BTK finally comes clean
When Dennis Rader plead guilty to 10 counts of murder in Wichita's infamous BTK case Monday, Baldwin City Police Chief Mike McKenna wasn't surprised, but wished he'd have known.
"I think I wish he could have called and tipped me off so I'd have known that all these media people would call," said McKenna, who was involved in the BTK investigation as a Wichita policeman in the mid 1970s and was the lead investigator into the case in the 1980s.
It has been standard fare since BTK resurfaced last year after a decade of silence. Anytime there was BTK news, the calls came from all over the world to McKenna. And, more than a handful of television crews showed up to get footage of McKenna talking about the crimes. He appeared on "America's Most Wanted," among other shows and was the subject of a British television documentary.
Does McKenna like the attention? Not at all. He, of course, had great interest in the apprehension and eventual conviction of the man known at BTK for his self-proclaimed moniker of "Bind, Torture and Kill." McKenna isn't interested in book deals or movies on the subject which could mean money for him. Profiting from others' misery abhors him.
But, McKenna did get some satisfaction from Rader's appearance in a Wichita court Monday.
"I wasn't surprised," he said of Rader's guilty pleas. "There was overwhelming evidence. I don't think F. Lee Bailey could have been much help. He wanted to be in control. He wanted to be able to tell his story.
"I hope it helps the families of the deceased so they can get on with life," said McKenna. "I was glad to see it. It showed a cold-blooded murderer. That's what he is. These weren't people (that BTK killed), they were 'projects.' It really looks into the mind of a psychopath."
Like millions of others around the country and world, McKenna watched as Rader calmly, coolly and with no emotion recounted the events surrounding the killing of all 10 of his victims, which kept Kansas' largest city locked in fear for decades.
McKenna also knew the usual calls would come. He knew there would be television camera crews invade Baldwin once again. He was on numerous news broadcasts Monday night. The authors called, too. But, his thoughts weren't with them at all, but with the victims and their families.
"I'm glad, really glad, that the survivors, relatives and friends weren't subjected to court proceedings that they'd have to listen to everything for weeks," said McKenna. "That's my experience with homicide cases. They are praying for justice. I know it was excruciating to listen to him Monday with his cold description of everything. It was like a job for him.
"What I tell people is you're listening to a psychopath," he said. "It saved people from having the wounds ripped open. At least they were saved that. He remembers details like you and I could never remember. Monday, you got a real good look at that. It's his sexual fantasies. I feel so sorry for his victims' families and I feel sorry for his family, too. They were victims, too."
McKenna, who has been police chief in Baldwin for four years, still knows many of the people involved with the BTK case at all levels. Because of that, he's known since Rader was arrested in late February of some of the details unknown to most.
"I think it's OK for me to say this now," he said. "On the Friday he was picked up, of course they knew who he was and instead of putting him in an interview room at the police station, he was taken to FBI headquarters for the federal level. That made him think, 'They're treating me different.' It was done that way to psychologically groom him for that. It really feeds his ego he's so famous.
"At first he totally denied it," said McKenna. "After being interviewed for awhile, he broke down and told them 'you're right.' He talked for hours."
And the entire world witnessed some of that Monday when BTK came clean, pleading guilty to all 10 murders. Sentencing is scheduled for August and it's doubtful Rader will ever live anywhere except behind bars.