It was a show of decorum that belied the agony of two decades spent waiting for those eight minutes.
"I was 13 when it happened, and I don't understand how he could sit there so blankly," said Deanna Brewer, whose sister, Shirley Marie Sherrill, was 18 when she disappeared in 1982. "It's not comprehensible."
Sherrill's family was among several to speak at a news conference following Ridgway's pleas. Some held photographs of the victims, others wore buttons with their likeness.
"It's very important to us the world know she was a person," said Kandice Watt, whose sister, Roberta Hayes, was 21 when she was last seen alive in 1987. "There's a lot of speculation about the lives they lead -- led -- and their survival, but first and foremost she was my sister, my brother's sister, and she was important to us."
Ridgway pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing 48 women, most of them runaways or prostitutes who vanished from seedy Seattle-area streets in the early 1980s.
"It was hard to sit there and see him not show any feeling and not show any remorse," said Kathy Mills, whose daughter, Opal, was 16 when she was killed in 1982.
Mills said she didn't object to the decision to spare Ridgway the death penalty (search). Martie Winston, the mother of Tracy Winston, who was 19 when she was killed in 1983, agreed.
"Frankly, I think that death is too good for Gary Ridgway. I'd like to think that his life in prison will be a living hell," she said.
Other relatives still want his death.
"He don't deserve to live another day," said Debra York, whose 17-year-old niece Cynthia Jean Hinds disappeared in 1982. York watched the hearing on television in an overflow courtroom, often waving her fists in frustration and dabbing her eyes.
Sheriff Dave Reichert said Wednesday's hearing was "more accurately described as a chapter in this long tragedy, but the book's not closed yet. There will never be total closure. They have to live with this the rest of their lives."