Pastor visits BTK suspect in jail
Mar. 3, 2005
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Thursday March 3, 2005
WICHITA, Kansas (AP) — The suspect in the BTK serial killings was fired from his job on Wednesday, but got assurances that he will continue to be a member the church where he is a leader.
Dennis Rader, charged with 10 killings over the past three decades, was let go from his job as a compliance supervisor in the Wichita suburb of Park City. The City Council took the action on an unanimous vote Wednesday evening, giving failure to report to work or call in as the reason for Rader’s dismissal.
Earlier in the day, Rader was visited in jail by his pastor, the Rev. Michael Clark of Christ Lutheran Church in Wichita.
“We are not going to cut him off. I could tell that he was relieved,” Clark told The Associated Press. “He is still a part of the body of Christ — and that is something some people will have a hard time hearing.”
In an interview, Clark declined to disclose more details of his 45-minute conversation with Rader, citing confidentiality as his pastor. They spoke a day after Rader was formally charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder.
“His demeanor seemed to be OK,” Clark said. “He seems to be handling things as well as he can.”
Since the BTK killer’s first slayings in 1974, investigators have searched for the man who gave himself the “Bind, Torture, Kill” nickname and taunted police with letters and packages sent to media outlets.
The Wichita Eagle reported Thursday, citing unidentified sources, that investigators had obtained DNA before Rader’s arrest from a tissue sample linked to his daughter’s medical records.
The sources told the newspaper that the sample was obtained without the daughter’s knowledge and that investigators wanted to hide from Rader that they were zeroing in on him as a suspect.
BTK had been wanted for eight killings for years, but when authorities announced Rader’s arrest Saturday they alleged he also had committed two other murders, the latest in 1991.
For now, Rader remains president of Christ Lutheran Church Council, although he will eventually have to relinquish some church leadership positions, Clark said.
As far as Rader’s job is concerned, Mayor Emil Bergquist told the Eagle that the city planned to tell Rader on Thursday about the council’s decision to terminate him, probably through county jail officials.
Rader can receive benefits he has accrued, said city attorney Tom Powell, although it’s unclear how much vacation time, sick leave and retirement savings Rader has available. Park City hired Rader on May 10, 1991, and he was earning $16.20 an hour.
The case has shaken Clark’s church since Friday, when detectives arrived with a search warrant and informed the pastor of Rader’s arrest in connection with the BTK killings.
Clark was so dumbfounded he asked detectives to repeat their information three times. He gave police a list of 10 to 15 people, including Rader, who had access to the church computer.
A diskette authorities say was sent by the BTK killer to a television station apparently contained an electronic imprint that identified the church computer, Clark said.
Rader used the computer at least once, when he printed out a council agenda in late January, Clark said. The pastor said he had to show Rader how to put the disk into the computer and use it.
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