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Long Island Serial Killings

Aired April 16, 2011 - 19:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Bodies on the beach, discovered on desolate shores on Long Island, New York. A serial killer? Absolutely, says one family, after a chilling phone call.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was taunting her. He was basically torturing her. She kept asking where her sister was.


LEMON: Was it a killer call confession from the man who murdered her 24-year-old daughter? And who knows how many other young women.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We always had hope until that last call.


LEMON: The monstrous mind of another serial killer, Gary Ridgway -- murderer of as many as 70 women in his own sadistic words.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you feeling when you're doing this to this lady?

GARY RIDGWAY, SERIAL KILLER: Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill.


LEMON: Escaping death: a woman who survives the infamous Grim Sleeper who terrified Los Angeles for years -- tonight, in her own startling words.


ENIETRA WASHINGTON, SURVIVED SUSPECTED "GRIM SLEEPER" KILLER: He didn't look like somebody you'd be afraid of.


LEMON: Teaching a killer --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I told you my name, I'm afraid I'd have to kill you.


LEMON: -- crime drama, must-see TV for the serial would-be?

Tracking them down: inside the grisly process, the investigation, the forensics, the mind games, from experts who hunt down the sly and savage serial killer.


LEMON: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

Tonight, a CNN NEWSROOM special report, "Long Island Serial Killings."

Here's what we know. The identity, unknown. The motive, unclear. The terror, unfathomable.

Investigators this weekend have sealed off a Long Island beach, dumping ground, they believe for prolific serial killer or killers. At least eight women slaughtered, dumped like they meant nothing. And now, we're learning of cruel, taunting phone calls to one of the victims' loved ones.

We go to our Susan Candiotti live at the scene in Long Island in just a moment. But, first, tonight, her report.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As investigators pick their way through twisted brush, dense weeds, and sand dunes, using divers offshore and high-tech imagery from the air looking for any sign of more victims, one thing's clear: it's a perfect spot to dump a body.

LT. KEVIN SMITH, NASSAU COUNTY POLICE: You can pull of the to the side of the road, you can open up your trunk, you can take something out, and never be seen.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): You could call it a killing field?

SMITH: Possibly.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): There are so many questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're interviewing a lot of people.

CANDIOTTI: But so far, no one's being called a suspect in the deaths of four women, all prostitutes, and four more still unidentified bodies found months later. It's not clear whether they're connected.

(on camera): We're talking about one killer or two killers?

SMITH: It's almost impossible to know that right now. We have bodies in various conditions and states.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): There are possible links. Some victims were wrapped in burlap, families were told. A law enforcement source says some additional remains were in black plastic, possibly a bag. Police know the alleged killer used throw away cell phones to contact some victims who advertised on Craigslist, including Melissa Barthelemy. Her mother says a man using Melissa's cellphone after she disappeared made seven taunting calls to the victim's little sister from crowded spots, including Time Square, where he couldn't be traced and allegedly admitted killing Melissa.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I believe 100 percent it's him.

CANDIOTTI: "Do you think you'll see her again?" the caller asked. "You won't. I killed her."

STEVE COHEN, FAMILY ATTORNEY: This was a calculating, stone cold killer.

CANDIOTTI: His calls, a creepy and chilling clue about a killer or killers who may be watching every move the police make.


LEMON: Susan Candiotti is joining us now live from Jones Beach, Long Island.

Susan, we heard about those phone calls in your report right there. Are they a dead end or can they still help the investigation?

CANDIOTTI: Oh, they could still help because -- a couple of examples. Number one, this is an example of what he said, the teenage sister that got those calls, if they arrest this guy, they'd be able to use her as a witness. She could verify what he said to her, including the graphic details of what he said he allegedly did to her sister. It also illustrates phone records. They could trace some of the phone calls.

So, this is just a few things they could do with those phone calls.

LEMON: So, Susan, you're right in the middle of all of this brush that we're looking at right there. There's plenty to get tangled up there, isn't it? And it's tough for investigators looking for clues.

CANDIOTTI: Oh, yes. This is -- this is -- you know, this is kind of good weather for them. Let me show you the conditions. I mean, this stuff is prickly. It's all jammed together. I mean, you have to find your way in here, at least without any leaves on here, investigators can see through all of this.

