Jennifer Paxton will be in a Seattle courtroom today. She plans on looking squarely at Gary Ridgway, the 49-victims-and-counting "Green River Killer," and asking him if he remembers her.
The 47-year-old woman from Colville says that he should, because 31 years ago, he picked her up on the side of the road, told her he was taking her to a party, then drove her into the woods and raped her.
Anyone who knows how Ridgway rolls knows he's not one to leave victims alive to tell the tale. And as The Seattle Timesreports this morning, investigators are doubtful that Paxton's right.
Nonetheless, she'll be in court today, ready to testify in the case of Rebecca "Becky" Marerro, Ridgway's latest confirmed kill, where she won't only be talking about Marerro's case, but about her own as well.
It's not surprising that Paxton is still furious about what she says took place in the forest off Highway 18 near Kent when she was 16. Since then her life has been somewhat of a mess. She's been arrested numerous times for fighting and harassment. Her husband Bill says she wrestles with a deep mistrust of men and authority, and that it often comes out in the form of anger.
"Anger is her defense mechanism, and it causes her to go up in conflict," he said. "She has a lot of hatred and mistrust for men pent up deep below. It bubbles up and makes her feel like striking out at the government and police officials."
Indeed, Paxton's Facebook page is a heart-on-her-sleeve journal in which she makes no secrets about how passionate she is in her belief that Ridgway's the one who raped her and that she still suffers from it, writing (among other related posts):
I am going to tell everyones dirty little lies and secrets. When I publish I am going to autograph and hand deliver copies to every abusive jerk who deserves to be ousted. So those who want to keep the past hidden better get ready.
Regardless, Paxton could be right.
Ridgway may have started out only with rape. His first victim, Wendy Lee Coffield, disappeared in 1982, and in 1979, when Paxton says her incident took place, Ridgway may still have been in possession of some thread of restraint when he picked her up and told her he'd take her to a "kegger."
And really, even if she's wrong, to give a troubled woman her day in court with the man she says attacked her is a justice unto itself.