SEATTLE – Children playing in a ravine south of Seattle this week found the skull of a young mother who vanished nearly three decades ago and has long been thought to be a victim of Green River serial killer Gary Ridgway.
The King County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday that dental records identified the remains as those of 20-year-old Rebecca "Becky" Marrero, who was last seen Dec. 3, 1982, as she left a motel room on Pacific Highway South.
Green River killer Gary Ridgway was arrested in 2001 after DNA tests linked him to some of dozens of unsolved killings dating to the early 1980s. He pleaded guilty two years later to murdering 48 women, most of them runaways, prostitutes and drug addicts in a deal that spared him from the death penalty.
Marrero, who had a 3-year-old daughter, was believed to be one of Ridgway's early victims. But he was never charged in her case because her body wasn't found and because Ridgway couldn't provide investigators with enough information about her to prove he killed her.
Marrero's skull was found Tuesday in a ravine in Auburn, about 25 miles south of Seattle. It was the same area where the remains of another Ridgway victim, Marie Malvar, were found in September 2003.
It wasn't immediately clear if the King County Prosecutor's Office planned to charge Ridgway in Marrero's death.
"With the discovery of Ms. Marrero's remains detectives and prosecutors will now review the investigation into her disappearance and death," the office said in a written statement. "Investigators will examine all aspects of the case including any potential involvement of Ridgway."
One of Ridgway's attorneys, Mark Prothero, was out of the office Thursday and couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Prothero wrote in his book on the case, "Defending Gary," that during extensive interviews Ridgway had "never been able to give the detectives anything useful on the Rebecca Marrero case."