But it is not easy -- oops -- as you can see, to get through here. But they're trying their best. I mean, you can see how tangled up my feet are. Think about the search dogs trying to get in here. Even they're fighting going in there with their handlers and they're used to doing this kind of thing. So, that's why authorities are -- it's taking so much time for them to get through all of this stuff. And that's why in part, they had to take the weekend off because of this bad weather, but they'll be picking up the search again next week.

LEMON: Even with the clash with a little brush, our Susan Candiotti always a professional -- reporting tonight live from Jones Beach, Long Island. Thank you, Susan.

You know, the bodies began turning up back in December and so did the hunt for clues.

Our Joe Johns walks us through it all step-by-step.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here's a map with dates and locations showing where the dead were found. A tidy line of bodies concealed always just of the road in the scrub covering area miles long.

Last December 11th, a police officer out training his dog finds a woman's body on Gilgo Beach in Suffolk County.

December 13th, police find three more bodies, the four women, some found in burlap bags, all were in their 20s, working as prostitutes, advertising their services on Craigslist.

COMM. RICHARD DORMER, SUFFOLK COUNTY POLICE DEPT.: The business that they were in, OK, indicated that whoever was targeting these individuals was doing it because of their business.

JOHNS: March 29th of this year, another body is found.

Then on April 4th, the remains of three more people were found. Who these four are and how they died is still a mystery.

And one of the most vexing questions of all is whatever happened to Shanna Gilbert? She's in her 20s. She worked as a prostitute and advertised on Craigslist. But authorities do say she is not among the unidentified dead.

(on camera): May 1st of last year, around 2:00 in the morning, according to a family member, a driver brought Shannan Gilbert here to Oak Beach to meet a man. She ran from the house a couple hours later, came here to a neighbor's place.

JOHNS: The neighbor went to call 911 and when he came back, she was gone. That neighbor says, Gus Coletti, the woman was frantic.

GUS COLETTI, OAK BEACH RESIDENT: She just stood there staring at me yelling, "Help me, help me."

JOHNS: Coletti doubts whether Gilbert, whose disappearance set off the search, has anything to do with the bodies found so far.

(on camera): Do you think she was a victim of a serial killer?

COLETTI: No. I'm not even sure she was murdered.

JOHNS (voice-over): The man Shannan went to visit that morning has been questioned by police. They say he's been cooperative and that he is not a suspect. We visited his house today, but no one answered the door.

Another disturbing piece of this story goes back two years ago. Taunting telephone calls, which may have come from the alleged killer himself went to a sister of Melissa Barthelemy, one of the victims, that according to her mother.

Police tried to investigate the calls but were unable to because they were too short to trace and came from crowded places. To some, that kind of boldness and planning suggests police are dealing with a very organized killer.

(on camera): There's been some suggestion that the killer may have law enforcement experience because he seems to know how to make gathering evidence more difficult. But police say, as far as they're concerned, that's nothing more than speculation.

SMITH: You can go with it, if you want, but it's not coming from us.

JOHNS (voice-over): The only thing we know for sure, there are bodies turning up on the beach and police fear there could be many more.

Joe Johns, CNN, Oak Beach, Long Island.


LEMON: Who are these women found on Long Island? A family member recounts her sister's last known moments. Only half of the bodies have been identified. Details on the lives these women led by day and the drastic contrast of the lives they led by night.



SMITH: Discovered about 96 feet north off the parkway, all right, what appears to be a human -- appears to be a human skull.


LEMON: You're looking now at live pictures of Jones Beach on Long Island, where the investigation is in full tilt after the bodies of eight women began turning up there in December.

We don't know how they were killed, when, where, or why. But we do know the names of four of the eight who have been found. They all advertised sexual services through Craigslist.

Megan Waterman was 22 years old and from Scarborough, Maine. She was a mother of a 5-year-old child and went to New York to make more money. Her remains were the first to be identified in mid-December.

Maureen Brainard-Barnes was from Norwich, Connecticut. She was 25 when she was discovered, leaving behind two children. Brainard-Barnes had a history of petty crimes.

And just a year younger, Melissa Barthelemy lived in the Bronx. The family attorney says she moved from Buffalo to be with her boyfriend and try to make it as a hairstylist, but ended up an exotic dancer.

