Law enforcement seeks help identifying barns in BTK serial killer investigations

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Law enforcement seeks help identifying barns in BTK serial killer investigations


A law enforcement team in northeastern Oklahoma believes the prolific serial killer known as “BTK” may be responsible for several additional unsolved missing persons and murders. Now they’re hoping the public can help them identify barns and silos in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri that self-proclaimed BTK killer Dennis Rader has sketched out in never-before-seen detailed blueprints.

Last month, the Osage County Sheriff’s Office publicly confirmed it was investigating Rader as the “prime suspect” in an unsolved case from 1976 in their jurisdiction and several other unsolved crimes in three states.

Investigators believe the killer may have buried 16-year-old Cynthia Dawn Kinney in a barn near the Kansas-Oklahoma border. Kinney was last seen at a laundromat in Pawhuska, Oklahoma in 1976. Her body has never been found.

CNN obtained images of Rader’s drawings, which were first discovered by law enforcement after his 2005 arrest.

Rader pleaded guilty to 10 murders committed from the 1970s to the 1990s in Wichita, Kansas, for which he is serving 10 consecutive life sentences in state prison. He suggested in a letter found long before his capture that he be called “BTC,” short for “bind, torture, kill.”

In recent jailhouse interviews, Rader told Osage County Sheriff Eddie Virden and other local authorities that he had not committed any other murders.

An attorney for the serial killer declined to comment to CNN.

CNN’s Jean Casarez sat down with Sheriff Virden for an exclusive interview about Rader’s drawings, which Virden hopes the public can help identify.

The sheriff began an investigation in January, pouring over Rader’s writings, sketches and other evidence he obtained from Wichita police, finding what he said were potential links to several unsolved cases in the area.

Officials have found hundreds of sketches in Rader’s belongings since his arrest years ago, but with the help of experts, Virden’s team believes a few rare color images may depict more crimes Rader committed.

Months after Kinney disappeared, the Osage County Sheriff’s Office documented an anonymous call from a man who claimed the teenager’s body could be found in an old barn along the Oklahoma-Kansas border, Virden told CNN.

Although investigators were able to track down the deputy who answered the call at the time, the barn is still a mystery.

Rader was already known for his signature cat-and-mouse games, sending clues about his murders to law enforcement in the years before he was arrested.

Virden’s team believes that a barn located near a silo was likely a preferred location for Raider.

Osage County Sheriff’s Office

“We’re hoping that by releasing these, someone might recognize one of these barns, or the unique features in them, or the proximity of the silo to the barn, or possibly even find items they don’t know why they’re there, that could be very important in this case,” Virden told CNN.

“Even if the barn isn’t there anymore. We would still like that information.’

Most recently, law enforcement intercepted communications from Rader at the jail, revealing that there may still be items hidden in old barns, according to the sheriff.

Rader often sketched, according to his daughter Kerry Rawson. He honed his skills in a college drawing class, Rawson told CNN.

“My dad was a draftsman in our house, he drew plans for the gardens,” Rawson said. “And my father always had to be outside and in the air, and the winter was hard on him. And so we had to find things for him to do, because when he went inside and was too closed off, he would get angry.

And he loved barns and silos.

“My father is very fond of barns and silos. Every time we went camping, fishing, college, he would say just that – like he said, I want to retire here. And he would tease my mom about it,” Rawson told CNN’s Gene Casarez in a sit-down interview. “And after he was arrested, we later found out that he had huge fantasies about these particular places. So now we’re driving around trying to find them from my memory and marking them because we have to go see if anyone is missing or buried there.

CNN has exclusively obtained digital images of Rader’s disturbing sketches, which show three women tied up in what investigators believe are barns.

One drawing shows what appears to be a young woman gagged and bound by the hands and feet. The employees point to the black pipes running through the walls of the barn.

