This memorial website was created to honor the memory of Keli Kay McGinness, who was last seen alive on June 28, 1983. Gary L. Ridgway, the "Green River Killer", has admitted strangling Keli to death on that day. Keli has never been found. As of March 14, 2008, the Doe Network (http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/385dfwa.html) has reported that Ridgway led searchers to a small amount of bones which may be Keli's. He said he had killed her and had moved some of her bones to another location. Her case remains open for DNA comparisons.
Unfortunately, because Ridgway is a pathological liar, it has been impossible for investigators to get a straight answer out of him as to where he left Keli McGinness. Ridgway told investigators that he first met her on Feb. 23, 1983 when they were on a "date". They were stopped by a Seattle Port Authority police officer in Ridgway's maroon pickup truck near Sunset Junior High School, where Keli gave the officer one of her aliases, that of Jennifer Kauffman. The officer let them go and told them to move on. Ridgway told investigators that he picked up Keli again several months later, and states: "I took her someplace and I killed her. I know that for sure." Ridgway has maintained that he strangled Keli in the back of his pickup truck. Investigators from the Green River Task Force are still investigating Keli's case and want to find her remains. Ridgway has stated he left Keli's body at the Lake Fenwick site, but nothing has been found there.
Keli Kay was born on April 17, 1965, in Seattle, Washington State. Keli's biological mother was (and is) a talented singer and her father was a car salesman. Keli's parents divorced when she was nearly three years old. Keli's mother remarried, and Keli's stepfather was a teacher making $900 per month, NOT a wealthy man who took care of her and her mother, as mistakenly reported in the SEATTLE TIMES. Keli's mother, a talented singer, performed at such locales as the Washington Plaza Oak Room, Camlin Hotel, Tally Ho Room at The University Towers Hotel in Seattle. and was making $2,000.00 per month plus tips. Keli's mother also owned restaurants in Oregon and Washington State. She is a talented businesswoman and a very hard-working, ethical woman with a great love for her daughter, whom she misses terribly each and every day.
At the age of 13, Keli had a terrifying experience that forever changed her life. While babysitting, she was gang-raped by a group of drunken boys, against whom she was afraid to testify. Soon after this traumatic experience, Keli ran away from home for good, was on the streets working as a prostitute, and in a relationship with a pimp, Raphael Wilson, with whom she had two children.* The first child, a boy, was given up for adoption, and the second child, a girl, was placed in foster care while Keli was serving a short jail sentence for prostitution. Keli had intended to return to pick up her four-month old daughter, who was born in 1983, but never was seen again after working the streets on the night of June 28, 1983, at which time she disappeared forever. She was last seen about 7:30 pm, standing by the street in the area of the Three Bears Motel on South 216th Street and Pacific Highway South. She was wearing high heels, blue jeans, a tan short-sleeved sweater and a long camel-hair coat at that time. Keli's "boyfriend", Raphael (sp?) Wilson, called her mother in a panic to tell her he could not find her. Wilson, whose house has since been raided for drugs, is a heroin addict who is in prison. Keli has never been seen since Wilson called her mother, and he never made any attempt to take care of the little girl, who was put up for adoption when Keli didn't return from the street that night.Keli's mother tried many times to persuade Keli to leave prostitution, but her daughter kept saying: "How else could I make this kind of money? I am a prostitute." However, Keli had made the decision to stop working the streets; she desperately wanted to get out of prostitution and put her daughter in foster care because she wanted her to be safe. Keli intended to go back for her daughter after her last trip out; she said she was going out one more time and then was going to stop working the streets permanently and raise a family and do the right things for them. However, on this last trip, she disappeared. It was highly unlike her not to keep in touch with her family, or to come back for her daughter, whom she adored.
Keli's mother has not heard from her since she last saw her on Mother's Day, 1981 and has never really known where her daughter is, because no body has ever been found. Detectives are still working on the case and hope to find Keli one day.
*From literature on this topic, sexual assault survivors sometimes go into prostitution as part of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
A special thank-you to Keli's mom, who provided additional photos of Keli for this website, on what would have been Keli's 45th birthday (April 17, 2010).PLEASE NOTE: THIS WEBSITE IS CHECKED REGULARLY TO MAKE SURE ALL POSTS IN THE MEMORIAL CANDLES SECTION ARE APPROPRIATE. ANY INAPPROPRIATE POSTS WILL BE IMMEDIATELY REMOVED FROM THIS SITE AND THE OFFENDING POSTER WILL BE BANNED.
UPDATE 1: Keli's mother has informed the webmaster that a memorial brick with Keli's name is on a sea wall in Sitka, Alaska, because Keli has never been found.
UPDATE 2: The Three Bears Motel on Pacific Highway South in Des Moines, WA, was closed by the city in September, 2007, because of non-working smoke detectors in the rooms. The city also shut it down because of numerous calls for prostitution and drug use on the property; police were called to the area many times. Keli had used this motel and disappeared from right in front of it back in 1983.
UPDATE 3: Keli's daughter is a trained chef in a restaurant, and she has met her brother. Both are doing well.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIFE OF SOMEONE LIKE KELI KAY MCGINNESS, PLEASE SEE THE WEBSITE FOR CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT, WHICH GETS THESE GIRLS SOME HELP AND OUT OF THIS DANGEROUS LIFESTYLE. SEE: http://www.childrenofthenight.org/
For other information on Keli's disappearance, please see these articles from the Seattle Times and other sources:
Vanessa Ho, "No Solace for families of those never found", THE SEATTLE TIMES (Dec 20, 2003), at: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/153389_others20.html
Ian Ith, "Mystery lingers despite Ridgway's guilty pleas," THE SEATTLE TIMES (Nov 7, 2003), at: http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20031107&slug=ridgway07m
Ian Ith, "Hillside Combed for Victim of Ridgway," Seattle Times (Nov 13, 2003), found at: http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=ridgway13m0&date=20031113&query=keli+mcginness
Missing Persons Cold Case Network: Kelli McGinness, at: http://www.angelfire.com/mi3/mpccn/mcginness.html
"Ridgway Stayed Cool In Interview 19 Years Ago," found at: http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=85interview10m&date=20040210&query=green+river+murders
"Ridgway: Many Links to Prostitutes", found at: http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=ridgway01m&date=20011201&query=judith+ridgway
TIME magazine article: "River of Death". found at:
Chris McGann, "Ridgway's Early Interviews: Stammering, Mumbling, and Hints at Truth," Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Feb 10, 2004), found at:
The Charley Project: Kelli Kay McGinness (note different name spelling): found at: http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/m/mcginness_kelli.html
"Infant's Mother May Be Green River Victim", The Spokesman-Review (April 9, 1984), at: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1314&dat=19840409&id=VR0SAAAAIBAJ&sjid=7-4DAAAAIBAJ&pg=7045,5818147
Vanessa Ho, Tracy Johnson and Hector Castro, "Ridgway Pleads Guilty to 48 Green River Killings," The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Nov. 6, 2003), at: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/147123_ridgwaymain06.html