Fund will pay travel costs for families of BTK victims

Kelli Cochran sees the sentencing of Wichita's notorious serial killer as an opportunity for closure — for the community and the families of his victims.

But she doesn't want the families' chance for justice in a Wichita courtroom to set them back financially.

Cochran has opened an account at Wichita Municipal Federal Credit Union to help families of BTK murder victims pay for flights, hotels and meals before and after the Aug. 17 sentencing.

"I feel like as much as they've gone though, it's the least that we can do as a community," said Cochran, a former Wichita Police Department records keeper. "When you stop and think that these were children when their parents were murdered... they grew up without anything that we normally grow up with."

"If every person in Wichita that could donate something would donate $1, that would be an extraordinary amount," she said. "What's $1? An order of french fries. Give that up for a day."

Cochran is unsure how the donations will be distributed. But she said the money will be divided equally among any family members who seek help.

She's in contact with two victims' family members and hopes others will contact her.

Cochran said she felt compelled to open the account because of the effect the BTK murders had on her and the community.

The first BTK murder happened two years after her family moved to Wichita from Conway Springs, she said.

She was 13.

She remembers how women checked their phones for a dial tone when they came home.

Everyone knew BTK cut phone lines before attacking, she said.

Years later, Cochran heard about BTK cases from police officers while working as a records keeper in the Police Department, she said.

She wishes she and others in the community had helped victims' families more immediately after each murder.

If the donations don't cover travel bills, Cochran said she'll pay for the airline tickets "one way or another.

"They're going to be here if they want to be."