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A Father, A Son, And The Green River Killer

Police detective Tom Jensen hunted the infamous Seattle-area murderer for 19 years. Now his son, EW senior writer Jeff Jensen (working with artist Jonathan Case), has chronicled his father’s quest to catch Gary Leon Ridgway in a new graphic novel, The Green River Killer: A True Detective Story. Here, Jeff describes the moment his dad told him about Ridgway’s imminent arrest and how a certain high school musical inspired him during the darkest days of his search. Thanksgiving, 2001. This conversation actually took place at my apartment, with my wife and my mother also present. I switched locales and cut them out for storytelling purposes. (Sorry, ladies.) My costume wasn’t this cool. Actual costume: oversize shirt, sweatpants. Very un-knightlike. Not that it matters, though, because… My hair doesn’t look like that. I hope. But otherwise, Jonathan did a great job capturing my family’s likenesses — even though he’s never met us, not even my father. My father is breaking the rules. Dad wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about the impending arrest. But he felt my mom, brother, and I deserved to know. We had lived it too. There was no picture. The real memento? The lyrics to Man of La Mancha’s “The Impossible Dream” printed on a sheet of paper. Too pricey to license for the book, so we used an analogous idea: the photo. Hours after this moment… Dad flew back to Seattle and learned Ridgway was still picking up prostitutes. The arrest schedule was moved up. But a bizarre endgame had just begun.

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Police detective Tom Jensen hunted the infamous Seattle-area murderer for 19 years. Now his son, EW senior writer Jeff Jensen (working with artist Jonathan Case), has chronicled his father’s quest to catch Gary Leon Ridgway in a new graphic novel, The Green River Killer: A True Detective Story. Here, Jeff describes the moment his dad told him about Ridgway’s imminent arrest and how a certain high school musical inspired him during the darkest days of his search.

Thanksgiving, 2001.

This conversation actually took place at my apartment, with my wife and my mother also present. I switched locales and cut them out for storytelling purposes. (Sorry, ladies.)

My costume wasn’t this cool.

Actual costume: oversize shirt, sweatpants. Very un-knightlike. Not that it matters, though, because…

My hair doesn’t look like that. I hope.

But otherwise, Jonathan did a great job capturing my family’s likenesses — even though he’s never met us, not even my father.

My father is breaking the rules.

Dad wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about the impending arrest. But he felt my mom, brother, and I deserved to know. We had lived it too.

There was no picture.

The real memento? The lyrics to Man of La Mancha’s “The Impossible Dream” printed on a sheet of paper. Too pricey to license for the book, so we used an analogous idea: the photo.

Hours after this moment…

Dad flew back to Seattle and learned Ridgway was still picking up prostitutes. The arrest schedule was moved up. But a bizarre endgame had just begun.