Published February 26, 2005
WICHITA, Kan. – A 31-year manhunt for a serial killer who taunted police with letters about his crimes ended Saturday when authorities said they finally caught up with the man who called himself BTK and linked him to at least 10 murders.
Police said they had arrested a suspect they believe is the notorious BTK serial killer (search) who terrorized Wichita (search) throughout the 1970s and then resurfaced about a year ago after 25 years of silence.
"The bottom line: BTK is arrested," Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams said at a news conference in Wichita with some of the victims' family members.
Police did not say how they identified Rader as a suspect or whether he has said anything since his arrest.
Police arrested Dennis Rader (search), a 59-year-old animal control officer, after his daughter, Kerri Rader, alerted authorities two weeks ago of her suspicion that her father was the BTK killer — a self-coined nickname that stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill."
A blood sample from his daughter was used to confirm DNA tests that linked Rader to eight killings committed between 1974 and 1986, sources told FOX News.
Police said Saturday they have attributed two more slayings to BTK, from 1985 and 1991.
He is being held at the U.S. Marshall's Office in Wichita.
Prosecutor Nola Foulston said that while there is no statute of limitations for homicide, the death penalty would not apply to any crime committed before 1994, when the death penalty was introduced in Kansas.
BTK sent letters to media about the crimes in the 1970s, but stopped for more than two decades before re-establishing contact last March with a letter about an unsolved 1986 killing.
Since then, authorities said the killer has sent at least eight letters to the media or police, including three packages containing jewelry that police believed may have been taken from the killer's victims. One letter contained the driver's license of victim Nancy Fox (search).
The new letters sent chills through Wichita, but also rekindled hope that modern forensic science could find some clue that would finally lead police to a killer most thought was dead or safely locked in prison for some other crime.
Thousands of tips poured in, and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation conducted hundreds of DNA swabs in connection with the BTK investigation.
Investigators searched a house in a Wichita suburb Friday and seized computer equipment, but police, prosecutors and the FBI all declined to comment about any possible connection to the BTK case.
A source with knowledge of the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity said surveillance gave police their "first big piece" of recent evidence, leading authorities to a vehicle and the suspect.
"This has not been an easy task," Wichita Mayor Carlos Mayans said Saturday. "Our fine police department has been, at times, questioned. Their competence was questioned, and their actions were often second-guessed.
"But all the while, these officers were steadfast in their commitment to solve the biggest police case in Wichita's history," Mayans said.
The BTK slayings began in 1974 with the strangulations of Joseph Otero, 38, his wife, Julie, 34, and their two children.
The letters began that same year, with poems and graphic descriptions of the crimes. The killer even called police with details of Fox's 1977 slaying.
When one of his messages, a poem sent to The Wichita Eagle-Beacon in 1978, was mistakenly routed to the classified ads department, BTK sent a letter to KAKE-TV days later complaining: "How many do I have to kill before I get my name in the paper or some national attention?"
Another letter to the newspaper also underscored BTK's need for recognition.
"How about some name for me, its time: 7 down and many more to go," it read in part. "I like the following. How about you? 'THE B.T.K STRANGLER, 'WICHITA STRANGLER', 'POETIC STRANGLER', 'THE BONDAGE STRANGER' OR 'PSYCHO', 'THE WICHITA HANGMAN', 'THE WICHITA EXECUTIONER,' 'THE GAROTE PHATHOM', 'THE ASPHYXIATER'."
The letters stopped in the late 1970s, but picked up again last March, when a letter arrived at The Wichita Eagle with information on an unsolved 1986 killing, a copy of the victim's driver's license and photos of her slain body.
The return address on the letter said it was from Bill Thomas Killman — initials BTK. The address appeared to refer to a now-vacant building.
Police have been extremely limited in their comments about the case in the past year.
In December, the arrest of a Wichita resident on minor charges sparked widespread speculation of a possible link to BTK. That man, who had no connection to the case, later filed a defamation lawsuit against media outlets.
FOX News' Caroline Shively and the Associated Press contributed to this report.