Twenty-seven-year-old Amber Lynn Costello was from Long island, New York. She moved to New York from North Carolina to be closer to her sister and to get sober. Friends say, at home, she cared for kids, in her church, and sang in the choir.

Well, family members say Amber Lynn Costello was trying to get her life back together, but going to New York did not bring Costello the new beginnings she was seeking.

CNN investigative correspondent Kaj Larsen spoke with Costello's sister at the place Costello was last seen.




LARSEN: Tell me what's going on?

OVERSTREET: It's just this is the last place she was, you know? And I've been here so many times with her. And I just can't believe the one time I'm not with her it happened.

LARSEN: So, this is the house where you used to live together?

OVERSTREET: Yes, this is the house we used to stay. The house she used to work out of and the last place she was seen alive coming out of.

LARSEN: And then what happened on that one day you weren't here?

OVERSTREET: Apparently, that morning, she had got a call from a guy who was wanting to set up a call for later that night. He said he would be in contact with her throughout the day, set it up. It was going to be for later that evening. He called through the duration of the day maybe two or three times.

Apparently, from the information I got from my friend who was staying with her, it was set up for, you know, a few hundred dollars. He got to the neighborhood. He called her again, maybe (INAUDIBLE) a little after and said that he was coming down the road, for her to go ahead and walk out and she hung the phone up, gave the phone to the people she was with and said, "If my sister calls, tell her I love her." She walked out the door and was never seen again.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LEMON: Kaj Larsen, following all the details on this story for us. He's live tonight in Tampa, working on another assignment.

But, Kaj, we just heard the victim talk about her sister's last client. Does Kimberly Overstreet think that client has anything to do with Costello's death?

LARSEN: Well, she doesn't actually know. What she does know is that her sister left her phone behind, walked and got in the client's car, which is not -- which indicated to her sister that potentially she knew the client. What Kimberly Overstreet, Amber's sister, told us is that she has been pulling on that thread herself, doing some of the investigating, if you will, herself, to try and determine exactly what happened.

LEMON: You also spoke with family members of the woman who triggered this whole investigation, Shannan Gilbert. Are police telling them anything about whether they're closer to locating Gilbert?

LARSEN: They're not. I mean, what's so extraordinary about both Kimberly Overstreet, who you just saw, and the Gilbert sisters are -- is the tenacity of which they've pursued the case themselves.

All of the family members have formed essentially a collective. And they feel that their efforts are really necessary in absence of any other credible information that they're getting.

And you can even see from when I talk to the Gilbert sisters how they're going about some of that.


LARSEN: So tell me about what was going on with your sister.

SARRA GILBERT, MISSING WOMAN'S SISTER: As far as her profession, she was an escort. And she posted through Craigslist and went down to meet a client. And through phone records, we determined her last call was to 911.

And we pretty much from there tried to do our own little investigation. We made up flyers, passed them out, went door to door, knocking doors, making out notes to give (INAUDIBLE) and actually found a piece of her jewelry which happened to be an earring.

LARSEN: Sherre, I know this is hard. But what do you think happened to your sister?

SHERRE GILBERT, MISSING WOMAN'S SISTER: I don't know. I really can't say, you know? In the back of your mind, you want to believe that everything's OK with her, but at the same time, it's just like so much time has passed that it just seems like it's impossible to really, you know, think that she's still alive.


LEMON: So, Kaj, their sister is still missing, but I'm thinking they must feel some solace since it was the search for their sister that led to these other women.

LARSEN: They do. And they recognize that it's their efforts that have helped the other families to have some closure in this case. At the same time, they know that their sister is still missing and they also know that whoever's responsible for this is still out there, and they're desperate as are the police to find some way to stop the hemorrhaging out there on Long Island.

LEMON: Kaj Larsen, thank you.


ENIETRA WASHINGTON, SURVIVED SUSPECTED "GRIM SLEEPER" KILLER: When I went to reach for the door handle, he says, "You get out that car, I'll shoot you again." But he made a different reference to it. And I said, "Oh, yes? I go, oh, you shot me?" And he goes, "Blank, I'll shoot you again."


LEMON: Surviving a serial killer. She's the only known survivor of the Grim Sleeper attacks. Caught in his clutches and shot at point- blank range.

