TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: BTK Serial Killer Caught from Church Computer Disk

BTK Serial Killer Caught from Church Computer Disk

Lisa Minter (
Wed, 2 Mar 2005 12:53:34 -0600

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

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

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[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]

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