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Rader's house sells for $90,000

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, March 14, 2007, at 8:24 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at 1:31 p.m.

In one of the more unusual chapters of the BTK story, serial killer Dennis Rader's small Park City home sold at auction Monday night for $90,000 — $33,000 more than the appraised value.

The winning bidder is a Derby exotic-dance-club owner, Michelle Borin, a woman familiar to Wichitans from her late-night Michelle's Beach House commercials.

Minutes after the much-publicized sale ended, Borin smiled to reporters and said: "I'm a real estate investor. I'd like to see all the proceeds go to Mrs. Rader and help her family out."

The bidding, which lasted about 35 minutes, started at $40,000 and quickly rose to $75,000.

Thirty to 40 bidders attended the auction, held in the wooded backyard of the home where Rader and his wife raised their two children.

Police blocked off Independence Street to limit curiosity-seekers. Neighbors watched the auction across fences as the auctioneer's voice boomed across the normally quiet neighborhood.

In an interview with The Eagle, Borin said her only motivation is to help Rader's wife, Paula, and her children because their lives have been shattered by his arrest.

"I've worked very hard all my life to get where I'm at today," said Borin, a 45-year-old with two grown children. "I couldn't even imagine what she (Paula Rader) is going through. This is the least I can do.

"I couldn't even imagine my husband being the BTK" killer.

Rader, a 60-year-old Park City compliance supervisor, pleaded guilty last month to 10 counts of first-degree murder for crimes from 1974 to 1991. He faces sentencing Aug. 17.

"I know I overbid on the house," Borin said.

Asked about her plans for the property, she said: "At this time I have no plans."

Some other bidders were wondering whether the home could be sold for profit — in pieces on the Internet.

"That's never crossed my mind," Borin said.

Because she runs a topless dance club, she said, she realizes people will question her motives.

"I know where my heart's at, and one of these days, I'd like to meet Mrs. Rader and the kids."

Having grown up in Wichita, Borin said she knows the terror other Wichitans felt while the killer stalked the streets.

"I remember locking our doors. I grew up with the story."

What about Dennis Rader?

"I don't want a... penny (from the sale) to go to this man," she said.

What if she can't recoup her investment?

"If it takes me another 45 years... to pay for it, then I'll do that."

Asked for the Rader family's reaction to the sale, auctioneer Lonny McCurdy said they found the result "satisfactory." He was dealing with an intermediary.

Friday, a Sedgwick County district judge ordered sale proceeds to be sent to the court clerk. The court will decide whether the money will be used to settle wrongful-death lawsuits filed against Rader by victims' families.

The sales price shocked some. Byron Jones of Andover said he would have paid $60,000.

"This house is going to sell inch-by-inch on the Internet," he said.

Jones estimated that the house was worth $56,000. Why would it sell for $90,000?

"The difference is who he is," he said.

The 960-square-foot ranch home, built in 1954, has an appraised value of about $57,000.

Some neighbors had speculated that the house might sell for less because Rader lived there. One of his victims, Marine Hedge, killed in 1985, lived down the street.

In comments leading up to the auction, McCurdy said he was trying to treat the sale like any other. Over the sound system Monday evening, he never used the words "BTK" or "serial killer," referring to it only as the "Dennis Rader and Paula Rader property."

McCurdy told bidders that the property was zoned as a residential tract and would stay that way.

But it wasn't a typical sale. McCurdy had four times the normal number of staff on hand. Park City police guarded access to the house and rode by on bicycles.

Earlier, the bidders got to walk through the home after showing they were serious potential buyers by having $2,500 in earnest money available.

They could see the bathroom Rader used for years. Someone had opened the medicine cabinet. Still taped to the cabinet door were two newspaper clippings, one clearly from The Eagle, with tips on how to keep from getting a cold and how to distinguish a cold from the flu.

After the sale, several neighbors shook their heads and sighed as Borin rode off.

"I just hope they don't turn it into some money-making deal for themselves," said Sam Winegarner, a 45-year-old railroad worker who lives a few houses away.

Winegarner and his neighbor, Jim Reno, echoed what others who live on Independence said.

"It's been a freak show," Reno said. "We get all kinds of weirdoes around here now." People drive by looking for the serial killer's home.

Reno hoped that the home would go to a family or get bulldozed.

Regardless of what happens, no one expects the steady stream of creeping cars to stop.

"I'm ready for this to be over," said Kim Van Dusen, who lives across the street from Rader's former home.

She stood among 12 people listening to the auction from the curb.

"We'd like to meet our new neighbors," Van Dusen said after the final bid. "I'm really anxious to meet them."

She only hopes her new neighbors meet some key criteria.

"We just want somebody that's not wanted by the law. No sex offenders. And definitely no serial killers."

To keep the short street from turning into a traffic jam, police blocked off both ends. People could walk up but couldn't loiter.

Tim Sutton and Elizabeth Latta were among the first people police officers asked to move along after they tried to snap a few photos of the house.

"This thing is known throughout the nation," Sutton said. "I thought that these photos might be worth something.

"Somebody may want them for a book," he said. "I don't know, maybe that's sick."

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