Enietra Washington tells us how she barely escaped and how it changed her life.


LEMON: Welcome back to our coverage of the Long Island serial killer. Live pictures of Oak Beach on Long Island, where the investigation is in full swing after the bodies of eight women began turning up there in December.

You know, there are a few things more terrifying than the thought of coming face-to-face with a serial killer. Very few people, like Enietra Washington, live to talk about it.

This is Enietra when she was 29 years old, around the time when police say she encountered Lonnie Franklin, Jr. Franklin is the alleged Grim Sleeper serial killer, so named because of a 14-year break in murders from 1988 to 2002. He was caught less than a year ago.

Police say Enietra is the only known survivor of his attacks. It all began when she got into a strange car one night in November of 1988.


WASHINGTON: As I reach for the door to get out the car, he says, "Bitch, I'll shoot you again." And I said, "Shoot me? You shot me?" He goes, "Yes." And I go, "I really got to get out of the car." So, he said I said, "I'll shoot you again."

LEMON: Does he hit you again? Does he shoot you again?

WASHINGTON: He hit me and I -- when I woke to, he was on top of me. LEMON: In the car?

WASHINGTON: In the car.

LEMON: He's doing things to you sexually that you don't want to speak about?

WASHINGTON: Correct, correct. But I remember going to the door again and as I was opening the door, he pushed me out the door and drove off. So the car was moving, I just -- I don't know how. If I knew he was standing still, I would have got out.

LEMON: Did you think you were going to die or you were dead at that point?

WASHINGTON: At that point, I was -- when I got pushed out the car and I was laying in, I couldn't move and I'm thinking to myself, well, you do know you've got to get up and you've got to get up, get up, go somewhere and get help. I didn't know how bad I was hit or how it was. I just knew if I didn't go into shock, I'd be all right.

LEMON: Can you believe that you're alive today?

WASHINGTON: Through the grace of God, now -- it had to be God. It was -- and nobody but. Because, I mean, to actually get shot face value -- I mean, literally, you know, directly in front, yes, I would think anybody would not be able to survive.

LEMON: When you hear about what's happening in New York on Long Island, does it bring back to you the situation that you were in and the horror of it from 20 years ago?

WASHINGTON: Yes. You know, it shows that life is so fragile, so quick that you don't even know who you're with, you know? Like I said, the person that assaulted me was dressed clean and decent and he didn't look like somebody you'd be afraid of.

LEMON: Not many people, honestly, that we hear about survive serial killers. And you are the only known survivor of the Grim Sleeper. What do you think of that?

WASHINGTON: It's scary. But I think I'm blessed. I thank God every day for it.

I mean, I am just so happy that I could be here. I mean, I look down at some of the aspects and think, wow, how stupid was I? If it wasn't for the grace of God -- I mean, oh, thank you, Lord, for not ending me and I get to see my children.

LEMON: When you're staring into his eyes -- I mean, quite honestly, you're staring into the eyes of a killer, what's that like?

WASHINGTON: Truthfully, at that point I thought, oh, my God, and I didn't want to look at him. I closed my eyes. I closed my eyes.

My kids would have been left without a mother. I wouldn't get to see my grand kids and I have two of them. I'm so proud of them. It's just -- wow, you know, just fleeting that someone just thought because you're a woman that they can just take your life so simple.

LEMON: And to the person who's committing these crimes, you say?

WASHINGTON: You're just a coward. What are you afraid of? Why are you so scared of women that you have to go around and do something like this? You know, I just can't understand why you would do something? What if you have a child and a little girl like that and somebody does this to them? How are you feeling?


LEMON: Our thanks to Enietra Washington.

It is a race against time. Combing the area on Long Island for more bodies before the spring vegetation takes over. Obscuring what little clues might be left. We go behind the scenes of an investigation to see firsthand the challenges.



JOSEPH COFFEY, RETIRED NYPD DETECTIVE SGT.: Whoever's doing this knows this area. They love the game. And this is a game to them.


LEMON: Hundreds of tips, a swarm of media, multiple police jurisdiction, trying to catch a serial killer is complicated and highly confidential.

But CNN's Jason Carroll was able to get some behind the scenes insight from one investigator who helped to catch the Son of Sam. That's a nickname serial killer David Berkowitz gave himself one summer 35 years ago.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As investigators search for more clues to lead them to a suspected serial killer or killers on Long Island, one former detective who helped find one of America's most infamous serial killers watches every development.

