Washington state authorities said they have positively identified the remains of a woman killed by the Green River Killer, one of the nation's most prolific killers. The King County Sheriff's Office said yesterday that remains found in Auburn, Wash., in 1985 belong to Sandra Denise Major. The 20-year-old was reported missing on Dec. 24, 1982, and was last seen getting into a pickup in North Seattle. Relatives in New York state had already assumed that she had died at the hands of Gary Ridgway, just like dozens of prostitutes who worked in the Seattle area in the early 1980s.
But it wasn't until April that Major's cousin called the King County Sheriff's Office after seeing a Lifetime channel movie about Ridgway, who was dubbed the Green River Killer after the river along which he dumped some of his victims. "He knew his cousin had come out here in `82," said a sheriff's spokesman. "He said she was involved in prostitution and she disappeared." Police in Rochester, NY, collected DNA samples from Major's relatives; results showed that DNA of the remains matched the family's DNA. Ridgway was convicted of killing 49 women. (Read more Green River Killer stories.)