May 11, 2004

FBI combs letter, seeks ties to BTK

A letter received by a local television station, purportedly written by a serial killer who has resurfaced in Wichita after two decades, is now in the hands of the FBI.

"They will do a thorough analysis utilizing the latest technology and forensic science in order to determine the authenticity of the letter," said Lt. Ken Landwehr, commander of the Wichita police homicide division.

Landwehr said investigators continue to track possible leads from the letter, sent last week to KAKE, Channel 10. Police are searching for information about any incidents from 1974 through 1986 in which suspicious people tried to enter Wichita homes posing as school officers or utilities employees.

Those 12 years are when eight people were killed by a man known as BTK — which stands for bind, torture and kill. No recent deaths have been tied to the serial killer.

The story resurfaced in March after police confirmed that a letter sent to The Wichita Eagle was from BTK.

Last week, KAKE, the local ABC affiliate, received a suspicious letter. Station officials turned it over to police.

"We are proceeding on the possibility that this letter is from BTK," Landwehr said Monday.

Landwehr continued his pleas for help from the public in tracking down the killer. So far, a tip phone line and e-mail address have generated more than 2,000 leads.

"We are specifically interested in talking to anyone who was approached at their residence between 1974 and 1986 by a man presenting himself as an employee of a school or a utility company," Landwehr said. "Obviously, we are not interested in legitimate encounters. We want to know about situations where a man attempted to get into your house under suspicious circumstances."

The KAKE letter contained three pages, including photocopied identifications of "Special Officer" from Southwestern Bell and the Wichita school district. Both SBC and the school district said employees don't show up at homes unannounced.

The copy of the school ID badge contained a logo not used by Wichita public schools until 1988, district spokeswoman Susan Arensman said. She said officials found it on only one document prior to 1986.

There were other inconsistencies, too.

The letter to The Eagle carried the return address of a Bill Thomas Killman: initials, BTK.

The KAKE letter held the return address of a Thomas B. King: initials, TBK.

The letter also contained a cryptic word puzzle. Another sheet appears to list chapters in a book, "The BTK Story," similar to one by author David Lohr and available on Court TV's "Crime Library" Web site.

Since March, law enforcement authorities have subpoenaed records from The Eagle's Internet message board and asked for DNA samples from people around the city as part of their investigation.

The re-emergence of BTK has generated interest worldwide, from mass media outlets to Web chat rooms and bulletin boards. An Internet search Monday for the BTK serial killer turned up more than 1,500 results.


If you have a story of a suspicious man trying to gain access to your Wichita home by posing as a school or utilities official from 1974 to 1986, call Crime Stoppers at 267-2111, e-mail or send a letter to Cold Case, P.O. Box 9202, Wichita, KS 67277-0202.


TheWichita school district, SBC Communications, Westar Energy and the Wichita water department do not send employees to houses unsolicited. Question those who want access to your house if you did not request such a visit. All such employees travel in company or government vehicles with proper logos; they wear uniforms and carry proper identification.

The only school officials who make house calls are teachers, principals and Wichita police resource officers, whom you would know from your child's school. If you don't know them, don't let them in.

SBC employees have identification that has a holographic image of the company logo. Westar meter readers or anyone needing access to yards for repair work will not ask to enter your home.

None of the utilities dispatch people to homes when the residents are not there.

Any suspicious people or activities around your house should be reported to police by calling 911.

If you have any doubts whether a person at your door is actually affiliated with the utility, lock the door and call the utility's customer service department to verify that someone has been dispatched to your house.

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