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  BTK STRANGLER - RADER Dennis L. *1946 ... USA ... ... ... 10+
aka 1974 1991 Wichita KS
... : ... ... ... ...
Urteil:
 
March 19, 2004:
The Wichita Eagle receives a letter with copies of the drivers license of Vicki WEGERLE and three fotos of the crime scene of her murder. First thinking about a bad joke, it soon becomes obvious, that the incredible happened: [ReadOn]
19. März 2004
25 Jahre nach Ende einer der mysteriösesten Mordserien der USA, trifft ein Brief mit Kopien des Führerscheins und 3 Tatortfotos von Vicki WEGERLE beim Wichita Eagle ein. Man glaubt im ersten Moment an einen schlechten Scherz, doch schon beim zweiten Blick ist das Unfassbare augenscheinlich: [Weiterlesen]
Victims

20070323: Victims' Relatives Settle Lawsuit Against BTK Serial Killer KS Wichita Serial Killer News
A legal settlement between the BTK strangler and families of his victims will give the survivors a share of the royalties if his story is ever told.

The settlement effectively ends all wrongful death litigation filed by families of the ten people Dennis Rader confessed to killing in the Wichita area between 1974 and 1991.

Rader is serving a life sentence in state prison.

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Wichita attorney Mark Hutton represents relatives of three BTK victims. He said yesterday that Rader had signed off on a settlement that calls for each family in the lawsuit to collect $1.5 million.

It's unlikely that the relatives will receive anywhere near that amount.

But should Rader's story ever be told in book or movie form, the agreement calls for 75 percent of the royalties to be funneled to the relatives.
 

20070323: BTK serial killer must share royalties from book, movie deals KS Wichita Serial Killer News

Dennis Rader agreed to settle in lawsuit brought on by murder victims' family

A legal settlement between serial killer Dennis Rader and murder victims' families will give the survivors some comfort and a share of the royalties if his story is ever told in book or movie form.

The settlement ends all wrongful death litigation filed by families of the 10 people Rader confessed to killing in the Wichita area between 1974 and 1991.

Now 60 years old and serving a life sentence in state prison, Rader was known by the nickname he gave himself -- BTK, for bind, torture, kill.

Wichita attorney Mark Hutton, representing relatives of three BTK victims, said Thursday that Rader had signed off on a settlement that calls for each family in the lawsuit to collect $1.5 million from Rader: $250,000 actual damages and $1.25 million in punitive damages.

Hutton said that because Rader has no resources, it is unlikely that the relatives will receive anywhere near those amounts.

But should Rader's story ever be told in book or movie form, Hutton said, the agreement calls for 75 percent of the royalties to be funneled to the relatives.

A Topeka woman, Kristin Casarona, is writing a book on Rader's life. Once Casarona's expenses are paid she will give the families 75 percent of any profits she makes.

Rader signed the rights to his story over to Casarona for the purposes of her book.

Even if a book is written and sold, Hutton said, the relatives probably won't receive enough money to reimburse them for their expenses.

"Is anybody going to get rich off this? No," he said. "The whole purpose is to get to the family members some compensation for their expenses."

The settlement also entitles the survivors to all items seized during the investigation.

 

 

20070119: City warns against souvenir hunting at Kansas serial killer's former home KS Wichita Serial Killer News
The city will prosecute "with glee" anyone caught trespassing or taking pieces of the house once owned by BTK serial killer Dennis Rader, the mayor says.

Earlier this month, Park City paid less than $60,000 (€46,303) for the suburban Wichita house where Rader and his family lived for 25 years before he pleaded guilty to killing 10 people between 1974 and 1991.

At least one person was trying to hawk what were described as pieces of the house on the Internet auction site e-Bay. The starting bid for boards, supposedly taken from the serial killer's home, was 99 cents.

"If there is any way to prosecute this person we will," Park City Mayor Dee Stuart said after learning about the online auctions from The Associated Press on Friday afternoon.

"One way or another it's a crime," she said. "If it was taken from the house it's theft. If it was not taken from the house it's fraud."

Rader, who is serving 10 consecutive life terms in prison, called himself BTK for his preferred method of killing, "bind, torture and kill."

The city plans to tear down the house soon but will not say when demolition will begin. "This is not meant to be a spectacle," Stuart was quoted as saying by The Wichita Eagle in its Friday edition. Some debris will be buried at an undisclosed landfill, with some burned at other sites

Stuart said that shortly after Rader's arrest in February 2005, people tried to use e-Bay to sell tickets Rader had written as animal control officer. E-bay eventually removed the auctions, she said.

Stuart said she would contact e-Bay to have them take down the latest auction. By early afternoon Friday, no one had placed a bid for the unusual souvenir from Rader's old house. The auction was scheduled to end Jan. 24.

The e-Bay seller, identified as "farm-boy-bbq," said in the description of the item: "I have some pieces of btk's house which is being torn down to make a public park, i had to go through a lot to get these, i will mail you a flat rate box stuffed full of these lath boards from his house!!"

The city wants to use the site to create a new entryway to Jardine Memorial Park, a small park with trees, swings, a half basketball court and a parking lot.

 

 

20070111: Kansas Tearing Down Serial Killer's Home KS Wichita Serial Killer News
The suburban Wichita house where BTK serial killer Dennis Rader lived with his family for 25 years will be torn down and turned into a park access point, city officials said. Park City bought the home from Rader's wife, Paula, for just under $60,000, Mayor Dee Stuart said. The City Council authorized the purchase in November and the closing was last week. Rader, who called himself BTK for "bind, torture and kill," pleaded guilty in 2005 to killing 10 people between 1974 and 1991. He is serving 10 consecutive life terms in prison. The house will be demolished before spring and turned into an entryway to Jardine Memorial Park, a small park with swings and a basketball court, Stuart said. The property had been put up for auction in 2005, and an exotic dance club owner had tried to buy it for $90,000, but the sale fell through amid a debate over how the proceeds should be distributed.
 

20070102: Magazine Highlights BTK Search KS Wichita Serial Killer News
The current issue of The Police Chief magazine includes an article by Wichita Police Chief Williams and Lt. Ken Landwehr on the BTK investigation. Here is the text of that article: The BTK investigation in Wichita, Kansas, was a serial homicide investigation spanning decades and presenting extraordinary challenges. The investigation began in the mid-1970s, spanned 30 years, and concluded with the arrest of a 59-year-old compliance officer in a small community adjacent to Wichita. His apprehension came as a result of a creative approach that used local media to maintain contact with the killer and carefully manage the release of information about the case. The case also allowed the Wichita Police Department to develop innovative ways to manage large amounts of information provided by the public and use biological and computer forensics. The BTK serial killer first stuck in 1974 with the murder of four members of a Wichita family in their home and committed his last murder in January 1991. Thirty years after the first murders, between March 2004 and February 2005, the BTK killer resurfaced amid media attention, triggering an intensive 11-month investigation by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies that brought the case to a successful close. The BTK killer's craving for media attention provided unusual opportunities for innovative involvement of the news media. When BTK sent a letter to the local newspaper after 16 years of silence, the Wichita Police Department developed a controversial media strategy to foster communications with the serial killer. It is not a new investigative technique to employ the news media in communicating with serial killers, but the Wichita Police Department knew it had to develop a carefully planned strategy that controlled the messages sent to BTK. Between March 2004 and February 2005, the BTK Task Force recorded more than 5,600 tips and leads from the public, collected more than 1,300 DNA swabs, and convinced the killer to communicate with police by using a computer disk. The disk provided the first leads to his identity, which was then verified by tests on his daughter's DNA. This ultimately let to the arrest of a suspect who held a community in fear for more than 30 years. The Investigation The serial killer who identified himself as BTK, for bind, torture, kill, first struck in January 1974 with the murder of four members of the Otero family. He killed again just three months later, but waited nearly three years before striking for the third time in March 1977. The case riveted the community when the murders first began occurring, and again when BTK resurfaced in 2004, and two facets of the investigation proved to be unusual. The first is the way the Wichita Police Department was able to stay in communication with the killer through the media. The second involves the application of DNA and computer forensic science. When the BTK serial killer resurfaced in Wichita after lying dormant for 16 years, the police department found itself in the unenviable position of having to address the problem on several fronts. The department needed to quickly develop strategies to calm a fearful community and then create a task force to investigate the cases, develop strategies for catching the killer, and, finally, formulate a process to organize massive amounts of data that included thousands of tips and leads. Because the BTK serial killer had been silent for so long, many in the community believed that he was dead, had moved to another state, or was incarcerated somewhere. When the media stories broke concerning BTK's reemergence, the community was simultaneously fearful and anxious to help catch the killer. On March 19, 2004, the killer sent a letter to the Wichita Eagle newsroom. In its report on the letter, the newspaper reported BTK was claiming responsibility for the September 16, 1986, murder of a young mother of two who was found inside her Wichita home. Wichita police held a news conference on March 25, 2004, confirming the BTK communication as authentic and asked citizens with any information to contact the police department. A tip line, an e-mail account, and a post office box were set up to accommodate tips. In the first 24 hours following the news conference, almost 400 tips were received. By mid-May the tips received by the police exceeded 2,000. Another letter from the killer surfaced on May 5, 2004, in the newsroom of Wichita television station KAKE. As new chapters in the story of the serial killer began to unfold, the Wichita Police Department started adapting its investigative techniques. Keeping in mind that the department's primary goal was to identify and arrest the BTK Serial Killer, the BTK Task Force faced four primary challenges. First, it was important to manage all contacts with the media and control the flow of information. Second, it was critical to effectively manage a barrage of incoming tips and leads. Third, it was important to accurately and efficiently eliminate potential suspects. Fourth, all of this needed to be done while maintaining communication with the unknown killer, with the expectation he would eventually make a mistake. The Media Strategy It was decided early in the renewed investigation that managing the release of information about the case while simultaneously maintaining a good working relationship with the local media was essential. With carefully structured information being released by the police, the local media went to extraordinary lengths to obtain new or exclusive information. Several issued challenges to BTK, asking him to contact them directly. That resulted in the department's executive staff developing a strategic media relations plan at the onset of the investigation. In spite of fierce media criticism that the plan inhibited the free flow of public information, it was closely followed throughout the 11-month investigation. Inundated with media demands for information, the Wichita Police Department funneled media requests through its public information officer to the head of the BTK Task Force. The media plan developed by the department had several components First, the task force lieutenant became the sole spokesperson on the BTK investigation, thereby encouraging the killer to establish a rapport between BTK and the lieutenant who would conduct the initial interview after the killer's arrest. Second, the department limited the availability of the sole spokesperson for the department and controlled the flow of information to the media and to the killer. Third, the department engaged the community by asking for help in identifying the killer. Naming a single point of contact for the media allowed the police to establish a rapport with BTK and keep him communicating. Experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Behavioral Analysis Unit believed that a relationship between interviewer and suspect would be fortified with each media briefing, allowing for a personal connection at the time of the suspect's arrest and interview. Identifying an official spokesperson also reduced the impact and credibility of self-proclaimed experts on television who speculated endlessly about the case. The department believed it was crucial for the police to provide information directly to the community and to make the BTK serial killer understand that the task force lieutenant was the voice of the police. Media releases did not indicate the direction of the investigation, the number of swabs collected, the number of suspects eliminated, or the number of personnel assigned to the investigation. Informational releases were strategically orchestrated, with guidance provided by the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit. At the beginning of the investigation, media briefings were announced ahead of time. But the resulting speculation in the media concerning what the police would say meant the public received bad information. As a result, the Wichita Police Department modified its approach and discontinued the practice of announcing information releases on the BTK investigation. Impromptu releases were made at the department's regular weekday 10:00 a.m. media briefing. The spokesperson would arrive at the daily meeting unannounced, provide the scripted release, and immediately exit the room without taking questions. Hard copies of the media advisories were provided to reporters and posted on the department's Internet site. The FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit also offered guidance on the handling of press briefings. Strategies included not providing any detail that might disclose the direction of the investigation, being careful not to challenge, provoke, or insult the killer, and scripting the briefings in advance to ensure that there were no errors in the delivery of information. Media briefings also were conducted in a location that precluded the media from airing live broadcasts. During each media briefing, the spokesperson reiterated the need for the public's help and provided information on the venues through which the public could submit tips. Police designed each briefing and release to communicate information to the public, but they also carefully crafted them to communicate with the killer in the hope that he would continue to communicate with law enforcement. Managing Leads BTK tip lines were staffed with officers and detectives who transferred tip information to lead sheets. The lead sheets then were reviewed by homicide detectives, prioritized, and assigned to the task force's investigators. One detective was assigned to manage the investigation's database by entering information from lead sheets, connecting the leads on each suspect, and conducting research to provide additional identifying information such as addresses and phone numbers. In researching leads, the detective used a number of sources such as old city directories, driver's license databases, and software programs such as ChoicePoint. In addition, this detective was charged with creating new leads when generating new information from these sources. The database also helped the task force track evidence, in particular the collection and status of DNA swabs. After a lead had been investigated, the results were summarized and a clearance code entered. At the time of BTK's arrest, the database contained more than 3,500 leads. Eliminating Suspects Because of the sheer volume of tips in the BTK investigation, the task force needed to develop strategies to eliminate suspects. Police eliminated all non-Caucasian and Hispanic suspects, on the basis of DNA evidence left at crime scenes, all suspects who were incarcerated at the time of the homicides, and all suspects who were either too young or too old. Any suspect who could not be excluded based on one of the three criteria was placed on a list to be asked for a DNA swab. Teams of officers and detectives made contact with suspects and collected DNA samples. Most of the men contacted were anxious and willing to help and agreed to be swabbed so they could be eliminated. Any suspect who would not volunteer a DNA sample was placed under surveillance. Communicating with the Killer With guidance from the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, the task force implemented a carefully crafted plan to open a dialogue with BTK. The police responded to communications from BTK using media releases designed to keep the killer communicating-albeit unknowingly-with investigators. The strategy paid off. In January 2005 BTK left a cereal box containing a message to the police in the back of a pickup truck belonging to a Home Depot employee. In the message he wrote: Can I communicate with Floppy and not be traced to computer. Be honest. Under miscellaneous Section, 494, (Rex, it will be OK), run it for a few days in case I'm out of town-etc. I will try a floppy for a test run some time in the near future-February or March. 3216912. Investigators acted quickly and responded by placing a classified ad in the Eagle. The ad read: "Rex, it will be ok, Contact me PO box 1st four ref. Number at 67202." DNA and Computer Forensics The computer disk BTK sent to the department was turned over to a detective assigned to the Computer Crimes Section. The examination of the disk located a valid file labeled "Test A.RTF." The file contained a message: "This is a test. See 3x5 Card for details on communication with me in the newspaper." The message referred to a card that was also included in the package sent to the television station. Additional investigation showed the disk was opened in computers at the Christ Lutheran Church and Park City Community Public Library. The file document had been created on February 10, modified on the February 14, and printed that same day. It has been revised four times and was last saved by user "Dennis." Most of the information from the disk was found in its properties domain. Such information is automatically written by the software and is based on software registration information and the identity of the user logged on at the time of the activity on the document. After locating the name "Dennis" and "Christ Lutheran Church" in the properties domain of the RTF document, the detective conducted a Google search on the Internet. Through a hit on the site for the Christ Lutheran Church, he found a link to people associated with the church. In that list the detective found the name "Dennis Rader" listed as the president of the congregation. Dennis Rader, a Park City compliance officer, then became the primary suspect in the BTK investigation. It was one thing to identify a suspect in the case, but it was something else to advance that person to the level of primary suspect. With additional investigation required for an arrest, there was concern about the possibility of alerting the suspect. A quiet but intensive background investigation on Rader was initiated and members of the task force conceived a unique approach to identifying Dennis Rader as a suspect using DNA from one of his two adult children. The task force obtained a subpoena for his daughter's medical records. As a result of that subpoena, a biological sample was located, and on February 22 the sample was taken to the KBI lab for DNA analysis. The results showed that BTK was indeed the biological father of Rader's daughter. The Arrest On February 25, 2005, shortly after noon, Dennis Rader was arrested while driving home for lunch from his Park City office. After 11 intense months of investigation and collecting more than 1,300 DNA samples, the final DNA swabs on the case were executed by warrant and collected from BTK suspect Dennis Rader. Dennis Rader was advised of his rights. He then agreed to talk. Rader initially talked to investigators for approximately three and a half hours before confessing to being BTK and committing 10 homicides. During the interviews, he said he identified with Lieutenant Landwehr, the Wichita Police Department's sole spokesperson. He said that before his capture he felt that he was speaking directly to Landwehr. The killer said that he felt that he and Landwehr had a lot in common, and that they "had a good thing going on." Rader was also distraught that police lied to him about the police department's ability to trace his identity through a floppy disk, asking, "Why did you lie to me?" Self-proclaimed BTK strangler Dennis Rader played a game of cat-and-mouse with the police for almost 30 years. Police used innovative law enforcement techniques and traditional investigative skills to catch him. Contributing to his capture and ultimate conviction were a calculated media strategy, the systematic elimination of potential suspects, and the identification of a suspect through familial DNA. Lesson Learned There was an important lesson to be learned from the BTK investigation. In a case such as this one, with intense local, national, and international media interest, in which the perpetrator is a known member of the media audience, constructing and adhering to a comprehensive media strategy is of utmost importance. Without sticking to its media policy, which was very unpopular with all news outlets, it is doubtful that the Wichita Police Department would have made an arrest as early as it did, if at all. The BTK investigation was a very challenging, complex, and unusual investigation, as it spanned more than 30 years and had a profound impact on Wichita and Kansas. This investigation exhibited cooperation and professionalism between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the District Attorney's Office of the 18th Judicial District of Kansas, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Park City Police Department, the Sedgwick County Forensic Science Center, the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Postal Service, and the Wichita Police Department. In the end, justice prevailed for the victims: the Otero family, Kathryn Bright, Shirley Vian, Nancy Fox, Marine Hedge, Vickie Wegerle, and Dolores Davis. After 31 years, their families were able to confront Dennis Rader and hear Judge Gregory Waller sentence him to 10 consecutive life sentences.
 

20060424: BTK serial killer earns prison privileges for good behavior KS Wichita Serial Killer News

Good behavior has earned the BTK serial killer the privilege to watch television, listen to the radio, read and draw in his prison cell.

Prosecutors had sought restrictions on such activities, saying images of women and children and news accounts of his murders would allow Dennis Rader to relive his grisly, sex-fueled fantasies. But Rader earned the privileges through a system designed to encourage good behavior, said Bill Miskell, a Department of Corrections spokesman.

The eased restrictions aren't sitting well with some family members of Rader's 10 victims and prosecutors who helped put him behind bars.

"We're having a hard time understanding why somebody like this is allowed to earn privileges when all the evidence was presented as to how he can turn what most people would consider to be innocent into something that is evil," said Kevin O'Connor, a Sedgwick County deputy district attorney.

Georgia Mason, the mother of Nancy Fox, who was killed by Rader in 1977, also was displeased with Rader's new status.

"I just don't think he needs anything in that little cell," she said.

Miskell said he couldn't disclose what items Rader has obtained for his good behavior. The spokesman did say that sexually explicit materials would not be allowed.

Even with the new privileges, Rader remains in the prison's most restrictive environment. He is let out of his 8-foot-by-10-foot cell only one hour a day, five days a week, to shower and exercise.

Rader, who called himself BTK for his method to "bind, torture and kill," would have to serve a minimum of 175 years to be eligible for parole. Kansas had no death penalty at the time of the murders.

His chief public defender, Steve Osburn, said denying his client written and visual materials could push him further into a fantasy world.

"I don't know how he can possibly be a danger to anybody, no matter what he has," Osburn said.

 

20060126: Serial killer's jailhouse collection includes locks of his hair KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Three boxes BTK serial killer Dennis Rader had with him in jail while awaiting trial included clippings of his hair and a photo of entertainer Jessica Simpson, according to lawyers for the victims' families.

The attorneys, Mark Hutton and James Thompson, said District Judge Timothy Lahey allowed them to view the contents of the boxes Tuesday at the Sedgwick County Jail. The lawyers discussed the items with The Wichita Eagle on Wednesday.

They told The Eagle the hair clippings were enclosed in an envelope labeled "D.R.'s locks." It was stowed in a box that also contained a razor, socks and other personal items.

Rader, who lived in the Wichita suburb of Park City, pleaded guilty in June to killing 10 people between 1974 and 1991. He was sentenced in August to 10 consecutive life prison terms.

The killer who terrorized the Wichita area for years became known as BTK, a nickname he gave himself in letters to police and the media. The initials stood for "Bind, Torture, Kill."

The boxes also contained a letter from Paula Rader. She ended her 35-year marriage to Dennis Rader after his arrest. In the letter, she tells Dennis Rader that his voice will only upset their grown children and asks him not to call them.

Also in the boxes was a prescription for an antidepressant, letters from Rader supporters, an advertisement with a photo of a young girl circled and a photo of entertainer Jessica Simpson.

Hutton and Thompson said the boxes were addressed to the mother of Kristin Casarona, a Topeka woman writing a book about Rader. Hutton used a court order to impound the items before Rader could send them.

Kevin Phillips, an attorney for Casarona, said his client wants only those items in the boxes "directed to her for her writing," including correspondence between her and Rader.

"It's never been Kris' understanding that she would do anything so he (Rader) could secretly profit," Phillips said. "She's not going to sell his locks of hair, then send him the money."

Hutton and Thompson said they planned to seek custody of the items. They said the families want to ensure the items remain out of the hands of collectors of crime memorabilia.

 

20060119: Woman sues serial killer boss for bias KS Wichita Serial Killer News

A Kansas woman whose boss turned out to be the BTK serial killer has sued him for gender discrimination.

Mary Capps, seeking $75,000 in damages, claimed she had reported Dennis Rader for "abusive, intimidating language and physical gestures" toward her because of her sex, but nothing was done. She also said he damaged her career with an unfairly bad job evaluation report, the Wichita Eagle said.

Rader, 60, who worked with Capps in the Park City ordinance compliance office for more than six years, was indicted last summer on 10 murder counts and is serving 10 consecutive life sentences at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.

 

20051201: Prosecutor tells how authorities captured BTK serial killer KS Wichita Serial Killer News

For 31 years, the BTK serial killer toyed with Wichita, Kan., sending macabre clues and puzzles to police and media about the 10 people he brutally murdered to fulfill his bizarre sexual fantasies.

Yet it was the deranged murderer's surprising naivete that ultimately led to his capture, said Sedgwick County, Kan., District Attorney Nola Foulston, the lead prosecutor of the BTK killer, Dennis Rader.

Foulston spoke today in Lexington at the Kentucky Commonwealth's Attorneys Association's winter conference.

The BTK killer -- his own nickname, standing for bind, torture, kill -- was long suspected of a pattern of murders from 1974 to the mid-1980s. Eight victims, mostly women, were tied and strangled. Only after Rader was arrested this February was he linked to two other slayings, including one in 1991.

On Aug. 18, Rader was sentenced to a 175-year prison term without the chance of parole.

After 20 years of silence, Radar began to terrorize Wichita anew last year by sending police and media a new series of messages. Some suspected he wanted to be captured to gain notoriety.

Among the clues he methodically sent to the press: a cereal box containing a doll dressed in clothing similar to that worn by a victim.

"We then got a piece of information that will go down in history as one of the Darwin awards," Foulston said. She was referring to the award that salutes "the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who remove themselves from it in really stupid ways."

Inside one cereal box, Rader left a note asking police if he could send police a disk without it being traced to his computer. He asked police to place a classified ad in the newspaper that said, "It'll be OK, Rex" and left a P.O. box number and code number.

