Mon, Feb 28, 2005 - Page 7 News List

US police arrest suspected killer

FACE OF EVIL Authorities in Kansas were overjoyed to have seemingly cracked a case that is at least three decades old, involving seven or more slayings

AFP , WASHINGTON

Police have arrested the alleged serial killer suspected of at least seven brutal slayings in Kansas starting in the 1970s, Kansas authorities announced Saturday.

Authorities said they had arrested 59-year-old Dennis Rader, a citizen of Park City, Kansas, on Friday, after police pulled the man over in his vehicle during a "routine" stop.

"The bottom line: BTK is arrested," said Wichita police chief Norman Williams, describing the investigation as "the most intense and challenging" of his department's entire history.

Suspect

"He is being held in an undisclosed location," Lieutenant Ken Landwehr said of the suspect, adding: "We will be approaching the district attorney's office next week ... to see if charges will be filed against this individual."

The Kansas serial killer -- who once referred to himself as "BTK," for "bind, torture, kill" -- is accused of murdering four women, two children and one man between 1974 and 1977.

Admission

The investigation was reopened in March last year after the killer, who had remained silent for decades, wrote to a local television station. Among the information he gave at that time was an admission that he had killed another woman in the 1980s.

Police said on Saturday that they were investigating the man's involvement in nine killings, including that April 1985 murder and one more killing in January 1991.

Authorities released a photograph of a smiling Rader on Saturday.

The balding man, wearing eyeglasses and sporting a moustache, was said to have lived on the same street as one of the victims.

A DNA test of sperm left at one of the murder victims' homes was analyzed in the 1980s but did not yield a match.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston said during Saturday's news conference that the investigation was still ongoing.

However, she said the files would be sealed once the investigation was closed, to ensure it remained as "pristine" as possible for court proceedings.

Foulston said the accused man will not be eligible for the death penalty because the murders occurred before Kansas reintroduced capital punishment in 1994.

The killer first struck in January 1974, murdering four members of the Otero family, a married couple and their 11-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son. Both children were strangled.

Taunted police

BTK began taunting police, bragging in the first of a series of letters to them that he had acted alone, after they arrested a suspect.

The letter, full of spelling mistakes, was concealed in a book at the local Wichita library. The killer called the local newspaper, the Wichita Eagle, to tell reporters where to find it.

The suspect went on to murder three more women, all in their 20s.

Last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a statement revealing that authorities -- who had re-established communication with the killer after he began to contact the media in March last year -- had confirmed two letters that had been received as authentically coming from BTK.

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