BTK Serial Killer Caught from Church Computer Disk

WICHITA, KANSAS (Associated Press/ New York Times via KWCH)

Dennis L. Rader, charged with 10 counts of murder, appeared before a judge Tuesday through a videoconference.

Arrest Is Made in Series of Killings in Kansas (February 27, 2005)

Relief, and Bewilderment, Over Arrest in Kansas Killings (February 28, 2005) KWCH, via Associated Press

His pastor said a computer disk mailed to a television station led the police to Mr. Rader.

Computer Disk Led to Arrest in Killings, Pastor Says

By MONICA DAVEY - The New York Times Published: March 2, 2005

WICHITA, Kan., March 1 - In the end, the B.T.K. serial killer's downfall may have been his own love of sending letters, poems and packages out to the world.

Michael G. Clark, the pastor of Dennis L. Rader, the man now charged with 10 counts of murder in the strangulations that terrorized a city, said Tuesday that one item in the killer's most recent mailing to a local television station helped finally crack the case: an ordinary computer disk.

The police here have refused to say what led them to arrest Mr. Rader, a city codes enforcer and a church leader, 31 years after the first killings in Wichita, but they have acknowledged that the B.T.K. serial killer's peculiar and persistent communications with the public, particularly in recent months, worked to their advantage in the investigation.

Mr. Clark said that the police told him they used information on the computer disk in B.T.K.'s final mailing on Feb. 16 to trace it back to a computer at Christ Lutheran Church, where Mr. Clark is the pastor. Mr.Rader, the president of the church council, had used the church's computer a few weeks earlier, Mr. Clark said, to print the agenda for a council meeting he was to preside over.

"I remember showing him how to use the computer, how to use the printer, because his wasn't working at home," said Mr. Clark, whose church office was searched by the police last week, a day before the police announced the arrest. "What the investigators found, from what I understand, running that disk through scanning and processing, was that that disk had to have been in the church computer system."

So, it seems, the killer who suggested that he be called B.T.K. (for bind, torture, kill) in his rambling, eerie mailings in the 1970's may have been ensnared by technology.

Mr. Rader, 59, appeared before a judge on Tuesday for the first time, listening as 10 charges of first-degree murder were read aloud. Mr. Rader, who appeared through a videoconference from the county jail, stood somberly, hands crossed before him, lips pursed. Asked whether he understood the charges against him as they were read, Mr. Rader answered in a loud clear voice, "Yes, sir."

Though Mr. Rader could not see them from the jail, about a dozen relatives of victims linked to the case sat in the courtroom. As they filed out, they were ashen faced and silent.

In the hearing, which lasted a few minutes, Mr. Rader was appointed three public defenders, the first formal representation he has had since his arrest on Friday. Sarah E. McKinnon, an assistant public defender, said a short time later that the defense team had not yet met with Mr. Rader but intended to meet with him later on Tuesday. Ms. McKinnon said she expected a delay in a preliminary hearing now set for March 15, where Mr. Rader will have the opportunity to enter a plea.

When the killings began here in 1974, so did B.T.K.'s writings, the police said. He sent them to television stations, left them in libraries and mailed them to the local newspaper. Back then, they were often graphic descriptions of his grisly work, drawings or angry diatribes.

After a poem he had sent to The Wichita Eagle-Beacon was accidentally routed to the classified advertising department, he sent an angry letter to a television station saying, "How many do I have to kill before I get my name in the paper or some national attention?"

Then, just as suddenly as the letters had begun, they stopped in 1979.

The silence lasted 25 years -- until March, 2004 when more packages and letters began arriving at a furious pace. They were left in parks and sent to news outlets, 11 mailings in all. They included a word puzzle, chapter headings for a proposed telling of the B.T.K. tale, a Post Toasties cereal box and a postcard. They were strangely more polite than the earlier letters, one even inquiring about the well-being of television reporters who had, at some point, mentioned on the air having had the flu.

The last one arrived on Feb. 16, 2005 at KSAS-TV. At the request of the police, reporters at KWCH-TV, Channel 12, which produces the newscasts for KSAS, did not report on the air all that was in the manila envelope.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

For more telecom/internet/networking/computer news from the daily media, check out our feature 'Telecom Digest Extra' each day at

formatting link
. Hundreds of new articles daily.

*** FAIR USE NOTICE. This message contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This Internet discussion group is making it available without profit to group members who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information in their efforts to advance the understanding of literary, educational, political, and economic issues, for non-profit research and educational purposes only. I believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner, in this instance, New York Times, KWCH-TV Wichita, others.

For more information go to:

formatting link
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: This entire affair has been such a bummer on our entire community in Independence as it has been for the Wichita community. Wichita is 110 miles northwest of us but, it would seem more like *thousands* of miles away. We are actually closer to Tulsa, OK (eighty miles almost straight south of us) and are considered (for retail sales purposes) as being in the 'Tulsa Market'. This is our very first _serial killer_, and the facts as they are falling in place, that he is from Park City, KS (a tiny little town, like us, six miles north of Wichita, a city employee in Park City, a member (with his family) for _thirty years_ of the local Lutheran Church and chairman of the board of the church council for a couple years. A small town family man, city employee and church goer is NOT supposed to be a serial killer, sorry!

I talked to my mother a couple days ago about this sordid mess; she moved back here (from the Chicago area) in 1978, and my brother went to Independence High School, graduating in 1980 I think. Mother said she had never heard a word about this in the now 25 years (this time around) she has lived here. She subscribed to the Wichita newspaper when Dad was alive as well as the Independence Reporter. Murders are _very rare_ in this area; the last one here in Indy was in 2002 I think, and one every four or five years is about our norm. Ditto in Wichita, except murders there are a bit more commonplace; Wichita and Tulsa, where folks claim that 'crime has really gotten very bad' are the 'crime centers' to hear the old people here in Independence talk about it. But a family man, city employee, church-going serial killer in our midst? Its a bit much for the innocents here in our town. PAT]

Reply to
Lisa Minter
Loading thread data ... Forums website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.