Police received a computer disk shortly after the ad ran. Computer experts quickly traced the disk to Park City Public Library and Christ Lutheran Church, and a user named Dennis, Foulston said. The next computer tool police turned to was Google. The search turned up Dennis Rader, the church's congregation president. Investigators were flabbergasted.

 

20051008: BTK Strangler does not deserve Arlington Burial KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Serial killer Dennis Rader is in prison in Kansas, serving a sentence that undoubtedly will keep him behind bars until he dies.

Then, under current law, Rader can be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

Even the possibility is disgusting.

Rader, who called himself the BTK killer because he bound, tortured and killed his victims, received an honorable discharge from the Air Force, in which he reached the rank of sergeant. That makes him eligible for burial -- with honors -- at Arlington or another national cemetery.

Soldiers would stand at attention. "Taps" would be played. A flag would be presented to his family. Then his casket would be lowered into ground hallowed by American heroes. It should not be permitted.

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, held a hearing on the matter last month. Presumably he will craft legislation to deal with this legal loophole.

Rader, and others like him, should not be allowed to desecrate Arlington, even after death.

 

20051007: A serial killer symposium KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Police from around the Midwest are coming to Wichita for a seminar on the phenomenon.



The Wichita Eagle

Nearly 150 homicide investigators from across the Midwest have gathered in Wichita this week to discuss an unusual aspect of police investigations: serial killers.

Wichita police homicide Detective Dana Gouge, who organized this year's conference, said presentations are being made about such notorious criminals as:

• The I-70 killer, who in 1992 murdered six people in businesses along I-70 and I-35. Two of his victims were women who worked at an east Wichita bridal shop.

• The Green River killer, eventually identified as Gary Ridgway, who killed 48 people in the Seattle area before he was arrested in 2001.

• And of course, the BTK strangler, eventually identified as Park City compliance officer Dennis Rader, who murdered 10 people in the Wichita area before his arrest earlier this year.

The conference, which runs through Friday at the Old Town Hotel conference center, is sponsored by the Mid-States Homicide Investigators Association. The organization was created in 2001 by members of the Wichita Police Department homicide section.

Gouge said the meetings are designed to give law enforcement officers training that helps them maintain their law enforcement accreditation. Sessions are closed to the public.

About 120 officers attended last year's conference, which focused on child death investigations, Gouge said.

"This year we had to start turning people away a month before the registration deadline because we were full," he said. "Officers find it to be a fascinating subject, and they want to learn about it."

Gouge, who served on the BTK Task Force, said Wichita police were fielding plenty of questions about the killer from out-of-town officers, many of whom followed the case from a distance.

Some people are surprised that he had only 10 victims, Gouge said. "Gary Ridgway, in a shorter period of time, killed 48."

One of the local presenters will be Wichita police Lt. Ken Landwehr, who led the investigation that eventually brought the arrest of Rader on 10 counts of murder.

"I think everybody is very interested in hearing the true story of how BTK was caught, and they're hearing it straight from the guy in charge," Gouge said.

One of the out-of-town presenters is Detective Jon Mattsen of the King County, Wash., sheriff's office. He was one of four lead interviewers who spent more than 400 hours talking to Ridgway, whom he described as "a very simple man."

As was the case with Rader, Ridgway was arrested through DNA evidence from murders that had occurred decades earlier.

Unlike Rader, who was president of his church congregation and widely known in Park City, Ridgway was reclusive.

"It was determined that he had no friends, and that's one of the reasons why it took so long to catch him," Mattsen said.

Unlike Rader, who chose his victims randomly, Ridgway's victims were almost all prostitutes, Mattsen said.

"One of his motives was that he felt that women had treated him badly in the past," he said.

Ridgway worked for 31 years in the same job as a truck painter.

"He could paint a mean truck by what his bosses said," Mattsen said.

Like Rader, who offered little in the way of remorse during a rambling speech at his sentencing, Ridgway's only regret was that he got caught, Mattsen said.

"He showed no remorse for any of his victims, only for himself," Mattsen said. "He's in solitary confinement and will be for the rest of his life, from what I understand."

 

20050829: Distribution of personal items belonging to BTK serial killer delayed KS Wichita Serial Killer News
The personal writings, sketches and other items of BTK serial killer Dennis Rader will remain with sheriff's deputies until the court decides who should have them, a judge ruled Friday.

The ruling by Judge Timothy Lahey came after a request by the victims' families, who feared Rader was about to mail out two boxes of items to a woman planning to write a book about him.

The relatives want to keep outsiders from making money off the murders and prevent any sale of crime-scene photos, said attorney Mark Hutton, who is representing three victims' families.

Under the ruling, the families plan to make a joint recommendation to the judge about what happens to the items in the two boxes and a third that Rader had in his jail cell while awaiting trial.

It also includes his other personal property, including items held at the district attorney's office and items seized from his home and the Park City offices where Rader worked as a compliance officer before his arrest.

The order does not apply to the family home, which Rader's wife, Paula Rader, sold at auction in July for $90,000, well over its assessed value of $56,700. Attorney James Thompson, who represents victims' families in three lawsuits, has called the more than $30,000 difference between the home's value and sale price "blood money."

Rader, who is representing himself in lawsuits filed by the families, appeared at times confused as he tried to follow court proceedings Friday on the telephone line from the El Dorado prison where he is serving 10 consecutive life terms.

Rader called himself BTK for "bind, torture and kill." He was sentenced Aug. 18 to 10 consecutive life terms for 10 murders committed from 1974 to 1991.

 

20050818: Prosecutors reveal nightmarish details of BTK serial killer's methods KS Wichita Serial Killer News
The torture aspect of the "Bind, Torture, Kill" moniker Dennis Rader used as a serial killer was revealed in horrifying detail Wednesday at his sentencing hearing. Rader faces up to 175 years in prison for 10 counts of first-degree murder stemming from a killing spree that began in 1974. When he confessed to the crimes in June, Rader detailed how he bound and killed his victims before either strangling or stabbing them to death in their homes. On Wednesday, however, prosecutors revealed for the first time the gruesome details of the physical and psychological torture Rader inflicted on his victims as he carried out his projects, or "pj's" as he called them, to appease his sexual urges. To build their case for the maximum sentence, prosecutors used Rader's own words from a marathon 30-hour confession he gave to law enforcement after he was arrested Feb. 25. Along with relics from his "mother lode," or the souvenir cache found at his house, prosecutors showed graphic crime scene photos of bloated corpses to depict the last few minutes of his victims' lives, beginning with a family of four in January 1974. In each case, Rader stalked his victims weeks before entering their homes using a series of "russes" — his mispronunciation of ruse — including posing as a Southwestern Bell repairman and a fugitive on the run. An active member of the local Cub Scouts, Rader would also steal away in the middle of the night while on an overnight trip with his troop. "It's a good cover for a guy like me to go out and camp and slip away after everybody goes to bed," he told investigators. When Rader broke into the home of airman Joseph Otero Sr. under the guise of a wanted man on the lam, his target was Otero's 11-year-old daughter, Josie. "I always liked the Hispanic-type girl — I guess they turned me on," Rader said in a statement that was read aloud Wednesday by KBI Special Agent Raymond Lundin. "I've always had a sexual desire for younger women, so I thought Josephine would be my primary target." The young girl watched Rader strangle her parents to death before moving on to her 9-year-old brother, Joey. He led the half-conscious boy into another bedroom, tied up his legs and ankles and placed a bag over his head. He then pulled up a chair and watched the boy wriggle to death on the floor. In what Rader called his final "encore," he led his primary target down to the basement, and told her, "You're going to be in heaven tonight with the rest of your family." He bound her body around her waist, knees and ankles, gagged her throat and hanged her from an exposed sewer pipe. "Her toes were a fraction of an inch off the floor," KBI supervisor Larry Thomas told the court as he narrated a picture of the girl's feet covered in blue socks and her underwear pulled to her ankles, grazing the floor. "That would increase the survival interval." Rader then proceeded to masturbate in front of the girl as she died, achieving a "sexual release." The Oteros' teenage children, Carmen and Danny, attempted to resuscitate their parents when they found them. The two siblings and their brother, Charlie, maintained their composure in the courtroom, but broke down when a graphic close-up of Josie was shown hanging from the pipe. Outside court, the family voiced misgivings over the purpose proceedings. "Things like we saw today should not have to be seen by anyone else," Charlie Otero said outside court. "Knowing their last moments, their last thoughts and words were very hard to take." Rader acknowledged that "PJ Little-Mex," as he called it, went awry because of the unexpected presence of the two men, a frequent problem. In his next hit, dubbed "Project Lights-Out," on 21-year-old Kathryn Bright, the unexpected appearance of her 19-year-old brother, Brian, hastened Rader to stab his victim 11 times after her brother fled the home. "I'm sorry, I know this is a human being, but I'm a monster," Rader told Wichita Police Det. Clint Snyder of the incident. Rader was again denied the opportunity to savor his hit when he entered the home of 26-year-old Shirley Vian, whose three young children screamed and yelled in the next room as he bound, gagged and strangled her to death. Rader hastened to finish the job after realizing one of the children had escaped, and said he felt the eyes of Vian's 6-year-old son Steven Relford on him from a crack in the door. "I booked up and got out of there fast," Rader said in another statement read in court Wednesday. "Lucky for the kids." Dressed in a gray suit with his legs shackled, the slight, balding killer appeared unmoved by the testimony until prosecutors showed a picture of him dressed in pantyhose and a bra with his head covered bondage-style. Rader told police he put his fascination with S&M bondage to optimal use in the 1991 murder of 56-year-old Marine Hedge, who lived six houses down the street from him in Park City, Kan. Using his Cub Scout camping trip alibi, Rader broke into the single woman's home and waited for her to go to bed before pouncing on her and quickly strangling her. He then brought her dead body to the Christ Lutheran Church, where he snapped pictures of her in various positions with her mouth gagged and her folded arms bound behind her back. Of all his projects, he said he found the ideal partner in Nancy Fox, who put up little resistance up until the very end, when it became clear he intended to kill her, contrary to his promises. As she drew her last breath, Rader said he resuscitated her and whispered into her ear that he was BTK. "Fox went the way I wanted," he told Det. Timothy Relph. "She was a nice family girl. Leave it to a weird guy like me to do that." The victims' family members are expected to make statements in court tomorrow. The proceedings will be aired live on Court TV and streamed on Court TV Extra.
 

20050818: BTK serial killer sentenced to 10 consecutive life terms KS Wichita Serial Killer News

BTK serial killer Dennis Rader was ordered to serve 10 consecutive life terms Thursday during a tear-filled hearing in which relatives of his victims called him a monster and said he should be "thrown in a deep, dark hole and left to rot."
The sentence – a minimum of 175 years without a chance of parole – was the longest possible that Judge Gregory Waller could deliver. Kansas had no death penalty at the time the killings were committed.

The two-day hearing featured graphic testimony from detectives and sobbing relatives. It culminated with rambling testimony from Rader, who said he had been dishonest to his family and victims and at times wiped his eyes.

"Nancy's death is a like a deep wound that will never, ever heal," Beverly Plapp, sister of victim Nancy Fox, testified. "As far as I'm concerned, Dennis Rader does not deserve to live. I want him to suffer as much as he made his victims suffer."

"This man needs to be thrown in a deep, dark hole and left to rot," she said. "He should never, ever see the light of day."

Rader offered Biblical quotes, thanks to police and an apology to victims' relatives before he was sentenced.

"A dark side is there, but now I think light is beginning to shine," Rader said. "Hopefully someday God will accept me."

Rader, 60, a former church congregation president and Boy Scout leader, led a double life, calling himself BTK for "bind, torture and kill." He was arrested in February and pleaded guilty in June to 10 murders from 1974 to 1991.

"No remorse, no compassion – he had no mercy," said Kevin Bright, the brother of victim Kathryn Bright, who himself was shot but managed to flee. "I think that's what he ought to receive."

Rader's voice choked as he made his half-hour address to the courtroom, saying he had been dishonest to his family and victims and selfish.

"I know the victim's families will never be able to forgive me. I hope somewhere deep down, eventually that will happen," he said.

He also admitted he tracked his victims "like a predator."

Nola Foulston, Sedgwick County District Attorney, asked the judge that Rader be refused anything in prison, such as markers or crayons, that could be used to draw or write about human or animal forms, or anything that might be used to further his sexual fantasies.

Prosecutors earlier flashed a photograph of Rader wearing a mask, tied to a chair and donning a woman's blond wig. They also showed other pictures the killer took in which he had bound himself and was wearing a dress he had taken from a victim's house – apparently reliving the ecstasy of the murder.

Investigators testified that Rader kept hundreds of pictures from magazines and circulars mounted on index cards, with details of the warped sexual fantasies he dreamed of carrying out.

Lt. Ken Landwehr, who coordinated the Wichita police department's investigation into BTK, said the index cards were some of the evidence of Rader's long history of terror that was found at the defendant's office, camper and small suburban home.

Landwehr said the cutouts ranged from a little girl posing in a swimsuit to actress Meg Ryan.

Rader's files also included copies of nearly all his messages to police and the media, documents Landwehr said the killer had planned to eventually scan and digitally store, Landwehr said.

Containers kept in a closet and elsewhere at his home also held what Rader called "hit kits" – bags with rubber gloves, rope, tape, handcuffs and bandanas.

Rader, sitting through his second day of a sentencing hearing, appeared angry and mumbled at one point during Landwehr's testimony, although Rader's words couldn't be heard.

Capt. Sam Houston of the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office testified about Rader's last known killing – the strangulation of 63-year-old Dolores Davis in 1991. Rader, who handcuffed Davis and tied her with pantyhose, told police it took two or three minutes for her to die and that fueled his torturous fantasies for years.

"It was this moment that victim was tied and bound," Rader wrote in a journal, according to testimony Thursday morning by Houston. "He could live in that moment for years."

After Davis was dead, Rader tossed her body under a bridge where it decomposed and apparently was fed on by animals. The defendant returned later to take Polaroid photographs of her wearing a feminine mask Rader himself had worn for his own bondage fantasies.

The sentencing hearing was in many ways is a formality, with the only issue before the judge whether Rader would serve his life sentences consecutively or concurrently.

 

20050806: Serial killer's ex-wife seeks to protect assets KS Wichita Serial Killer News
The ex-wife of confessed BTK serial killer Dennis Rader is asking the courts to shield the proceeds from the sale of the couple's home from being seized to pay awards in civil cases brought by relatives of his victims. A judge previously ordered proceeds from the auction of the house frozen under one of the lawsuits, and Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline filed a lien on the property for reimbursement of the costs of Rader's public defenders. The State Board of Indigent Defense Services has filed court papers saying the costs of Rader's defense will exceed $80,000. Paula Rader, who was awarded the Park City house in her emergency divorce granted July 26, filed motions last week seeking to intervene in the six lawsuits against her former husband. Paula Rader is hoping to protect her interest in the home, which sold for $90,000 at an auction July 11. The home had an assets value of $57,000, but the new owner said she wanted the proceeds to help Rader's family. Sedgwick County District Judge Tim Lahey is set to take up all the civil suits at a special hearing Aug. 26. Dennis Rader, 60, has filed a notice of his intention to act as his own lawyer in the wrongful-death lawsuits, intended to keep him from making any money from his crimes. Rader pleaded guilty in June to killing 10 people in the Wichita area from 1974 to 1991. He called himself BTK, for "Bind, Torture, Kill," and sent taunting messages to police about the crimes - the same messages that eventually led to his arrest in February. He's scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 17 on 10 counts of first-degree murder. Dennis Rader did not contest his ex-wife's request for an emergency divorce last month and gave his wife all their property and his retirement benefits.
 

20050802: BTK serial killer Dennis Rader to serve as his own attorney in civil suits KS Wichita Serial Killer News
BTK serial killer Dennis Rader plans to act as his own lawyer in wrongful-death lawsuits filed by the families of his 10 victims. Rader filed a notice of his intention Thursday to represent himself "pro se," a legal term that means he plans to go to court without a lawyer. Mark Hutton, a lawyer representing two relatives of the victims, said Rader's legal filing was well done. "I've got to tell you, the legal pleading he's setting forth is picture perfect," Hutton said. "It's done properly, it's well spaced, he uses the phrase 'pro se' in italics. Jailhouse lawyers with no legal training don't typically file paperwork this well done. "Either there's an attorney incarcerated over there or a hotshot paralegal," Hutton said. "Somebody is giving him some legal advice." In a courtroom confession last month, Rader, 60, said that sexual fantasies had driven him to kill 10 people in the Wichita area between 1974 and 1991. As BTK - his own moniker, which stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill" - he taunted media and police in communications that eventually led to his arrest. His sentencing is set for Aug. 17. Since that confession, victim's families have filed 10 lawsuits against Rader. Rader has 20 days from the filing of each lawsuit to answer the charges. Had he taken no action, a default judgment would have been entered in the case. On Tuesday, a judge waived the usual 60-day waiting period and granted Paula Rader an immediate divorce, agreeing that her mental health was in danger. He did not contest the divorce.
 

20050726: BTK serial killer's wife gets emergency divorce KS Wichita Serial Killer News

A judge waived the usual 60-day waiting period and granted an immediate divorce today to the wife of BTK serial killer Dennis Rader, agreeing that her mental health was in danger.

Rader didn't contest the filing or appear for the hearing. He signed over the couple's property and all his retirement benefits to Paula Rader, who had been married to him for 34 years.

In a courtroom confession last month, Dennis Rader said that sexual fantasies had driven him to kill 10 people in the Wichita area between 1974 and 1991. As BTK — his own moniker for "Bind, Torture, Kill" — he taunted media and police in communications that eventually led to his arrest. His sentencing is set for Aug. 17.

Paula Rader said in her divorce petition that her mental and physical condition has been adversely affected by the marriage.

She also said that she and her incarcerated husband are incompatible and that he had failed to perform material marital duties and obligations. The couple have two grown children.

The property settlement approved by the court includes the family home in Park City, the Wichita suburb where Dennis Rader, 60, worked as an ordinance compliance officer. It recently sold at auction for $90,000.

 

20050713: Serial killer's pastor remains faithful, available KS Wichita Serial Killer News

The man known to the world as the twisted soul who murdered 10 is still known to the Rev. Michael Clark as Dennis Rader - a member of Christ Lutheran who brought spaghetti sauce to a church supper during Lent even though he couldn't stay for worship.

Days after he dropped off his Crock-Pot, Rader was arrested, bringing comfort to the residents of Wichita, Kan., and anguish to a church family that will wrestle with spiritual issues long after the shock wears off. If it ever does.

No one - not even his pastor - can fathom the darkness that led Rader to do his evil. But this much Clark knows:

As long as Rader wants him as his pastor, Clark will be there for him despite the objections of angry e-mailers.

And whatever the BTK killer did isn't enough to shake Clark's faith.

Man fails. God doesn't.

"God," Clark said, "promises us that he'll be with us until the end, and he won't abandon us."

Clark and others at 400-member Christ Lutheran outside Wichita continue getting calls from reporters seeking revelations about Rader, especially after his bone-chilling recounting of the crimes in court unnerved us so.

Paul Carlstedt, a lay leader at the church who spent 30 years going to suppers and softball games with the Raders, wouldn't talk to The National Enquirer. But he'll talk all day long about his church and the faith lessons he clings to after seeing the other side of a man he thought he knew but now realizes he didn't.

"The Dennis Rader I knew," he said, "was a man of God. What is the force that causes evil? I have no idea."

Carlstedt, though, is trying to see beyond the evil.

He believes God's hand was in this when Rader, 60, became a lay leader at the church, giving him reason to use the office. A break in the case came when a computer diskette the BTK killer used was tied to Christ Lutheran.

And Carlstedt believes, like his pastor preaches, that God is the one to trust.

"You never really know anybody," said Carlstedt, "so you just have to put your faith in God that the people you know will do right."

Whom to turn to?

On an afternoon spent fielding calls from reporters who "just want the blood and guts," Clark said, he sounded relieved to get one from a writer wondering about how his church family will survive.

They'll survive by talking about it, whether in special gatherings or during quiet moments at a church supper. By making room for Rader's family at worship.

And by understanding that good, faithful, wounded people have a choice:

They can succumb to the shock. Or they can rise up and look even more intently to God for comfort and answers.

"God's the one we have to turn to," Clark said.

 

20050709: Investigators Describe BTK Strangler KS Wichita Serial Killer News
The serial killer who terrorized Wichita for 31 years, naming himself BTK for "bind, torture, kill" and taunting investigators, wasn't done when authorities finally tracked him down, police say.

"He'll tell you he never, ever stopped looking," police detective Tim Relph said Friday as authorities described how the city's most notorious killer operated and how his own arrogance caught up with him.

It wasn't long after his Feb. 25 arrest that Dennis Rader told investigators "I'm BTK," police Lt. Ken Landwehr said. In fact, he said, Rader kept giving details of the killings until defense attorneys intervened.

When he pleaded guilty June 27, Rader gave a chilling, emotionless narrative of how he tortured, strangled, stabbed and shot his 10 victims from 1974 to 1991.

"He's proud of what he did," Landwehr said. "He can think he's a Christian all he wants ... He is nothing but a perverted serial killer."

Rader told the court that he had selected an 11th victim. And he has said he had numerous "projects," or women he planned to kill, Landwehr said.

Investigators don't know how close he was to killing again, but Landwehr said they have talked to the potential victims. All asked to remain anonymous.

Rader wasn't an obvious suspect _ a married father of two, a one-time church council leader and a Park City compliance officer who handled suburban code violations and stray dogs. But he had secret sexual fantasies, he told the court, and a "dark side" he couldn't control. He said a "demon" got inside him at a young age.

Rader sought out places where single women would be, Landwehr said. Once one caught his eye, he would become obsessed with stalking them.

Prosecutors say there's much more to the crimes, and at his Aug. 17 sentencing they plan to present more evidence about the killings and Rader's sexual motivations, details that could ensure the 60-year-old never leaves prison.

It was the series of taunting messages from the killer that eventually implicated Rader, authorities said.

Police got their biggest break when they received a diskette in a package BTK had provided in order to communicate with them. On it, they found the name "Dennis," and they were able to trace it to Christ Lutheran Church. A Google search showed Dennis Rader was president of the congregation.

When they searched Rader's office, they discovered in a locked file cabinet a stack of original BTK communications, copies of which had been sent to police and the media.

Rader told police that since resuming communications in 1994 he had called a local newspaper and television station and identified himself as BTK, but he said he was hung up on.

"He was always getting a little frustrated that people weren't taking him seriously," Landwehr said.

In his interview with that Wichita station last week, Rader said he reappeared after hearing an attorney was writing a book about the killings.

Rader also said he plans to apologize to his victims' families at his sentencing.

 

20050628: BTK Strangler pleads guilty KS Wichita Serial Killer News
 For nearly an hour, the balding figure in a tie and jacket matter-of-factly told a tale of horror that shocked the community he had terrorized for three decades.

He chillingly recounted trolling Wichita neighborhoods stalking his prey. He told how he hanged an 11-year-old girl from a sewer pipe after killing her parents and brother. He described strangling a 62-year-old woman with pantyhose and dumping her body under a bridge.

Dennis Rader provided the grisly account Monday as he confessed to being the BTK serial killer and pleaded guilty to 10 murders, saying he shot, stabbed or strangled his victims to satisfy his sexual fantasies.

Rader, a 60-year-old former code inspector and church president with a wife and two children, almost certainly will go to prison for the rest of his life when he is sentenced in August.

In pleading guilty, an unfailingly courteous and emotionless Rader helpfully corrected the judge on some matters, clarified others and at one point launched into an almost scholarly discourse on serial killing.

"If you've read much about serial killers, they go through what they call different phases. In the trolling stage, basically, you're looking for a victim at that time," he said. "You can be trolling for months or years, but once you lock in on a certain person, you become a stalker."

