Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The BTK Story

Rader Court Hearing

Tuesday, Mar. 03 3:50 p.m. update

Rader on closed-circuit TV, being informed of the charges against him
Rader on closed-circuit TV, being informed of the charges against him

On March 1, 2005, BTK suspect, Dennis L. Rader, appeared on a closed-circuit television in Sedgwick County's District Court to hear the 10 first-degree murder charges filed against him in the murders attributed to the BTK Strangler. Public Defender Steve Osburn, Public Defender Jama Mitchell and Assistant Public Defender Sarah McKinno were the court-appointed lawyers that Judge Greg Waller assigned to represent Dennis Rader during the hearing, the Wichita Eagle reported. The prosecution team will consist of attorneys Kevin O'Connor, Kim Parker and Aaron Smith. Even though the preliminary hearing has been set for mid-March, the Rader defense team will likely need more time to prepare for the case. Thus, the hearing might be pushed up to a later date.

Wichita's KAKE-TV reported that Dennis Rader confessed to some but not all of the crimes, yet the report has not yet been substantiated. In the days following Dennis Rader's arrest, there was a great deal of controversy concerning whether Rader's daughter played a role in his capture. Previously it was widely reported that Kerri Rader, 26, turned her father in and supplied the authorities with DNA samples in mid-February, which allegedly led to her father's arrest. However, according to Sylvester and Witsel's more recent article in the Wichita Eagle, Farmington, Michigan Police Chief Charles Nebus revealed that Kerri Rader actually supplied FBI agents with her DNA after her father had already been arrested, which makes it less likely that she played a direct role, if any, in her father's capture.

Interestingly, David Twiddy reported that Nebus "told The Associated Press that he didn't tell the newspapers a DNA test was being conducted."  Even more intriguing is on a March 2nd Fox News interviewed KAKE-TV anchor Larry Hatteberg who said that a credible source told him that Kerri Rader's DNA was collected when her father was under surveillance and that the results of the test were instrumental in Rader's arrest. To date, the facts remain unclear whether the DNA was obtained prior to or after Dennis Rader was taken into custody.

The police claimed that it wasn't Kerri Rader that led to his arrest but a computer disk that he mailed in a package along with other items to the Wichita television station KSAS. CNN reported that the computer disk was scrutinized by investigators and traced to the Lutheran church, where Dennis Rader presided over the assembly. Police technicians were able to "electronically peel back" information that was thought to have been erased, leading to the discovery of Dennis Rader's name, it was further reported.

To date, the authorities continue to search for evidence that could be used in the case against Rader. Dennis Rader's house has since been searched and several items confiscated, including his computer. Sylvester and Witsel said that metal detectors and shovels are also being used to search areas near Rader's house in the hopes of finding even more evidence. Hatteberg said during the Fox News interview that Wichita's sheriff has actually found new evidence that might be linked to the Dennis Rader BTK case but it is unclear what exactly has been discovered.