The BTK strangler thinks he has outsmarted everyone, and he sent photocopied snapshots of a victim's body — strangled in 1986 — to prove it, says a former FBI profiler of serial killers.
It's as if BTK is saying: "'Look at what I've done.' He can't resist doing that," said Gregg McCrary, a former FBI profiler who operates a criminology consulting business in Virginia.
For many serial killers, communicating with and taunting the media and law enforcement and frightening the public is like "playing God. It's a heady, intoxicating experience" for them, McCrary said.
"So they're not afraid to make contact with you (the media) or police — that's all a part of the game for a guy like this.
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"He's outwitted law enforcement and everybody else all these years."
During his tenure at the FBI, McCrary said, the BTK case periodically came up in conversations about old, unsolved serial murder cases.
What is unusual about the latest development in the Wichita case, he said, is the "huge gap in time" between BTK's communications. Before last Friday, the last confirmed contact with BTK was in 1979.
"I can't think of another case like that," McCrary said.
"Where has he been?"
A good guess is prison, he said. Whatever his status, something has kept him from communicating, McCrary said.
John Philpin, a retired forensic psychologist in Vermont who has written seven books about serial killers, said, "It would be kind of hard to believe that he would be sitting right there in Wichita all that time."
Philpin wonders: "What was satisfying him" — his criminal drive — between 1986 and 2004?
Serial killers commonly take or leave something at homicide scenes. In the 1986 killing of Vicki Wegerle, BTK took disturbing snapshots of her lying, bound, on a floor.
It would be hard to say what the pictures represent to BTK, Philpin said. But he speculated that the images "could be tokens to re-stimulate memories of the event."
Philpin felt confident of one thing: "He'll contact you again. I don't think he'll wait too long.
"I think he'll savor the next few days" because people will be afraid, people will be alert.
"He's got the pot stirred."
Philpin, who on Wednesday read newspaper articles to acquaint himself with BTK's crimes, concluded that the killer was methodical — using "elaborate forethought."
"Everything he does has a purpose."
Philpin was struck, for example, that in the latest letter, BTK typed "Oldmanor" instead of "Old Manor" in an apparently bogus return address.
And he wondered whether it was only coincidence that one of the killings occurred on March 17 and that the latest letter was postmarked March 17.
"It's scary, but it's a very fascinating case," he said.