Rader also described how he used a "hit kit" consisting of guns, rope, handcuffs and tape in a briefcase or a bowling bag. He talked of his first four victims almost as animals, saying he decided to "put them down."

The man who called himself BTK -- for his preferred method, "Bind, Torture, Kill" -- cannot get the death penalty because the killings occurred before Kansas adopted capital punishment. But each count carries a sentence of up to life in prison. The guilty pleas came on the day his trial was supposed to start. Sentencing is Aug. 17.

For the families of Rader's victims, the confession answered questions that had haunted them for decades.

The BTK killer taunted media and police with cryptic messages during a cat-and-mouse game that began after the first killing, in 1974. BTK resurfaced in 2004 after years of silence with a letter to The Wichita Eagle that included photos of a 1986 strangling victim and a photocopy of her missing driver's license.

That letter was followed by several other cryptic messages and packages. The break in the case came earlier this year after a computer diskette the killer had sent was traced to Rader's Lutheran church, where he once served as president.

He did not reach a plea bargain with prosecutors. Rader said he pleaded guilty because a trial would be "just a long process. So it's just a mathematical problem. It's guilty."

Rader spent almost his entire life in the Wichita area, where he earned a criminal justice degree. He has been married for 34 years and worked in suburban Park City as a code inspector, handling stray dogs and looking for violations such as overgrown grass.

He showed a similar attention to detail as a serial killer.

He said he let some women smoke to put them at ease before he killed them. He told of locking one victim's children in a bathroom with toys and blankets to make them comfortable. He said he was careful to make one man as comfortable as possible while tying him up, putting a pillow under his head and a coat under his body, because the man had cracked a rib in a car accident.

Steve Relford, the oldest son of victim Shirley Vian, was 5 when he and his siblings were locked in a bathroom as Rader killed their mother in 1977. Relford leaned forward and listened intently as Rader described the attack.

"I proceeded to tie the kids up, and they started crying and got real upset, so I said, 'Oh, this is not going to work.' So we moved them to the bathroom. She helped me," he said. "And then I proceeded to tie her up. She got sick and threw up. I got her a glass of water, comforted her a little bit and then I went ahead and tied her up and put a bag over her head and strangled her."

 

20050628: Killer's Words, Traits Familiar to the Experts KS Wichita Serial Killer News

 Like Dennis Rader, most serial predators crave control. Many were abused, but what pushes them, and not others, to murder is a mystery.

 Monday's confession by BTK killer Dennis L. Rader was a rare public look into the eerie world of serial killers, one that is full of tantalizing patterns but governed by a violence that scientists and profilers do not understand.

Most serial killers are publicity hounds. But details of their crimes usually come out in the relative privacy of a jailhouse interview rather than in open court. The terms Rader used to describe his killings — "trolling" for victims, "stalking" his prey — startled former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt.

"He's quoting serial killer tradecraft," Van Zandt said. "These are the words I would use standing up in front of a class of FBI agents or law enforcement officers talking about serial killers."

Rader's words weren't the only thing crime experts found familiar. His personal history and tightly controlled demeanor dovetail with those of most other serial killers.

"These are guys with an excessive need for power, dominance and control," said Jack Levin, director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University. And they don't seem to be able to satisfy it, he said, in any socially acceptable way.

Even though decades of field and academic study have mapped commonalities among serial killers — they are mostly men, abused as children, obsessed with power and status — experts said they were far from determining what creates them.

"There are lots of children who are abused and abandoned," Levin said. "They feel an exceptional amount of powerlessness, and they grow up and compensate by being CEOs and businessmen."

Others, he said, turn into the BTK killer.

Serial killers tend to exist on society's margins, feeling neglected and passed over. Rader, a city ordinance officer, had been unable to become a cop; Ted Bundy, who killed dozens of women, flunked out of two law schools. Cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer was stuck in a menial job in a chocolate factory.

Dennis Nilsen, convicted in the 1980s of murdering 15 homosexual men, was a civil servant in London who would often tie his dead victims in chairs and lecture them about civil service regulation.

The publicity gained through their crimes offsets that perceived neglect.

The killings "are the fundamental achievements in their entire lives, the high points," said Elliott Leyton, an emeritus professor of anthropology at Memorial University of Newfoundland and author of "Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Modern Multiple Murderer." The killings, he said, are typically recounted "the same way a craftsman would talk about a fine piece of furniture he made."

Serial killers' need to control their victims was chillingly illustrated by Rader. He always brought a gun to his crime scenes, but used it only if a victim was about to escape. He preferred to kill up close, by strangulation.

"They enjoy the physical contact, they love squeezing the last breath," said Levin, who has written several books on serial killers. "They love hearing their victims scream … killing is almost incidental. Power is the motive."

As, frequently, is sex. For many serial killers, sexual urges have become linked to violence, and the sense of power provided by murder is coupled with an erotic release. Rader said that he killed to satisfy "sexual fantasies," which he did not detail in court Monday.

The killers often are victims of childhood trauma that blended control, sex and violence.

Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer who murdered 48 women before he was caught in 2001, wet the bed as a child. His mother, sometimes in a revealing nightgown, would drag him into a bathtub, strip and clean him.

Ridgway was confused by the mix of anger, humiliation, lack of control and love for his mother, tinged with eroticism, said Tomas Guillen, a professor at Seattle University who has studied the Green River killer's recorded confessions. "I'm angry at Mom, I want to kill her, but I love her," is how Guillen summarized Ridgway's thoughts.

Many serial killers target victims who are not part of their world — in Ridgway's case, prostitutes.

What sets Ridgway and Rader apart from most, however, is that they both had lengthy marriages, owned homes and attended church. Most such criminals are loners and drifters who have a hard time maintaining relationships.

Many serial killers also are aware of their peers. "We've arrested these guys over the years, and they've got all the articles on Ted Bundy all over the house," Van Zandt said. "It's the same reason why generals read books about other generals — how did they make their decisions? What would they do in this situation?"

Sometimes the killers get competitive. In the 1980s, Dave Reichert, now a congressman, was a detective investigating the Green River killings when he received a letter from Bundy, who was in a Florida prison awaiting execution.

Bundy told the detective that he could give him insight into the mind of a serial killer.

Reichert and a colleague visited him for two days and found him congenial. But his motive for offering help was clear: Another killer was making a bigger name for himself. "Bundy was out of the limelight," Reichert recalled. "He wanted a way to get attention."

In his correspondence with law enforcement and the media before his capture, Rader would frequently mention other serial killers and demand their level of notoriety. One spelling and typo-ridden letter to a Wichita television station in 1978 summed up his yearning for celebrity, along with the inability to explain what drove him to kill.

"You don't understand these things because your not under the influence of factor x," he wrote. "The same thing that made Son of Sam, Jack The Ripper, Havery Glatman, Boston Strangler, Dr. H.H. Holmes Panty Hose Strangler of Florida, Hillside Strangler, Ted of The West Coast and many more infamous character kill…. There is no help, no cure, except death or being caught and put away."

 

20050504: BTK serial killer's prosecutor vows no plea bargain KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Prosecutors vow there will be no plea bargain for the man charged with 10 counts of murder in the BTK serial killings that terrorized Wichita since the 1970s, and defense attorneys say their client's only plea - not guilty - has already been entered.

"I look forward to a trial of this case because it is important after 30 years for people to know and for people to understand and appreciate, not only the work of law enforcement, but to be able to say, 'It's over, it's over,'" District Attorney Nola Foulston said after suspect Dennis Rader's arraignment Tuesday.

Rader, 60, stood mute during the brief hearing, leaving it to District Court Judge Gregory Waller to enter a not guilty plea for him. Defense attorney Steve Osburn said Rader will not enter any other plea.

Waller set trial for June 27 - a date likely to be postponed.

Rader, a former city compliance officer from suburban Park City, was arrested Feb. 25 and charged in 10 deaths linked to the serial killer known as BTK, which stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill." The killings began in the 1970s and made headlines again last year when the killer started sending cryptic messages and packages to media and police.

Authorities have declined to say what led them to Rader.

Prosecutors cannot seek the death penalty because all the crimes were committed before 1994, when Kansas passed its capital punishment law.

But in a dramatic moment at the arraignment, Foulston stood across the table from Rader and looked him in the eye as she handed him a court document seeking a harsher sentence for the most recent of the 10 killings.

Foulston told Rader she would seek a so-called hard-40 sentence for the death of Dolores Davis, 62, who was abducted from her Park City home Jan. 19, 1991, and found strangled two weeks later. The sentence means Rader, if convicted, would have to serve at least 40 years without a chance of parole.

As Rader was being taken out of the courtroom, one of victims' family members yelled out to him: "Don't worry, you won't last that long."

In the other nine killings, Rader would have a chance of parole after 15 years even if sentenced to life in prison under law on the books at the time of those crimes.

Attorney Robert Beattie, who has written a book about the BTK killings, said such courtroom dramatics are typical for Foulston.

Warren Eisenbise, a Wichita defense attorney who has tried 31 murder cases since 1958 and is friends with Foulston, said he "found it amusing."

"I don't think it did anything to affect the integrity of the case at all," Eisenbise said. "She does that."

Foulston told reporters she wanted the case to go to a jury trial to determine Rader's guilt or innocence.

"Without that we still will wonder and live with the question for the rest of our lives in this community - and there isn't a book, there isn't anything that can make sense of this case - without a jury making a determination," she said.

Rader's defense team is considering seeking a change of venue but had not made a final decision, defense attorney Steve Osburn said, adding attorneys do not anticipate making Rader's competency a part of the defense.

Osburn said Rader, despite his lack of cooperation in the courtroom, "cooperates with us. We are able to work with him and he is able to help with his defense."

Prosecutors have listed 247 potential witnesses, and the public defender's office has said a trial is likely more than a year away. Rader last month waived his right to a preliminary hearing, meaning prosecutors will not have to reveal details of their case until trial.

 

20050422: Man accused of being BTK serial killer thanks congregation for support KS Wichita Serial Killer News
In what's described as a "very generic, very laid-back" letter to the congregation of Christ Lutheran Church, Dennis Rader thanks the church members for their support and asks for their continued prayers for him and his family, the church's pastor said Friday.

Rader, 60, who is accused of being the BTK serial killer, has been in custody since he was arrested Feb. 25. He is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder for slayings that occurred from 1974 to 1991.

The Rev. Michael Clark, who visits Rader in the Sedgwick County jail a couple of times a week, said the letter had been posted for about a month before he took it down Friday.

"I posted it on the bulletin board where we have all the greetings, all the letters, all the expressions of concern for members of the congregation," Clark said. "I mentioned in a worship service that I had copies posted on the bulletin board.

"It's a very generic, very laid-back letter expressing his appreciation," the pastor said.

BTK - a self-coined nickname that stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill" - stoked fears throughout the 1970s in Wichita, a manufacturing center with 350,000 residents, about 180 miles southwest of Kansas City, Mo.

Rader, a former city codes enforcement supervisor in Park City, has been a member of the church for 30 years, where he has served as an usher and president of the church council.

Clark said his congregation's feelings for Rader since his arrest have been mixed, though he said the ordeal has brought some families who had been inactive back to the church.

Earlier this week, Rader waived his right to a preliminary hearing, which means prosecutors will not have to publicly reveal any of their case against him until trial. He is expected to enter a plea at his arraignment, set for May 3.

 

20050419: BTK Serial Killer Suspect Waives Kansas Hearing KS Wichita Serial Killer News
A Kansas man suspected of being the long-sought "BTK" serial murderer appeared in court on Tuesday and waived a preliminary hearing on charges that he killed 10 people in 17 years.

Dennis Rader spoke briefly, answering "yes sir" when Judge Greg Waller asked about his decision to waive a detailed presentation of the charges against him.

Rader, 60, will enter a plea at his arraignment in Sedgwick County District Court on May 3.

The former Boy Scout leader and city compliance officer is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder for killings between 1974 and 1991.

The first victims of BTK -- which stands for "bind, torture, kill" -- were a husband and wife and their two children. The last was a 62-year-old grandmother.

Rader was arrested in February after a 31-year manhunt. In the 1970s and 1980s the BTK killer terrorized Wichita and taunted police with clues in letters and postcards. BTK resurfaced last year, offering more clues in various correspondence, and investigators have said it appears he wanted to be caught.

Rader will not face the death penalty because Kansas did not adopt the death penalty until 1994, after the last known BTK crime was committed.

 

20050418: Alleged BTK Strangler in Court Tuesday KS Wichita Serial Killer News

The man accused of being the BTK serial killer is expected to appear in court Tuesday to face 10 counts of first-degree murder. Dennis Rader is the man, police say, killed several women over a span of several years in and around Wichita, Kansas. The killings stumped police, but so did the letters the BTK killer would send to the media and police that taunted them about the crimes.

 

20050316: Military records place suspected serial killer BTK in Mobile KS Wichita Serial Killer News

Military records place the Wichita-area man accused of being the BTK serial killer in Mobile in early 1967.

Wichita law enforcement officials recently provided information to Mobile police that the Bind, Torture, Kill suspect, Dennis Rader, had been in the Mobile area during the late 1960s.

The military records given to the Mobile Register by The Wichita Eagle newspaper show that the 59-year-old Rader was stationed at Mobile's Brookley Air Force Base near downtown Mobile in February 1967.

Rader would have been in his early 20s while stationed at Brookley, which was closed as a military base in 1969. The former air base is now called Brookley Industrial Complex and contains Mobile Downtown Airport.

Officer Eric Gallichant, a Mobile police spokesman, said Tuesday that detectives have not had time to search for any of the old homicide case files dating back to the 1960s, so no connection has been made between Rader and slayings here.

Rader's military record records show he was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas -- about 665 miles from Mobile -- where he began training in mid-August 1966. On the last day of September, he was ordered to report at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, for maintenance training.

He remained at Sheppard, located about 730 miles from Mobile, until Feb. 4, 1967, when he was transferred to Brookley to undergo training as an outside wire and antenna installation and maintenance specialist.

After almost a year in Mobile, Rader was ordered to Okinawa where he spent about six months as a member of an antenna construction team. He was then shipped to Japan where he served at Tachikawa Air Base until his tour of duty in the Air Force ended in August 1970.

Rader has lived almost ever since in the Wichita, Kan. , area where he was an active church member and family man, described as a stern civil servant known for actively enforcing city codes pertaining to matters such as pets on the loose and overgrown grass.

On Feb. 25, he was arrested and later charged with killing 10 people in Wichita from 1974 to 1991. Authorities are now tracing his movements to try to determine whether he has been involved in other homicides in other areas.

During BTK's homicide spree, the killer taunted police with letters and even poems, many sent to area media, in which he bragged about the killings.

In a 1974 letter to the Wichita Eagle, he suggested that he be called the BTK strangler, with BTK standing for "bind them, torture them, kill them."

Last year, the Wichita paper published a story on the 30th anniversary of BTK's first known act, when he killed a family of four, including an 11-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy.

The story prompted BTK to resume his contacts with the media. Evidence gleaned from those latest contacts led law enforcement officials to the conclusion that Rader was BTK, according to news reports.

 

20050314: Profiles on BTK serial killer on target, off base KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Criminal profilers. Wichita police. A psychic. BTK himself.

Since the serial killer first struck Wichita in 1974, a lot of people have shared theories about him: where he worked, his behaviors, his hobbies.

Now, after 31 years, a suspect has been arrested. Dennis Rader, charged with 10 BTK killings, has been in jail for two weeks.

Do the pre-arrest theories about BTK match up to the man charged with the crimes?

In some ways, yes. Police and others thought he might blend into the community. Rader, a Boy Scout leader and president of his church council, was a college-educated, working family man in Park City, Kan.

In other ways, no. Police said BTK had a lifetime fascination with trains. Rader's younger brother Jeff said he was the train lover in the family, not Dennis.

The idea that BTK was a part of the community was daring back in the late '70s, said Richard LaMunyon, who was police chief from 1976 to 1989. It went against the general profile, the kind you see in made-for-TV movies: the serial killer as a loner, a man with no romantic prospects and an unsteady work history.

However, it wasn't exactly strange to suggest that BTK hung around Wichita State University, said Brian Withrow, an assistant professor of criminal justice at the university.

"They kept saying he was connected to WSU," he said. "Name five people in Wichita who ain't."

Withrow said he couldn't think of a case in which a profile directly led to the apprehension of a person.

"It may in fact direct your investigation in an inefficient way," he said.

Although profiles draw on experts, some of them scientists, it's a "very subjective" kind of science, he said.

In September, Dennis McKenzie, a clairvoyant from Cambridge, England, came to Wichita to see what "feelings" he could pick up at the crime scenes.

McKenzie said at the time that he thought BTK would be a maintenance man or plumber, someone who worked for himself.

And he would be ordinary.

"It could be your next-door neighbor, and you'd have no way of knowing it," McKenzie said.

That possibility - that BTK could be someone's neighbor - was why police released a detailed list of potential BTK traits late last year, Withrow said.

The November list - including BTK's possible age and passion for railroads - was culled from the serial killer's communications, police said.

Police had no choice but to release the description and assume it was accurate, Withrow said.

"If they had decided to not release it, they would run the risk of when they did catch the guy, he would say, `Look, I told you who I was. But you didn't release the information.'"

A Minneapolis, Minn., profiler said police should have released more information about BTK and the killings.

The sooner police release details about a homicide, the more likely they are to get useful tips from the public, said Pat Brown, who has assisted police elsewhere by creating criminal profiles.

That's why, in August 2004, she did something she almost never does: publish an unsolicited profile of a killer on her Web site.

The profile of BTK was a "dangerous" thing to do, Brown said, because she didn't have access to police information about the killings. Instead she used her own research, including a visit to Wichita.

But that doesn't mean it wasn't helpful, she said.

"It's supposed to be a theory," she said. "It's a theory intended to get you to think and follow up on ideas."

She received numerous tips about possible suspects. Dennis Rader was not one of them.

In contrast, police have had years to consider the mystery of BTK, LaMunyon said.

"It's always kind of amusing to listen to individuals, especially people who aren't directly related to this investigation, make their forecast as to what kind of individual this is," he said.

"They don't have all the facts."

Someday we'll know more about BTK's background and what led him to kill, LaMunyon said. Any profiles developed during the investigation played only a small part in the case.

"You have to apply all of that knowledge - evidence, the victims - then you come up with a picture.

"You can't use just any one single part of this thing."

 

20050228: Relief, and Bewilderment, Over Arrest in Kansas Killings KS Wichita Serial Killer News
For those gathered inside Christ Lutheran Church on Sunday morning, the lasting images of Dennis L. Rader were simple, sweet moments. Just last Wednesday evening, for instance, he stopped by the church to drop off spaghetti sauce and salad for a potluck dinner before he went to visit his mother at the hospital.

Even as Wichita voiced relief at the prospect that one of the most notorious serial killers in recent history might finally be behind bars, those who knew Mr. Rader, the man the police have accused of being the city's B.T.K. killer, said they were beginning to experience new waves of bewilderment, confusion, betrayal and fear.

At Christ Lutheran, where Mr. Rader, his wife, his mother and his in-laws have been members for 30 years and where Mr. Rader began his elected term as president of the church council in January, the Rev. Michael G. Clark, the pastor, said he was having difficulty grasping the possibility that the man the police arrested on Friday was the same one he knew so well.

Some members of the congregation wept during services Sunday, and crisis counselors arrived at the church by the afternoon. Mr. Rader's wife, Paula, was in seclusion, the pastor said, in "a state of disbelief."

"We've known him for 30 years, and there's nothing that would have suggested anything like this," said Paul Carlstedt, one of the church's 400 members, as he huddled in the chill with his wife outside Christ Lutheran. "We just don't know what to think, don't know what can happen or go on with people."

During those same 30 years, as Mr. Rader, 59, was attending Christ Lutheran, raising two children, and working for a security system company, as an address-checker for the Census Bureau and eventually as a code compliance officer in his suburban hometown of Park City, the police say he was also secretly tormenting Wichita. They say he is responsible for strangulations, taunting and explicit letters, poems and packages to the police and news media.

B.T.K., as the killer dubbed himself in one of his rambling writings years ago, stood for bind, torture, kill.

On Sunday, the authorities here said that Mr. Rader, who had not been appointed a lawyer, had been booked into the Sedgwick County Jail, where he was being held on a $10 million probable cause bond on suspicion of 10 first-degree murders, dating from 1974 to 1991.

Prosecutors here are likely to file formal charges against him this week, Georgia Cole, a spokeswoman for the Sedgwick County district attorney's office, said on Sunday.

Still, the authorities here say they have by no means ended their investigation. On Saturday, when they announced Mr. Rader's arrest, it was the first time they publicly linked two new killings to B.T.K. And investigators will continue to examine other unsolved killings in the area over the last 31 years to determine if they can be linked to B.T.K.

Richard LaMunyon, the former police chief who led the department during the peak of the B.T.K. search years ago, said that investigators had long thought that six to eight additional killings might also be B.T.K. cases.

While the arrest, residents here said, may have answered some of their biggest questions about the killer they had been wondering and worrying about for more than a generation, it also set off a new set of questions, small and large.

In a weekend news conference, law enforcement officials revealed almost nothing about why they focused on Mr. Rader and what evidence they might have against him. In the information void, rumors and questions filled Wichita's airwaves and Internet chat rooms on Sunday: How had the police found him now, after so many years of looking? Why was Park City's public library suddenly shut down on Friday during Mr. Rader's arrest? Who had supplied the DNA sample that, according to comments by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, allowed the authorities to link Mr. Rader to the crime scenes?

Janet Johnson, a Wichita police spokeswoman, did dismiss one claim that had been reported on national television. Mr. Rader's daughter, who is in her 20's, did not turn her father in to the police, Ms. Johnson said.

In Park City, the small suburb just north of Wichita where Mr. Rader lived with his family for most of the past 30 years, the questions were more personal. On Sunday, half a dozen police cars and a maze of yellow police tape lines still filled the neighborhood near the Raders' house.

Donna Lowry, a neighbor, leaned against her porch wall, reflecting on all the times she had talked to Mr. Rader in his role as a city worker checking homes and yards for possible code violations - a job, all here say, Mr. Rader carried out with no tolerance for even the most minor violations.

In his uniform, with his badge and his marked city vehicle and his cap with earflaps, Mr. Rader often pulled up to her house, Ms. Lowry said, to complain about the way her boat was parked in the front driveway or her German shepherd running loose.

Upon further reflection, she wondered, Had he looked at her strangely? Why hadn't she always locked her front door? Would her 15-year-old son get over the stress he kept talking about this weekend when he learned that the man who helped him when he was bitten by a dog was accused of being B.T.K.?

Inside Christ Lutheran Church on Sunday morning, Mr. Clark, the pastor, asked his followers to bolster one another in a "time of craziness," and not to lose their faith.

"It is important that we show compassion and love towards our brother, Dennis Rader. If what is claimed to be true, we should be about the business of asking for God's help in healing of heart and soul," he told them during his sermon.

"The truth from God," Mr. Clark added, "will free us from the anger, the pain, the bitterness, the hardened heart, the release from being lost and confused."

Mr. Clark learned of Mr. Rader's arrest, he said, when four police officers appeared at the church's front doors on Friday. They had a search warrant. Mr. Clark would not reveal what the officers said they were looking for or whether it related to Mr. Rader's role as church council president, but he said that they told him they considered Mr. Rader a suspect in the B.T.K. serial murders.

Mr. Clark is still trying to digest what they were telling him about the man who had sometimes run the sound system in the building, had served as an usher and who was in church just a week ago Sunday.

 

20050228: A look at the victims of the BTK serial killer KS Wichita Serial Killer News
The strangling deaths of four Wichita family members in January 1974 were the first of 10 slayings between 1974 and 1991 that authorities have linked to the BTK serial killer. Here is a list of victims whose deaths are blamed on BTK:

Joseph Otero, 38, found strangled in his home on Jan. 15, 1974. Police said he had been bound, but not gagged, while three other family members were killed.

