Denver teen missing in 1983 identified as victim of serial killer Gary Ridgway

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DENVER (KDVR) — A Seattle sheriff’s office and the DNA Doe Project (DDP) announced Monday that the identity of a young woman whose remains were found in an area near what is now Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as Wendy Stephens of Denver.

Stephens went missing in 1983. When her body was discovered, Stephens was identified as one of four victims of serial killer Gary Leon Ridgway whose identities have since remained unknown, according to the release on Monday.

KCSO Major Crimes Unit first discussed the Stephens’ case with DDP in August 2019. Bone samples were sent to to a lab in April 2020 for DNA extraction; in June the DNA obtained was shipped for sequencing at another lab. The results were uploaded to GEDmatch on Sept 4, 2020 and research commenced, according to Monday’s announcement.

Ridgway was convicted in 2003 of killing 49 women but he said he likely committed more than 71 murders. He is serving a sentence of life without parole.

Many of the women’s bodies have not been found.

Ridgway was known as the Green River Killer in Seattle. He is considered one of the most prolific serial killers of all time.

The DNA Doe Project, which helped to identify Stephens’ remains is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization whose mission is to identify John and Jane Does and return them to their families.

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