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Retrieval of BTK letters proving tough

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, March 14, 2007, at 8:24 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at 4:49 p.m.

A Topeka woman who corresponded with BTK serial killer Dennis Rader while he was in the Sedgwick County Jail has a right to get her letters back from the Sedgwick County prosecutors who subpoenaed them, a judge ruled Friday.

But in a surprising twist, Deputy Sedgwick County District Attorney Kevin O'Connor announced that the letters had recently been subpoenaed by a third party, and that he no longer has them in his possession.

During a Sedgwick County District Court hearing on Friday, O'Connor told District Judge Timothy Lahey that he was bound by law not to disclose the source of the court-issued subpoena that forced him to turn over the documents.

At the close of the hearing, Lahey nevertheless ordered O'Connor to honor an agreement he had previously signed that required him to return the originals but allowed him to keep copies.

O'Connor said after the hearing that he didn't know whether he would be able to get the documents back.

Wichita lawyer Val Wachtel, who is representing Kristin Casarona in her efforts to get back her letters, said he has been trying for weeks to get the documents returned. He said Casarona needs the letters for a book she is writing about Rader.

Although there are no public documents that hint where the letters might be, the only current activity in the case is Attorney General Phill Kline's investigation into a Massachusetts psychologist whose taped interview with Rader ended up on "Dateline NBC" before Rader was sentenced.

Whitney Watson, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said Friday he had no independent knowledge about the location of the Casarona letters.

O'Connor said he would try to determine next week what, if anything, can be done to retrieve the letters.

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