COFFEY: This case is very wearing on detectives. And these guys out here, I feel for them because I went through the same thing with the Son of Sam.

CARROLL: Son of Sam. That's how David Berkowitz identified himself in 1977. The serial killer shot 13, murdering six, before getting caught.

COFFEY: I had a certain amount of rage in my heart regarding Mr. Berkowitz.

CARROLL: Joseph Coffey led the task force created to catch Berkowitz.

COFFEY: Emotionally, you have memories coming back to you all the time.

CARROLL: His background, giving a unique perspective into the Long Island investigation.

COFFEY: Keep this in mind: these bodies were hidden for a purpose. Whoever this is, didn't anticipate that these bodies being found.

CARROLL (on camera): And what does that say to you?

COFFEY: When he started his crime wave, if you want to call it that, it's a vendetta. He was afraid of getting caught.

CARROLL (voice-over): Finding evidence here, a challenge -- the brush too thick even for police dogs. But Coffey says more leads may develop by learning how the four identified victims got there, all were known prostitutes.

COFFEY: Interview cab drivers, not necessarily as the perpetrator but as witnesses, because these women had to have transportation to get to and from their johns.

CARROLL (on camera): Do you think the person or persons responsible for what's happening out here wants to be caught?

COFFEY: No, that's a fallacy.


COFFEY: No. They say that all the time. He wants to be caught. That's baloney.

CARROLL (voice-over): Coffey is reminded of another Long Island serial killer, Joel Rifkin. He also targeted prostitutes and was convicted of killing nine, but confessed to murdering 17.

COFFEY: Whoever is doing this knows this area, whether he was born and raised here, or whether he still leaves here. You couldn't do what this person was doing without knowing this area.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ... convicted of killing nine but confessed to murdering 17.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoever's doing this knows this area. Whether he was born and raised here or he still lives here, you couldn't do what this person is doing without knowing this area.

CARROLL (on camera): Why not just leave the area and go quiet for a period of time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they love the game. And this is a game for them.

CARROLL: And Coffey says he believes the person or persons responsible for what's happening out here will not stop until he is caught.

In Jones Beach, I'm Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Do TV shows like "CSI," "Criminal minds," and "Dexter" teach killers how to cover their tracks? Some critics say yes. We'll talk to a former police officer who now works on one of those crime shows.

And we have breaking news in North Carolina where tornadoes ripped through several cities. It's starting to get dark there. And emergency crews are trying to get to the injured as quickly as possible.


LEMON: All right. This is breaking news on CNN, a line of storms that has already killed at least 19 people, sweeping across the mid- Atlantic region this evening. A tornado rolled through North Carolina just this afternoon killing two people and injuring six. A tornado watch has been issued for the Richmond, Virginia, and Washington and Baltimore areas. Governors have declared state of emergencies in Oklahoma, Alabama, and Mississippi which were hammered earlier. Meteorologist Jacqui Jeras in the severe weather center now. And Jacqui, you said this is uncommon to happen in the Carolinas.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, just unbelievable the outbreak, the number of tornadoes that we've seen touching down in both North and South Carolina this afternoon, evening. The Storm Prediction Center is actually saying they've had 74 reports now that might be more than one report of the same tornado. So we'll see how it all shakes out. But look at the damage, it's just incredible. And the threat of tornadoes ongoing from central Pennsylvania stretching all the way down through South Carolina.

The area that we're most concerned about at this hour is eastern North Carolina where we have multiple warnings still in effect and the storm that I'm most concerned about right here is where we're getting reports of damage. Now this is for Craven and Jones county where we have a report of a tornado on the ground near Cove City. Jasper, you're next in line, so you all need to be seeking shelter immediately.

We want to take you up towards Washington, D.C. where just west of you, we've got a line of severe thunderstorms. So D.C. is going to be seeing this nasty weather moving in maybe an hour from now. Don, this is going to be continuing through the rest of the evening but the good news is tomorrow, we should be done with the severe storms. LEMON: All right. Jacqui, thank you very much.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, by analyzing what's not there, we begin to fill the bottom of the hourglass which leads us to the truth.


