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Rader's wife found BTK poem
The serial killer told her the draft was for a college class, according to court records. She didn't suspect him of being BTK, authorities say. BY TIM POTTER The Wichita Eagle
Once, years ago, Paula Rader, the wife of Dennis Rader, became scared when she found a draft of a disturbing poem in their home. It was about Shirley Vian Relford, a young mother strangled in 1977.
And right before her husband's arrest this past February, she told him he spelled "just like BTK."
That's part of what Rader told investigators about his wife after they arrested him, according to a 92-page court document filed by prosecutors Thursday. It details Rader's crimes and interviews with investigators after his arrest.
But authorities said Friday that there's no indication Paula Rader knew her husband was BTK.
The court document also revealed that Rader told investigators he had planned to kill an 11th person on Oct. 22, 2004, the same day he left a package at a UPS drop box near Second and Kansas.
The targeted woman was living near Wichita, Police Chief Norman Williams said Friday during a City Hall news conference, a day after Rader received 10 consecutive life sentences, one for each of his victims.
Williams -- with Sedgwick County Sheriff Gary Steed, KBI Director Larry Welch and FBI Special Agent in Charge Kevin Stafford -- held the session partly to stress how the agencies joined to catch the killer.
Welch said some legislators and some of his own staff at times questioned his keeping two agents working full time on the BTK investigation at a time when the agency had vacancies. But Welch said he was committed to the BTK task force.
Welch and Williams also credited detectives from the 1970s forward who helped collect crucial DNA evidence that was ultimately used to send Rader to prison.
According to the court document, Rader said during his confession to investigators that after Relford's murder, his wife found a draft of his "Shirley" poem. He was taking administration of justice classes at Wichita State University, where he graduated in 1979, and accidentally left the incriminating cards on a chair.
"It scared, scared her," the narrative in the document quotes Rader. "She said, 'Well, what's these?' I said, 'Well, we are working drafts because we are doing this BTK thing, whatever, you know, at school.' "
Rader gave investigators so many details, they filled 17 DVDs.
Rader noted he spelled poorly.
"In fact, my wife said to me the other day, she said you spell just like BTK."
But she apparently never suspected her husband, Williams said.
"She told us she didn't know. We have to believe her word on that."
Neighbors and friends have described her as a "sweet lady," victimized herself. The Raders had been married for more than 30 years. She recently divorced him.
Rader kept some of his stash of sexual materials in a plastic storage box in his closet at home. But it was "his closet," Williams said.
His wife "didn't really go in that closet. She really didn't question him," Williams said.
Investigators interviewed her over a number of days, Stafford said, but none thought she had been involved in her husband's crimes or knew of them.
The document, quoting from the more than 30 hours of interviews, also reflected Rader's mixed feelings about being married.
He said he had a good relationship with his wife. They raised two children at their Park City home. But, he added, "Personally I would like to live by myself, be a lone wolf completely."
What the public hasn't known until the document became available Thursday is how close Rader came to killing again.
He told police: "Project Broadwater or Boardwater, I tried to hit on her the day I dropped the Number Two off at the UPS box." "Project" was his term for a targeted victim. He used code words for targets' names.
"It was a run, it was a go and everything, but they were working on the roads.... They were working on the curbs. One of those things you don't foresee.... You just do a backup and wait for another day.
"I was going to try it in the spring or fall (of 2005)."
He chose her because she had a routine.
Asked about the intended victim, Williams said she lived "in close proximity" to Wichita, that investigators contacted her and that she requested that her name not be divulged. Williams said police won't discuss her reaction to the news.
At the same time BTK was scheming to murder for the first time since 1991, some people around Wichita speculated that he was too old to kill again.
But Rader told investigators: "If you guys hadn't caught me, I might have pulled it off."
He meant to terrorize the community with his recent communications, the document said.
"Rader wanted to deliver the message: "I had been all over, you know, I was omnipresent, and there was no place in Kansas that you were really safe if I was on the prowl."
From 1974 to 1988, Rader worked for ADT, installing security systems or overseeing the work. He once rigged an alarm at a woman's home so he could get back in "to go after her.... I could hot-wire or go around it if I ever got in.... I think that's the only one I ever did."
He admitted to "trolling" in other cities. Once, he was staying outside Wichita while installing an alarm system in an adjoining city. He broke into a woman's home.
"I waited and I waited. They weren't coming." He took a souvenir -- some "real fancy red underwear" -- which he later used in his self-bondage "fantasy world."
Although he admitted to murdering 10 people -- no more -- he added, "I had attempts. And they were very close, very lucky people." He had hundreds of potential victims.
Pressed about lingering questions about whether there are more victims, Williams said: "We don't know if there's any others out there or not. We can only account for 10. That's not to say there may not be others."
But Williams and Stafford agreed that because Rader is proud of his "kills," as he calls them, it's likely he would say if he had murdered others.
The thoughts that led to Rader's violent sexual fantasies about bondage started in grade school, he told investigators. "I used to make sketches even back then.
"Annette Funicello was my favorite fantasy hit target when she was on the Mouseketeers.... I had these imaginary stories of how I was going to get her, kidnap her, and do sexual things to her in California." Reach Tim Potter at 268-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.