Julie Otero, 34, found strangled in her home on Jan. 15, 1974. The wife of Joseph, Julie Otero was struck, gagged and bound before being killed.

Josephine Otero, 11, found strangled in her home on Jan. 15, 1974. Police said her lifeless, partially clothed body was found hung by the neck from a rope tied to a sewer pipe in the basement.

Joseph Otero II, 9, found strangled in his home on Jan. 15, 1974. He was found bound with three hoods over his head.

Kathryn Bright, 21, found strangled in her home on April 4, 1974. She had been bound with cord and strangled, and her partially dressed body had been stabbed several times.

Shirley Vian, 24, found strangled in her home on March 18, 1977. She was found partially dressed on her bed with a plastic bag over her head, and cord wrapped around her neck, hands and feet.

Nancy Fox, 25, found strangled in her home on Dec. 9, 1977. Her telephone cord was cut, and her partially dressed body was found was strangled with nylon stockings.

Marine Hedge, 53, abducted from her home on April 27, 1985, and found along a dirt road eight days later. The autopsy showed that she had been strangled, and although her hands weren't tied, a knotted pair of pantyhose was found nearby.

Vicki Wegerle, 28, found strangled in her home on Sept. 16, 1986. Her husband found her body in their bed, but she had not been sexually abused.

Delores Davis, 62, was abducted from her home on Jan. 19, 1991, and found 13 days later under a bridge on an unpaved road in northern Sedgwick County. The autopsy showed that she had been strangled, and that her hands, feet and knees were bound with pantyhose.

 

20050227: Cub Scout Leader Arrested in BTK Killings KS Wichita Serial Killer News
A 31-year manhunt for a serial killer who taunted police with letters about his crimes ended Saturday when authorities said they finally caught up with the man who called himself BTK and linked him to at least 10 murders.

"The bottom line: BTK is arrested," Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams said Saturday, setting off applause from a crowd that included family members of some of the victims.

The suspect was identified as Dennis L. Rader, a 59-year-old city worker in nearby Park City, who was arrested Friday. Police did not say how they identified Rader as a suspect or whether he has said anything since his arrest.

BTK a self-coined nickname that stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill" stoked fears throughout the 1970s in Wichita, a manufacturing center with 350,000 residents, about 180 miles southwest of Kansas City, Mo.

Then the killer resurfaced about a year ago after 25 years of silence. He had been linked to eight slayings between 1974 and 1986, but police said Saturday they had identified two more, from 1985 and 1991.

Rader, a Cub Scout leader who was active at his Lutheran church, lived with his wife, neighbors said. Public records indicate they have two grown children. Messages left for family members were not returned on Saturday, and no one answered the door at the home of his in-laws.

A few neighbors recalled receiving small favors from Rader, but most interviewed Saturday said the municipal codes enforcement supervisor was an unpleasant man who often went looking for reasons to cite his neighbors for violations of city codes.

"A part of me was scared when I heard, because I talked to him. It's a little creepy," said Chris Yoder, 23, who once lived nearby.

Rader has yet to be charged, but a jubilant collection of law enforcers and community leaders told the crowd in City Council chambers they were confident the long-running case could now be closed.

"Victims whose voices were brutally silenced by the evil of one man will now have their voices heard again," Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline said.

Rader was being held at an undisclosed location, and it was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer. In Kansas, suspects generally appear before a judge for a status hearing within 48 hours of their arrest.

Prosecutor Nola Foulston said the death penalty would not apply to any crime committed between 1972 and 1994, when Kansas did not have the death penalty.

The BTK slayings began in 1974 with the strangulations of Joseph Otero, 38, his wife, Julie, 34, and their two children. The six victims that followed were all women, and most were strangled.

Along with his grisly crimes, the killer terrorized Wichita by sending rambling letters to the media, including one in which he named himself BTK for "Bind them, Torture them, Kill them." In another he complained, "How many do I have to kill before I get my name in the paper or some national attention?"

But he stopped communicating in 1979 and remained silent for more than two decades before re-establishing contact last March with a letter to The Wichita Eagle about an unsolved 1986 killing.

The letter included a copy of the victim's driver's license and photos of her slain body. The return address on the letter said it was from Bill Thomas Killman initials BTK.

Since then, the killer had sent at least eight letters to the media or police, including three packages containing jewelry that police believed may have been taken from BTK's victims. One letter contained the driver's license of victim Nancy Fox.

The new letters sent chills through Wichita but also rekindled hope that modern forensic science could find some clue that would finally lead police to the killer.

Thousands of tips poured in, and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation gathered thousands of DNA swabs in connection with the BTK investigation. In the end, DNA evidence was the key to cracking the case, said Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

"The way they made the link was some DNA evidence, that they had some DNA connection to the guy who they arrested," Sebelius said in an interview with The Associated Press. She did not elaborate.

The two newly identified cases were similar to the early ones with one exception, Sedgwick County Sheriff Gary Steed said: The bodies had been removed from the crime scenes. One of the victims lived on the same street as Rader.

"We as investigators keep an open mind. But only now are we able to bring them together as BTK cases," he said.

On Friday, investigators searched Rader's house and seized computer equipment.

Authorities, who generally declined to answer questions in detail after announcing the arrest, had little to say about why BTK resurfaced after years without contact.

"It is possible something in his life has changed. I think he felt the need to get his story out," said Richard LaMunyon, Wichita's police chief from 1963 to 1989.

 

20050227: Two more cases attributed to BTK KS Wichita Serial Killer News
The number of BTK murders has grown to at least 10. Sedgwick County Sheriff Gary Steed confirmed Saturday the previously unsolved murders of Marine Hedge and Deloris Davis are connected to the serial killer.

 

Dennis Rader’s arrest may bring closure for some of the victim’s families. But for other families it raises new questions about whether the serial killer allegedly murdered their loved ones as well.

On January 19, 1991, BTK claims another victim: Delores "Dee" Davis.

Authorities say he threw a brick through her sliding glass doors and abducted her from her home half a mile east of Park City.

"It’s so needless you know, it’s stupid," said Jim Davis, son of Delores.

Jim Davis wrote about his 62-year-old mother’s murder in a book titled The Shadow of Evil. It was his way of coping with her death.

"I sit around at times and I think, yeah, that it still angers me tremendously to know the message that guy was sending from the time he committed the crime and there after was ’I’m smarter than all of you.’

For years, the killer’s identity and motive remained a mystery. But early on, detectives did consider similarities between her death and the BTK killings. Her phone lines were cut, her partially clothed body found 13 days later under a bridge in northern Sedgwick County, strangled, with her feet, hands and knees bound with panty hose.

Then 14 years later, the announcement comes from Sedgwick County Sheriff Gary Steed.

"I’m pleased to tell you we can bring closure to two cases that were in the jurisdiction of the Sedgwick County Sheriffs Department -- the homicides of Marine Hedge and Delores Davis," said Steed.

Sheriff Steed believes BTK also killed 53-year-old Marine Hedge on April 27th 1985. Hedge lived just down the street from BTK suspect, Dennis Rader.

Investigators say she too was strangled and taken from her home. Someone found her body eight days later along a dirt road near 143rd Street East and 37th Street North.

Her hands were not tied but pantyhose were found nearby.

"And as a result of the information developed by the task force, we are able to bring closure of Deloris Davis homicide and the Marine Hedge homicide and present those cases to Nola for homicide charges," said Steed.

Now those charges may bring closure for the victim’s families.

But Jim Davis says their murders never should have happened.

"It was so unnecessary and that’s probably one of the hardest things people have to get past," said Davis.

There are at least 13 other unsolved murders involving women. Those cases also have similarities to the BTK murders. Their deaths involve the women being beaten, strangled and bound as well.

 

20050221: BTK Killer's Writing Style Has Changed KS Wichita Serial Killer News
The letters and poems began arriving in 1974. Shot through with spelling and grammatical errors, they alternated between tortured rambling and cold-blooded, gleeful detail. Then, the BTK killer since linked to eight unsolved killings between 1974 and 1986 vanished. But he resurfaced last March with new letters to police and media and, although still enigmatic, they have taken a new tone.

The frequency of the new communications and the accompanying attention concern at least one researcher.

"For some of these killers, there is kind of a cycle that once the spiral begins to accelerate the next step is to kill and get a whole new generation of people scared," said Dirk Gibson, author of "Clues from Killers: Serial Murder and Crime Scene Messages."

The killer once raved about his inability to control a "monster" living inside him and gave graphic descriptions of his crimes. The few details released about the new messages indicate a businesslike, almost cordial approach.

Officials said last week the killer had recently sent at least three packages containing jewelry, and investigators were trying to determine whether any of it was taken from BTK's victims.

Along with a padded manila envelope sent to KSAS-TV in Wichita, the communications included a cereal box found in a rural area northwest of Wichita in late January and a package found a few days later that police identified only as Communication No. 7.

Gibson, who has studied more than 500 serial killers, said BTK loves the attention. That was already apparent in the 1970s, when the self-named BTK the initials stand for "Bind, Torture, Kill terrorized Wichita.

When one of his messages, a poem sent to the Wichita Eagle-Beacon on Jan. 31, 1978, was mistakenly routed to the classified ads department, BTK sent a letter to KAKE-TV days later complaining: "How many do I have to kill before I get my name in the paper or some national attention?"

Another letter to the newspaper also underscored BTK's need for recognition.

"P.S. How about some name for me, its time: 7 down and many more to go," it read in part. "I like the following. How about you? 'THE B.T.K STRANGLER, 'WICHITA STRANGLER', 'POETIC STRANGLER', 'THE BONDAGE STRANGER' OR 'PSYCHO', 'THE WICHITA HANGMAN', 'THE WICHITA EXECUTIONER,' 'THE GAROTE PHATHOM', 'THE ASPHYXIATER'."

KAKE-TV has also received communiques from BTK since his re-emergence, some of which contain messages for police.

But the tenor has changed: In a postcard sent earlier this month, BTK thanked the station for its quick response to two other messages and expressed concern for two news anchors after a passing comment one made on the air about having the flu.

Randy Brown, a senior fellow at Wichita State University's Elliott School of Journalism, was a reporter at the now-defunct Wichita Sun when the weekly paper first broke the story about BTK in the 1970s.

"This is a very different BTK than the original," Brown said. "The first letters were full of horrifying details of these crimes, ravings and very graphic information about the victims and the monster in his brain ugly, nasty, scary, terrible kinds of things that people who saw them still have bad dreams about."

Although no recent deaths have been officially linked to BTK since he resurfaced last year, the case has received worldwide attention.

"It is hard to believe this is really the same twisted killer that was scaring the heck out of everybody had a town completely on edge in the late 1970s and 1980s," Brown said.

 

20050217: Kansas Serial Killer won´t shut up KS Wichita Serial Killer News
 A Wichita TV station is believed to have received the 11th communication from the "BTK" serial killer since he resurfaced last year.

Fox affiliate KSAS-TV received a padded manila envelope containing a piece of jewelry, a letter and another unidentified item. The station declined to further identify the items at the request of police.

The BTK killer — the initials stand for "Bind, Torture, Kill" — has been linked to eight unsolved killings beginning in 1974 and apparently ending in 1986.

Last March, after 25 years of silence, he resurfaced with letters to the media and the police. Since his re-emergence, he has showered the community with letters and packages.

In the latest twist, the killer has apparently decided to change TV stations.

BTK has communicated primarily with KAKE-TV of Wichita, but the letter in the latest package indicated BTK wanted to spread his communications to other outlets.

"KAKE is a good station, but I feel they are starting to be single (sic) out, because of me, and causing problems among the people. Let's help the news media and WPD (Wichita Police Department) by using this package as a start," the letter stated.

The letter's return address said "PJ Fox" and listed KSAS-TV's address.

The strangler sent a wave of terror through Wichita in the 1970s. Typically, he would first cut the phone line into the home of his intended victim or victims. His victims were bound, often tortured, and then murdered, usually by strangulation.

His first victims - a couple and two of their children - were murdered in their home in 1974. Three months later, the killer struck again, stabbing a 21-year-old woman to death in her home.

The strangler then revealed himself to police with a letter to the local newspaper claiming responsibility for the slaughter of the family. The letter contained details that could have been known only to the killer.

"This is a high functioning killer. He's a sexually sadistic offender and typically they have average intelligence, so this is a more formidable adversary," according to former FBI profiler Gregg McCrary.

Subsequent homicides showed that the killer had what can only be described as a warped and sadistic sense of humor. His voice was captured on tape in 1977 when he called police to report the death of a 25-year-old woman he had murdered.

And in 1978, he sent a children's nursery rhyme to the Wichita Eagle newspaper that referred to a 24-year-old woman he had killed. The newspaper said the poem was patterned after the "Curley Locks" nursery rhyme. Here's the original:

Curley Locks, Curley Locks,
Wilt thou be mine?
Thou shalt not wash dishes,
Nor yet feed the swine,
But sit on a cushion
And sew a fine seam,
And feed upon strawberries,
Sugar and cream


In letters to the media, the strangler called the force that spurs him to kill "Factor X" and compares it to the same force that triggered Jack the Ripper, Son of Sam and Los Angeles' Hillside Strangler.

In one letter, the strangler wrote, "When this monster enters my brain, I will never know. But, it's here to stay." He later said, "The pressure is great and sometimes he runs the game to his liking. Maybe you can stop him. I can't. He has already chosen his next victim or victims I don't know who they are yet. The next day after I read the paper, I will know, but it's too late."

The killer also had a passion for personal publicity. When a letter to the Wichita newspaper didn't produce the publicity he obviously craved, he sent a letter to KAKE-TV. In it, he asked, "How many do I have to kill before I get a name in the paper or some national attention?"

The last confirmed contact with the strangler came in 1979. No one knows why he suddenly decided to go public once again. One line of speculation is that he may have been jailed for an unrelated crime for which he was recently released from prison.
 

20050204: Man who met BTK Strangler speaks out KS Wichita Serial Killer News
The apparent re-emergence of the elusive BTK — Bind, Torture, Kill — serial killer over the past year has aggravated a wound that may never heal in Stephen Relford. In March 1977, Relford, then 5, was locked in a bathroom as BTK allegedly killed his mother.

Now, Relford is speaking out for the first time about his horrific ordeal.

"I remember seeing my mama being stripped, her hands behind her back, plastic bag over her head, rope tied around her neck," Relford told ABC News affiliate KAKE-TV in Wichita, Kan.

Relford's mother, Shirley Vian, is believed to be BTK's fifth victim. BTK has been linked to eight unsolved homicides that occurred in Wichita between 1974 and 1986. The killer remained silent for 25 years until last March, when authorities believe he sent The Wichita Eagle a letter that detailed an unsolved 1986 slaying and contained the victim's driver's license and photos of her body. BTK has since sent various letters to police and the media that have been authenticated by the FBI.

BTK's apparent messages have given Relford hope that police will find the killer.

"It's been 28 years, and I hope to hell I meet this [expletive] face-to-face," Relford told KAKE-TV.

Haunted by BTK's Fatal Visit

Relford is haunted by his mother's killing, especially since he says he was the one who let BTK into their home. Relford and his two siblings were home, he said, when BTK knocked on their door and asked Relford if his parents were there. When Relford told BTK his mother was sick in bed, BTK came in and turned off the TV.

BTK, Relford said, then pulled down the blinds and pulled out a pistol. Then the phone rang, and Relford asked his mother if she wanted him to answer it. BTK told him not to, and his mother told him to do as BTK said.

BTK then told Vian to put blankets and toys in the bathroom, Relford said.

 

20050126: Station reports new package purportedly from Kansas serial killer KS Wichita Serial Killer News

A package purportedly tied to the BTK serial killings was found after a local television news station received a postcard directing it to the scene, a television station reported.

The Wichita station KAKE-TV broke into its afternoon programming Tuesday to air footage of a cereal box leaning against a traffic sign along a road, but did not disclose its contents at the request of police.

Wichita police did not return calls to The Associated Press for comment.

BTK -- which stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill" -- is linked to eight unsolved killings from 1974 through 1986. He resurfaced in March with letters to media and police.

The postcard mailed to the station had the name "S. Killett" and the address of BTK's first victims, the Otero family, written on the return address, KAKE reported.

 

20050106: More BTK serial killer info released KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Police investigating the BTK serial killings of the '70s and '80s released information regarding the jewelry of one of the victims. .. In a brief statement Wednesday without taking questions from reporters, Lt. Ken Landwehr, the lead investigator in the case, announced police were looking for anyone with information regarding a gold chain with two vertically set pearls believed to have been worn by Nancy Fox when she was killed, the Wichita Eagle reported...No explanation was provided as to why the information had not been released earlier. Fox's body was found Dec. 9, 1977. Displaying a portrait of Fox wearing the jewelry, Landwehr asked for anyone who may have received the item as a gift in December 1977 or early 1978 to call police...The killer who calls himself "BTK," which stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill," claims to have killed eight people in Wichita between 1974 and 1986 and has sent several communications to police since last March..
 

20050106: Necklace may lead police to serial killer's identity. KS Wichita Serial Killer News
It's a dainty gold chain with two pearls, set vertically. In a photo portrait taken before BTK strangled her in 1977, Nancy Fox smiles serenely and seems to wear the necklace proudly...Now, police hope the necklace that graced her neck will help lead them to the BTK serial killer...In a brief statement at City Hall on Wednesday, Lt. Ken Landwehr, lead investigator in the renewed BTK investigation, said police think the killer might have taken the necklace from the crime scene and given it to a woman he was dating...On Dec. 9, 1977, police found Fox, who had a part-time job at a jewelry store, bound and strangled in her duplex at 843 S. Pershing. Fox, 25, is one of eight people BTK has claimed to have killed in Wichita from 1974 through 1986...Some people who have followed the investigation said Wednesday that they wondered why police had not released information about the necklace sooner. But former investigators said police must have good reasons for the timing...Without taking any questions, Landwehr released a description of the necklace and a copy of the portrait. He asked anyone who recognizes the necklace or received one like it as a gift in December 1977 or early 1978 to call police...The statement noted that the killer - who calls himself BTK, for bind, torture, kill - has sent several communications to police since last March and has told them he took items from the Fox crime scene...Gregg McCrary, a Virginia-based former FBI profiler, said serial killers sometimes take souvenirs or "trophies" from their killings and give them to significant others. He cited the case of an Alaska man who killed prostitutes and gave their jewelry to his wife..."They take a perverse thrill out of their wife or girlfriend walking around wearing this trophy, if you will," McCrary said...A woman who was one of the last people to see Fox alive worked with her at Helzberg's Jewelers in the Wichita Mall..."I'm reasonably certain I've seen it before (on Fox)," she said Wednesday of the necklace. "It's been 27 years; it's hard to be 100 percent."..It would make sense that Fox would have bought it from the store where she worked, the woman said. Employees got a 50 percent discount on jewelry...The Wichita Eagle is not identifying the former co-worker because her family is concerned for her safety..."It looks like something we sold," she said of the necklace. "That was a real popular style at the time."..As with some people who have been following the investigation in online discussion boards devoted to the case, the former co-worker said police should have released information about the necklace months or years ago - whenever they concluded the killer possibly took it..."The longer they wait, the more the memories fade," the former co-worker said...Richard LaMunyon, police chief at the time of Fox's killing, said Wednesday he remembers that some of Fox's jewelry was not accounted for..."We knew he (BTK) took items from his victims," LaMunyon said...But it wasn't clear whether the killer had taken the jewelry, LaMunyon said. Fox could have loaned some jewelry to a girlfriend, he said. She could have stored her jewelry in an out-of-the way place. There could have been any number of ways it went missing, LaMunyon said...If police knew a piece of jewelry had been taken by the killer, there could be good reasons not to disclose it, he said...McCrary, the former FBI profiler, agreed. For one thing, McCrary said, identifying an item could prompt the killer to dispose of it to avoid being caught...He and LaMunyon said people need to give investigators the benefit of the doubt..."I believe they're releasing that information that needs to be released at the appropriate time, because of where they are in the investigation," LaMunyon said.. .
 

20050106: Serial Killer's Link to Kansas Newspaper Continues KS Wichita Serial Killer News
When Wichita police investigating the city's most famous serial killer asked reporter Hurst Laviana of The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle for a DNA sample last summer, he was not really surprised. After all, from the time the murders began 30 years ago, the newspaper and the killer known as "BTK" have been inextricably linked...Since he first struck in early 1974, BTK (his self-given nickname for "Bind, Torture, Kill") has sent the newspaper four letters and one poem. The Eagle's Web site received a subpoena last year when investigators thought the murderer might be posting items on a discussion board. And BTK's recent re-appearance, in the form of a letter he sent the newspaper this past spring after 16 years of silence, is believed to have been sparked by a lengthy Eagle story marking the 30th anniversary of the first killing..."It has always been part of the paper's lore," said former editor Rick Thames, who spent seven years at the Eagle's helm before moving to The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer last summer. "BTK has always been there at the Eagle."..The paper was back in the news last month when a man arrested on an outstanding warrant was thought to have a link to the case. But he was quickly ruled out as a suspect. Police found in December a driver's license and some other items belonging to one victim killed in 1977. There was more news yesterday, as police announced that they believe that the killer took a necklace from that 1977 victim and gave it to a girlfriend at that time...Laviana had wondered why police hadn't sought his DNA earlier, given that he has followed the case for more than 20 years. He was one of three area reporters covering the story who had samples voluntarily swabbed from their mouths in June. "It seemed like a logical thing for them to do," Laviana said, adding that police told him they'd received five tips from people urging that the reporter be tested. He never heard back from investigators after the test occurred...The elusive BTK has killed eight people since Jan. 15, 1974, with most of the murders committed between 1974 and 1977, and the last in 1986. The majority were strangled in their homes. The first letter to the Eagle-Beacon, as it was known then, appeared 10 months after the initial killing, placed inside a book at the local library, and found after a call to the paper alerted reporters. The last letter arrived in March 2004 and included crime scene photos from the 1986 murder, as well as a copy of that victim's driver's license. ..BTK has sent letters and made phone calls to a local television station as well, but the Eagle has remained his key media connection..."It's a self-conscious position for a newspaper to be in," said Sherry Chisenhall, editor since July and a five-year Eagle employee. "We are more careful about how we are doing things." ..Although the BTK case had been quiet for more than a decade, its unsolved nature required Laviana during his 23 years at the paper to ask police the same question when covering any local murder: "Did the [killer] cut the phone lines?" — one of BTK's signature practices...Early on, the paper's ties to the case went beyond the letters when the Eagle -Beacon offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in 1974. When BTK's poem was received in 1978, just two weeks before Valentine's Day, it was mistakenly thought to be one of the romantic messages the paper runs on Feb. 14 and was originally sent to the classified advertising department. The paper also has done stories as wide-ranging as how psychics viewed the case. ..BTK made his need for media attention clear in a 1978 letter to a local television station, in which he said, "How many do I have to kill before I get my name in the paper?" adding, "a little paragraph ... would have been enough."..After the investigation received a new boost in 2004 from the latest letter, the Eagle found itself again in a strange position as both a provider of evidence and chronicler of the news. When Laviana received the most recent BTK letter on Friday, March 19, he immediately passed it on to police, but they did not look into it until the following Monday. Investigators then took two days to review it and asked the Eagle to withhold certain information from its story, which ran on March 25 — nearly a week after the paper received the letter...Wichita Police officials declined to comment to E&P about the case or the newspaper's coverage...The Eagle found itself in the middle of the investigation again in April when the Sedgwick County District Attorney's office subpoenaed the identities of six people who had posted items to a BTK bulletin board on the paper's Web site. The Eagle cooperated without a fight, Chisenhall said, but drew criticism from District Attorney Nola Foulston when the paper ran a story about the subpoenas..."We knew that we should disclose it," Chisenhall said. "But they thought [the story] would alert people using the bulletin board, especially if one of them was BTK." Foulston did not return calls seeking comment, but a statement placed on the District Attorney's Web site after the Eagle story ran said the paper had been ordered not to disclose the subpoena's existence and had sparked "serious concerns about the disclosure of information ... that could jeopardize the ability to identify a suspect."..Then there's the ongoing interest of hundreds of national and international media. "The hardest part is juggling all of the calls and doing your job," Laviana said, adding that magazine reporters from as far away as Japan and Sweden have asked questions. "A British TV crew took over the managing editor's office for a day because that was where they got the biggest angle for a shot of the newsroom."..But is anyone at the paper afraid that BTK may target one of them as the attention increases? Thames said some employees began asking for escorts to the parking lot at night following the last letter. "It is something in the back of your mind," Laviana admitted. "But we are hoping it is more likely that he would contact us to say he is ready to give up."...
 

