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Monday, March 29, 2004

BTK Serial Killer Clue Update

The Wichita Kansas BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) serial killer story is drawing lots of attention since the killer announced his return. Here are some more clues:

• All of the murders occurred within 3 1/2 miles of one another. This led investigators to believe that the BTK strangler only felt comfortable killing in areas that were familiar to him.

• April 28, 1979: The BTK Strangler cut the phone lines and waits inside a home, but leaves before the 63-year-old single woman, Anna William, who lives there returns.

Anna Williams came home late from a dance on Saturday night. When she arrived home that night she called police and reported a burglary. It didn't seem like a big deal.

Anna lived at 615 South Pinecrest, blocks from the Otero and Fox crime scenes.

On June 15, 1979 BTK mails Anna Williams a package with a poem ("Oh, Anna Why Didn't You Appear"), a note, and a scarf. "Be glad you weren't here," BTK wrote, "because I was." A similar package is mailed to KAKE-TV.

• Analysis of BTK Communiqués by Tomas Guillen Seattle University:
The killer’s communiqués included letters, poems, and a telephone call.

His first communiqué in October, 1974, consisted of a lengthy, single-spaced typed letter. It was found in a mechanical engineering textbook at the Wichita Public Library. At the top of the letter were the words: “OTERO CASE.” The killer detailed how he killed each member of the Otero family and in what position he left them in the house. He ended the Otero letter with: “Since sex criminals do not change their M.O. or by nature cannot do so, I will not change mine. The code words for me will be…bind them, torture them, kill them, B.T.K…” (BTK, 1974).

He ended his second letter with: “P.S. How about some name for me, its time: 7 down and many more to go. I like the following. How about you? 'THE B.T.K. STRANGLER', 'WICHITA STRANGLER', 'POETIC STRANGLER'” (BTK, 1978). The second communiqué came in the form of a short poem about victim Vian. The poem, sent to the newspaper The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, was patterned after a “Curley Locks” nursery rhyme.

The third communiqué was a telephone call on Dec. 9, 1977. That day the killer used a public phone booth to report the Nancy Fox slaying. When police arrived at the phone booth, the phone was dangling from the receiver. Later that month the killer sent a poem about Fox. The poem was accompanied with a letter claiming responsibility for a total of seven murders. The poem “Oh Death to Nancy” was patterned after a poem called “Oh Death” that was published in a textbook used in a Wichita State University American Folklore class. The letter detailed how Vian and Fox were brutally murdered. The letter to the media was traced to Wichita State University library copiers.

On February 10, 1978, the killer sent another letter, this time to KAKE TV Channel 10 in Wichita (BTK, 1978). Attached to the letter was a drawing of the Fox murder scene, so detailed it could have virtually matched a lab photo of the crime scene. The letter said, in part: “I find the newspaper not writing about the poem on Vian unamusing. A little paragraph would have enough. I know it not the news media fault. The Police Chief he keep things quiet…" (BTK, 1978).

The killer’s final communiqué was sent to a 63-year-old woman. He had broken into her home, but got tired of waiting for her to return.

Investigative Value: On the surface BTK’s many communiqués appeared extremely helpful to the investigation. They revealed the killer would kill again and provided leads that normally proved fruitful in a routine murder investigation. Unfortunately, in the end, the communiqués were of little value and misdirected the investigation, leading investigators to devote precious hours and money to dead ends. The Otero letter had been left in an engineering book at the Wichita Public Library. Police obtained a list of people who checked out the textbook, but hit a dead end. Detectives took the Fox letter to Xerox headquarters in Syracuse, New York. Technicians there determined that the letter was a fifth-generation copy of the original, making it hard to trace to a specific typewriter. The letter appeared to have been copied at the Wichita State University Library. Police obtained lists of people who lived in the area between 1974 and 1979, but could not develop any leads. The Vian poem was patterned after a nursery rhyme that had appeared in a puzzle magazine called "Games." Police obtained a list of subscribers to the magazine but, again, to no avail.

After one slaying, police received a phone call from the killer. Police provided a copy of the taped call to broadcast stations. About 110 callers contacted a special police phone number, but the calls did not provide the identity of the killer.

Related Links:
BTK is back; intended victim gets poem [Original 17-Jun-79 Wichita Eagle story]
Wichita Eagle gives details about BTK letter [KWCH TV, March 25, 2004, scroll 1/3 down page]
Ghost (BTK) Busters [Crime Library]
Woman says she was visited by BTK [KSNW-TV, March 26, 2004, scroll to bottom of page]
BTK Profile [Crime Library]
BTK killer back in the news [KSNW-TV, March 2004, scroll to middle of page]
Cold Case gets Hot: The Kansas BTK Serial Killer is Back [TJN, Mar. 26, 2004]
BTK (Bind, Torture, & Kill) Strangler Info [TJN]

updated: Feb 26, 2005

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