LEMON: How do you avoid arrest? Just watch TV. That's what critics of this CBS show say. They say CSI and its spin-offs get too real showing criminals and that includes serial killers how to cover their tracks. How does CSI do it? By hiring people like Larry Mitchell. He is the one in the deputy uniform that you're about to see in this episode from this season.

Mitchell was a regular of the cast and a technical consultant for the show. So Larry, thank you so much for joining us. Although you're on the show -


LEMON: The details can work against police and law enforcement. And when you were a jailer, you banned your inmates from watching the show.

MITCHELL: This is true. But let's talk about the "CSI" effect. I think the "CSI" effect has had more positive effect on law enforcement than a negative effect. Prior to our show becoming the "CSI" show of all shows, there were very few small agencies that had crime labs. Now since our show has exposed the world of forensics, more people are involved. More cities have crime labs. You have more young people who want to become crime scene investigators. So I think it's more of a positive effect than a negative effect.


MITCHELL: Now, if you think about my situation when I was a sergeant and I worked custody and I actually banned all the "CSI" shows from the inmates' television list, it was because I think our show in a small way does affect the small-time criminal. The guys who commit burglaries, the guys who do armed 211s, the guys who do car thefts because those crimes really revolve around fingerprint evidence.

But when you take it a step further, when you're talking about serial killers, when you're talking about guys like Richard Ramirez, the Long Island southeasterly killer that we're talking about right now. These guys are above and beyond your normal criminal.


MITCHELL: These two guys -

LEMON: Let me jump in here because you mentioned.

MITCHELL: Sure. LEMON: I think - I have heard from members of police departments and law enforcement that it's a double - it works both ways, because people think that they're going to solve the crimes like they see on the shows, like "CSI" and "Criminal Minds" and it doesn't really work that way. That's made for TV. But let's get back again to serial killers. Because there are shows like "Dexter" where the serial killer is actually a police officer and works in law enforcement and actually shows people how to cover their tracks and what information law enforcement might be able to find out and might not be able to find out.

MITCHELL: Exactly. Well, there again, "Dexter" is a television show. And that show is dramatized, so it's entertainment, so people like to watch it OK. But let's take "Dexter" and transfer him into a real serial killer, OK. Real serial killers, they're part of our community. I mean, the guy in Long Island. I would almost guarantee you he lives in that area. He's probably watching every move that police make on CNN or the local news station.

And so you have a difference there because we're talking about television as opposed to real life. And even though in "Dexter" and in our show, we talk about the things we do to solve crimes. We talk about the things we do to keep crime scenes from being contaminated. But that's all television.

LEMON: And Larry, that's going to have to be the last word there because we've got a lot more to get to, but we appreciate you joining us here on CNN. Larry Mitchell, thank you.

MITCHELL: Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was always the sex first then naturally killing them after the sex.


LEMON: Peering inside the mind of a serial killer. Seattle's Green River killer tells in gory detail how he murdered his victim.


LEMON: Live pictures of Long Island where they are trying to figure out who dumped the bodies of eight women along this stretch of Long Island.

So what is a serial killer really thinking? Do they fit the stereotype of an unstable and violent person or do they often go about their daily lives unnoticed? Hiding in plain sight? The man who became known as the Green River killer talked to police extensively after he was captured. And what he had to say truly horrifying.


GARY RIDGWAY, GREEN RIVER KILLER: I used my hands, my arm, I pulled her back. I was choking her.

LEMON (voice-over): A serial killer speaks.

RIDGWAY: All the rage - took a towel and wrapped around their neck and pulled and killed them.

LEMON: A rare and disturbing glimpse into the mind of a sexual psychopath.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you feeling when you're doing this to this lady?

RIDGWAY: Kill, kill, kill, kill.

LEMON: Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer. For nearly two decades he murdered with impunity and terrorized Seattle, Washington. When he was finally caught in 2001, Ridgway had become one of the nation's most notorious and prolific serial killers.

RIDGWAY: I killed because I wanted to kill.

LEMON: To escape the death penalty, Ridgway agreed to months of interrogation, all of it recorded, all of it chilling.

RIDGWAY: But it was always the sex first, then (INAUDIBLE) killing them after the sex.

