Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The BTK Story

BTK Suspect Arrested

Monday, Feb 28 12 p.m. update

Law enforcement in Wichita are 99.9% sure that the suspect they have in custody, 59-year-old Dennis Rader, is the BTK killer, but while the tone of the February 26 news conference morning was confident, very few details of the investigation were divulged.

The 46 minutes of news conference self congratulations on "catching" BTK seems a bit misplaced considering that after 30 years of so-called investigation, police were not even able to tie three victims (Wegerle, Hedge and Davis) to BTK.  Let's also not forget that had it not been for his daughter, Kerri Rader, cooperating with the police before the arrest, there probably would have been no arrest. It's hard to understand how so much investigative effort on the part of Wichita police and the FBI failed to respond to the obvious clues in Rader's past that tied in with the profile that had been developed for BTK:

  • He went to Wichita State University, where one BTK letter was photocopied and a Professor P.J. Wyatt had exposed in her classes the poem "Oh, Death" from which BTK created one of his poems.
  • He was in the Air Force. It was long speculated that BTK got the letters from "Born To Kill," a USAF squadron term. He may have met BTK victim Joseph Otero, also in the Air Force at that time.
  • He worked at Coleman's, where two other victims worked
  • He is an odd guy with a need to exert power and control as evidenced by the code compliance position he held with the Park City government. Several of his neighbors have gone on the record calling him a bureaucratic "bully." This type of behavior is consistent with a sadistic serial killer and should have been a red flag to investigators.
  • He lived nearby some victims, even on the same street as one of them.

It will be interesting to know if Rader was on any of the lists of suspects that police had collected over the past 30 years and, if so, why did they not collect any DNA from him?

It would be very surprising if some other cold cases don't turn out to be BTK victims as well. To name a few that have been listed by Wichita residents on Internet bulletin boards

  • "Nov. 12, 1974: Sherry Baker, a Wichita State University student
    stabbed in her apartment. Hands tied behind back (with a coiled telephone cord)
    No sign of forced entry.
  • June 29, 1985: Linda Shawn Casey, a Wichita State University student
    found dead on the bedroom floor of her home bound, beaten, sexually assaulted, tabbed repeatedly. No sign of forced entry. At the time, BTK was mentioned as a possibility but discounted due to the length of time since his last known victim.
  • Nov, 12, 1999: Tina Frederick, lived a few blocks from BTK victim Shirley Vian.
    Found shot to death in her apartment - lying on a bedroom floor."

Also, it's likely that there are even other BTK victims. Serial killers can't stop, they just become more imaginative about hiding their crimes.

District Attorney Nola Foulston said there is no statute of limitations on murder. However, the dealth penalty was not approved in Kansas until 1994. No death penalty applies to murder cases committed before 1994. In other words, the BTK case may not a capital case, unless they can tie him to new murders that occurred in 1994 or later.

Prosecutors will not be discussing the case publically after any charges are filed, Foulston said, to ensure that information released does not harm the trial.

Dennis Rader, suspect
Dennis Rader, suspect

Two new victims have been uncovered in the investigation, bringing the number of BTK victims from eight to ten.

Marine Hedge, victim
Marine Hedge, victim
The two victims most recently attributed to Rader have been identified as Marine Hedge, 53, and Delores "Dee" Davis, 62. The Wichita Eagle reported that Hedge was abducted from her home on Independence Street in Park City on April 27, 1985. She had been strangled by a pair of pantyhose and found eight days later on a rural dirt road near 143rd East and 37th North Street. The article stated that the case bore marked similarities to several other BTK murders in that, "the phone line at Hedge's home was cut" and her car had been driven from the crime scene to another location. Roxana Hegeman of The Associated Press claimed that Rader actually lived on the same street as Hedge. 

Delores Davis, victim
Delores Davis, victim

Delores Davis was abducted from her home on January 19, 1991 and found 13 days later under a bridge on 117th Street North near Meridian, Kansas. Her hands and feet had been bound with the pantyhose that were used to strangle her. According to the Wichita Eagle, her murderer cut the phone line at her home and "then threw a brick through a glass door at the rear of her home to get inside." After disposing of Davis' body, the killer drove her car to another location and abandoned it. Davis' murder remained unsolved for more than a decade.


In 2004, there was a great deal of excitement when police arrested a man that the media believed was connected to the BTK case. At around 7:30 in the evening on December 1,   2004 after a day of heavy surveillance, police arrested a 64-year-old man at his south Wichita residence. It was initially reported that the arrest was made in connection with the BTK case and was prompted by a tip off from an unidentified caller into the BTK information hotline. However, investigators later denied that the man arrested was in any way linked to the murder investigation.


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