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What's in BTK boxes?

  • Published Wednesday, March 14, 2007, at 8:24 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at 4:53 p.m.

While he was in the Sedgwick County Jail, BTK serial killer Dennis Rader filled three boxes with personal items. Now two lawyers representing the families of his victims know what's inside.

Mark Hutton and James Thompson told The Eagle on Wednesday that what they saw included:

  • An envelope labeled "D.R.' s locks" — containing clippings of his hair. It was in a box that smelled of body odor and also held a razor, socks and other personal items. He marked one envelope "collectibles." Thompson said that shows Rader wants to profit from "murderabilia."
  • A letter from Paula Rader — who was married to him for 35 years, before their recent divorce — in which she asked him not to call their children because hearing his voice would upset them. In other correspondence, his grown children expressed concern for his mental well-being.
  • A prescription for an anti-depressant.
  • Newspaper clippings, including an advertisement with a photo of a young girl circled, and a photo of entertainer Jessica Simpson. The lawyers said these confirm prosecutors' arguments that Rader will use normally harmless materials to fuel the sexual fantasies that led him to kill 10 people in and around Wichita from 1974 to 1991.

The lawyers said District Judge Timothy Lahey allowed them to view the items Tuesday in a conference room in the Sedgwick County Jail. The boxes were seized by court order in August.

The lawyers said they plan to take legal action within the next month to gain custody of the items.

Hutton represents Georgia Mason, mother of murder victim Nancy Fox, and the families of victims Dolores Davis and Kathryn Bright. Thompson represents the family of victim Vicki Wegerle; Steve Relford, son of victim Shirley Vian; and Dale Fox, father of Nancy.

Hutton and Thompson say Rader intended the items to go to Kristin Casarona, a Topeka woman writing a book about him. The boxes were addressed to her mother. Hutton used a court order to impound the items before Rader could send them.

Casarona declined to comment Wednesday, but one of her lawyers, Kevin Phillips, said she wants only those items in the boxes "directed to her for her writing," including correspondence between her and Rader.

"It's never been Kris' understanding that she would do anything so he (Rader) could secretly profit," Phillips said.

"She's not going to sell his locks of hair, then send him the money."

The idea of selling a killer's souvenirs is repugnant to her, he said.

Some items Rader collected while in jail could have been intended for his family, Phillips said.

"It's my understanding they're not interested in it."

The book Casarona is writing has evolved into a look at her experiences dealing with Rader, Phillips said.

Many of the letters Hutton perused appeared to be from a few weeks before Rader's sentencing in August 2005. Rader is serving 10 consecutive life sentences at El Dorado Correctional Facility.

Even after Rader confessed to the murders, some people writing to him seemed to be in denial, Hutton said. One person wrote that the DNA used as evidence against Rader must come from one of his relatives, not him.

In the letters, "Dennis had quite a following of people showing him support," Hutton said.

If the victims' families gain custody of the boxes, it would be their decision what do to with them, the lawyers said. One option, they said, would be to destroy the items.

The families want to keep the items off Internet sites that cater to collectors of crime memorabilia, Hutton and Thompson said.

Victims' families also have filed wrongful death lawsuits against Rader. The families Thompson represents are seeking half of what Paula Rader would receive from the sale of the Park City house where the couple lived for years.

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