LEMON: This was Gary Ridgway's hunting ground. What locals call the strip in suburban Seattle. A collection of bars and dive motels frequented by prostitutes, Ridgway's victims of choice.

RIDGWAY: I can kill a prostitute and have a lot less chance of -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Getting caught.

RIDGWAY: Getting caught. You don't know them, they don't know you. Police won't look as hard as they would if it was a senator's daughter or something, you know.

LEMON: Throughout his 19-year killing spree, Ridgway dumped the bodies of as many as 70 women throughout the Seattle area. At the end of a runway and woods along rural roads, and of course, in the Green River.

MARY O'TOOLE, FMR. FBI AGENT: These were women whose lifestyles was such that they did not regularly check in with their families or their loved ones.

LEMON: Mary O'Toole, a former FBI agent was one of the investigators who interviewed Ridgway.

O'TOOLE: They gave him a lot of flexibility and a lot of latitude. It could be months before they'd be reported missing if at all.

RIDGWAY: There's a guy who's not really muscle-bound, just an ordinary John. And yet, that was their downfall. My appearance was different than what it really was.


RIDGWAY: Pretty good.

LEMON: Gary Ridgway's unassuming personality allowed him a 19-year killing spree. He took the lives of dozens of girls. More than half of the victims were under 18, like Debra Estes (ph), 15, Shawnda Summers, 16, and Linda Jane Rule (ph), 16.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today at approximately 3:00 p.m., detectives from the King County sheriff's office arrested a 52-year-old man for investigation of homicide. The man arrested is Gary Leon Ridgway.

LEMON: When he was finally captured, investigators found photos of Ridgway's picture perfect life. The Green River killer was married. Had a 26-year-old son, and had worked at the same job for more than 30 years, painting trucks at this plant.

JAMES MCNAMARA, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: Everybody wants to see the monster in the neighborhood. The guy with the trench coat hiding behind the tree, and quite often these guys are not physically or behaviorably monsters in the neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a scale of one to five, with five being the worse possible evil person that could have done this kind of thing, were are you on falling scale?

RIDGWAY: I would say a three.


RIDGWAY: One thing - I killed them, I didn't torture them. It went fast.

LEMON: While Ridgway pleaded guilty to 49 murders, his name has been connected to as many as 70 deaths. But the larger question of why he killed so many remains.


LEMON: Up next on our special report -


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three were dismembered, three were in oil drums somewhere in the water, some were on land. It's like my own little nightmare scenarios. As much as they say I wanted to stop, it probably would have been others.


LEMON: That's an earlier notorious Long Island killer, Joe Rifkin, talking about his murder spree 20 years ago. Peering into the twisted minds of serial killers in order to catch another.



LYNN BARTHELEMY, MOTHER OF MURDER VICTIM: There's not one night that I don't cry myself to sleep. It's just like a big nightmare. You know, I still haven't - it still hasn't sunk in.


LEMON: All right. Let's get some insight now into the mind of a killer and the strategies police use to catch them. I want to introduce you audience to Jim Clemente. And I've worked with him as a reporter for a long time. So listen, he knows his stuff. He's a former FBI special agent, a nationally recognized expert in sex crime investigation, sex offender behavior and other fields. He's also a writer and producer for television and films including the series "Criminal Minds." So he knows what we're talking about here.

So listen, Jim, if you were approaching this investigation, knowing what you know, what would you - how would you approach this as a former profiler?

JIM CLEMENTE, RETIRED FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, profilers look at crimes from a behavioral perspective. We reverse engineer the crimes in order to work our way backwards to the offender who committed that crime.

LEMON: So you're saying by doing that, is it correct - it's like holding up a mirror to that offender?

CLEMENTE: Well, we first start with victimology. And when you look at the choice of a particular victim and a particular time and a particular place and a particular manner for a particular purpose, that's like holding a mirror up to the offender. He made these choices for personal reasons. And that reveals things, leaks out information about him.

LEMON: OK. So knowing what you know about this case, the women advertised on Craigslist, where they were dumped, what would you say? You probably can't give us a physical composite, but can you give us some sort of a psychological composite about what it tells you about this person?

CLEMENTE: Well, I can give you a behavioral composite. If you're starting with the victimology, it's choice of victims, are very high- risk victims, people who hold themselves out in a very high-risk situation. Actually they voluntarily come to meet somebody they don't know at all. Those are the easiest pickings for a serial killer.

