Oklahoma Authorities Name the BTK killer as the ‘Prime Suspect’ in at Least Two Unsolved Cases

Associated Press - August 23, 2023 4:52 pm

The BTK serial killer has been named the “prime suspect” in at least two unsolved cases, including one in Oklahoma that led authorities to dig this week near his former Kansas property in Park City, authorities announced Wednesday.

Osage County, Oklahoma, Undersheriff Gary Upton told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the investigation into whether Dennis Rader was responsible for additional crimes started with the re-examination last year of the 1976 disappearance of Cynthia Kinney in Pawhuska. The case, which was investigated on and off over the years, was reopened in December.

Upton said the investigation “spiraled out from there” into other unsolved murders and missing persons cases.”

“We sit just on the other side of the state line from Kansas and Wichita, which is his stomping grounds. And so yeah, we were following leads based off of our investigations and just unpacked other missing persons and murders, unsolved homicides that possibly point towards BTK,” he said.

Upton said another case that is being re-examined is the death of 22-year-old Shawna Beth Garber, whose body was discovered in December 1990 in McDonald County, Missouri. An autopsy revealed she had been raped, strangled and restrained with different bindings about two months before her body was found. Her remains weren’t identified until 2021.

Rader, a city code inspector in Kansas, was arrested in February 2005 — a year after resuming communications with police and the media after going silent years earlier. In earlier communications, he gave himself the nickname BTK — for “bind, torture and kill.″

Rader, now 78, ultimately confessed to 10 killings in the Wichita area, which is about 90 miles (144.84 kilometers) north of Pawhuska. The crimes occurred between 1974 and 1991.

He was sentenced in August 2005 to 10 consecutive life prison terms. Kansas had no death penalty at the time of the murders. His earliest possible release date is listed for the year 2180.

An Associated Press phone message seeking comment from the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office was not immediately returned Wednesday.

Upton declined to say how many other missing person and homicide cases are being re-examined.

“At this stage,” he said later in a news release, “Dennis Rader is considered a prime suspect in these unsolved cases, including the Cynthia Dawn Kinney case from Pawhuska.” The news release did not specifically say whether Rader is a prime suspect in Garber’s death, but he later told the AP that he is a prime suspect in two cases and “maybe more.”

No information has been released yet about what the search Tuesday in Park City uncovered. Upton described them in the news release only as “items of interest.” The release said the items would undergo a thorough examination to determine their potential relevance.

Upton also said his department is working with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. The KBI didn’t immediately respond to an email message from the AP seeking comment.

Phil Bostian, the police chief in the Wichita suburb of Park City, told KAKE-TV that Osage County called them as a courtesy and said they asked public works to move some cement and do a little digging.

Police there didn’t immediately return a phone message from the AP seeking comment.

The Kansas State Board of Indigents’ Defense didn’t immediately return a phone message inquiring about Rader still has an attorney representing him.

Rader’s daughter, Kerri Rawson, told the Wichita Eagle that she worked with investigators this summer by meeting with her father in person and communicating with him for the first time in years. Rawson told Fox News that she believes investigators were looking for items related to the unsolved cases that Rader may have kept and buried on his property under a metal shed he built. The shed and Rader’s former home have been leveled.

Rawson said she also told investigators to check where Rader buried the family dog. She said she hopes investigators can determine if her father is linked to any of these other cases. “I’m still not 100% sure my dad did commit any more at this point,” she said to the newspaper, adding: “If my dad has harmed somebody else, we need answers.”


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