20041216: Serial killer leaves ID in park for woman killed in '77 KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Less than two weeks before the holidays, the notorious "BTK" strangler apparently has left a grim Christmas gift in a small park just east of downtown...Among items wrapped in plastic and rubber bands was a driver's license with the name and photo of Nancy Fox, one of the killer's victims nearly three decades ago. It had been missing ever since Fox, then 25, was found tied up and choked to death in her Wichita home on Dec. 9, 1977...Today, FBI analysts in Virginia are examining the license for its authenticity. All over this Midwest metropolis, the "Bind, Torture, Kill" serial killer is again on everyone's mind. advertisement . . "It's a curiosity thing now rather than a fright," says Wichita City Manager George Kolb, recalling the fear that gripped Kansas' largest city years ago over the unsolved stalkings and slayings of at least eight people from 1974 to 1986..."He hasn't killed anybody else, and hopefully, he won't," adds Kolb, who oversees the police and other city agencies. "But people are just kind of anxious. Let's get this guy."..Wichita (population 346,664) was stunned in March when BTK suddenly resurfaced after 25 years of silence. He mailed The "Wichita Eagle newspaper a photocopy of another victim's driver's license and snapshots of her body at the crime scene. Since then, more missives have been sent to police and TV station KAKE. Then came this week's discovery of the package in the park...'His pattern is changing'.."That is bizarre," says Richard LaMunyon, who was police chief during the years of the killings. "If you treasured something all these years, (would) you just leave it in the park? That could have been picked up, thrown in the trash. His pattern is changing completely. Before, he didn't send us his trophies, just pictures, copies."..LaMunyon, 64, now city administrator for a Wichita suburb, still believes "somebody knows this guy. This is someone's neighbor. Someone that shops at the same supermarkets. The question is, where's he been?"..Many here, including detectives, psychologists and others who tried for years to crack the case, had assumed that the psychopath had died or perhaps just moved away. Investigators figure he would be in his mid-50s to mid-60s now..."I was just sick," Arlyn Smith, a former Wichita police detective who worked the case, says of this year's re-emergence of BTK. "I thought he had been put away, put in the ground, moved, out of here."..Robert Beattie, a Wichita lawyer who has closely followed the case, was writing a book about it when the killer went public again this year. Beattie, 48, says he "was not trying to solve the case" but hoping to prod police into resuming the manhunt..."This is Wichita's greatest mystery and its greatest tragedy," he says. "I thought I was writing a book that would say, the guy's probably dead but maybe somebody will look in their garage and find a box with Nancy Fox's driver's license in it. And then I get a call telling me he's alive."..Taunting clues..During the 1970s and again this year, BTK has seemed to taunt police and the community with his letters, puzzles and other clues, even suggestions for chapter titles to the story of his spree. With the publicity about him since March, nearly 5,000 tips have flowed in from fascinated residents...In late November, police issued a profile of BTK, based on his letters and other statements, hoping to trigger even more tips. The details about him ranged widely:..Born in 1939, his father killed in World War II, a Sunday school student as a boy, a lifelong fascination with railroads, discharged from the military in 1966, employed as an electro-mechanic, a photo buff...Some here think BTK is deliberately misleading investigators. Others suggest he is getting old or is ill and wants to go out in a blaze of notoriety..."The man has arrived at a point in his life where he wants his 15 minutes of fame," says Tony Ruark, a psychologist at the Wichita Child Guidance Center who worked for two years on the case..."He loves to play cat-and-mouse with the police. He wants his fame, but he doesn't want to give it to them. He wants them to work for it."..Ruark, 61, who helped craft the first police profile of the suspect in the 1970s, adds: "This man is like no other serial killer that ever existed. He doesn't fit a profile - the tremendous amount of patience for him to wait that many years, both between his crimes and his communications. He's a very sick individual."..As the killings unfolded in the 1970s, investigators kept the serial-murder angle secret at first because they thought the first BTK communiquis might be hoaxes. But BTK's letters to local media, including newspapers and KAKE-TV, soon spread the word - and the fear...At some of the death scenes, telephone wires were cut. So Wichita police advised anyone returning home to check their phone line first. For months, police even offered to check inside the house for women afraid of finding BTK inside. "We made a jillion of those calls," Smith recalls...Beattie says he knows some women who "to this day check their phone line."..Wichita is on alert, if not on edge. This month, a police stakeout of a potential suspect led to a media circus on the sidewalk outside his house. DNA testing quickly eliminated the man as a suspect, but not before his name and home had been flashed on local TV...Screening for suspects..Police won't discuss the case. But they are using genetic testing to screen suspects. Although BTK did not sexually assault his victims, he left semen at several crime scenes...Beattie says police have taken DNA mouth-swab samples from so many men - perhaps 1,000 or more - that it is "a swab-a-thon."..Such testing was first used in the mid-1980s during a renewed investigation of the unsolved slayings...Now, with tests costing as little as $30, police can screen many people without long, laborious interviews or background checks...Another modern touch: A busy Internet trade. Computer bulletin boards and chat rooms feature pictures of BTK victims' houses and graves, neighborhood maps and aerial photos and endless analysis of the killer's writings, case clues and other minutiae...Beattie, the BTK author, says his manuscript was due at the publisher's office before this year's developments. Now, "I've got more to write, maybe two more chapters," he says...But not a satisfactory ending..."The first and last sentences of my book are identical: "He's still out there,' " Beattie says. "I hope I can change that."..Kolb, the Wichita city manager, says that police will find him: "If the information we're getting is correct, I'm hoping we can give the community a Christmas present - BTK."..
 

20041215: Serial Killer Set to Strike Again? KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Wichita, Kan. authorities are awaiting FBI test results on a package that may have been left by the notorious BTK, the self-coined "Blind, Torture, Kill" serial killer who has eluded capture for 30 years. ..Police in Wichita suspect the notoriously elusive BTK serial killer may have communicated with them again, this time by leaving a package of items found by a local resident. According to ABC News affiliate KAKE-TV in Wichita, an unidentified man found a package while walking in a local park overnight on Monday. ..The package was wrapped in plastic and held together by rubber bands. When he saw the contents inside, the man contacted KAKE-TV..."I didn't know what it was, because it was wrapped in rubber bands," the man, whose name has not been released, told KAKE-TV. "So, I just held on to it and I brought it to the house and I sat [it] on the table and I took the scissors and I clipped around the trash bag."..KAKE-TV notified Wichita police, who retrieved the package and then sent it to the FBI for analysis and authentication....Is the Package Linked to a Victim?..Wichita police, KAKE-TV said, asked them not to disclose all the specific items the package contained. However, KAKE-TV has reported the package allegedly contained what appeared to be the driver's license of Nancy Fox, one of BTK's alleged victims who was found in her home tied up and strangled on Dec. 8, 1977...Fox's driver's license was not found at the scene at the time of the investigation, and authorities captured what they believe to be BTK's voice on tape when he called a dispatcher to report her slaying...KAKE-TV also reported that the package contained an alleged chapter list of a book called "The BTK Story." In May, KAKE-TV also received a letter that included a page titled "The BTK Story" that listed what appeared to be chapter titles. The final chapter title, according to KAKE-TV, reads "Will there more?" [sic] ..In the purported list found in the package, three of the chapters are blank, according to KAKE-TV. The final chapter title in the list has a similar title to the one in the letter sent to KAKE-TV in May. The only difference is that this chapter is entitled, "Will there BE more?"..A Recent Police Plea for Help..BTK has been linked to eight unsolved homicides in Wichita between 1974 and 1986. The killer remained silent for 25 years until last March, when authorities believe he sent The Wichita Eagle a letter that detailed an unsolved 1986 slaying and contained the victim's driver's license and photos of her body. ..BTK has stayed in the spotlight since then, sending various letters to police and the media. The letters have been authenticated by the FBI. In the letter to KAKE-TV last spring, BTK sent photocopies of I.D. cards of a former employee of the Wichita public school district and a Southwestern Bell employee who retired 20 years ago and a couple of word puzzles that spell out "wrong address" backward and "ruse."..The latest developments come two weeks after police, in a plea for the public's help in the case, released some detailed information provided in recent letters sent to local media by the person they believe is BTK. ..Police Lt. Ken Landwehr said the BTK killer claimed he was born in 1939, making him either 64 or 65 years old. BTK said he had served in the military in the 1960s and has had a lifelong fascination with trains. Though his family moved frequently when he was a child, BTK said he always lived near railroad tracks. Since that plea for help, police warned the public that the suspected BTK killer may change his routine habits in the wake of the publicity. ..Wichita police have received thousands of tips since BTK's return last spring, but they say they need more help. Authorities have asked people with information to call 1-866-765-8285, send an e-mail to coldcase@wichita.gov, or write to Cold Case, P.O. Box 9202, Wichita, KS 67277-0202. People can also call Crimestoppers at (316) 267-2111. ..
 

20041213: Media, police targeted in hunt for serial killer KS Wichita Serial Killer News
A killer who calls himself BTK -- for ''Bind, Torture, Kill'' -- claims he killed eight people from 1974 to 1986. He resurfaced in March...Hurst Laviana had just finished covering a routine police briefing for The Wichita Eagle when a detective pulled him aside and said five people had fingered him as a suspect in the BTK serial killings...Like some other reporters in the Wichita area, Laviana allowed a DNA swab...''Most of us thought it wasn't a big deal,'' Laviana said. 'You want to get a T-shirt that says, `I'm not BTK.' ''..Since the serial killer resurfaced in March with letters to media and police, investigators have been looking at reporters and within their own ranks for suspects...The Kansas Bureau of Investigation confirmed it has done hundreds of DNA swabs in connection with the BTK investigation...BTK -- a self-coined nickname that stands for ''Bind, Torture, Kill'' -- claimed responsibility for eight unsolved killings from 1974 through 1986 in letters to The Wichita Eagle and local television station KAKE...The missives cast some suspicion on those receiving the letters...''Because BTK has always communicated with the media, it doesn't surprise me we continue to be part of the story -- whether we like it or not,'' said Eagle editor Sherry Chisenhall...Media lawyer Mike Merriam said police could not take DNA from a reporter without a search warrant or the individual's consent, and he doubted police could show enough cause to get a warrant...The reporters say they were told that police were following up on tips made to a hot line, something Merriam said is different from ``if they decided to throw out a big media net and try to catch everyone in it.''..Still, former reporter Randy Brown said the tips don't carry much weight...''We have these hot lines where people come in and fink on a name,'' said Brown, now a senior fellow at Wichita State University's Elliott School of Journalism.. .
 

20041202: Police Seek Clues on BTK Serial Killer KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Some believe Wichita's mysterious "BTK" serial killer has taunted investigators since he resurfaced almost nine months ago after a 25-year absence. But will his taunts lead to his arrest?..In an appeal for help, Wichita, Kan., police on Tuesday released some of the information provided in recent letters sent by the person they believe is the BTK serial killer. ..BTK — the self-coined nickname that stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill" — has been linked to eight unsolved homicides in Wichita between 1974 and 1986. He had remained silent for 25 years until last March, when he sent The Wichita Eagle a letter that detailed an unsolved 1986 slaying and contained the victim's driver's license and photos of her body...BTK has stayed in the spotlight since then, sending various letters to police and the media. The letters have been authenticated by the FBI. ..In a statement read at a news conference, Lt. Ken Landwehr said the BTK killer claimed he was born in 1939, making him either 64 or 65 years old. BTK said he had served in the military in the 1960s and has had a lifelong fascination with trains. Though his family moved frequently when he was a child, BTK said he always lived near railroad tracks...Some experts believe the information BTK provided is a challenge to police to catch him. Investigators believe BTK may still live in Wichita and hope the information he has provided — and his arrogance — will lead to his capture..."One thing about serial killers is that they will always tend to make mistakes," said Tod Burke, professor of criminal justice at Radford University and a former police officer. "Whether it's a situation where they get a parking ticket and the arresting police officer makes the discovery when he apprehends him or whether they run a traffic light, they will make a mistake. The BTK Killer's been taunting police. And with serial killers, greed almost always takes over. They give one too many clues."..Why the Trail of Alleged Clues?..BTK also revealed that his father died in World War II. Police said he wrote about a cousin named Susan who moved to Missouri, and of a female acquaintance named Petra who had a younger sister named Tina. Police said BTK has shown a basic knowledge of photography and that he claimed his first job was as an electro-mechanic. ..Besides communicating with the Eagle, BTK sent a letter last spring to ABC News affiliate KAKE-TV. The letter contained photocopies of I.D. cards of a former employee of the Wichita public school district and a Southwestern Bell employee who retired 20 years ago and a couple of word puzzles that spell out "wrong address" backward and "ruse." ..KAKE-TV also said the letter has a page titled "The BTK Story" that lists what appears to be chapter titles. The final chapter title, according to KAKE-TV, reads "Will there be more?"..Some experts believe BTK's communications may be part of a cat-and-mouse game he has been playing with investigators for 30 years. However, former Wichita police chief Richard Lamunyon, who was involved in the BTK investigation in the 1970s, told KAKE-TV that BTK either wants to set the record straight or be caught. However, they are racing against fears that BTK will claim another victim..."I think he'll kill again if he's not caught first," Steve Egger, professor of criminology at the University of Houston...Still, analysts say, BTK, like other serial killers, is driven in part by power fueled by the fear he inspires in a community and by investigators' inability to capture him. Police may have had two goals in releasing BTK's communications Tuesday: to jar the memory of anyone with information and to draw more correspondence with BTK..."In general, serial killers are very media-conscious and he's [BTK] reading the newspapers and watching the [news] broadcasts," said Burke. "If police give inaccurate information, he may say, 'Hey, that isn't right. You got it wrong' and slip up, give that clue too many."...In the 1970s, he released poems he called "Oh Anna, Why Didn't You Appear" and "Oh! Death to Nancy" in letters to the media. "Oh! Death to Nancy" referred to Nancy Fox, one of BTK's alleged victims, and police believe the poem has similarities to the lyrics of the folk song "Oh Death."..Based on BTK's writings, investigators also suspect he was familiar with P.J. Wyatt, a former Wichita State University professor who died in 1991 and discussed "Oh Death" in her American folklore class in the 1970s...It is unclear why BTK has resurfaced now after so many years of silence. Burke said BTK has likely continued killing and may be linked to other unsolved slayings during the 25-year period they did not hear from him..."Serial killers just don't stop and then start again," Burke said. "Usually if you don't hear from a serial killer, that means he has either died, or he has moved or something has happened to him — like imprisonment for another crime — that would prevent him from killing. It would be interesting if police find other unsolved similar killings in other regions."..Since BTK's return, Wichita police have received thousands of tips but they say they need more help. Authorities have asked people with information or those who know anyone with a background similar to that of the man described at Tuesday's news conference to call 1-866-765-8285, send an e-mail to coldcase@wichita.gov, or write to Cold Case, P.O. Box 9202, Wichita, KS 67277-0202. People can also call Crimestoppers at (316) 267-2111. ...
 

20041201: Details of serial killer's life emerge KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Police release ‘BTK' information..The killer known as “BTK” suggests in letters that he was born in 1939, lost his father in World War II and is a railroad buff, authorities said Tuesday...Appealing to the public for clues to the serial killer's identity, police released a summary of personal details provided in recent letters they think were sent by the killer...The killer — known by the self-coined nickname BTK, which stands for “Bind, Torture, Kill” — is linked to eight unsolved homicides that terrorized Wichita between 1974 and 1986. After years of silence, the killer surfaced again by sending messages earlier this year...According to police, BTK claims to have been born in 1939, making the killer 64 or 65 years old. The police statement said his family moved frequently and always lived near railroad tracks...BTK's communications indicate a lifelong fascination with trains, police said...Attention has refocused on BTK since March, when The Wichita Eagle received a letter with information on an unsolved 1986 killing. The letter contained a copy of the victim's driver's license and photos of her body...It was the first communication from the killer since the late 1970s. The seven other slayings were in the 1970s, with BTK claiming responsibility for those deaths in letters to The Eagle and a television station...Among other details provided by police on Tuesday:..• BTK's father was killed in World War II, and he was raised by his mother, with his grandparents caring for him while she was at work...• His grandfather played the fiddle and died of lung disease...• BTK's communications include accounts of a cousin named Susan who moved to Missouri, and of a woman he knew named Petra who had a younger sister named Tina...• In the early 1950s, BTK built and operated a ham radio. He went to a military school. He served in the military and was discharged in 1966...• BTK has shown a basic knowledge of photography, including the ability to develop and print pictures. According to his messages, his first job was as an electro-mechanic, and he later repaired business equipment...
 

20041027: Serial killer toys with Kansas authorities KS Wichita Serial Killer News
A notorious serial killer, known as BTK for "bind, torture and kill," has resumed a cat-and-mouse game with Kansas authorities. .. .Police in Wichita, Kan., say a letter received this month might be from BTK, who has taken credit for eight unsolved murders in the city from 1974 to 1986, the Wichita Eagle reported Wednesday...This past March BTK broke years of silence by sending to the newspaper a letter in which the unknown suspect took credit for a 1986 killing that had never publicly been linked to him or her...Since then, detectives have investigated as possible BTK letters ones sent to a TV station, the police headquarters and a public library...Officials think BTK is between 50 and 70 years of age..
 

20040926: Serial killer returns to taunt police pursuers KS Wichita Serial Killer News
He confessed to killing multiple victims, apologised for the bother he had caused and then invited police to come after him, signing off his letter with the words: "Good luck hunting." The Kansas serial killer, however, was never found...Almost 30 years later, apparently disappointed by detectives' lack of success, the so-called BTK Strangler is taunting Wichita police afresh in what could become the final chapter in one of America's most notorious murder stories...In March he sent a letter to the local newspaper, with photographs of the corpse of a young mother whose murder in 1986 had never been solved. Police announced that she was now considered his eighth victim, a revelation which terrified the entire community in the usually quiet Kansas town...Now the FBI has confirmed that a note left at the city's public library just weeks ago was also the work of BTK. The murderer, who likens himself to Jack the Ripper, suggested his own nickname from his modus operandi: Bind, Torture, Kill..."We're terrified that there's going to be another killing," said Howard Brodsky, a psychologist who worked on the case in the 1970s and helped to build a profile of the offender. "It's a very scary prospect."..Police have warned residents not to open their doors to strangers and given advice about self-defence and home protection, leading to a surge in sales of security systems. The publicity has generated more than 4,000 fresh tips, and police have also redoubled their efforts to find fresh clues to the BTK Strangler in files that date back to the 1970s...From 1974 to 1977 he claimed seven victims in Wichita, starting with four members of the Otero family, whose house he somehow entered on a winter morning. ..While the three older children were being driven to school by their father, Joseph, the killer fought with, and bound the feet of, their mother, Julie, and the two younger children, before killing them. He left the body of Joseph Jnr, nine, in the bathroom with a hood over his head, and hung Josephine, 11, from a pipe in the cellar. When Mr Otero returned home, he was killed in the same brutal fashion...Although none of the murderer's victims were sexually assaulted, police found traces of semen in the basement - and later at the sites of his other killings...He killed his next victim, 21-year-old Kathryn Bright, later that year after lying wait at her flat - and left her brother, Kevin, for dead...His later victims were a 26-year-old mother, Shirley Vian, killed as her three young children escaped through a bathroom window, and Nancy Fox, 25, at her home...Neither Mr Bright, who was badly wounded but survived, nor the Vian children, could give police more than the haziest description of the attacker: a white man, in his twenties, carrying a black bag...It was nine months after the Otero family was killed that BTK began to taunt the police. A man contacted the Wichita Eagle newspaper, alerting them to a letter he had tucked inside a textbook on mechanical engineering at the local library...Poorly typed and misspelt, it described with chilling accuracy the position of each of the bodies at the murder scene, information detectives said only the killer could know..."I'm sorry this happen to society," it read. "When this monster enter my brain I will never know. But, it here to stay . . . I can't stop it, so the monster goes on. Maybe you can stop him. I can't. He has aready chosen his next victim or victims."..From 1977, BTK fell silent until this year. When he resurfaced, it was to stake a retrospective claim to the murder of Vicki Wegerle in 1986...The envelope he sent to the Wichita Eagle contained a copy of the victim's driving licence and photographs taken of her body before police or paramedics had arrived at the scene. Other notes have followed...The police have refused to release full details of their contents, but revealed that the latest letter contained a threat. Mr Brodsky said: .."This is more than just a typical murder story because it's unravelled over such a long period of time. Everybody has checked every suspicious-looking fellow in town by now, so we have to look at it being somebody who's perhaps not part of our city."..In correspondence over the years, BTK has blamed his terminator instinct on a mysterious "Factor X" which he says also drove fellow serial killers such as David Berkowitz, the notorious Son of Sam. "There is no help, no cure, except death or being caught and put away," he states...Charlie Otero, who was 15 when he found the bodies of his parents, brother and sister, has challenged BTK to a face-to-face meeting..."I am more than willing to meet you, any time, any place, all alone me and you," said Mr Otero, now 46, in a message printed in the Wichita Eagle..."There's nothing this man can do to hurt me more than he has," Mr Otero said. "He could tear my heart out, he could dissect me."..Ken Landwehr, a police officer who has worked on the case since the outset, said he and his colleagues "truly feel he is trying to communicate with us". The city's mayor, Carlos Mayans, said he believed that BTK wanted to lead investigators into an end-game..."He continues to send messages to us saying, 'Why are you so stupid? Can't you catch me?' He will send a word puzzle, a matrix, and say, 'Solve this.' It's a game to him and after all this time he wants that game to be up. I think he wants to be identified and caught."..Among his new clues, the killer, who may by now be in his sixties, has sent what appears to be a list of chapters. .."He seems to be writing a book of his life and the last chapter is where he gets caught," said Mr Mayans. "He wants to get the story out. He wants to do it before he dies.".
 