Many very intelligent serial killers like Bundy, for example, are able to actually walk up to very low-risk victims and convince them to come with them. This guy has taken actually the easiest pickings. So that tells you something about his sophistication level and so forth. You can also look at the fact that he has, it seems, at least four of them were a very particular type, a body type and white females. So he probably has a particular type that he likes. That feeds into his sexual fantasy.

So he's using the same dumping grounds, disposal site over and over again. And that leads us - would lead us to believe that he has some serious familiarity with that area.

LEMON: He has some knowledge of that area, it means something to him?

CLEMENTE: Well, two things. One, that he knows that it was a good hiding place. It's not in the mainstream. It's out. And it's rural. And he knows that fact that it's a good hiding place. And he repeatedly goes back there. So he has a very strong connection to that place.

LEMON: I have a couple more things. We have a short time. What does it tell you that he is calling at least one of the victims' sisters?

CLEMENTE: Well, that tells you that he's basically a sadist. I mean, that's a very cruel thing to do. To taunt a child about her sister's death. So that tells you something about his anger issues. It also tells you about how he looks down on prostitutes, feels superior to them and he's basically punishing them. So that kind of behavior should leak out in his relationships, in his work environment and so forth.

LEMON: So people around him, whether they're co-workers, family members or just people close to him, they should have some sort of - there should be signs exhibited, they should be aware of them, even now they know?

CLEMENTE: Yes, yes. Well, they may. They may not realize that it's connected to this case. But if they look hard enough, they'll find it. Somebody knows this guy.

LEMON: OK. We have to run here, Jim. But I have to ask you, chances are, and I think you believe this, you don't want to taunt him because it's happened before where serial killers go after reporters, go after investigators. But chances are he is watching this and is well aware of all the coverage about him.

CLEMENTE: Well, many serial offenders do watch all the coverage. They'd like to know what is out there. What the police have. And what they need to do. To avoid capture.

LEMON: Jim Clemente, thank you very much. A former FBI profiler. Again, a writer and consultant for the TV show "Criminal Minds." We appreciate your time.

CLEMENTE: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: How many more weeks or months will the search last in Long Island? How many hours of manpower will be used, and how many more bodies will be uncovered? We're live from the search area with what lies ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Difficult to catch, whoever is killing these women on Long Island and disappearing into the shadows must have left clues behind no matter how small. Several law enforcement agencies are trying to find them. But with so many investigators in the field, they can step on each other's toes.

We're joined again by our Susan Candiotti. She's been covering this story really since these bodies have started turning up. So Susan, what are some of the problems investigators are running into?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of questions are being raised, number one, about whether authorities have been following up on some tips fast enough. There also have been questions raised about whether the local police asked the FBI to get involved quickly enough. And then some family members are talking about missed opportunities. That family in Buffalo we were telling you about, well, they said it took a very long time for police initially to take them seriously and file that missing persons report. And as a consequence, the police took so long that they missed a lot of those taunting phone calls. Police in New York City to follow up on them when they were being made to the victim's sister.

LEMON: All right. So take us through, Susan, what's next here in this investigation?

CANDIOTTI: I know the rain's really coming down hard right now, but what's next is that hopefully when the weather gets better at the beginning of next week, they're going to continue to make some dives, to look for any clues they can in some of the shallow waters here in the sound. The FBI on Monday is taking an FBI black hawk helicopter up in the air to resume high-tech imaging to look for any clues that any other victims might be out there or any other areas that they should search. And we're also waiting to find out the identifications of those four other bodies that were found within the last two weeks. That should tell us a lot.

LEMON: Susan, can you tell us about the community reaction? Sometimes when the victims are prostitutes, there's a sense of why should I care among many people.

CANDIOTTI: Well, that's true. Some people do say that. But the community also is very afraid, primarily because, look, there could be a killer living among them. And they want to know who that is. So does everyone.

LEMON: Susan Candiotti in the rain and also in the thick of it out at Oak Beach on Long Island where those bodies have been turning up. And investigators are looking for clues. Thank you, Susan Candiotti.

That's it. We appreciate you joining us. I'm Don Lemon at the CNN World headquarters in Atlanta. I'm going to see you back here at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for our regular newscast.