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Who could speak in Rader trial? Among the 247 potential witnesses listed: investigators, victim's relatives, reporters and at least five dead people

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, March 14, 2007, at 8:24 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at 10:15 a.m.

What type of witnesses does it take to build a case against a man accused of being a serial killer?

In BTK suspect Dennis Rader's case, apparently it takes all types.

The prosecution's witness list is one of six documents unsealed Friday by Sedgwick County District Judge Greg Waller.

The list contains 247 names of people who could be called by the state to testify during Rader's trial.

They include more than 150 current or former law enforcement officers and forensic science investigators and at least 17 relatives of BTK's victims. Also listed are three journalists, including Eagle reporter Hurst Laviana and former Eagle reporter, editor and columnist Don Granger, who died in 1995.

Among the civilians listed are people who have had contact with Rader — even his former dentist.

Carol Bibler said her late husband, Dana K. Bibler, a retired dentist, was likely on the list because the Raders were his patients at his Park City practice.

She said her husband retired in 1996, and died last December.

Dana Bibler and Don Granger are among at least five people on the list who are dead.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston could not be reached for comment about why dead people were included on the list that was filed with the court last month.

Other witnesses believe they are on the list because they have interacted with Rader.

David Cloud of Park City said he was on the witness list because he exchanged some letters with Rader after Rader's arrest.

Cloud, a retired minister who said he's been writing to prisoners for about two years, said he's received two letters from Rader, both of which contained references to religion.

"He makes comments about the importance of Christian beliefs," Cloud said.

"I've only known the positive side of him."

Ron Sparkman, a Wichita dog trainer, used to work at ADT Security in the 1980s. Rader, who installed security systems, worked at ADT from November 1974 to July 1988.

Sparkman said he had very little interaction with Rader but knew Rader wasn't popular at ADT.

"None of us liked him. We just kind of tolerated him. He did his job, we did our job," Sparkman said. "He wasn't the kind of guy you wanted to get a beer with after work."

Some people were shocked to find out they were on the witness list.

"You have got to be kidding," said Lee Cocke when told she and her late husband, Claude, were on the list.

Turns out, the couple rented a house to BTK victim Kathryn Bright.

At first Ivan and Darlene Ekstrom did not know why they were on the list.

"You don't think it's for jury duty, do you?" Darlene Ekstrom asked, trying to make sense of the news.

But then she recalled how the couple had played bingo at a hall with recently linked BTK victim Marine Hedge the night of her death in 1985. It was the first and only time she met Hedge, Ekstrom said.

"She was sitting right across from us," Ekstrom recalled. "She had on some gold chains. She was a real cute little woman."

Overwhelmingly, those on the list have connections to law enforcement.

Richard H. Cook, now retired from 30 years of service with the Wichita Police Department, was a detective doing laboratory work in the 1970s. His job involved identification, mostly trying to find and identify fingerprints.

He said his involvement with the BTK cases was only a few minutes' work in 1974 at the Otero house after the four family members were murdered.

The bodies had been taken away by the time he was sent there. He dusted for prints; he took a few photographs. "That was all," he said. "I was there probably only half an hour."

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