Osage County Sheriff’s Office

“The reason you’d have that is if you were moving cattle over there that those bars would keep the cattle from hitting the tin or the wood on the outside of the barn, so if an animal hit it, you know, they would Don’t go through and don’t punch through the tin or knock on the wood outside,” the sheriff told CNN.

Osage County investigators believe the sketch may be related to a missing woman last seen in Southeast Kansas in 1991.

Her name has not been made public in connection with Rader at this time.

“From the things Dennis said about the exact picture, we know it’s a drawing he did of a real barn,” Virden told CNN.

Another colorful drawing depicts a female victim, bound and gagged in a red top.

Osage County Sheriff’s Office

“It would be a slatted barn. You know, probably a rounded post, but in that part of the barn what would probably have a wood floor, you know, and a lot of times in the towel rooms inside the barns or in the feed or storage rooms. They would not leave a ring under because they had no livestock in that area.

A third drawing by Rader, written in black ink, shows an angle looking down on a woman lying in a barn loft connected by a door to a stairwell. The stairwell attracted the attention of law enforcement.

“The support post appears to have a bracket and then a bolt that goes through that to hold it all together,” Virden said.

Osage County Sheriff’s Office

Last month, Virden’s team uncovered what Rader called a “hidden hole” containing new evidence previously undiscovered by law enforcement on the lot that was once his family home. Slavery materials were among the items found, CNN previously reported.

City officials demolished the Park City, Kansas house in the years after his arrest, but the reinforced hole, according to Virden, remained intact nearly two feet into the ground.

Rader himself brought the investigators back to the scene. Virden’s team discovered a letter he had written in 2008 from prison, describing items he had hidden under the floor of a shack behind his home.

Now, Osage County investigators are hoping state and federal agencies will step in to help process evidence that may still contain DNA to link the serial killer to the unsolved cases or rule him out as a suspect.

They also hope to test “trophies” found in 2005 matching the description of items last seen with the victims in the unsolved cases.

A spokesman for the FBI’s Kansas City field office said they were not aware the FBI was actively assisting in ongoing investigations related to BTK.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation met with Osage County officials but did not assist with any property searches, according to Melissa Underwood, the agency’s director of communications.

The Pawhuska, Oklahoma, police force has found an unexpected resource in the daughter of a serial killer who has joined the team as a volunteer.

Rawson has gone back and forth with researchers, recalling childhood memories that may be important, she told CNN.

And she confronted her father for the first time in 18 years, visiting him twice in prison in recent months.

Rader, now 78, is incarcerated at El Dorado Prison in Kansas.

Rawson spoke to the man he says he still loves like a father for the first time about his crimes as the BTK serial killer.

She was unable to extract a confession, she told CNN. “He’s literally sitting six feet across from me. He hasn’t seen me in 18 years and he’s lying to me.”

Rawson and the investigators are concerned that time is not on their side as evidence ages and Rader’s health deteriorates in prison.

“He’s rotting,” his daughter said.

“He has very severe scoliosis. He’s in a wheelchair, he has no teeth left, so it doesn’t even look like he has a jaw,” Rawson said. “He went from this vibrant man who was walking with me right before he was arrested to an old man, you know, his legs were wrapped in bandages.”

Rader has access to a phone, television and tablet device with Internet capabilities, according to an El Dorado Correctional Facility spokesman.

He has not spoken publicly since law enforcement excavated his former family residence, a move out of character for her father, according to Rawson.

During his recent visit, Rawson told his father that he would sit with him in jail for months to learn about all the things he had done if Rader confessed to more crimes. He hasn’t picked her up, Rawson said, but she won’t stop trying.

“Now I don’t have contact with him outside the walls because it’s not safe. If my father is listening to this, he needs to understand that the power that I am is coming for him because I’m done,” Rawson told CNN.

“I’m hoping that even if my dad didn’t do any of this, we’ll get some answers because there’s too many missing and dead in the Midwest and I’m done,” Rawson said.

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