Crime & Courts

Suspected Golden State Killer's capture brings back memories of BTK's Wichita arrest

The news conference out of Sacramento on Wednesday where a large group of law enforcement officials and district attorneys announced that — at long last — they'd caught the man they believe is the Golden State serial killer, felt oddly familiar in Wichita.

It was particularly familiar to those who were living in Wichita in February of 2005, when Wichita was in a similar situation.

That's when a serial killer, who'd identified himself as BTK (for Bind, Torture, Kill) and who killed 10 people in Wichita from 1974 to 1991, resurfaced to taunt the police.

The city was on edge.

On a Saturday morning, local law enforcement called a news conference, one that looked and sounded a lot like what the nation saw on Wednesday afternoon, when California officials announced that they'd arrested Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., who they say is the Golden State Killer.

Details between the case against Rader, who is serving 10 consecutive life terms at the El Dorado Correctional Facility, and the ones police in California revealed about their case against DeAngelo have more than a few similarities. In fact, BTK and the Golden State Killer have been compared for years in true-crime online chat forums.

Past coverage of the BTK case

Here are a few similarities between the two cases:

Both suspects lived in unassuming suburbs: DeAngelo was picked up on Tuesday at his single-story home in a quiet neighborhood in Citrus Heights, a suburb of Sacramento. Rader was living with his wife in Park City, a suburb of Wichita.

Both eluded capture for years: Rader committed his last murder in 1991 and wasn't caught until 2005, 13 years later. The Golden State Killer's last known murder happened in 1986, and DeAngelo was apprehended in 2018, 32 years later.

The two are roughly the same age and were active during the same time: DeAngelo is 72 years old, and he is suspected of committing 12 murders and at least 50 rapes between 1976 to 1986. Rader is 73 killed his 10 victims between 1974 and 1991.

Both used elaborate knots when subduing their victims: The Golden State Killer also was referred to as the Diamond Knot Killer because of the unusual Chinese knot he used to bind some of his victims. Rader, whose "BTK" moniker referred to the fact that he bound his victims, also used elaborate knots that he taught boys to tie when he was a Boy Scout leader.

DNA helped lead to their capture: During Wednesday's news conferences, law enforcement officials said that they were able to capture DeAngelo after collecting a discarded item that had his DNA on it. Wichita police also used DNA to help capture Dennis Rader, getting a court order to obtain Rader's daughter’s pap smear specimen without her knowledge and matching it to DNA collected at a crime scene. When the DNA matched, police were able to get an arrest warrant and picked Rader up.

Both captures were announced at a theatrical news conference: That Saturday news conference where Rader's arrest was announced was long, and after the police and city officials gathered at the podium had all finished congratulating each other and finally revealed Rader's name, 42 minutes had passed. All three national cable networks had already cut away.

The news conference on Wednesday in Sacramento wasn't quite that long, but District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert gave a more than 8-minute introduction, naming 11 politicians, attorneys and law enforcement people gathered, before introducing the Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones. He spoke another two minutes before naming DeAngelo. The conference continued for nearly an hour and included nine speakers.