Update and Analysis of the Hunt for the BTK Serial Killer

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This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, March 29, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST:  Tonight police in Wichita, Kansas, are pleading for the public's help in finding a serial killer.  Hurst Laviana (search) is the crime reporter for "The Wichita Eagle." He joins us on the phone with the latest details.

Hurst, what are the police and the FBI saying today about this investigation?

HURST LAVIANA, CRIME REPORTER, "WICHITA EAGLE":  They're saying virtually nothing.  They've gotten more than 1,000 tips on a hotline and the e-mail hotline -- for phone line and a hotmail e-mail line, and they're not telling us anything about what those tips are.  They're not answering any questions at all about this case.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Is this all over the local media in Wichita?  I mean, are people concerned about this and on alert tonight?

LAVIANA:  I don't know if you'd say they're on alert.  I'm sure some people are.  We've had -- pepper spray sales have gone up quite a bit.  Self-defense classes are -- are being inundated with people wanting to take them.  But I really don't know.  Some people are kind of nervous.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Hurst, the area which the -- all these murders occurred, at least the ones that have been linked to this particular serial killer, is about a three-and-a-half-mile area.  How do you describe that area to someone who's never been there?

LAVIANA:  Well, it's pretty much near the center of the city, kind of in the southern and maybe eastern part.  But this latest homicide, the 1986 one that we didn't know about until recently, that was on the west side of town.  That would have been the first one that occurred on the west side of Wichita.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Is there any suspicion that -- you know, we're talking about, I think, seven of them, if I counted them up right, that really, there are more than seven, it's just that the police have not yet linked them together?  Are there unsolved murders in that area?

LAVIANA:  Well, this latest one makes eight.  They're looking through their old unsolved murder cases.  None of them stand out.  I think we may just settle on that No. 8.  But who knows?

VAN SUSTEREN:  That No. 8 was September 16, 1986, which is almost 20 years ago.  What are the police focusing -- the FBI focusing on, on where this guy was, that he's been almost appearing to be dormant for that period of time?

LAVIANA:  Well, I think one thing they're looking at is the possibility that maybe he was in prison for a long time, or institutionalized somewhere.  I know that they're looking at lists of prison inmates who have been released recently.  That's one possibility.  As our former chief said, though, it's possible that he was just living amongst us this whole time.

VAN SUSTEREN:  But you know, people in prison, in the mental hospitals, they talk.  They brag.  You know, they -- it's, like -- it would seem odd that someone could be, you know, so quiet and not have -- you know, not say something to someone.

LAVIANA:  Yes, I think this is really an odd person, whoever it is.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Do the -- is the FBI -- you know, are they asking you to look for -- the community to look for any particular clues, or are they just saying, Help.

LAVIANA:  They're just saying, Help.  They're saying -- they're just taking all the tips that they can get and asking anyone and everyone to let them know anything they might know about the case.

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right, Hurst, thank you very much again for joining us.

Do you know the BTK serial killer?  Well, listen to this 911 phone call BTK allegedly made after 25-year-old Nancy Fox was bound and strangled in December of 1977.


911 OPERATOR:  Dispatcher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  You will find a homicide at 843 South Pershing, Nancy Fox.

911 OPERATOR:  I'm sorry, sir.  I can't understand you.  What is the address?

911 OPERATOR:  He said 843 South Pershing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That is correct.


VAN SUSTEREN:  Let's bring in LAPD former homicide detective Mark Fuhrman, who's in Spokane, Washington, and forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, who's in New York.


VAN SUSTEREN:  Mark, where do you start with this?

MARK FUHRMAN, FORMER LAPD HOMICIDE DETECTIVE:  Well, I think I would start -- you know, when I actually did some research on this and you look at his first four victims, they're all in the same home -- a man, wife, and the children.

It would seem that a serial killer usually starts with somebody very close to where they live or where they work and somebody that actually maybe drives them to listen to this demon they're supposed to be responding to.  I think there's more of a connection in that murder than any of them, and that's probably where I would start.

And the second place would be -- I'm not too concerned where he's been for the last 25 years.  I would be very concerned where he was from 1978 to 1986, where the eighth victim -- where was he then?  That's what I would be concerned with most.

VAN SUSTEREN:  And, Dr. Baden, where would you start on this?  How would you approach it?

BADEN:   Yes, I agree with Mark that that first family is very unusual.  Serial murderers don't kill families.  They kill individuals and maybe a boyfriend or a husband who happens in.  It may be that he knew them, that he killed the children because they might recognize him.

But, apparently, according to reports, he left semen in that house, and they have samples of that semen, and that, although it might not have been very helpful in 1974, is going to be extremely helpful now.

VAN SUSTEREN:  You know, Mark, that January 15, 1974, murder, that -- the first one that you and Dr. Baden have been talking about -- it's reported that they were bound with Venetian blind cord, and there weren't Venetian blinds in the home.  What would you do to try to track that down, to make that, you know, piece helpful to you, that piece of information?

FUHRMAN:  You know, I read that, and I remember back, you know, when I was living in, you know, homes back in the '70s, that was pretty common, Venetian blinds, and I think if you went to any hardware store to repair them, you'd be able to get that cord.  I think that would be pretty difficult.

But he brought it, so he intended to tie up four victims, and I think it's interesting, Greta, that one of the later murders -- he killed a woman, but he locked the two children in a closet.  So the children weren't part of his target as his pathology, so you'd have to wonder why did he kill those two children then.  He could have done the same thing.

VAN SUSTEREN:  And, apparently, Dr. Baden, the women that were killed -- there was no sexual assault.  They were all bound -- or at least I think they were all bound -- but no sexual assault except for the first instance, when there was at least semen on the scene?

BADEN:   Semen on the scene.  There was a question of his masturbating.  We don't have all the information from the police, whether or not they found any semen in the other bodies.

You know, Greta, this sounds -- the first group sounds a little like that Hargan family in Mississippi where it's a relative who take -- who kills the mom, dad, and the two children, and I'm sure the police are looking at that.

But there -- they have saved -- they should have saved the clothing on all the victims, unsolved murders, no statute of limitations, and there might be hairs and fibers or fingerprints on some of the material that's been saved from 20 years ago, which I'm sure the police are looking at very carefully right now.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Mark, when you look at these dates, the first two incidents are 1974.  Then you have a space of three years, 1977, in which there are two.  Then there's a space of two years to '79.  Then the big church to '86 and then nothing.

FUHRMAN:  Well, we don't know if it's nothing.

You know, I remember being a cop from '75 to '95.  I mean the way we did things was incredibly different.  We were very small in 1975, believe it or not.  LAPD -- I mean, you know, we were a huge department, and we actually set some standards for the nation and the world for investigations, and yet sometimes we didn't even think outside of our county.  So, as the years went by, we thought in grander terms.

How do we know this man isn't a man of means?  I listened to that telephone call, and the one thing that disturbed me in that telephone call is how he described the murders.  He said homicide.  That's most likely somebody in the medical profession or somebody that is educated.

And ask Dr. Baden this because I know a lot of cops and we all say homicide.

BADEN:   Yes, I think Mark has a point there, and it's interesting because, in the early investigations, they thought there might be a connection to the university in that area, that might be somebody who goes or teaches at the university, and that might explain people leaving for 10 or 20 years to go to another place, another university, and come back after 10, 20 years so that trying to hook up to see if there are any similar murders in other communities is one of the things they can do now through the FBI VICAP system.

VAN SUSTEREN:  And -- and, of course, this person -- this man is now about 50 years old, give or take a few years.  So that's what they should be looking for.

Dr. Baden, Mark, thank you.

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