EXCERPTS FROM FRIDAY'S POLICE BRIEFING

07/10/2005 12:00 AM

03/27/2012 12:41 PM

Here is a sampling of what police said during a four-hour briefing Friday night on how they identified and arrested BTK.

Lt. Ken Landwehr: Good evening. We're going to go through tonight what happened in the last 14-15 months....

We will not talk about the specific crimes themselves; what we will talk about is our investigation, some of the things that back up the communications that came from Mr. Rader, and a little bit about the evidence that led us to Mr. Rader, around Feb. 15, 16 is when this started.

This is a copy of the actual letter he left at the Wichita library in October of 1974.... In this Mr. Rader will state that we have the wrong people in custody, and he will detail in this letter, which is typed out here, basically the position of the Otero family.... It is signed "Yours truly," and he will put code words down, starting to talk in code words, and he calls himself "Bind, torture and kill — BTK."...

On March 17 of 1977 will be the next time that Mr. Rader will commit a homicide. It was of course Shirley Vian Relford. After that homicide, we will have Nancy Fox, Dec. 8, 1977, as well.

On Jan 31, 1978, the card was mailed to The Wichita Eagle. Basically, it was called Shirley Locks poem, where he takes the Curly Locks poem, changes some words, plagiarizes the poem, and mails it to The Wichita Eagle.

On 2/7/78, KAKE would receive a mailing. We will have the "O, Death to Nancy" which is the "O, Death" folksong. During our investigation it appeared that this came from the folklore class at WSU taught by P.J. Wyatt. We will find out in our interview with Mr. Rader that this is not true, that he did not know Dr. Wyatt....

We thought at one time that he was trying to mask his writing skill or intelligence. The fact is that Mr. Rader is a very bad speller and doesn't know how to write....

One of the things that will come out of this letter is that he will let us know he put semen in a nightgown, a blue nightgown, at the head of the victim, and we will recover evidence from that scene. We recovered that nightgown, and later we were able to get a profile from that nightgown that matches the DNA of Mr. Rader.

He talks about the next victim. He will say that he will bind her... . He will also send a drawing, a hand drawing, which is very accurate to the crime scene.

In April 1979 a burglary occurred on Pinecrest Street at Mrs. Anna Williams' house. On 6/14, BTK will claim that burglary. It was not charged because of the statute of limitations. He entered the scene through a basement window. Items were piled in a guest bedroom.

Mrs. Williams was not present... . He will leave prior to her arrival back home.

In this case we will get a poem that again we believe is plagiarized. We have not, to this day, been able to find where this poem was copied from, but Mr. Rader tells us he copied it from a book....

On Jan. 5, 1988, two days earlier we had just arrested Bill Butterworth for a triple homicide that was discovered on the 31 of Jan, 1987. Mr. Butterworth was arrested in Florida in their vehicle. He was brought back and was later acquitted in that triple homicide. Two days after we arrested him, the mother of this family, who had been out of town during this homicide, and returned home to find her husband (Phillip) Fager and two daughters dead in the residence. She received a letter, she was no longer living in this residence, in fact westill had the residence under control of the police, and it was delivered to the homicide section.

When opening the letter, because of the way it was stamped and position and letters on the envelope itself we believed it was a BTK letter. It said, basically, "Oh, God, he put Sherri and Kelli in the tub." It was not claiming the Fager homicide, but praising the perpetrator of the homicide... for doing what he would like to do, and that another person was out there doing the same things. There was a drawing ofa naked adolescent that was tied up and sitting next to a pool. This was not accurate to the crime scene photographs at all. It was basically a drawing of what he thought might have happened, but it had no accuracy at all to the actual crime that happened on Jan. 31.

Going forward to what precipitated our investigation of BTK, it would be the letter that was received by the Wichita police about a homicide on 3/22/04. This letter tied together a homicide that was unsolved at that time, Vicki Wegerle... .

New speaker: In 2000 Detective Otis and I were assigned to the Vicki Wegerle case as a cold case. We collected several items of evidence and submitted them to forensics for testing. It was determined that DNA of an unknown male was available from under Vicki Wegerle's fingernails. The profile had been run through code, but there was no match at that time....

We had not been able to come up with a profile from Nancy Fox.... Even though we had semen at the scene, we were not able to get a DNA profile from the early years.... Since we had used up a lot of the Nancy Fox sample in 1988, we decided to use what limited amount we had left and submit those and went through all the evidence and submitted it to forensic science, and that was undergoing testing at the time I was informed of the... letter mailed to The Wichita Eagle....

