Every Parent's Worst Nightmare

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, November 5, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Earlier today Gary Ridgway (search), also known as the Green River Killer, he pleaded guilty to 48 counts of first-degree murder. The plea agreement will spare Ridgway the death penalty in Washington state. Instead, they assured him of life in prison without the possibility of parole.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "In most cases when I murdered these women, I did not know their names. Most of the time I killed them the first time I met them, and I do not have a good memory for their faces. I killed so many women, I have a hard time keeping them straight."

Is that true?



HANNITY: Unbelievable. Ridgway could still face charges in Oregon, where two of the bodies on the official list of Green River victims were found. Today's plea makes Ridgway the most prolific serial killer in the United States in its history.

Did this killer get off easy?

Joining us now is William Bailey. He is the attorney for Kathy Mills, whose daughter Opal was murdered by Gary Ridgway.

There's a lot of mixed reaction among the victims' families here. What are the thoughts of your client?

WILLIAM BAILEY, VICTIM'S RIGHTS ATTORNEY: She is a very forgiving Christian woman. For the last several years she's worked in outreach for her church. Really, that's what's helped to keep her sane. So she has very mixed feelings about what happened today.

HANNITY: Look, I understand from a religious perspective -- I think that's honorable and loving and a degree of forgiveness I don't know if I could ever muster up.

But when you make a plea agreement like this, you've got to agree that we are opening the door. Because the next person that comes down the line and, "only killed one or two people," they're going to say this guy slaughtered 48.

And they didn't want to go after him any further because of financial issues involved in the case, because the county doesn't have the money to keep going and prosecuting this. And I don't think that's a good reason not to give the guy like this the maximum penalty.

BAILEY: Well, you've got a point, because if the death penalty is good for anyone, it ought to be good for Gary Ridgway.

But there's one other thought on that, that by making this agreement, the prosecutors were able to solve other murderers. And for my perspective that brings great comfort to other victims, when they're able to find the bodies of these individuals, and the families finally know what happened.

I sort of compare it to Vietnam (search), where we've made great efforts to try and find the bodies of our soldiers that died over there because it brings closure. So that's another side.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Mr. Bailey, it's Alan Colmes. Thank you for being with us tonight. My heart goes out to the families.

But I think you make a great point. Someone alive is someone who might be able at some point to provide information. The problem is, you know, you'd like to think there's no chance of parole ever, no chance people can get out. More people, I think, would favor not having a death penalty if we knew people could be locked away, throw away the key and there were no deals that can be made down the road where people then find themselves back in society.

BAILEY: Right. And that is -- that is a problem we've had here in our state. People have gotten out and have committed new offenses. So people have this sense of uneasiness. When there's no possibility of parole, there's no possibility of parole. But obviously with the case of this notoriety, he's not going anywhere.

COLMES: Mr. Bailey, this really goes to the heart of the problem with the death penalty, because it's unevenly enforced. As long as there are deals like this, it will be unevenly enforced. And those who commit lesser crimes will get it. Those who committed the crime we're talking about here, Ridgway's crime, a guy like Ridgway won't get it.

Isn't that the problem inherent with the death penalty?

BAILEY: It is. Any human system is driven by expedience and emotion, and it is not consistent. I do think, though, here having the death penalty put enormous pressure on Ridgway to confess all that he did.

COLMES: So you think it served the purpose?

BAILEY: It absolutely did. We wouldn't have the closure of all of these murders now if he wasn't worried about his own life.

COLMES: So is there a point at which you would like or your client would like to see him get the death penalty, once more information comes to light?

BAILEY: I suppose that is always open, and it's hard for me to separate my own feeling about the death penalty, which I'm in favor of in appropriate cases, where someone has been well represented. From how my client might feel about it. But it's certainly something that...

HANNITY: Mr. Bailey, I know you're a victim's rights attorney. Do you have -- besides being pure evil, what was the motivation? These teenage kids, runaway kids, what was the motivation here?

BAILEY: For Ridgway or the...

HANNITY: Yes. For him to do something as grotesque as this.

BAILEY: You know, it really defies the imagination.

HANNITY: It does.

BAILEY: When I saw him in court today he looked like a boring kind of guy, and apparently at work he was well regarded as someone who showed great attention to detail. And how he can be a monster when he looks so...

HANNITY: It's scary.

BAILEY: An average guy.

HANNITY: Isn't that scary? I'm looking at this guy right now. And you know, if I ran into him on the street, if I met him some place, he doesn't look like the type of guy -- and I guess this is every parent's worst nightmare. Doesn't look like the type of guy you think is going to take a stranger and murder them.

BAILEY: With as little emotion as this fellow showed. We're used to hearing about the crime of passion.


BAILEY: If this man has passion, it's really hard to identify.

HANNITY: Evil exists. And when you see that man's face, that's the modern day version of it. Sadly we've seen too much of this in the past. Sad.

Send our regards to the family, please. They're in our thoughts and prayers.

COLMES: Mr. Bailey, thank you for being with us tonight. We appreciate it very much. And I second that emotion.

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