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Judge lifts mail ban, allows Rader contact with author

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, March 14, 2007, at 8:24 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at 11:32 a.m.

Kristen Casarona will be going to visit Dennis Rader again. She just doesn't know when.

Rader, the admitted BTK killer who terrorized Wichita for decades, is free under a court order issued Friday to talk with Casarona, who is writing a book about his life, and to receive mail from journalists without his lawyers first going through it.

Sedgwick County prosecutors and Rader's public defenders agreed Friday to his request that the order preventing Casarona from contacting him be lifted.

"I'm going to try and see him during regular visitation on Monday, and I'm taking this order," Casarona said Friday afternoon. "I don't know whether they'll let me until the paperwork has time to clear. But I've come too far to quit now."

Rader's lawyers, meanwhile, had asked Sedgwick County District Judge Greg Waller to let them screen his mail. They especially wanted to screen requests from news media, because of worldwide interest in Rader's gruesome legacy of taking the lives of 10 people — mostly women — in the Wichita area.

"His mail will still be subject to the regular screening procedures at the jail," Sarah McKinnon, one of Rader's lawyers, said Friday.

It was the first major court decision since Rader's graphic guilty plea Monday, when he outlined how his sexual fetishes led him to stalk people whom he would bind, torture and kill.

Rader likes letters.

As the faceless BTK, his letters started in the 1970s. He gave himself the moniker and pleaded for recognition through the news, which he has finally received on the level he craved. He wrote notes bragging about the murders. He mailed pictures to The Eagle of a bound, dying woman in different poses. He wrote poems about his victims' suffering.

Rader still writes — now from the Sedgwick County Jail, answering the advances of women who crave his attention.

Rader wanted his mail. Last month, he called Wichita television station KSNW to complain that he hadn't received the many requests for interviews that likely have poured in since his February arrest. After his plea Monday, he asked his lawyers to make the motion to rescind the orders restricting access to him.

Both the state and the defense agreed, and Waller signed off on the request Friday.

But not everyone is happy with Rader's contacts.

Casarona said Friday her life has become more difficult since her interviews with Rader became public. Her employer — she works in oil and gas in Topeka — told her she can't have a leave of absence to work on a BTK book. She has heard the criticism of those who question her intent to write a book about Rader with a Christian message.

"I've suffered a lot for it," she said. "My life has changed a lot in the past two weeks."

But Casarona has always said that she believed the church helped Rader stop killing. The 60-year-old served as president of Christ Lutheran Church in Park City, where the congregation still is working through its shock and grief.

In Christianity, even BTK can find salvation, and Jesus is found in the jail cells with even the worst of society.

These are the kinds of talks Casarona wants to have with Rader. She's hoping she won't always have to visit him from behind a glass partition with no notebook or recording device in 15-minute intervals under regular jail rules.

"If I have to sit talking to him through a glass, it's not easy to do," she said. "It's tough to do a book that way."

She's one of the ones interested in what Rader has to say.

Others aren't.

From all reports, among those who have had very little contact with Rader since his arrest are his family — a devoted wife and two children, whom he also deceived for years.

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