Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Criminal Justice (MACJ)


Criminal Justice, Criminology, & Forensics

First Advisor

Matthew Hickman

Second Advisor

Katherine Taylor

Third Advisor

Jacqueline Helfgott


Gary L. Ridgway has been called the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history. Despite the efforts of the foremost minds in criminal profiling he evaded capture for nearly twenty years. Attempts to profile Ridgway using the methods available failed to identify key behavioral components and misled the investigation. This is a case study and retrospective analysis of criminal profiling with attention to the relationship between crime scene evidence and offender personality, background, and individual characteristics. I hypothesized that modern methods of criminal profiling would have been more effective in identifying personality characteristics of the offender given corrected behavioral models. This study found support of the hypothesis in that the GRK fits known models of behavior based on empirically validated theory; however, further analysis of the series suggests, while modern criminal profiling would have yielded significant investigative leads, the high degree of forensic awareness exhibited by the offender left little forensic evidence. Even with an accurate criminal profile a conviction would not have been possible without the DNA evidence analyzed in 2001 and used to obtain a conviction in 2003.