20040912: After 25 years, serial killer resurfaces with claim of victim #8 KS Wichita Serial Killer News
The killer came back. Or maybe he was here all along...A serial strangler who tormented his victims and taunted an entire town with his murderous boasts before disappearing for 25 years has resurfaced in recent months with proof that he had killed again -- in 1986. The self-named ''B.T.K. Strangler" -- for bind, torture, kill -- is playing his cat-and-mouse game anew, all but daring someone to find him...First came a letter in March to the Wichita Eagle newspaper with photocopied Polaroids of the corpse of Vicki Wegerle, a young mother killed in 1986 in a case that had gone unsolved. She is now considered his eighth murder victim. Then came a letter to a television station, one to the police and one discovered in July at the Wichita Public Library...Police raced to restart their investigation. They dusted off file boxes, studied cryptic new clues, and requested DNA samples from hundreds of Wichita residents. They have circulated the killer's poems -- ''Drop of fear fresh Spring rain would roll down from your nakedness" -- in the hope that someone will recognize the demented author...The latest phase has generated more than 4,000 tips. Police, inundated with requests for safety advice, are conducting public training sessions while warning residents to use deadbolt locks and never open doors to uninvited strangers...B.T.K. had been silent for so long, in fact, that most everyone figured him for dead...Not anymore...''There's going to be more. B.T.K.'s not going to let it drop," Wichita psychologist Howard Brodsky said. ''He loves the attention. He definitely likes to taunt."..There has never been a credible description, although traumatized survivors in the 1970s estimated his age from the mid-twenties to perhaps 30. He is best known for his gruesome crimes and his notes. His inner demons figure prominently...''I can't stop it so the monster goes on and hurts me as well as society," he wrote after the killings began. ''It's a big complicated game my friend the monster play, putting victims number down, follow them, checking up on them, waiting in the dark, waiting, waiting."..It was a wintry morning, Jan. 15, 1974, when B.T.K. first attacked. In a working-class neighborhood in east Wichita, he cut the telephone line after Joseph Otero, 38, drove off to school with his three oldest children. Julie Otero and the couple's two youngest, Josephine, 11, and Joseph II, 9, were in the house...The killer appears to have fought with Julie Otero, who had some training in martial arts. He bound her feet and strangled her and did the same to Joseph II. When the elder Joseph arrived home unexpectedly, B.T.K. tied him and choked him to death. Continued....The killer spent the longest time in the basement, police believe, hanging Josephine from a pipe and masturbating. B.T.K. did not sexually assault his victims, but in the Otero house and others, police discovered semen, the source of DNA detectives are trying to match.. .It was not long before police had what they called a confession from a young Wichita man, who named two friends as accomplices. That inspired the true killer to indignation. He placed a letter in an engineering book at the library and called the Wichita Eagle with instructions where to find it...''I did it by myself and no ones help," he said in the October 1974 letter. He reported details that only the killer could know. For good measure, he included a symbol of authenticity that would mark later missives, including the one mailed to the Eagle this year...The hunt was back on...By then, B.T.K. had killed his next victim, Kathryn Bright, 21. He was waiting for her when she arrived home. Either then or later, her brother also entered the apartment. The attacker tied up Kevin Bright in a separate room, tried to strangle him, shot him in the head and left him for dead. After B.T.K. left the room, Bright staggered from the apartment, badly wounded and foggy about the details. In a panic, retired police chief Richard LaMunyon said, B.T.K. stabbed Kathryn Bright to death...For three years, he was not heard from...On March 17, 1977, B.T.K. herded Shirley Vian's three young children into a bathroom of their house. As he killed her, the children escaped through a window. They described a white man about the age of their 26-year-old mother...The same year, the killer struck again, strangling Nancy Fox, 25, and calling 911 from a pay phone...Four attacks, seven bodies, but no good leads...On Jan. 31, 1978, B.T.K. sent a short poem to the Eagle. It began, ''Shirleylocks, shirleylocks." It was the killer, referring to Shirley Vian...The police didn't broadcast the note, and the killer became frustrated. He contacted KAKE television...''How many people do I have to kill before I get my name in the paper or some national attention? How about some name for me, its time: 7 down and many more to go," he wrote...Number eight got away. On April 28, 1979, the killer waited for Anna Williams, 63, but she was at a square dance and stopped to visit her daughter, not returning home at her usual time. B.T.K. left in a huff. He sent a 19-line poem to Williams and KAKE, along with proof that he had been inside her home. He titled his ode, ''Oh, Anna, Why Didn't You Appear."..When B.T.K. was in his prime, Wichita had only six homicide detectives. Retired detective Arlyn Smith recalled feeling daunted. He and his partner confirmed he used a public photocopier at Wichita State University and at the library. They researched the serial killers B.T.K. had named in homage and gathered lists of WSU students...''Why does he want all this attention now? It's like he's saying, 'Look at me, I'm still here,' " said Marilyn Wardlow, who lives a few miles outside Wichita and well remembers the 1970s, when women reflexively checked their phones to see if the wires had been snipped...One theory is B.T.K. was reacting to retrospectives of the Otero killing that appeared this year...''This guy liked -- and likes -- publicity," former chief LaMunyon said. ''I don't think he wants to die without people knowing who he is." ..
 

20040906: Wichita's Serial Killer Reemerges, and So Does the Fear KS Wichita Serial Killer News
The 'B.T.K. Strangler' Vanished for 25 Years After Seven Slayings..The killer came back. Or maybe he was here all along. ..A serial strangler who tormented his victims and taunted an entire town with his murderous boasts before disappearing for 25 years has resurfaced in recent months with proof that he had killed again -- in 1986. The self-named "B.T.K. Strangler" -- for bind, torture, kill -- is playing his cat-and-mouse game anew, all but daring someone to find him. ..First came the letter in March to the Wichita Eagle newspaper with photocopied Polaroids of the corpse of Vicki Wegerle, a young mother killed in 1986 in a case that had gone unsolved. She is now considered his eighth murder victim. Then came a letter to a television station, one to the police and one discovered on a July morning at the Wichita Public Library. ..Police raced to restart their investigation. They dusted off old file boxes, studied cryptic new clues and dispatched officers to request DNA samples from hundreds of Wichita residents. They have circulated the killer's poems -- "Drop of fear fresh Spring rain would roll down from your nakedness" -- in the hope that someone will recognize the demented author. ..The latest phase has generated more than 4,000 tips. Police, who report being "inundated" with requests for safety advice, are conducting public training sessions while warning residents to use deadbolt locks and never open doors to uninvited strangers. .."It's kind of freaky," said high school student Caitlin Thompson, 17, who was born 13 years after B.T.K. first struck in 1974, "because you don't know whether he's going to do it again." ..One of the case's most intriguing traits is that a cold trail grew warm because the murderer wanted it that way. To the detectives and amateur sleuths who had once cared, the pursuit of B.T.K. had become a distant puzzle, something they found themselves pondering when they were out fishing or mowing the lawn. Thirty years after the first slaying, it looked as though B.T.K. had gotten away with murder. Seven of them. ..B.T.K. had been silent for so long, in fact, that most everyone figured him for dead. ..Not anymore. .."There's going to be more. B.T.K.'s not going to let it drop," Wichita psychologist Howard Brodsky said. "He loves the attention. He definitely likes to taunt." ..To investigators, the killer remains faceless. There has never been a credible description, although traumatized survivors in the 1970s estimated his age from the mid-twenties to perhaps 30. He is best known for his gruesome crimes and his notes, which tend toward the melodramatic. His inner demons figure prominently. .."I can't stop it so the monster goes on and hurts me as well as society," he wrote after the killings began. "It's a big complicated game my friend the monster play, putting victims number down, follow them, checking up on them, waiting in the dark, waiting, waiting." ..It was a wintry morning, Jan. 15, 1974, when B.T.K. first attacked. In a working-class neighborhood in east Wichita, he cut the telephone line after Joseph Otero, 38, drove off to school with his three oldest children. Inside the house were Julie Otero and the couple's two youngest, 11-year-old Josephine and 9-year-old Joseph II. ..Investigators remain unsure how B.T.K. got inside. He may have rung the bell, or he may have simply pushed open an unlocked door. He appears to have fought with Julie Otero, who had some training in martial arts. He bound her feet and strangled her and did the same to Joseph II. When the elder Joseph Otero arrived home unexpectedly, B.T.K. tied him and choked him to death. ..The killer spent the longest time in the basement, police believe, hanging Josephine from a pipe and masturbating. B.T.K. did not sexually assault his victims, but in the Otero house and others, police discovered semen, the source of the DNA detectives are trying to match. ..It was not long before police had what they called a confession from a young Wichita man, who named two friends as accomplices. Word spread fast, inspiring the true killer to indignation. He placed a letter in an engineering book at the library and called the Wichita Eagle with instructions about where to find it. .."I did it by myself and no ones help," he said in the October 1974 letter, dismissing the suspects as mere attention seekers. He reported details that only the killer could know. For good measure, he included a symbol of authenticity that would mark later missives, including the one mailed to the Eagle this year. ..The police were persuaded. The hunt was back on. ..By then, B.T.K. had killed his next victim, Kathryn Bright, 21. He was waiting for her when she arrived home. Either then or later, her brother also entered the apartment. The attacker tied up Kevin Bright in a separate room, tried to strangle him, shot him in the head and left him for dead. After B.T.K. left the room, Bright staggered from the apartment and survived, badly wounded and foggy about the details. In a panic, retired police chief Richard LaMunyon said, B.T.K. stabbed Kathryn Bright to death. ..For three years, he was not heard from. ..On March 17, 1977, B.T.K. herded Shirley Vian's three young children into a bathroom of their house at 1311 S. Hydraulic. As he killed her, the children escaped through a bathroom window. They described a white man about the age of their 26-year-old mother. They said he carried a black bag, but other details remained fuzzy. ..The same year, the killer struck again, strangling Nancy Fox, 25, and calling 911 from a pay phone. "You will find a homicide at 843 South Pershing," he said in a tape replayed endlessly on Wichita radio and television stations. Detectives hoped, in vain, that someone would recognize the voice. ..Four attacks, seven dead bodies, but no good leads. Police found little that united the cases. ..On Jan. 31, 1978, B.T.K. got in touch again. He sent a short poem to the Eagle, where a clerk first assumed it was a Valentine's Day paean. It began, "Shirleylocks, shirleylocks." It was the killer, referring to Shirley Vian. ..The police didn't broadcast the note, and the killer became frustrated. He contacted KAKE television. .."How many people do I have to kill before I get my name in the paper or some national attention? How about some name for me, its time: 7 down and many more to go," he wrote. "I like the following. How about you? The B.T.K. STRANGLER, THE WICHITA HANGMAN, THE WICHITA EXECUTIONER, THE GAROTE PHANTOM, THE ASPHYXIATOR." ..Number eight got away. On April 28, 1979, the killer waited for Anna Williams, 63, but she was at a square dance and stopped to visit her daughter, not returning home at her usual time. B.T.K. left in a huff. He soon sent a 19-line poem to Williams and KAKE, along with proof that he had been inside her home. He titled his ode, "Oh, Anna, Why Didn't You Appear." .."T'was a perfect plan of deviant pleasure so bold on that Spring nite," it read. .."Alone, now in another time span, I lay with sweet enrapture garments across most private thought. . . . Alone again I trod in pass memory of mirrors, and wonder why for number eight was not. Oh, Anna, Why Didn't You Appear." ..When B.T.K. was in his prime, Wichita had only six homicide detectives. Retired detective Arlyn Smith recalled feeling daunted. "We looked at the boxes and boxes of evidence and thought, 'We're never going to be able to get through all of it,' " he said. He and his partner focused on finding the machines B.T.K. used to photocopy letters. ..They succeeded, confirming that he used a public photocopier at Wichita State University and at the library, near where he left his first letter. They also researched the serial killers B.T.K. had named in homage and gathered lists of WSU students, including those who attended a course in which professor P.J. Wyatt used the folklore poem "Oh! Death." It seemed to be the model for another B.T.K. poem, " Oh! Death To Nancy." ..One day in the winter of 1979, Smith and his partner were promoted to lieutenant, and their sleuthing ended. A squad of detectives calling themselves "Ghostbusters" tried again in the 1980s, gathering scores of DNA samples, but got nowhere. And that's where the case stayed until March. .."Why does he want all this attention now? It's like he's saying, 'Look at me, I'm still here,' " said Marilyn Wardlow, who lives a few miles outside Wichita and well remembers the fright of the 1970s, when women reflexively checked their phones to see if the wires had been snipped. ..One theory is that B.T.K. was reacting to 30-year retrospectives of the Otero killing that appeared this year. In January, the Eagle revisited the case, quoting lawyer Robert Beattie, 48, who is writing a book about the case. In the piece, Beattie said he doubted B.T.K. would surface. Others suggested he must be dead, behind bars or far away. ..It turns out he was none of the above. And surface he did. Soon. .."This guy liked -- and likes -- publicity," ex-chief LaMunyon said. "I don't think he wants to die without people knowing who he is. In fact, I'll be disappointed if he does." ..Solving the mystery has become a parlor game in Wichita, pop. 350,000, where fear blends with fascination. There are B.T.K. bulletin boards on the Internet and a steady stream of news accounts and hypotheses. Psychologist Brodsky, for example, believes B.T.K. might be a truck driver or a regular visitor, but not a resident. .."It kind of freaks me out, but it's kind of interesting, knowing there's a killer out there," said Carly Moore, 20, a WSU student. "Obviously, he's very smart if he's gotten away with it." ..WSU offers a course on serial killers, taught by Lt. Ken Landwehr, who happens to be the chief of Wichita's homicide squad and the lead spokesman on the recent B.T.K. activity. He rarely grants interviews -- police are holding details very tightly -- but he told the class, according to Moore, "I'm going to catch this guy, don't worry." ..
 

20040827: New Poem by BTK Strangler KS Wichita Serial Killer News
"T' was perfect plan of deviant pleasure so bold on that Spring nite...."..So opens a poem the serial killer BTK penned to a woman he meant to kill 25 years ago. But it wasn't a perfect plan, because she didn't come home when he thought she would...Frustrated and impatient, BTK left her home at 615 S. Pinecrest that April night. Six weeks later, he sent her the poem and items from her home to let her know he had been there...Wichita police on Thursday released the poem, titled "Oh, Anna Why Didn't You Appear," in the hope that someone recognizes the poem -- and its author -- and calls the police..."This poem appears to be an original writing, as an extensive search has not found this to be a known, published work," Lt. Ken Landwehr, head of the homicide division, said Thursday in a prepared statement...Because the poem was photocopied, police want to talk to anyone who might have seen the original poem or has any knowledge of it...Anna Williams, a 63-year-old widow at the time, received the 19-line, typewritten poem in an 8 1/2-by 11-inch envelope on June 14, 1979...The envelope was addressed in neatly printed block letters and also contained a sketch, an article of the woman's clothing and a piece of jewelry. The next day, KAKE-TV received a matching envelope with similar contents...Police said late Thursday that they had talked to Williams as recently as 1984, but that she has since died of natural causes...Laden with sexual overtones, the poem indicates that Williams was meant to be BTK's eighth victim. He had already killed seven people between 1974 and 1979 and would eventually claim an eighth: Vicki Wegerle, who was found dead in her home at 2404 W. 13th St. on Sept. 16, 1986...His way of taking credit for that murder -- in a letter containing photos of Wegerle and her driver's license sent to The Eagle in March -- was the first time BTK had been heard from since sending the letters to Williams and KAKE 25 years earlier...Thursday's announcement was the second time in less than a week that Wichita police have appealed to the public for more information about a poem written by BTK. Last Friday, police released "Oh! Death to Nancy," which adapted lines from the folk song "Oh, Death."..That poem, signed by BTK, had been included in a letter sent to KAKE on Feb. 10, 1978, claiming responsibility for the murders of Shirley Vian, Nancy Fox and another victim, later determined to be Kathryn Bright...After BTK resurfaced this year, the killer sent a letter to KAKE with the heading "The BTK Story" and a chapter titled "P J's." Investigators found that the song "Oh, Death" had been used in an American folklore class at WSU in the 1970s, taught by Phyllis Wyatt -- better known by the nickname P.J. She died in 1991...Police have collected hundreds of DNA swabs since BTK resurfaced in March. People familiar with the case say the release of the poems could signal a shift in the investigation's focus..."I'm glad to see they are asking the public for help," said Bernie Drowatzky, former lieutenant in charge of the homicide division for the Wichita Police Department during the BTK investigation and now an investigator with the Kay County Sheriff's Department in Oklahoma. "I think they've been too tight-lipped about this..."There are some things in investigating you don't release, but there may be some things Joe Citizen might pick up on."..He added that news conferences should be open to media questions and not just center on reading a prepared statement, as BTK updates have been delivered this year by Landwehr..."They ought to accept questions, and if they can't answer them, then say you can't answer them," Drowatzky said. "But there might be a question that they can answer."..Wichita psychologist Howard Brodsky called releasing information about BTK "very risky business," but likely vital if police are to nab him...Police have received more than 4,000 tips since March, including more than 100 tips related to the "Oh! Death to Nancy" poem...Profilers contacted by The Eagle on Thursday declined to analyze the "Anna" poem, saying they did not want to offer analysis that would let BTK know his identity was about to become clear -- and thus go deeper into hiding...Brodsky, a forensic psychologist who has counseled sex offenders for 25 years, said "Oh, Anna Why Didn't You Appear" says a lot about the man who wrote it..."It's boldly sexual," Brodsky said. "It's definitely creepy."..The poem's lines blaming the intended victim for screwing up his "perfect" plan are fitting for something written by BTK, he said: "Sex offenders have this issue about blaming others, and it runs through here."..BTK is "quite a wordy fellow," Brodsky said. "He uses more words than are probably necessary to express things. This has got to be something people would notice about him."..A grandiose theme runs throughout the poem, Brodsky said, but the poor writing skills reflected in the poem suggest he is not well-educated...It's quite possible BTK took some college-level courses -- including Wyatt's folklore class -- but never earned a degree, Brodsky said...The framing of the poem, as if it's written to a lover who has rejected him, leaves Brodsky wondering if BTK's killing spree was ignited by a love which wasn't returned...Returning to poems a quarter-century old after spending months collecting DNA samples leaves people familiar with the case suspecting authorities are at a dead end..."It's extremely frustrating," Drowatzky said. "We put so many hours and so much time, and here it is again, and we're right back to square one basically.".
 

20040827: 2nd BTK serial-killer poem released KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Police in Wichita, Kan., have released a 25-year-old poem in the hopes it will lead to the identification of the notorious BTK serial killer. . .."Oh, Anna Why Didn't You Appear" is the title of a poem Anna Williams received in the mail on June 14, 1979, along with several personal items the killer had taken from her home...Williams, 63 years old at the time, apparently did not arrive at the time BTK intended to kill her. The last time police interviewed Williams was in 1984, and she has since died of natural causes...The newly released poem indicates Williams was meant to be BTK's eighth victim after seven other killings between 1974 and 1979...BTK's eventual eighth victim was Vicki Wegerle, who was found dead in her home on Sept. 16, 1986...BTK resurfaced in the news in March when the Wichita Eagle received a package containing Wegerle's driver's license and other photos of her..
 

20040820: Serial killer linked to 'Oh Death' folk song KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Investigators in the BTK serial killings disclosed Friday that they have evidence from his writings that the killer was familiar with a professor at Wichita State University who died in 1991 and a folk song she had discussed in class..Police Lt. Ken Landwehr asked the public for help in identifying anyone who had contact with the late professor P.J. Wyatt or knew someone familiar with a folk song titled "Oh Death.".In a series of letters, the BTK killer claimed responsibility for eight deaths in Wichita between 1974 and 1986. The letters "BTK" stand for "bind, torture, kill." The communications had stopped for more than two decades before resuming this year..Police said Friday that a letter sent in May to KAKE-TV that included a table of contents titled the "BTK Story" that had a chapter titled "PJs.".Landwehr also disclosed that in a 1978 letter, the killer included a poem titled "Oh! Death to Nancy" that had striking similarities with the lyrics of the old folk song "Oh Death." One of the BTK victims was Nancy Fox.."The FBI profilers have confirmed our belief that there is a definite connection in the reference to PJ in the letter we received last May and the folklore song 'Oh Death,' " Landwehr said..Wyatt taught the song "Oh Death" in an English literature class at Wichita State University during the 1970s. It was a relatively unknown song at the time, though more recently it has become known from a version in the 2001 movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and its hit soundtrack..While a professor at Wichita State, Wyatt was interviewed by police investigating the BTK killings, said Amy Geiszler-Jones, spokeswoman for Wichita State..Wyatt worked with investigators to analyze the folk song and also reviewed her student class lists with police, Geiszler-Jones said. The spokeswoman said she had learned this information Friday from colleagues of Wyatt's..Wyatt, who specialized in American folklore, taught in the English department at Wichita State from 1964 until she retired in 1986..Attention has refocused on BTK since March, when The Wichita Eagle received a letter with information on an unsolved 1986 killing. The letter contained a copy of the victim's driver's license and photos of her taken after she was slain..It was the first communication from the killer known as the BTK Strangler since the late 1970s, and police said it linked the serial killer to the eighth slaying. The other seven people were slain in the 1970s, with BTK claiming responsibility for those deaths in letters to the newspaper and a television station..Police have received more than 4,000 tips from the public since BTK resurfaced last March..
 

20040722: Letter at Wichita library may be from serial killer BTK KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Wichita police said Thursday that a letter left at the Wichita public library on Saturday may be from serial killer BTK, and they urged area residents to be vigilant in personal and home crime prevention techniques...During a news conference at City Hall, Lt. Ken Landwehr talked with a sense of urgency that wasn't present in earlier news conferences about the case...Landwehr noted that a letter sent to KAKE, Channel 10, in May suggested that the serial killer has used false identification to get into the homes of his victims. The May letter included photocopies of a school identification card and a telephone company identification badge..."Based on the information provided to us by the FBI, and the fake IDs and fake badge that were sent to KAKE by BTK, we think it is important for citizens to continue to practice personal and home crime prevention techniques," he said...Landwehr specifically said anyone living alone should make a habit of using deadbolt locks, keeping the outside of their homes well lighted and not opening their doors to strangers...In a March news conference - the first about the case _Landwehr was far more subdued in his comments about public safety. He said during that session that police were "encouraging citizens to practice normal safety steps."..Landwehr did not reveal the contents of the library letter, but many interpreted his words to mean that the letter included some type of threat. Landwehr said the letter was being sent to an FBI crime lab for analysis...It was nearly two months after the KAKE letter arrived before police announced that the FBI had confirmed that it was from BTK...During a series of communications in the 1970s, BTK claimed to have committed seven murders, but he dropped out of sight after that. Then, after 25 years of silence, he resurfaced in March in a letter sent to Knight Ridder Newspapers in which he indicated he had killed an eighth victim in 1986...In addition to the March letter to The Eagle and the May letter to KAKE, Wichita police said they received a third letter from BTK in June that dealt with BTK's first known crime - the Jan. 15, 1974, murders of four members of the Joseph Otero family...The library letter was deposited in a drop-box outside the building sometime before 8:30 a.m. Saturday...Wichita psychologist Howard Brodsky, who was consulted about the case during the 1970s, said he interpreted Landwehr's comments to mean that police were concerned that Wichitans were feeling too secure in a city that may be the home of a serial killer..."From a citizen's point of view, it's very scary,'' Brodsky said. "When my secretary says she can't go to the library any more, that's not good."..Brodsky said patients and others he has talked to have felt two emotions about the case: fear and frustration. Much of the frustration, he said, comes from the fact that police have been so tight-lipped about the investigation...On the Internet, BTK message boards are filled with posts critical of the Wichita Police Department's secrecy in the case...As was the case in previous news conferences, Landwehr did not take questions from reporters on Thursday..."I think that's kind of frustrating," Brodsky said. "Their first instinct is to withhold information. I think people want to feel like they're being treated as adults.''..Police spokeswoman Janet Johnson said the department did not want to respond to the criticism...Former Police Chief Richard LaMunyon, however, defended the department's handling of the case..."I don't know that they're keeping secrets," he said. "I think they're releasing information they think is relevant and pertinent to the investigation..."I don't know that it's a matter of being secretive. I think it's a matter of being prudent."..In general, LaMunyon said, "there's a fine line between what should be released and what should be withheld to maintain integrity of an investigation."..LaMunyon said the decision to release very little about the BTK case may be the result of recommendations from serial killer profilers who are working with Wichita police on the case..."I think that they're getting advice from other sources about how much should be released and when it should be released," he said...LaMunyon said he has not heard what was in the library letter, but he said Landwehr's comments about personal and home safety were probably a reaction to that letter. He said any BTK communication containing threats should be taken very seriously by everyone..."This guy is notorious for playing games with us - he's been playing games for 30 years," LaMunyon said. "I think he's less of a threat than he used to be, but to say that he can't kill again I think would be remiss.".
 

