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Thursday, February 26, 2004  

Justice: The right to dislike and loathe

I have been thinking about people I do not like. An impetus was learning, earlier today, that a woman I do not like -- on second thought, make that did not like -- is dead. Michele did me a disservice a few years ago. I had done nothing to deserve it. She did not derive anything from the misbehavior other than perhaps a temporary feeling of 'Gotcha!' or heightened self-esteem. I had no reason to believe she disliked me until she showed she did. The harm was something I overcame in a few months. But, I continued to dislike Michele. Today, I asked a mutual acquaintance where she was when I realized I had not seen her in a long time. He said, "Michele X? She died about a year-and-a-half ago." I was expecting to hear she had another job, had moved to another city or simply that she was still employed at the same site as my friend, but apparently not around when I came by. I expressed surprise at someone up and dying relatively early -- Michele was in her 50s -- and mumbled something about it being unfortunate. I don't celebrate her death. But, I can't say that I have any heartfelt regrets about her demise. Instead, I find myself thinking that she is now unable to harm anyone else.

Another reason the topic of disliking folks is on my mind is I closely followed closely the confessions and November sentencing of the Green River Killer, possibly the most prolific of his kind ever. The man, Gary Ridgway of Washington, believes he has done the world a favor by murdering at least 48 girls and women. He was convicted of killing four people, but he may have ranged wider and killed more than he is admitting.

(CBS)  For twenty years, the Green River Killer terrorized the Northwest, leaving a trail of women’s bodies and very few clues.

He was on the loose until late 2001. But two months ago, Gary Ridgway pled guilty to killing 48 women. The plea was part of a controversial deal -- the killer's life in exchange for the truth.

. . ."I was working second shift and go pick up a woman on the way home," says Ridgway on tape. "That way, I had the mornings free to go back and bury her."

Ridgway had the same job as a truck painter for 30 years. He remembered his victims by the shift he worked that day. He was a man who viewed his killing spree as his greatest accomplishment.

Ridgway, a self-described woman-hater, says he purposely selected vulnerable females and had a grandiose goal -- to kill as many as he could get away with. When not pursuing his heinous avocation, Ridgway liked to read the Bible and evangelize.

I picked prostitutes as my victims because I hate most prostitutes and I did not want to pay them for sex. I also picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing. I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.

Another part of my plan was where I put the bodies of these women. Most of the time I took the women's jewelry and their clothes to get rid of any evidence and make them harder to identify. I placed most of the bodies in groups which I call clusters. I did this because I wanted to keep track of all the women I killed.

I liked to drive by the clusters around the county and think about the women I placed there. I usually used a landmark to remember a cluster and the women I placed there. . . .

Ridgway says he sometimes had sex with the corpses for days, until they began to decompose and attract flies.

Some of the victims' families are outraged by King County District Attorney Norm Maleng's unusual decision not to seek the death penalty in Ridgway's case. Others, predictably, say they oppose killing by the state. Perhaps they believe Ridgway will someday feel remorse or find God. I can't go there. I do not like the Green River Killer. Not even a little bit. In fact, I loathe him. Though I generally oppose the death penalty, not a single tear would have fallen from my eyes if he had been sentenced to it. The man has revealed himself to be utterly inhumane, the kind of sociopath who would kill again if he got the opportunity. I can't say I wish him well at all.

Admitting one does not like some people and loathes others is, of course, opening oneself to criticism. The more forgiving will say one is being hardhearted. But, sometimes I think it is necessary to acknowledge emotions that are not attractive, but real and rational. The next time I learn someone I dislike has died, I will not say anything insincere. If the Green River Killer is sentenced to death in Oregon, where he may also have murdered women, I will not lament his fate.

10:30 PM