The Wichita Eagle on Sunday published a photo and laudatory birthday wish for a convicted serial killer, Richard Grissom, who turns 50 on Wednesday.
Publishing this on Page 7C of the Celebrations section was a mistake, Eagle publisher William C. Hidlay saidMonday.
"The Eagle's Celebrations announcements are paid advertisements in which we allow readers to recognize special occasions such as anniversaries or birthdays.
"There was nothing in the announcement to indicate his background. There was nothing suspicious about it. We were victimized.
"We sincerely apologize for the grief and heartache this has caused the families of his victims."
Grissom, while a juvenile, pleaded guilty to the murder of an elderly Leavenworth woman in 1977.
In 1989 he murdered three women in Kansas City, including Joan Butler, formerly of Wichita, said Lt. Ken Landwehr, head of the Wichita Police Department's homicide unit.
Grissom also is the prime suspect in the death of Terri Maness in Wichita.
Landwehr was the detective assigned to the Maness case, and helped Kansas City police hunt down Grissom in 1989.
Grissom was convicted for the three Kansas City homicides, though the three bodies were never found.
Sedgwick County authorities never charged him for the Maness homicide but only because they wanted to hold that case in reserve in case Grissom's convictions on the other homicides were ever overturned, Landwehr said.
He's serving time in the state prison system, sentenced to four life terms, Landwehr said. Landwehr didn't like seeing the Celebrations item, but sneaking it into the paper fits with Grissom's profile, he said. "He's quite the little con man."