20040624: Two more letters from serial killer KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Wichita police say two more letters from the BTK killer are authentic. The FBI examined a letter sent last month to KAKE-TV, and another sent to police earlier this month. The police letter describes the killings of a Wichita family in 1974. The case is BTK's earliest known murder. ..BTK was silent for years before surfacing in March, with a letter to the Wichita Eagle. The letter claims responsibility for a 1986 murder, and authorities say it also is authentic. ..Police ask for help from current or former Wichita residents, anyone who remembers someone trying to gain entry using a school or utility ID, between 1974 and 1986. .BTK stands for bind, torture, kill. The killer claims responsibility for eight murders.
 

20040515: A serial killer, a mysterious envelope, and a search for clues KS Wichita Serial Killer News
A serial strangler who taunted police in Wichita, Kan., three decades ago, then resurfaced this spring to claim credit for an unsolved slaying, may be reaching out again - this time with a word puzzle that specialists said might hold clues about his methods...A plain white envelope containing the puzzle, a fake ID, and an outline for the killer's autobiography arrived last week at KAKE-TV in Wichita. Employees turned it over to police...B.T.K. stalked working-class neighborhoods in east Wichita from 1974 to 1979. In his first known attack, he killed two children and their parents. He later killed three women in separate attacks...He wrote long letters to the media about the pleasure he felt carrying out his sadistic fantasies. His last letter came in 1979. Then he fell silent for 25 years...In March, he sent the local newspaper a copy of the driver's license of a young mother who had been killed in 1986. He also sent three photos of her body that only the killer could have taken. Police declared the letter genuine and warned that B.T.K. was back...The source of the latest communication is not so easily verified. Missing from the mailing was a special mark that B.T.K. made on almost all of his letters to prove their authenticity. It includes only information that the general public would be able to get with some research; there's nothing that only the killer would know...Police will not discuss their investigation in detail...A typed label taped to the envelope indicates it's from a Thomas B. King. The return address given does not exist...Inside the envelope were three sheets of paper. One lists titles for 13 chapters of "The B.T.K. Story." Another is a grid of letters, apparently a find-the-hidden-words puzzle. The third page contains a photocopy of an open billfold....Those who pored over the word puzzle have concluded that it refers to ploys B.T.K. may have used to gain access to his victims' homes.
 

20040510: Taunting police again with new puzzle KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Police said Monday they are treating a recent letter sent to a Wichita television station as "possibly" coming from the BTK serial killer...The department is turning the letter over to the FBI, where analysis will work to determine the letter's authenticity...The letter was received by KAKE-TV last Wednesday. The station reported the letter contained a puzzle and photocopies of employee identification cards for two men: a former Southwestern Bell worker and a former employee of the Wichita public school district...Police are again asking for help from the public based on information contained in the latest letter. They want to talk to residents who recall a man seeking access to their home by presenting identification as an employee of a school or utility company between 1974 and 1986.
 

20040413: Reviewing unsolved slayings KS Wichita Serial Killer News
Police are reviewing unsolved slayings of women killed since 1974 following the reemergence of a serial killer who terrorized the city in the 1970s and recently claimed responsibility for a 1986 killing.
Police won't identify specific cases or talk in detail about their investigation of the killer known as the BTK Strangler. But a letter received last month, which police believe was sent by the serial killer, has fanned fears that BTK may be responsible for more than the eight deaths the killer has claimed responsibility for.
"I wouldn't say for certain that there aren't any more bodies out there," said retired Wichita police Lt. Mike McKenna, who oversaw the department's homicide investigations during the mid-1980s.
McKenna said he does not recall any specific cases that had the earmarks of a BTK killing.
Between 1974 and 1978, the killer known as BTK -- the initials stand for "Bind, Torture, Kill" -- killed at least seven people. Last month, BTK sent a letter to The Wichita Eagle claiming responsibility for a 1986 killing.
It was the first communication from the killer in more than two decades. Police have said the recent letter, which contained a photocopy of photos of the victim and her driver's license, is authentic.
Bernita Autry is certain the death of her best friend in 1974 is related to the BTK killings. Sherry BAKER was 23 when she was gagged with a pair of underwear, tied up with a telephone cord and stabbed more than 70 times. No charges were filed, and police have said the case is not tied to other slayings.
 

20040326: 1970s serial killer 'resurfaces claiming 8th victim KS Wichita Serial Killer News

Police have received at least 32 tips since The Wichita Eagle received a new letter apparently sent by the BTK strangler, an unidentified serial killer who terrorized the city in the 1970s and claimed responsibility in the latest communication for a 1986 killing.

The deaths of seven people killed in the 1970s were attributed to the BTK strangler -- a name that refers to "bind, torture and kill." Letters claiming responsibility for the slayings, which remain unsolved, were sent to The Wichita Eagle and television station KAKE, the last in 1979.
A week ago, The Eagle received a new letter, mailed on March 17. It contained information linked to the Sept. 16, 1986, strangulation of Vicki WEGERLE, 28, in her Wichita home.
The letter contained a single sheet of paper with a photocopy of Wegerle's driver's license and three pictures, apparently of her body. Each picture shows the victim in a slightly different pose and with her clothing arranged in a slightly different manner.
Wegerle's relatives said Wednesday the driver's license was the only item they knew of that was missing from the home.
Police said there were no crime scene photographs of Wegerle's body because it was removed by emergency medical workers before police arrived. At that time, police said, the policy was to quickly transport injured people to the hospital even if they lacked a pulse.
The latest letter's return address said it was from Bill Thomas KILLMAN -- the initials BTK. The street listed on the address -- Oldmanor -- does not exist; there is an Old Manor, and an apartment at that address is vacant, Landwehr said. Detectives also are looking through lists of recently released prison inmates to make sure that BTK's silence wasn't caused by his incarceration.

 

20060830: Serial Killer Nurse Donates Kidney To Ex-Girlfriend's Brother NJ Newark Serial Killer News
A serial killer nurse who admitted killing 29 patients donates one of his kidneys to the brother of an ex-girlfriend. Charles Cullen had threatened to skip his sentencing hearing if he was not permitted to be the donor. In February, a judge approved Cullen's removal from prison for the operation. Cullen's public defender, Johnnie Mask, says the kidney went to Ernie Peckham, 37, of Rocky Point, New York. Mask tells The Associated Press, "They have not had a chance to speak" since the operations on Aug. 20. One day after surgery, Cullen went back to New Jersey State Prison. Peckham did not return to his Long Island home for a few days. The New York Daily News reports Peckham is married with four children. He is a metalworker and Cub Scout leader who was an Army reservist. Peckham told The Village Beacon Record that his kidneys began failing after a cut on his finger became a strep infection. Cullen confessed to using drug overdoses to kill 29 patients at nursing homes and hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He was sentenced to 18 life terms in prison.
 

20060822: Serial Killer Back in Prison after Surgery PA Allentown Serial Killer News
Serial killer Charles Cullen is back in prison tonight, recovering from his recent kidney donation. Cullen had the surgery on Saturday. The kidney went to a relative of one of Cullen's friends. Last year, Cullen said he would skip his sentencing unless he was allowed to donate. A judge agreed to allow the transplant and Cullen appeared before the victims' families. He's serving 18 consecutive life sentences in solitary confinement at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.
 

20060321: Serial Killer Nurse May Donate A Kidney NJ Newark Serial Killer News
A judge clears the way for New Jersey's worst serial killer to donate a kidney. If Charles Cullen and his doctors meet certain conditions, he may undergo an operation to remove one of his kidneys. The Associated Press reports the organ would then go to the relative of a friend. Cullen admitted to killing 29 patients in nursing homes and hospitals throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Prosecutors agreed to spare him from the death penalty if he identified patients who had been given lethal drug overdoses. The judge ordered that the operation must be paid for by the recipient's insurance company. The state's medical examiners must also certify the doctors prior to the procedure.
 

20060320: Judge allows serial killer to donate kidney NJ Newark Serial Killer News

A United States judge has agreed to allow New Jersey's worst serial killer to donate a kidney, but the killer and his doctors have to meet conditions.

Judge Paul Armstrong did not say when Charles Cullen might undergo the operation to remove one of his kidneys to be transplanted into the relative of a friend.

Cullen has admitted killing 29 patients with drug overdoses at nursing homes and hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in one of the worst murder sprees ever discovered in the US health care system. He has been sentenced to 18 life terms.

The judge's order, signed on Thursday, stipulates that all operation costs must be paid by the recipient's insurer.
 
Also, the surgery to remove Cullen's kidney must happen in New Jersey at a hospital certified by the state Department of Corrections, and the doctors who perform the operation must be certified by the state Board of Medical Examiners.

Cullen, 46, had tried for four months to reach an agreement with prosecutors to win permission for the donation.

His lawyer, Johnnie Mask, said the requirements made him "suspicious that someone in the Department of Corrections or at the attorney-general's office does not want this to happen".

New Jersey Attorney General's Office spokesman John Hagerty said the requirements reflect the fact that they are for "a serial killer who is not free to travel willy-nilly".

Cullen claimed to have killed 40 patients over a 16-year nursing career, and has said he killed out of mercy. Not all of his victims, however, were old or very sick.

 

20060311: Over Killer's Loud Objections, He Gets 6 More Life Terms PA Allentown Serial Killer News
Charles Cullen, a former nurse who committed one of the worst murder sprees in the United States health care system, was gagged with a cloth and duct tape at a sentencing hearing Friday after he began loudly repeating, "Your honor, you need to step down." Mr. Cullen had maintained almost complete silence every time he appeared in court, steadfastly refusing to explain why he killed at least 29 patients in two states. During an emotional sentencing hearing last week in New Jersey, he sat quietly with his eyes closed as victims' families said he was a monster and called him "garbage." But on Friday, facing another round of sentencing, this time for his murders in Pennsylvania, he infuriated the relatives of some of his victims by repeating his bizarre chant hundreds of times over 30 minutes, during which attempts to muffle him proved unsuccessful. "I feel very cheated," said Walter Henne, a relative who showed up in court to address Mr. Cullen and had to raise his voice to be heard over him. "Our last trump card was taken away from us by the childish behavior of Mr. Cullen." A judge ignored Cullen's outbursts and gave him six more life sentences. Mr. Cullen, who was sentenced last week to 11 consecutive life terms in New Jersey, administered lethal overdoses to seven patients in Pennsylvania, and tried to kill three others. Mr. Cullen had tried to avoid showing up at his sentencing hearings in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. On Friday, he told President Judge William Platt of Lehigh County that he was upset that the judge had said in a newspaper article that he was inclined to make Mr. Cullen show up at sentencing. Mr. Cullen then began repeating the statement and refused to stop. Sheriff's deputies wrapped a white cloth around Cullen's mouth, but that did little to muffle him. They added two pieces of duct tape and tried repeatedly to tighten the gag, but Mr. Cullen still managed to drown out some of the relatives and friends who were there to tell him the impact the murders had had on their lives. "We think you are a total waste of human flesh," Mr. Henne told Mr. Cullen on behalf of the family of his mother-in-law, Irene Krapf. It was not clear whether Mr. Cullen heard a word he said.
 

20060310: NJ serial killer to be sentenced in Pennsylvania PA Allentown Serial Killer News
A week ago, a former nurse who killed at least 29 patients was sent to prison for the rest of his life and confronted by his victims' relatives in New Jersey. On Friday, Charles Cullen was set to sentenced in Pennsylvania, where he was expected to again face relatives of patients he killed. Cullen, 46, pleaded guilty to 29 murders and six attempted murders in both states. He escaped the death penalty after agreeing to help prosecutors in seven counties identify patients to whom he had given lethal drug overdoses. He will serve his sentence in New Jersey. Cullen administered overdoses to seven patients at nursing homes and hospitals in Lehigh and Northampton counties, and tried to kill three others in one of the worst murder sprees ever discovered in the U.S. health care system. Cullen was to be sentenced Friday in Northampton County for the 1998 murder of 78-year-old Ottomar Schramm at Easton Hospital. Although he does not have to be present at that hearing, he has been ordered to attend his sentencing a few hours later in Allentown in Lehigh County, where he was expected to again come face-to-face with his victims' families. Last week, relatives of the 22 New Jersey victims confronted Cullen after he received 11 consecutive life terms, calling him a "monster" and "vermin." Cullen said nothing, his eyes closed. Cullen, who claims to have slain 40 patients over a 16-year nursing career, has said he killed out of mercy. Many of his victims were old and very sick. But the judge who sentenced Cullen in New Jersey told him he "betrayed the ancient foundations of the healing professions." Cullen was arrested in December 2003 after Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, N.J., notified prosecutors about questionable lab results involving patients under his care. The case prompted lawmakers in both states to pass legislation protecting hospitals and nursing homes from legal action when reporting disciplinary actions taken against employees.
 

20060304: How can a serial killer escape the death penalty? NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

A MALE nurse who admits killing up to forty patients with lethal injections has been spared a similar fate through an extraordinary plea bargain in which he pledged to help to identify his victims.

Charles Cullen, 46, a loner with a history of depression and suicide attempts, will escape the death penalty in return for pleading guilty to at least twenty-nine murders and co-operating with investigators looking into other suspicious deaths.

Cullen says that he poisoned up to forty people with hard to-detect medications — usually the heart drug digoxin — during a 16-year career working night shifts at ten nursing homes and hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

He has told authorities, however, that he cannot remember the names of four of his victims and that he randomly injected insulin into intravenous medical bags without knowing which patient they were for.

Prosecutors in all seven counties where he worked have agreed to spare his life in return for his help in identifying all those he killed.

As the families of victims harangued him as a “monster”, “one pathetic little man”, and “Satan’s son”, Cullen was sentenced on Thursday to 11 consecutive life terms for 22 murders and 3 attempted murders in Somerset County, New Jersey. That meant that it would be 397 years before he became eligible for parole.

He is due to be sentenced next Friday for seven more murders and three attempted murders in Pennsylvania.

Investigations remain open in two other New Jersey counties, complicated by the destruction of medical records and the uncertainty of Cullen’s memory.

Cullen is one of the worst serial killers discovered inside America’s health-care system, but he is not alone. Since 1975 there have been about twenty cases of medical personnel involved in the deaths of patients, including a notorious 1987 case in which Donald Harvey, a nurse, was sentenced to life in prison for killing at least thirty-four patients in Ohio and Kentucky.

Cullen was fired from five nursing jobs and resigned from two others amid questions about his conduct but he always found another job, partly because hospitals kept quiet to avoid being sued.

He went on a murder spree in December 2003, killing 13 patients in less than a year at the Somerset Medical Centre in New Jersey. He was caught when hospital officials discovered unusually high levels of digoxin in the victims.

He told police after his arrest that he had targeted “very sick” patients for what he described as mercy killings.

The facts contradicted his claim. His youngest victim was a 21-year-old student named Michael Strenko, who had been admitted to hospital for a non-fatal blood disorder that required doctors to remove his spleen.

Cullen also killed a 22-year-old car crash victim, Matthew Mattern, who was in hospital with severe burns.

 

20060303: Serial killer nurse gets 11 life terms for killing patients NJ Somerville Serial Killer News
 

A nurse who killed at least 29 patients was sent to prison for the rest of his life Thursday after his victims' loved ones angrily branded him ''vermin,'' ''garbage'' and a ''monster'' who ruined lives and shattered their faith in the medical profession.

Charles Cullen escaped the death penalty after making a deal with prosecutors to tell them which patients he killed with hard-to-detect drug injections.

Cullen, 46, pleaded guilty to murdering 22 people in New Jersey and trying to kill three others. He will be sentenced later for seven murders and three attempted murders in Pennsylvania. He has claimed to have killed up to 40 people during a career that spanned 16 years and 10 nursing homes and hospitals.

He received 11 consecutive life terms at a tense hearing in which he came face-to-face with his victims' families for the first time. Wearing a bulletproof vest under his sweater, Cullen sat quietly as relatives wept and yelled at him from a lectern about 15 feet away. Some said they wished Cullen could die as his victims did, by lethal injection.

''I want you to die tomorrow so that you can meet God tomorrow because guess what? There ain't no door out of hell, baby,'' said Debra Yetter Medina, the granddaughter of victim Mary Natoli.

 

20060302: Killer nurse gets 11 life sentences NJ Somerville Serial Killer News
On the day New Jersey's most prolific serial killer received 11 consecutive life sentences, family members of his victims gave the former nurse a verbal lashing in court.

Some had waited years, and defendant Charles Cullen had filed court papers trying to avoid the confrontation.

One by one, for nearly four hours, two dozen relatives of the dead told a New Jersey judge what Cullen had taken from them.

Some called Cullen names -- "Satan's son" or "monster" -- and told him to "burn in hell." Others simply remembered their lost loved ones.

Judge Paul W. Armstrong then handed down 11 consecutive life sentences. Parole is out of the question, since Cullen, 46, will not be eligible until he has served 397 years.

Cullen has pleaded guilty to committing 22 murders in New Jersey and seven in Pennsylvania. He also admitted attempting to murder six people.

Deaths not mercy killings

Cullen administered lethal doses of medication to patients under his care in nursing homes and medical facilities. He claimed at one point that he was an angel of mercy trying to end his patients' suffering.

But the judge rejected that notion. He said the court "would not countenance the characterization of these crimes as acts of human compassion."

Cullen said nothing during the hearing, sitting beside his attorney with his hands in his lap and his eyes lowered. His lack of visible emotion seemed to enrage some relatives of his victims.

They had plenty to say.

Dolores Stasienko called Cullen a monster for killing her father, Jack Toto, whom she described as a hard-working farmer, mechanic and war veteran.

"Burn in hell, Mr. Cullen, for all eternity," she said.

"Am I boring you?" asked Deborah Yetter-Medina, whose grandmother was killed. "Look at me," she demanded.

"Yes, I was the woman who coined the phrase 'Satan's son,'" she said. "You are Satan's son." Later, she told Cullen: "There ain't no doors out of hell, babe."

Richard Stoecker, whose mother, Eleanor, also was a victim, told Cullen: "Maybe you thought you could play God that day by injecting her, but she planned on living, she was a fighter."

As many as 40 victims

As part of his plea agreement, Cullen has been working with law enforcement officials to identify additional victims. He originally told authorities he killed up to 40 patients during the course of his 16-year nursing career.

Last month, when a deal to allow Cullen to donate a kidney to a friend fell through, he filed court papers seeking to waive his appearance at sentencing. (Full story)

The move outraged victim family members, some of whom have said addressing Cullen is an important part of their grieving process.

"He has to hear that we're human beings and that our father, son, mother, whoever, were human beings," said John Shanagher, whose father, Jack, was killed by Cullen. "Hopefully it will give us some sense of justice that it's, after all this time, finally done."

The judge ruled Cullen had to be present for victim impact statments and sentencing. Cullen will be allowed to donate his kidney now that he has been sentenced.

 

20060224: Serial killer must face victims' kin NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

Judge rules that killer nurse can't skip sentencing hearing

Serial killer Charles Cullen must listen to statements by relatives of his victims when he is sentenced for 22 murders, a New Jersey judge ruled Friday.

Cullen, a former nurse, had asked the court to waive his appearance at the sentencing March 2.

The move outraged victims' family members, some of whom said addressing Cullen is an important part of their grieving process.

"He has to hear that we're human beings and that our father, son, mother, whoever, were human beings," said John Shanagher, whose father, Jack, was killed by Cullen.

"Hopefully it will give us some sense of justice that it's, after all this time, finally done," he added.

Superior Court Judge Paul W. Armstrong also ruled Friday that Cullen will be allowed to donate a kidney to a friend after he is sentenced.

Where the organ will be harvested remains an issue. Cullen wants to have the operation performed in New York. New Jersey officials say it must be done in that state.

Cullen has pleaded guilty to murdering 29 hospital patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and attempting to murder six others, with drug injections.

As part of his plea agreement, he has been working with law enforcement officials to identify additional victims. He originally told authorities he had killed up to 40 patients in the course of his 16-year nursing career.

Armstrong ruled Friday that Cullen "possesses no fundamental right" by law to be absent from his sentencing, when the court will hear statements by the victims' families.

Cullen had withdrawn his request, but the judge went ahead with a ruling to prevent Cullen from changing his mind later.

 

20060217: Again, a Serial Killer Plans to Skip His Own Sentencing NJ PA Serial Killer News

A carefully constructed deal between the authorities and the convicted serial killer Charles Cullen to allow him to donate a kidney to a friend in exchange for showing up at his own sentencing has fallen apart, his lawyer said yesterday.

The authorities had hoped this month to sentence Mr. Cullen, a former nurse who has confessed to murdering up to 40 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Many relatives of his victims have been waiting for the day they can face him in court.

But that day, once again, seems far off. At a meeting yesterday, New Jersey authorities and Mr. Cullen's lawyer could not agree on the specifics of the kidney donation, and Mr. Cullen will now fight to skip his sentencing, his lawyer, Johnnie Mask, said.

"There is no deal now," Mr. Mask said. "We're nowhere."

Under New Jersey legal procedures, defendants can apply to skip their sentencing. Mr. Cullen initially indicated he would do this, provoking the ire of prosecutors and relatives of his victims.

But in December, Peter C. Harvey, then New Jersey's attorney general, announced that he had worked out a plan in which Mr. Cullen could donate his kidney if he agreed to come to his sentencing first. A memorandum of understanding was signed, and a transplant team at Stony Brook University Hospital on Long Island, where Mr. Cullen's friend is a patient, agreed to do the surgery.

But Mr. Harvey left office in January, after New Jersey's new governor, Jon S. Corzine was sworn in. Officials at the attorney general's office and in the Corrections Department have now decided that Mr. Cullen cannot leave the state for the kidney operation because New Jersey officials do not have the authority to provide security in New York.

Mr. Mask said that prosecutors had yet to come up with a viable plan for the operation to be done in New Jersey. Until they do, Mr. Cullen will do everything in his power, including filing numerous appeals, to avoid his sentencing, he said.

"We're not going to give up what little leverage we have until we know this kidney operation is going to happen," Mr. Mask said. State officials, he said, "have been throwing up roadblocks ever since Harvey left."

John Hagerty, a spokesman at the attorney general's office, said that Mr. Cullen's sentencing has been scheduled for March 2 but that there are issues that could delay that. A presentencing hearing has been set for next week.

Mr. Hagerty said state officials "continue to work with local prosecutors so the sentencing can proceed."

 

20060113: Serial Killer Using Loophole That Delays His Sentencing NJ Newark Serial Killer News

First, he wrangled a way to avoid the death penalty, even though he confessed to murdering up to 40 people. Then, he tried to dictate the terms of his final court appearance. Now, he is refusing to cooperate.

Apparently, Charles Cullen, a New Jersey nurse who confessed to sneaking into hospital rooms late at night and injecting patient after patient with deadly amounts of drugs, is trying to exert his last bits of leverage from a solo cell in the Somerset County jail before he is sent away for life.

His maneuvering is infuriating the families of his victims and delaying their long-awaited rendezvous in court. It is also making a strange case even stranger, partly because of what was, until now, a little-known legal wrinkle in New Jersey that allows defendants to skip their sentencing.

"Can't we just get this over with?" said Lucille Gall, whose brother Mr. Cullen has admitted killing. "This is a sick little game he's playing."

Most of the prosecutors in the case seem unfazed or, at least, they talk that way.

"We don't need him anymore," said Wayne J. Forrest, prosecutor for Somerset County, N.J., where Mr. Cullen confessed to 13 murders. "We've completed our investigation. We got our guilty pleas. We're done."

