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Rader has admitted to killings, daily says

Police may have communicated with BTK killer via ads

Published: Sunday, March 6 2005 12:06 a.m. MST

WICHITA, Kan. — Dennis L. Rader has confessed to all 10 killings he has been charged with, The Wichita Eagle has confirmed through several independent sources.

The confirmation follows reports by other media that he had confessed to anywhere from six to 10 murders. Eagle sources with knowledge of the investigation say Rader talked with police detectives for hours after his arrest Feb. 25.

Rader, who turns 60 on Wednesday, has been charged with eight murders police had attributed to the serial killer BTK, as well as the slayings of two Park City, Kansas, women. Those two deaths had not been officially connected to BTK until Sedgwick County Sheriff Gary Steed announced at the press conference revealing Rader's arrest that the deaths of Marine Hedge and Dolores Davis had been solved.

In other developments:

  • After checking its archives, The Eagle found a previously unreported classified advertisement — published shortly before the death of BTK victim Vicki Wegerle in 1986 — that includes a reference to a phrase used by the serial killer in a 1978 letter.

  • Reno County Sheriff Randy Henderson said he has not yet received word from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation about whether DNA links Rader to an unsolved 1977 Hutchinson murder.

  • The Sedgwick County district attorney's office announced Friday evening that some family members of BTK victims had asked not to be contacted directly by members of the media. But some family members told The Eagle that they had been pressured in recent days to not talk to reporters.

Wichita police have tried in the past to communicate with BTK through the classified ad section of The Eagle. In 1974, police placed an ad that said in part: "B.T.K. Help is available."

Friday, an Eagle staff member searching back issues of the newspaper spotted an ad that ran for several days in late August and early September 1986, a little more than a week before BTK is believed to have killed Wegerle. Nestled among come-ons for ESP readings and exotic dancers under the Special Interests category, it said: "Relief from Factor X is available at: P.O. Box 48265."

In his 1978 letter to KAKE-TV, BTK wrote that he was driven to kill by what he called "factor-X," saying it motivated fellow serial killers Son of Sam in New York, Jack the Ripper in London and the Hillside Strangler in Los Angeles.

"It seems senseless but we cannot help it," BTK wrote. "There is no help, no cure except death or being caught and put away."

A police team known as the Ghostbusters focused intensely on the BTK case from 1984 to 1987; it was led by Lt. Ken Landwehr, head of the current BTK task force.

Richard LaMunyon, who was Wichita's police chief in 1986, said Friday that he wouldn't comment on whether police had placed the ad that year.

A postcard sent to KAKE last month suggests that BTK received at least one communication from Wichita police through The Eagle's classified ads. The postcard, postmarked Feb. 2, was sent just days after a woman placed a strange classified ad in The Eagle.

The ad, which ran Jan. 28 through Feb. 3, read: "Rex, it will be ok, Contact me PO Box 1st four ref. numbers at 67202."

The postcard arrived at KAKE on Feb. 3, and the station alerted police. The card read in part: "Business Issues: Tell WPD that I receive the Newspaper Tip for a go. Test run soon. Thanks."

Besides police, only KAKE knew about this line on the postcard. At the request of police, the station did not reveal that part of the card until a newscast earlier this week.

Reno County Sheriff Randy Henderson said last week that "it may take a while" before authorities learn whether Rader is connected to the 1977 death of Gail Sorensen.

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