Elaine Thompson  /  AP
Gary Ridgway listens in court Thursday as relatives of his victims describe their pain.
updated 12/18/2003 4:00:50 PM ET 2003-12-18T21:00:50

Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer who terrorized Seattle in the early 1980s, tearfully apologized for “killing all those young ladies” as a judge sentenced him Thursday to life in prison without the chance of release.

Ridgway, 54, dipped his head during 48 seconds of silence the judge ordered for his 48 victims — the most of any killer in U.S. history.

“I have tried to remember as much as I could to help the detectives find and recover the ladies. I’m sorry for the scare I put into the community,” said Ridgway, who lowered his head and cried.

He was sentenced to life in prison as part of a plea deal reached with prosecutors.

‘Teflon-coated emotion’
“The remarkable thing about you, sir, is your remarkable, Teflon-coated emotion” and disregard for the women who died, King County Superior Court Judge Richard Jones told Ridgway.

Ridgway’s apology followed statements from victims’ relatives, who poured out decades of pain, anger and loss as they confronted him one at a time.

“Jesus knows you have broken my heart,” a sobbing Joan Mackie, mother of victim Cindy Smith, told Ridgway as he faced her and listened silently.

Most of the relatives sobbed, and some shook with anger as they tried to describe the inexpressible grief of having a mother, daughter or sister disappear at his hands.

“It was not your right to decide who lived and who died,” said Tim Meehan, the brother of Mary Meehan, whose body was found Nov. 13, 1983. “Mary was no less a human being than your mother or your son, or as trash as you have classified all the victims.”

Bitter recriminations
“It’s garbage like you, not these victims that you took their lives, that doesn’t deserve to live on,” he said. “I can only hope that someday someone gets the opportunity to choke you unconscious 48 times so you can live through the horror that you put our mothers and our daughters through.”

As each family member spoke of their sadness and rage, Ridgway maintained a blank stare, though he sometimes nodded at their comments and a few times dabbed away a tear that slipped out beneath his dark-rimmed glasses.

Later, he apologized to the court: “I’m sorry for killing all those young ladies.”

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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