|Investigators of the Green River Killer murders.|
There is a lot of junk out there when it comes to true crime TV shows—sensationalized, melodramatic, populated with extraneous experts. And don’t get me started on the cheesy reenactments. So on the rare occasion I find something that’s quality, I’m delighted.
Netflix has one I just found. Catching Killers. It’s a ho-hum title, but the show is very good. Each episode takes a serial murder case and interviews the investigators who caught the killer. Archival footage is used to great effect, and the interviews are spare and often brutal in their emotional honesty. These investigators often went through hell and even years later, it shows.
The series starts with a big one, and one coincidentally one that has always had a big impact on me—The Green River Killer. Gary Ridgeway was convicted of murdering 48 women in the Seattle area, although he eventually placed his own count at 71 victims. He had been one of several suspects over the years, but authorities could never pin anything down. Their interviews for the Netflix show lay bare how helpless they felt as young women continued to be found dead and the public continued to justifiably panic.
In the late ’90s, I worked for a newspaper in the area south of Seattle; my office was steps away from the Green River. Although no murders had been attributed to the Green River Killer for many years, the case still haunted the area that I covered as a reporter. About a year and a half after I moved out of state, authorities finally had the technology to test years-old hair and saliva samples. It matched DNA evidence from the crimes and Ridgeway was arrested in Renton, one of the cities I covered when I worked there. I won’t lie—I always wished I’d still been working there to cover the story, but mostly I’m just glad they caught the guy.
Other cases featured on the show include BTK, the Phoenix Serial Shooter, and Aileen Wuornos. But the episodes are not about the killers. They’re about how investigators solved the cases and the toll it took on them. It’s a high quality take on often rehashed crimes, and I recommend it.
Do one on the helzers
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