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Victim's families given control over BTK items

Families of BTK serial killer Dennis Rader's victims won the right Friday to participate in deciding what will happen to some of his writings, photographs and other personal items.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Families of BTK serial killer Dennis Rader's victims won the right Friday to have a role in deciding the disposition of some of his writings, photographs and other personal items.

A week after Dennis Rader was sentenced to 10 consecutive life terms, District Judge Timothy Lahey granted the victims' families their request for an "attachment" on the property, meaning they have an interest in it so it can't change hands.

Mark Hutton, the attorney representing families in three of the cases, said the families want to make sure a third party does not profit from the killings.

At issue in the hearing were three boxes of items Rader had in his Sedgwick County jail cell before he was sentenced earlier this month and transferred to prison. They included two boxes he had addressed to the mother of a Topeka woman writing a book about his life; the third box wasn't addressed to anyone.

The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office has the boxes and will keep them until the judge issues a final decision about where they should go.

The attachment applies only to Rader's personal property, not the family home, Hutton said. Victims' families are concerned some crime scene photos of their loved ones and other items belonging to Rader might be sold over the Internet.

Ex-wife wants to sell home co-owned by Rader
At Friday's hearing, Lahey also allowed Rader's ex-wife, Paula Rader, to intervene in the lawsuits filed by the victims' families against her ex-husband.

Paula Rader is fighting to keep the money she stands to make from selling the couple's former home. She is seeking to have Rader's name removed from the title of the couple's home, which has liens against it pending the outcome of the lawsuits.

The families' attorneys are opposing her efforts, saying the house sold for $30,000 more than it was worth because of BTK's notoriety.

"We believe that $30,000 is blood money," said attorney James Thompson, who represents victims' families in three of the lawsuits. "Paula Rader should not receive a financial windfall based on the death of these individuals.

Nine lawsuits had been filed as of Friday against Rader by families of his victims, according to court records.

Rader, who is representing himself in the civil cases, listened to the proceedings over a speakerphone from the El Dorado prison.

Rader, who called himself BTK for "bind, torture and kill," was sentenced Aug. 18 to a minimum of 175 years without parole for 10 murders from 1974 to 1991. Kansas had no death penalty at the time the killings were committed.

Emergency divorce granted
Since his arrest in February, his wife has won an emergency divorce and ended up with his retirement savings and the family home. The civil suits have put a cloud on the title.

The Raders’ house sold for $90,000 at a July auction, although the home’s assessed value was just $56,700. Michelle Borin, an exotic dance club owner, has said she knew she overbid but she wanted the proceeds to help Rader’s family.

Paula Rader’s attorney, James Walker, did not return a call for comment.

Kansas has a law that prohibits Rader from profiting from the telling of his story, but similar laws in other states have been found to be unconstitutional. Kansas does not have a law that would ban him from making money from the sale of his memorabilia.