December 1, 2004

Mayor got first look at startling details

Mayor Carlos Mayans received the message at 6 a.m. Tuesday that the rest of the city would learn four hours later.

On reading the e-mail from City Manager George Kolb and Police Chief Norman Williams, Mayans said he was startled about the nearly two dozen details being released about the serial killer known as BTK.

"I thought, 'BTK, why don't you just turn yourself in?' " Mayans said. "He's obviously tried to give us so much information, and he thinks we're not smart enough to figure it out."

Mayans doesn't hear about all the details of the investigation, but as mayor he gets major briefings from police.

And as a native of Cuba, he said, a detail that jumped out at him was a reference that BTK had a female friend named Petra, an uncommon name among people of Hispanic origin.

"It's an old name," Mayans said. "When I was living in Cuba, I maybe knew two people named Petra."

Mayans said such details may reveal new leads on some of the old BTK cases. Police think BTK killed eight people between the early 1970s and mid '80s.

"The Hispanic references may shed some new light on the Oteros, as the first victims," Mayans said. "There had been some speculations about why they were the first, but they had no connection to the others," who were all were single women.

Four members of the Otero family were BTK's first victims in 1974. Joseph Otero, the father, was a native of Puerto Rico.

BTK resurfaced after decades of silence in March, just a few of months after Mayans assumed office.

Since then, Mayans has seen BTK become the signature of Wichita to much of the world, as news crews from across the globe have flown into south-central Kansas to follow the mystery.

"I had an English news crew ask me if people were afraid," Mayans said. "I told them, no, I don't think people are afraid. They're more curious than anything."

But Mayans stressed that people should remain cautious.

"People should be as careful as they would going to a nightclub, where they might get shot," he said.

Echoing much of the talk around the city Tuesday, Mayans said he thinks BTK is a man who wants to be caught.

"For whatever reason, he wants us to know a lot about him," Mayans said. "Maybe he's sick or dying, or has changed his life. But he wants us to know.

"Or it could just be another game."

So many details, yet so few answers. Mayans said BTK himself may supply them all in time.

"Why not come in and tell us the whole story?" Mayans said. "That's what I think will happen in the end."

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