Detective Gouge was the first to see it. They are photos of Vicki Wegerle that appear to have been taken inside her house, at the crime scene on West 13th, in 1986.... The police department did not have photographs of Mrs. Wegerle in her home at the time of the attack, because EMS had transported her prior to any police arriving with a camera. So obviously when we saw these Polaroid photographs we believed they had to be taken by her killer. Also a photo of her Kansas driver's license was included....

We immediately contacted Lt. Landwehr and the odyssey began.

Detective Relph: We anticipated a large amount of phone calls and tips about BTK resurfacing, so we set up a system. We also tried to get a place outside of City Hall so we could stay away from the main part of city business....

New speaker: We would eliminate any person in jail at the time of any of the killings, and anyone whose sample of DNA record did not match our suspect. We were taking names as they came up. If they matched the other criteria, we would go out and request a swab for a DNA test from the men whose names came up.... We would not waste time on background on these individuals. If their swab was eliminated, we did not deal with them anymore, no matter what the rest of their profile....

BTK's next communication was in May. The communication was mailed to KAKE-TV, and for the first time we see... that he has decided to write his own story: 'The BTK Story, A Serial Killer is Born' (he lists chapter names).... Along with this was Chapter 8, which was the word puzzle.

Kellyn Otis: We sent it to the FBI cryptology lab thinking maybe there was something else we didn't see. They used their expertise in code-breaking... and sent us a report back finding the same words we had found. So we were satisfied when we got that report back from the FBI that this was a basic, simple word search puzzle....

Then the tips began to come in, about the other things that were supposedly in there, such as murder victim names, etc. But we frankly could not find those....

When we arrested Rader, we found the puzzle key when we searched his office. It is the key of his original words before he filled in the blanks. Mr. Rader's own key does not contain his name, address, or any of the other clues that were reported to be there. Mr. Rader himself found the reports of all the hidden clues in the word-search puzzle to be quite comical.

New speaker: One communication that we withheld from a press release later on was that it would be at First and Kansas on June 13. This was a small manila envelope that was found by a citizen on his way to work....

On this communication we have the BTK story, with Chapter 8, the word puzzle, crossed out, and a copy of another original document, with the BTK symbol at the bottom. There were four pages called Chapter 1, A Serial Killer is Born,... related to a cold January day where he graphically describes the death of the Oteros.... It was typed on a manual typewriter in February, 1974, and had never been sent to anyone before. Mr. Rader confirms this. He wrote it in February of 1974, so even back then he had decided he was going to write about his actions....

One thing Mr. Rader tells us later on is that on every one of his communications, he would call KAKE-TV and The Wichita Eagle and tell them what he was doing, and he would get hung up on. He was frustrated and wondering why no one would take him seriously.

He would copy, cut out, copy again. He would go to two or three different stores and use as many different copies as possible, until he would find what he would call the clean sheet. That's the one he would go with. These originals were all found in his locked file cabinet in his office at work....

The next communication comes on July 17, 2004.

We were sent to the downtown library who had contacted Lt. Landwehr on Saturday morning.... It was a letter from BTK saying he was preparing another chapter for us, but that something had happened to cause him to stop and write immediately.

This was a reference to Jake Allen, who was found deceased on the railroad tracks outside of Argonia. He was trying to get us to believe he had inside knowledge of Jake Allen's death....

It began to look at this time that Rader was trying to direct this investigation....

All of our focus during this entire time was to keep BTK inactive. He was communicating with us, and the last thing we needed was for him to become an active serial killer again and kill somebody, so we enlisted the FBI.... This is why our press releases are the way they are.

Janet Johnson:... The chief stated early on that Lt. Landwehr would be the sole spokesperson. I know that the public didn't believe it, but there was a lot of strategy in everything we did. We knew from the very beginning that ultimately, when we made an arrest, that Lt. Landwehr would do the initial interview, and that we wanted to set up a bond between Lt. Landwehr and BTK.

Every single press release, though you guys thought they were directed to you, they weren't. Every single communication was directed to who we now know is Dennis Rader.... We were very careful not to ever challenge him and not to ever belittle him. He needed to think we had the utmost respect and regard for him.... We were trying so hard not do something that would upset this man and get one of our citizens killed....

Everything was controlled, everything had to be read from a script. He couldn't entertain questions. We couldn't take a chance on upsetting this man. Staff had a real difficult time with that. We got a lot of pressure from the public to be open with them....

We just want you to know what he is. He is not a mastermind; he is a sexual deviant. He's just somebody who wanted to be more important than he is, and unfortunately he would kill people at times.

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