- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2005

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Dennis Rader, the churchgoing family man and Cub Scout leader accused of leading a double life as the BTK serial killer, was charged yesterday with 10 counts of first-degree murder.

Mr. Rader made his first court appearance by videoconference from his jail cell, giving short answers to the judge’s questions. He told the judge he is married and was employed with the city of Park City, and said “Thank you, sir” at the end of the hearing.

About a dozen family members of victims were in the courtroom, but they did not speak to reporters. Mr. Rader was accompanied by a temporary attorney, and the judge appointed the state’s public defender’s office to represent him.

The BTK killer, whose nickname stands for “Bind, Torture, Kill,” was suspected of eight deaths beginning in 1974, but authorities said they had linked two additional victims to the serial killer.

It appears unlikely Mr. Rader will face the death penalty if convicted. He has yet to be charged with a slaying that occurred after 1994, when Kansas passed its capital punishment law. Additionally, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that law unconstitutional in December over a provision on how juries weigh evidence for and against execution.

Authorities have declined to say what led them to the 59-year-old Rader, a married father of two, scout leader and active member of a Lutheran Church.

However, there were indications a computer disk BTK sent to the television station KSAS provided a key piece of evidence that led police to Mr. Rader.

Scott Robertson, an assignment editor for the station that produces KSAS’ news broadcast, said a package the station received Feb. 16 contained the disk as well as jewelry that may have been from one of the victims.

The Rev. Michael Clark, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church — Mr. Rader’s church — said police asked him for a list of people who had access to the church computer. He provided 10 or 15 names, including Mr. Rader’s. It was not immediately clear when the minister gave police the list.

Mr. Rader has asked for Mr. Clark to visit him in jail, but he hasn’t been able to arrange a meeting, the pastor said.

New details of the investigation also emerged from Michigan. The Wichita Eagle and the Daily Oakland Press of Pontiac, Mich., reported yesterday that FBI agents had visited the Farmington, Mich., home of Mr. Rader’s 26-year-old daughter, Kerri, on Friday to get a DNA sample.

The timing indicated she was not visited until after her father had been arrested that same day in Kansas, the Eagle reported, suggesting her DNA helped confirm his identity but was not the original break in the case as some initial reports had suggested.

Charles Nebus, police chief in Farmington, said the FBI told him they were conducting an interview Friday in the city in connection with the BTK case.

Jeff Rader told the Wichita Eagle that no one in the family believes his older brother is the BTK serial killer.

A preliminary hearing was set for March 15.

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