Published December 02, 2004
WICHITA, Kan. – Police are testing the DNA of a person of interest in the decades-long BTK killer (search) case, FOX News confirmed Thursday, but they insist they have not nailed down a suspect.
ABC affiliate KAKE-TV (search) in Wichita reported that a 64-year-old man with a Hispanic surname was taken into custody Wednesday night on unrelated charges. The man was released on Thursday after posting bond.
Police have scolded the media for reporting the arrest and say they haven't brought anyone in for the BTK serial murders.
Kansas Bureau of Investigation (search) spokesman Kyle Smith told reporters that the DNA report could be available before Friday. Smith said the man may not have anything to do with the case.
BTK, the killer's self-coined nickname, stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill." He has been linked to eight unsolved homicides that terrorized Wichita between 1974 and 1986. After years of silence, the killer resurfaced by sending letters to police and media this year.
Wichita police spokeswoman Janet Johnson said no arrest has been made in the BTK case and that investigators have received thousands of tips.
If people named in the tips have outstanding warrants, they are picked up, she said. That's what happened Wednesday night, when the man was arrested, she said. Johnson said police have tested hundreds of samples of blood and DNA since the 1980s.
An upset police chief Norman Williams called the speculation about an arrest in the BTK case a "travesty."
"We have not, I repeat, we have not, made an arrest in relationship to BTK," Williams told reporters Thursday afternoon.
Williams did not take any questions from reporters, and his statement to the media did not directly address the arrest of a man taken into custody Wednesday night on minor trespassing and housing code violations.
The man was detained on six bench warrants, including failure to perform upkeep on his home, keeping broken cars in his yard and an old criminal trespass warrant, which was related to domestic violence, according to the jail booking log. Police declined to release any additional details.
He was originally being held on $40,000 bond, $25,000 of it cash, but a Wichita judge reduced the bond to $650. The man was let go after posting the bond on Thursday.
Dressed in an orange jumpsuit, the "person of interest" answered "Yes, Ma'am" to Judge Jennifer Jones when she asked him if he recalled failing to appear in court on charges of trespassing in violation of a restraining order and on housing code violations.
He's scheduled to appear in court again in early January.
The charges allowed police to search the man's home. Witnesses said police carried out several boxes and bags from the house, which is within a block of railroad tracks.
One neighbor told KAKE that she sold the house to the man in 1976 and that he moved in with a wife and four young children, but they left soon after and he's lived by himself ever since.
Other neighbors said the man once worked for camping equipment firm Coleman Company, where two of the BTK killer's victims also worked.
Criminal profiler Pat Brown (search) told FOX that the person of interest fits the profile police have set up for the BTK killer.
Attention refocused on BTK in March, when The Wichita Eagle received a letter with information on an unsolved 1986 killing. The letter contained a copy of the victim's driver's license and photos of her body.
It was the first communication from the killer since the late 1970s, and police said it linked the serial killer to the 1986 slaying. The other seven slayings were in the 1970s, with BTK claiming responsibility for those deaths in letters to the Eagle and a television station.
Police have received thousands of tips from the public since March.
On Tuesday, police released a summary of personal details provided in recent letters they believe were sent by the killer, including scattered facts about his life.
He suggested he was born in 1939, lost his father in World War II and is a railroad buff. The statement did not say where he was born or where he lived, but that his family moved frequently and always lived near railroad tracks.
He also claimed to attend church and Sunday school when he was younger and wrote that he had a female acquaintance named Petra and she had a sister named Tina. He wrote that he went to military school and joined the military around 1960. He lived with his mother after he left the armed forces.
FOX News' Alicia Acuna, Denis King and The Associated Press contributed to this report.