Woman believes she was raped by Green River killer 31 years ago

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by TONYA MOSLEY / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 17, 2011 at 8:40 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 17 at 6:44 PM

SEATTLE -- A woman is in Seattle this week because she believes she became one of the Green River Killer's first victims when she was raped in 1979.

Jennifer Paxton, 47, stepped off an Amtrak train into the Pacific Northwest Thursday with a smile. Tired and hungry after her 8-hour train trip from Spokane, she was also eager. For the first time in her life, she said she feels like someone is listening to her.

"I believe I was one of Gary Ridgway's first victims," Paxton said. "I think he figured out after me that he could go further and get away with it."

Ridgway will be in a King County courtroom Friday, to face charges for what prosecutors say was his 49th killing. Remains belonging to Becky Marerro were found in Auburn earlier this year, and investigators say she was killed by Ridgway.

Paxton wants to be there because she believes she was raped by him three years before Ridgway began killing women in the Green River Valley.

"I really truely believe that I was the first and when I didn't tell how easy it was to get away with it," she said.

Paxton says in 1979, when she was 16-years-old, she was raped. She was hitchhiking back home along Kent Kangley Road, when two men stopped to pick her up.

"I offered them some weed that I had on me, the passenger smoked with me, the driver didn't," she recalled.

Paxton says the driver dropped the passenger off and suggested the two of them go to a party.

"I agreed, but after a while I realized we weren't going to a party," she said. "He took me off Highway 18 near Kent and did what he did."

Paxton never told anyone because she was too ashamed.

"This isn't the worst thing that happened to me, but it left me with such shame," she said.

In 2003, while waiting in line at the grocery store, Paxton picked up Ann Rule's book, "Green River, Running Red" and began thumbing through it.

"I saw the picture of [Gary Ridgway] and I screamed," she said. "I told the checkout lady, 'This is the man who raped me!'"   

Both investigators and Ridgway's attorney don't believe Ridgway was the man who raped Paxton, but Rule says it is possible.

"If he raped in 1979 I would not be surprised," said Rule. "When you're dealing with someone with an abarant personality it's hard to make them fit into particular nitches."

Paxton will be in court Friday holding up old photos of herself.

"I just want to look at him," she said. "I want to look in his eyes. If can get a second, if I could just say, 'Do you remember me?' I don't know what it will change it probably won't change anything, but for me it will."

Ridgway's attorney says his client will plead guilty tomorrow to Marrero's murder. If he does, Ridgway would get an additional life sentence added to the 48 he is already serving. 

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