after the remains of a 16-year-old Portland girl were identified 26 years after she was reported missing.

The Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office identified the remains of Angela Marie Girdner, the Washington County sheriff's office in Hillsboro announced Tuesday.

Convicted killer Gary Ridgway denies any involvement in the death, but investigators are revisiting the case, deputies said.

Ridgway is serving 48 consecutive life sentences in Washington state after pleading guilty to killing 48 women in King County in the Seattle area. The case got its nickname from the area where some of the first bodies were found.

Ridgway claimed he killed two people, Shirley Shirell and Denise Bush, in King County but later transported the bodies to Oregon.

The skeletal remains of Girdner were found in April 1985 in a wooded area near the Tualatin Country Club in suburban Portland. Hers was one of four bodies discovered within a mile of each other that year _ including Shirell and Bush.

Girdner had been a straight-A student at a private school in Beaverton, commuting from Portland every day, before she ran into problems with drugs and was reported as a runaway by her parents in 1983, the sheriff's office said.

Other remains found near Girdner's were identified in 1998 as Tammie Liles, who was last seen in the Seattle area working as a prostitute in 1983 when she was also 16, Oregon deputies said.

Ridgway also denies any involvement in the death of Liles, but investigators are also re-examining her case, said Sgt. David Thompson, Washington County sheriff's spokesman.

"Because of the close proximity of Tammie's and Angela's remains to the remains of Shirley and Denise, the location where their bodies were disposed of, and the time frame of the murders, detectives believe that Gary Ridgway is responsible for their deaths," Thompson said.

The possibility of prosecuting Ridgway for any charges arising in Oregon depended on the terms of his plea deal in Washington state, Tony Green, a spokesman for Oregon Attorney General John Kroger, said Tuesday.

Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, said there was no barrier to Oregon prosecution.

"The plea resolution reached with Gary Ridgway in King County pertained only to his crimes in King County," Donohoe said, adding that his office will provide any assistance necessary for Oregon investigators.

Dental records that recently became available led to the Girdner identification, said the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office.

"We try to stay abreast of all these cold cases, and we never give up on them, certainly," said Veronica Vance, a forensic anthropologist for the medical examiner who made the initial identification.

"It's frustrating for the families and for us too," Vance said. "But we're just very, very happy we were able to get them identified and get some closure for the family."