By Jonathan Kaminsky
OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - Authorities in Washington state voiced skepticism on Wednesday about a claim by "Green River Killer" Gary Ridgway that he can help locate the bodies of more of his victims.
The serial killer made the statement to Seattle-based KOMO Newsradio in a phone interview posted on Tuesday to the outlet's website, where he said that the total number of victims is 75 to 80.
Ridgway was convicted a decade ago of 48 murders of mostly young women who were prostitutes or runaways, with an additional murder conviction added in 2011. He committed the bulk of the killings in the 1980s in areas around Seattle but some of his slayings there continued into the 1990s.
Under a 2003 plea deal, he was spared the death penalty in exchange for confessing to all of the murders linked to him at that time or any that were later discovered.
Ridgway, who is considered the nation's most prolific serial killer, was dubbed the "Green River Killer" because the bodies of several of his victims in the early 1980s were found in or near the river, which runs through south King County.
He is serving a life prison term without the possibility of parole at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.
Ridgway told KOMO Newsradio that investigators kept him in a van in 2003 when he led them to sites where he had dumped victims. He said if he had been able to leave the vehicle, he would have been able to lead them to bodies more effectively.
Sergeant Katie Larson of the King County Sheriff's Office, who participated in the years-long investigation of the killings, said Ridgway is a narcissist and sociopath whose statements should not be taken at face value.
"Everything Ridgway's saying we've heard before time and time and time again," she said. "We've been in contact with Ridgway numerous times over the years since 2003."
Authorities have recovered the remains of 42 of Ridgway's victims, Larson said.
She said other victims' bodies are "not recoverable." In some cases, she said there had been construction at the sites where the bodies were left.
"We're not going to tear down buildings," Larson said.
King County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Don Donohoe said Ridgway was not trustworthy and that his comments about more bodies appear to be an attempt to get attention.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Bill Trott)