Gary Ridgway's co-workers privately kidded Friday morning when their manager pulled him off the painting line at the Kenworth Trucking plant in Renton.
"We initially joked around that it was the Green River murder thing again," said Doug Cady, who's worked with Ridgway for more than 24 years. "A couple people joked about DNA."
But they didn't think too much of it because Ridgway returned just in time for lunch. Ridgway sat where he always did in the cafeteria and ate his bagged lunch.
But he didn't talk about what the authorities wanted.
"He seemed pretty normal," Cady said. "Everything seemed to be a regular, normal day for him."
And when lunch was over, Ridgway returned to work. For at least the past five years, Ridgway has laid out the striping and lines on the Kenworth semitruck cabs that are to be painted. He's been with the company for 32 years.
"He went back to work like he normally he did," Cady said. "He started laying out strips again."
The shift ended at 3 p.m. But instead of going home, King County sheriff's detectives took Ridgway away, having linked him to four deaths in the Green River Killer case.
Cady and others learned about Ridgway's arrest during the sheriff's department's afternoon news conference.
"I'm not totally surprised by him being arrested," Cady said. "Most of us there now are familiar with Gary's scenario. He's been a prime suspect previously."
Cady described Ridgway as a quiet guy with a quirky personality.
"He's always been kind of a loner and kind of a character," Cady said as he struggled to find the exact words to describe Ridgway. "I wouldn't define him as the type of person you would spend a lot of time with."
Ridgway wore jeans and T-shirts to work, not the standard-issue Kenworth coveralls. He didn't talk about his personal life or his hobbies while on the job. He kept his conversations short. He was good at what he did, Cady said. Cady's brother, Kevin, also works at Kenworth and knew Ridgway. Kevin Cady always saw him by the vending machines buying a cup of coffee.
"He had a nice smile. His whole face lit up when he smiled," Kevin Cady said. "He's no one you would ever expect this from."
Staff writer Stacey Burns covers Pierce County crime and safety issues. Reach her at 253-597-8268 or firstname.lastname@example.org. com.
Staff writer Barbara Clements contributed to this report.