John Morganelli, district attorney for Northampton County, Pa., where Mr. Cullen admitted killing one patient, said, "I could go to court right now and get a conviction, with or without his cooperation."

But in Essex County, it is a different story. Mr. Cullen told investigators he thinks he killed five patients at a hospital near Newark. The problem is, he does not remember whom. Until recently, he had been meeting regularly with Essex investigators, studying old charts, peering into old photos, trying to jog his memory.

So far, Mr. Cullen, 45, has pleaded guilty to murdering 29 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania medical facilities. Most of his victims were old and sick.

After he was arrested in 2003, he agreed to help investigators identify all of his victims - he estimated there were up to 40 - in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.

But the deal began to fray last month, when Mr. Cullen announced he wanted to donate a kidney to an ailing friend. The authorities said he could do it only after his sentencing, which Mr. Cullen threatened to miss.

Many lawyers said that this was the first time they had ever heard of a serial killer trying to skip his sentencing. Earlier this month, prosecutors indefinitely delayed Mr. Cullen's sentencing, saying they needed more time to investigate the Essex cases and one mysterious death in Morris County. A few days later, Mr. Cullen struck back, saying through his public defender that he was finished cooperating.

"This isn't about a power trip, this is about a kidney," said his lawyer, Johnnie Mask. "Charlie's worried that if the sentencing keeps getting pushed back, it may be too late. He really cares about saving this life, ironic as that may seem."

On Friday, Peter C. Harvey, New Jersey's attorney general, said a new possibility had emerged: Mr. Cullen could be sentenced for the crimes to which he had already confessed, he could donate his kidney and then he could continue cooperating with the authorities on any open cases. "Our goal is to bring finality," Mr. Harvey said.

He added that prosecutors were mulling the options. If talks break down, there is an outside chance the plea agreement could be nullified and Mr. Cullen tried in court, exposing him to the death penalty.

What is giving Mr. Cullen his 11th-hour leverage is New Jersey's criminal procedure rule 3:21-4 (b), which says, "Sentence shall not be imposed unless the defendant is present or has filed a written waiver of the right to be present."

Mr. Mask and other defense lawyers say the law is on their side and that precedent upholds a defendant's right to opt out of sentencing.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, say judges have the ultimate discretion and can order sheriff's deputies to drag Mr. Cullen to court. Both sides vow to press their case aggressively, which only raises the specter of a long appeals process.

And now there's another potential complication. Christopher Bateman, a Republican assemblyman from Somerville, is pushing a bill that would force defendants to come to their sentencing. "It's only right that the families get to inflict a little pain, so to speak," he said.

But all the back and forth seems to be only compounding the pain.

"We want to know how Cullen, a criminal, a murderer, thinks he has so much power to decide what he can do and cannot do?" Tom and Mary Strenko wrote in an e-mail interview. "He is a killer and he has no right to decide anything!"

The Strenkos' 21-year-old son, Michael, was hospitalized in 2003 with a serious but curable blood disease. Mr. Cullen has confessed to killing him. "We are not giving up on this! No way!" the Strenkos continued. "It is as important to us as breathing air to have Charles Cullen once again look into our loathing eyes to personally see and hear the pain and suffering he has caused us for the rest of our lives!"

 

20060110: Serial Killer, Angry at Sentencing Delay, Stops Cooperating NJ Newark Serial Killer News

The New Jersey nurse who confessed to killing 29 people and has spent nearly two years cooperating with investigators decided abruptly on Tuesday that he would no longer help them.

The nurse, Charles Cullen, 45, was so upset about his sentencing being canceled last week that he is pulling out of a carefully constructed plea deal in which he had agreed to help identify his victims in exchange for not facing the death penalty, his lawyer, Johnnie Mask, said.

The authorities said that his refusal to cooperate could mean that prosecutors will seek the death penalty. It could also mean that many mysterious hospital deaths will not be resolved, leaving family members to forever wonder if their loved ones died naturally or were murdered.

Mr. Cullen has told the authorities he killed up to 40 people, many of them old and ailing patients whom he injected with lethal doses of heart drugs. But he did not remember all their names. So investigators have been struggling to identify them and, until Tuesday, were working closely with Mr. Cullen, sifting through mountains of medical records in the effort to jog his memory to determine exactly whom he killed.

The cooperation may now be coming to an end because of a kidney. In a strange concession to coax Mr. Cullen to come to his own sentencing and face dozens of grieving family members, New Jersey authorities agreed in December to allow him to donate a kidney to an ailing friend, as long as the operation was performed after his sentencing. But last week the authorities delayed the sentencing indefinitely, saying they needed more time to investigate hospital deaths in Morris and Essex Counties that Mr. Cullen may have caused. Mr. Cullen lost his patience, his lawyer said, and decided he would no longer help investigators.

"The deal is off," Mr. Mask said. "He's done. No more cooperation. Period."

"Now it's on the prosecutors' shoulders whether somebody else dies," Mr. Mask added, referring to the man who is waiting for a kidney donation.

Peter C. Harvey, New Jersey's attorney general, called that notion "ridiculous" and said it was not the prosecutors' role to find a new kidney for Mr. Cullen's friend.

"Our job is to protect the victims," Mr. Harvey said.

He also said, "It's strange that all of a sudden this guy has become a humanitarian after killing 22 people in New Jersey."

Paula T. Dow, the prosecutor for Essex County, where Mr. Cullen has admitted to killing several people, said Mr. Cullen's refusal to cooperate was "a clear breach of the plea agreement" and that "it now exposes him" to being brought back to court to face trial and possibly the death penalty.

But the reality of his ever being executed, at least in New Jersey, is slim because the state has not put anyone to death since 1963, and this week the Legislature passed a temporary moratorium on capital punishment. However, Mr. Cullen has admitted to seven murders in Pennsylvania, which does have the death penalty.

The authorities said on Tuesday that they were not sure if Mr. Cullen's action was a ploy to speed up donation of the kidney, or if he truly intended not to cooperate ever again. They added that they were unsure of what they would do next.

The development was the latest twist in a long case that began in 1987 at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J. Mr. Cullen had a history of mental illness and suicidal behavior and gravitated to the night shift, where he was known among colleagues as solitary and strange, with a cold bedside manner.

In 1993 he was accused of killing a 91-year-old woman with a single injection of digoxin, a powerful heart drug that became his weapon of choice. But somehow he slipped through the cracks of the medical system and went on to work at 10 places in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania before he was arrested in 2003.

In 2004, he struck a deal with the authorities in both states to plead guilty and cooperate in exchange for at least two consecutive life terms, which in New Jersey meant he would not be eligible for parole for 126 years. But in December, as sentencing approached, problems arose, partly because of a little-known procedural rule that allows a defendant to skip his sentencing. Mr. Cullen said he might do that and deny his victims' families a chance to confront him.

Now it is not clear what will happen, with some prosecutors saying Mr. Cullen will be dragged into court, no matter what, while others are not so sure.

 

20060102: Serial killer nurse to face the families of victims NJ Newark Serial Killer News
This could be the week that Marie Romero finally gets to look Charles Cullen straight in the eye and tell him how much pain he caused by killing her sister.

Romero’s sister, Catherine Dext, was killed with an injection by the former nurse and admitted serial killer in June 1996 at Hunterdon Medical Center, where she had been admitted with a ruptured spleen.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin Thursday for Cullen, who pleaded guilty to 29 murders and six attempted murders during his 16-year nursing career in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Cullen, 44, has told investigators he might have killed as many as 40 persons, but authorities say that estimate appears to be inflated. Most of the victims were given an overdose of heart medication, usually digoxin.

The former critical-care nurse was able to move from hospital to hospital, despite suspicions he was killing patients, because the institutions did not report their fears to authorities.

The sentencing may stretch out over two days because so many victims’ relatives want to give victim-impact statements.

Cullen had filed papers to waive his right to appear at his sentencing, a move that outraged many of the families.

However, authorities had something Cullen wanted: the right to approve his request to donate a kidney to a relative of Cullen’s ex-girlfriend. With that leverage, authorities persuaded Cullen to agree to appear at the sentencing.

Cullen faces life for each of the New Jersey murders, and won’t be eligible for parole for at least 127 years. In exchange for his plea and agreement to help identify his victims, he escaped New Jersey’s death penalty.

State Attorney General Peter Harvey said he hopes to have all 22 New Jersey cases against Cullen resolved in this week’s sentencing. However, the sentencing could be postponed if no decision is made on whether to also bring charges in several open cases in Essex and Morris counties.

He also escaped death in Pennsylvania, where he still faces sentencing.

A judge there already has ordered him to be present.

 

20051207: Serial killer wants to donate kidney Serial Killer News

Former nurse Charles Cullen, who admitted murdering at least 29 patients in the Lehigh Valley and New Jersey by injecting them with lethal doses of drugs, wants to donate his kidney to save a life.

Cullen has asked prosecutors to allow him to travel to New York so doctors can perform the surgery, his attorney said Tuesday.

Johnnie Mask, Cullen's public defender, said prosecutors have agreed to let Cullen undergo the operation in New Jersey, but not travel to New York for it.

''I don't know what the objections are'' to doing the surgery in New York, Mask said. ''Security and expense have always been thrown up as an obstacle.''

Doing the transplant in New Jersey would mean a new transplant team and months of additional tests, he said.

In exchange for permission to give the kidney in New York, Cullen is willing to appear in court when he is sentenced to life in prison, Mask said.

''We're pushing prosecutors to do the operation in New York because the [potential recipient] doesn't have seven months to wait,'' Mask said.

Mask would not identify the intended recipient of the kidney, but The Star-Ledger of Newark, citing unnamed sources, reported in Tuesday's newspapers that it is a relative of Cullen's ex-girlfriend.

The man is in his 30s, a father of four and in poor health, Mask added. He lost kidney function as a result of infection.

Mask said the request for a kidney came about two months ago.

''Initially, some parties opposed the whole thing on the basis that Cullen could die on the table,'' he said.

Cullen, formerly of Bethlehem, had previously filed papers to waive his right to appear in court for the sentencing — an action that had enraged relatives of his victims, who want to confront him one more time.

At one point after Cullen's 2003 arrest, Mask said Cullen wanted to be able to explain his actions to his victims' survivors. But his position changed, Mask said, because the victims' families and victim-rights groups have been hostile.

By appearing at a sentencing, Cullen could answer at least some questions about his crimes.

Mask said he hopes to get an answer in the next few weeks on the transplant and any deal related to Cullen's appearance at the sentencings, which could come in the next few months.

Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forrest would not comment Tuesday on the transplant offer or the deal Cullen has proposed.

In a series of court appearances in northern New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley, Cullen has admitted to 29 murders and six attempted murders over the course of his 16-year nursing career. In the latest plea Monday, he admitted to attempting to kill Somerset Medical Center patient Philip Gregor in 2003.

There could be more pleas in the future, though authorities and Mask agree that the investigations are winding down.

Cullen was arrested in December 2003 and charged with the murder of a patient at Somerset Medical Center and the attempted homicide of another. The next year, he pleaded guilty and agreed to help authorities determine exactly whom he killed in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.

 

20051206: Serial killer admits another attempted murder while a nurse NJ Somerville Serial Killer News
Serial killer Charles Cullen on Mondy pleaded guilty to another attempted murder at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, in what his attorney predicted would probably be his last plea.

In a proceeding lasting less than 10 minutes in state Superior Court, Cullen, 45, a former nurse, admitted before Judge Paul W. Armstrong to attempting to kill critical care patient Philip J. Gregor of South Bound Brook with an overdose of insulin on June 18, 2003.

"Yes, I did," said Cullen when asked by Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Van Hise if he had administered the insulin to the patient without a doctor's orders. "To cause his death" was Cullen's reply when he was asked why.

The answers have become increasingly rote for Cullen, who has pleaded guilty to killing 29 patients at hospitals in five New Jersey and two Pennsylvania counties and attempting to kill five more between 1988 and 2003.

"News of every heinous act he committed to a patient in his care still shocks and saddens us," said hospital spokeswoman Vicky Allen.

Cullen, shackled and clad in mustard-colored prison scrubs, was brought to the courtroom from the Somerset County Jail in Somerville, where he is being held pending his transfer upon sentencing to a maximum security prison.

He has appeared increasingly gaunt since his arrest and arraignment following a series of suspicious deaths at Somerset Medical Center in December 2003.

Compared with Cullen's earlier appearances, the courtroom was almost empty. although Gregor's widow and sister were present, they declined to comment. "When he's sentenced, I'll have a whole lot to say," said Linda Gregor.

Cullen's plea was part of an April 29, 2004, plea agreement in which he was spared the death penalty in exchange for cooperating with investigators in identifying victims. Investigators have since been reviewing files with him.

 

20050710: New Revelations about Convicted Serial Killer Nurse PA Bethlehem Serial Killer News

Nurses who worked with serial killer Charles Cullen at a Pennsylvania hospital apparently warned authorities long before his arrest that he was suspected of killing patients.

That's according to a report today in The Morning Call of Allentown.

But Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin says there just wasn't enough evidence at the time to prosecute Cullen for anything.

And the forensic pathologist who investigated agrees.The pathologist reviewed 26 cases of patients who died while Cullen was working at Saint Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem.

He says the only evidence beyond "vague suspicions" was medical histories of people who died -- but who were already very sick.

After leaving Saint Luke's, Cullen worked at Somerset Medical Center in New Jersey, where he has admitted killing patients.

 

20050520: Cullen tells AG basic security could stop killer nurses NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

The state's worst serial killer is offering authorities tips on how to thwart people who want to follow in his footsteps.

Killer nurse Charles Cullen met for eight hours over two days this week with state Attorney General Peter Harvey, who wanted to find out how to prevent future murders by medical professionals.

Cullen, who says he may have killed as many as 40 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania by injecting them with lethal doses of drugs, told Harvey that tracking who takes medications from dispensaries could prevent hospital workers from killing patients.

"He believes that the best deterrent is the certainty of detection," Harvey told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Friday's newspapers. "Using more video surveillance. Using a swipe card that would allow hospitals to easily track who is withdrawing what medication. These are security controls that can be placed on rooms that house medications."

Thus far, Cullen has pleaded guilty to murdering 24 patients and attempting to kill five others

The meetings Wednesday and Thursday were part of what Cullen agreed to last year when he promised to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in return for avoiding the death penalty. Harvey said he plans to speak again with Cullen.

"Once we complete our discussions with him, we are going to compile a series of recommendations that we're going to give to the Board of Medical Examiners and the nursing board with suggestions of how to better protect patients and hospitals," Harvey said. "We're going to ask for their input and action."

Cullen, a former registered nurse, worked at hospitals and nursing facilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania over a 16-year career.

Harvey said the 45-year-old Cullen showed some remorse _ an emotion that he has not displayed in court.

"He accepts more responsibility than he expresses remorse, but he certainly does both," Harvey said. "I didn't expect it."

 

20050511: Siblings assert serial killer nurse murdered father Serial Killer News

The children of a former Madison resident say they have compelling proof that Charles Cullen, serial killer nurse, killed their father with massive doses of digoxin in January 1997 at Morristown Memorial Hospital.

Lynn Popelka of Netcong and Wayne Sarrow of Readington Township paid to have the remains of their father, Henry Sarrow, disinterred from Saint Vincent’s Cemetery in Madison in February and examined, they said on Wednesday, April 13, at the office of their attorney, Anthony J. Macri of Denville.

Cullen, who is in the Somerset County Jail, denies killing the retired postal worker while he worked at Morristown Memorial from November 1996 to August 1997, according to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office. He has admitted to killing 24 patients, from 1988 to 2003, but none at Morristown Memorial, authorities said.

So far, Popelka and Sarrow have sued Morristown Memorial, alleging wrongful death and negligence, said attorney Macri, who added that he expects “a long fight.”

Macri said that autopsy reports have been sent to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, an office the siblings claim was unresponsive to past concerns that Cullen was responsible for their father’s death.

Autopsy Results

Henry Sarrow had been admitted to Morristown Memorial on Jan. 9, 1997, because of shortness of breath, and on Jan. 15 he suffered a fatal heart attack, which the family said was not expected. He was 77.

When Mr. Sarrow’s remains were analyzed after the February exhumation, they were found to have digoxin levels of 230 nanograms per kilogram, when a normal level should be 2 nanograms per kilogram, according to Macri’s office.

The levels of digoxin, a heart medication, found in Mr. Sarrow’s body were 125 times the amount that would be found in someone who was being given therapeutic doses, the family and its attorney assert. Such a scenario would fit Cullen’s preferred method of killing – administering overdoses of digoxin.

Mr. Sarrow had worked as a school crossing guard for the Madison Board of Education after his retirement as a postal worker.

Recognized Nurse

After Cullen was arrested in 2003 on charges that he administered a lethal overdose to one patient and attempted to murder another at the Somerset Medical Center, Popelka reportedly recognized Cullen from news photos as a nurse at Morristown Memorial during her father’s hospitalization.

According to attorney Macri, hospital records show Cullen was on duty during overnight hours before two cardiac episodes Mr. Sarrow suffered at Morristown Memorial, the second one fatal.

Cullen is reviewing records from hospitals where he worked, including Morristown Memorial, cooperating with authorities in exchange for a waiver of the death penalty. He is expected to be sentenced to multiple life terms in prison.

 

20041231: Serial killer spends time reading and doing “homework” NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

CULLEN scans medical files to determine if any patients were his victims.
Life in the Somerset County jail is a little like life aboard the USS Woodrow Wilson, the submarine where Charles CULLEN spent months isolated in the deep waters of the Atlantic. In jail, CULLEN has limited space, a bunk to sleep in, and three square meals served with military precision. He has reading material, time on his hands, and no place to go: the cold steel walls of the sub (where CULLEN developed an interest in nursing by helping to inoculate his shipmates) have been replaced by the cold stone walls of justice.
The only times serial killer Charles CULLEN leaves the jail is to travel to various county courts to admit he murdered patients at the 10 medical facilities where he worked in New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. CULLEN claims to have killed as many as 40 patients during his 16-year career.
CULLEN has made five such trips so far, pleading guilty to killing 24 patients and attempting to kill five others by injecting them with various medications that he stole from the hospital's drug supplies. There will be others.
In exchange for his cooperation and guilty pleas, authorities waived the death penalty and CULLEN instead must serve at least 127 years in a New Jersey state prison before he is eligible for parole. For now, CULLEN will remain inmate No. 71533 in the Somerset County jail, on the corner of Grove and High streets in Somerville and across from the prosecutor's office where he first admitted his deep, dark secret to detectives after being arrested last December.

 

20041117: Serial killer nurse pleads guilty to murders in Lehigh County PA Allentown Serial Killer News
Serial killer Charles Cullen pleaded guilty today to six murders and three attempted murders in Lehigh County, bringing the former nurse's tally to 23 deaths in two states...Whispering his replies to a judge's routine questions, Cullen, 44, formerly of Bethlehem, offered no details or excuses to the victims' relatives, dozens of whom packed the Allentown courtroom..."He took something away that was so precious to us and we're never going to forgive him," said Connie Keeler, of Bethlehem, whose father Cullen tried to kill..."He shows no emotion to what he did," she said...Keeler's father, Lehigh Valley radio personality Paul Galgon, 72, died of renal failure at St. Luke's Hospital near Bethlehem nine hours after Cullen injected him with the heart stimulant digoxin. Forensic evidence showed that the digoxin contributed to Galgon's death...Family members were not given a chance to address Cullen today, but are expected to have that opportunity at his sentencing, which may be a year away. Judge William Platt denied Cullen's request to be absent during sentencing, which won't occur until after Cullen is sentenced in New Jersey...Cullen has yet to meet with prosecutors in Essex County, where he worked in the burn unit at St. Barnabas Hospital for four years; or in Hunterdon County, where he worked at Hunterdon Medical Center for two years. His attorney, Johnny Mask, said it appears that Cullen did not kill anyone in Morris County, where he worked in 1997...Cullen has pleaded guilty to murdering patients in hospitals in Somerset County and Warren County, in New Jersey, and in Northampton County, in Pennsylvania. Usually, he injected overdoses into the intravenous bag of terminally ill, elderly patients. His youngest known victim was Matthew Mattern, a 22-year-old patient the burn unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital near Allentown...Cullen will be sentenced to life in prison as part of a plea agreement worked out with prosecutors in both states. He told authorities after his arrest in December that he killed as many as 40 patients in 10 hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey during his 16-year career as a registered nurse. Prosecutors have agreed not to seek the death penalty as long as Cullen cooperates by identifying his victims.
 

20041106: Pa. judge rejects serial killer's intention to skip sentencing PA Allentown Serial Killer News
A former nurse who has admitted killing 17 patients with lethal doses of medication at hospitals in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania will have to attend his sentencing hearing and face the families of his alleged victims in Lehigh County, a judge has ruled. ..Cullen, 44, is scheduled to plead guilty Nov. 17 in Lehigh County Court to six counts of homicide and three counts of attempted homicide. Families won't be able to confront him at the hearing but will be able to do so when Cullen returns to court for his sentencing, likely next year. ..On Tuesday, Judge William H. Platt told Cullen's attorneys that he will not accept Cullen's waiver of his right to appear at the sentencing. ..Cullen's attorney, public defender Johnnie Mask, said he was not happy with Platt's decision but does not intend to fight it. ..After his arrest in December, Cullen told investigators that he killed as many as 40 people during his nursing career. He has pleaded guilty or been charged in a total of 23 murders and has agreed to help investigators identify his victims in a deal to avoid the death penalty. ..The families of several of Cullen's alleged Lehigh County victims were pleased with the judge's decision. .."He needs to be there to face us," said Connie Keeler, the daughter of Paul Galgon, 72, a St. Luke's Hospital patient authorities said Cullen attempted to kill in 2001. "He should have to look into each of our faces and see the pain we are going through." ..When Cullen pleaded guilty to a single killing in Northampton County in September, the daughter of the elderly victim called Cullen a monster, talked about her father's life, and asked Cullen whether he remembered his victims. ..Mask said the hearing was hard on his client, and he would prefer to avoid them. ..In Lehigh County, Cullen is accused of killing five people and attempting to kill two others at St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill, where he worked from June 2000 to June 2002, and killing one person and attempting to kill another at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Salisbury Township, where he worked from December 1998 to April 2000. ..In neighboring Northampton County, he pleaded guilty to killing one person at Easton Hospital. ..In New Jersey, Cullen has pleaded guilty to killing 16 people and attempting to kill two others at Somerset Medical Center and Warren Hospital. ..Under his plea agreement, Cullen will be sentenced to life in prison in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and will serve the sentence in New Jersey. He will not be eligible for parole for at least 127 years. .
 

20041030: Serial Killer Seeking to Skip Sentencing PA Allentown Serial Killer News
A district attorney said he is trying to determine whether serial killer Charles Cullen can be compelled to appear in court so relatives of the patients he is accused of killing can confront him if he is sentenced to life in prison...Cullen, a former registered nurse, is expected to plead guilty in the next few weeks to charges he killed six patients at two hospitals with lethal doses of medication. Under the proposed plea agreement, Cullen would be spared the death penalty in exchange for helping to identify his victims...Cullen already has pleaded guilty to killing 17 during a 16-year career at hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey...Cullen has said through his attorney he wants to waive his right to be in court at sentencing...But District Attorney James Martin says he will do research to determine whether there is a legal way to force Cullen to appear. "In all my years doing this, I've never seen a defendant not come to his sentencing," he said...Margory Blakemore, daughter of Edward O'Toole, who died at St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill in 2002, said she and other relatives should have the right to address Cullen face to face. "He should have to hear about how much pain he's caused," she said.. .
 


Copyright 1995-2005 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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