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Initial judgment by police proves true in Rader's words

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, March 14, 2007, at 8:24 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at 11:07 a.m.

When city and law enforcement officials announced the arrest of Dennis Rader in February, Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams told the world that "BTK is arrested."

That comment drew criticism from some who said it was unfair because Rader had yet to be charged or convicted.

Monday, Williams' words were shown to be correct — by the accused himself.

But in an interview with The Eagle following Rader's pleading guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder, Williams declined to address the criticism or those who had criticized him.

Monday's guilty plea by Dennis Rader shows investigators "had ample information and evidence to arrest him," for the BTK killings, Williams simply said.

Williams said he couldn't elaborate on that evidence, however, because he can't discuss it until after Rader's sentencing in August.

In a statement issued later Monday, Williams said: "I was very confident in the investigation that was conducted by the BTK Task Force and in the solid case that was presented to the district attorney against Dennis Rader."

A key remaining question is whether Rader killed anyone else. Williams also declined to answer that question.

The "only ones that we're aware of, based on our investigation, are the ones he pled to today," Williams said.

"Those are the ones he's acknowledged."

But in general, he added, "We're always actively looking at unsolved homicides."

Because Williams observed police interviews of Rader after his arrest and knew what Rader had told investigators, Williams said he wasn't surprised by Rader's description of his crimes in open court Monday. "It wasn't new to me."

He said he wanted to stress the importance of Rader's guilty plea.

"WPD and the task force members are satisfied that justice is served today with the guilty plea."

For the victims' families and friends and the community, he said, "perhaps this will be the beginning and the opportunity for healing."

"The Police Department's thoughts and prayers go out to all the families that have been affected... over the 31 years.

On Monday, task force detectives escorted victims' families to and from the courtroom, partly to shield them from reporters.

But the purpose of the escorts went deeper, Williams said. Each member of the task force was assigned a different case to investigate, and during that work, they developed relationships with that victim's family. So it was only fitting that they accompanied them at the hearing, to lend support and encouragement and answer any questions, Williams said.

Task force members declined to comment. But a number of them, including police Lt. Ken Landwehr — the lead BTK investigator — took lunch Monday at Scotch & Sirloin to celebrate the guilty plea, police spokeswoman Janet Johnson said.

The lead investigator had steak, cooked rare.

There was "a huge sigh of relief" over the plea, Johnson said.

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