Like countless others, Kristin Casarona saw Dennis Rader coldly describe his killings in court Monday. Unlike others, she says she has seen a feeling side to the serial killer who terrorized Wichita.
Casarona saw it early this past spring, she said, during one of her 10 visits with Rader at the Sedgwick County jail. He told her he was upset about seeing BTK victims' families on television.
"He said he can't even imagine going through that with his own family, and he'd start to cry."
Casarona, the 38-year-old Topeka woman who told The Eagle last week that she's writing a book about Rader, says she befriended Rader through a series of a letters and the jail visits.
After watching a broadcast of Rader's guilty plea and confession to a judge, she said Tuesday: "It was difficult to see. I'm still processing."
As she listened to him talk about how he stalked and killed his victims, she said, "There was a moment when I felt betrayed.
"I'm still in shock. But knowing him, I still do not see him as evil."
She attributed his detached demeanor to part of his "double life" — what she sees as his ability to compartmentalize.
She thinks he remained detached in the courtroom so he could stay composed as he gave a blow-by-blow account.
"He is very obsessively detail-oriented." To him, she says, going through the details is "like a mathematical process."
"I wish I could talk to him and ask him some questions," like what he was thinking when he spoke in court.
Casarona believes Rader loves his family. At least one prominent serial-killer profiler, Robert Ressler, disagrees with her.
Casarona said Rader told her he loved his wife of 34 years. He referred to their "beautiful children," now grown. And he said: "Kris, what happened to me?"
He never told Casarona he killed anyone and didn't discuss evidence, she said.
But to Casarona, Rader's emotional moments showed he has feelings.
She says she is writing about Rader from a Christian perspective, about healing, forgiveness and "finding light at the end of the darkness."
Because of her contact with Rader and her book plans, she has become a focus of media attention.
Although her friends support her, she said, "most of what I'm hearing from the public is pretty negative."
She said people wonder how anyone can see any good in a man who methodically and brutally strangled 10 people, including children, and has shown no remorse in public.
A court order prevents her and Rader from having further contact with each other, but Rader's lawyer filed motion to rescind that order on Monday.