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Member’s arrest as BTK killer shakes church

Kansas man reportedly admits at least 6 slayings

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WICHITA, Kan. — They worshipped next to Dennis L. Rader for years, sharing the same pews and singing from the same hymnals.

They knew him as a Cub Scout leader, a respected church official, a kind friend.

Now, members of Christ Lutheran Church must confront the possibility that 59-year-old Rader is something else: The BTK serial killer, blamed for 10 deaths in the Wichita area from 1974 to 1991.

Rader has confessed to at least six of those killings, according to a source with direct knowledge of the investigation.

Investigators now suspect Rader may have been responsible for as many 13 slayings — including at least one that occurred after the death penalty was enacted in Kansas, a source with direct knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press on Sunday on condition of anonymity.

"We feel dismay, anger, devastation, utter shock and disbelief. The very foundation of our faith is shaken," Gerald Mansholt, bishop of the Central States Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said during Sunday's service.

Rader, a church member for 30 years, an usher and president of the church council, was arrested Friday in suburban Park City, where he worked as a city codes enforcement supervisor.

He remained jailed Sunday pending his first court appearance.

Just days before his arrest, Rader brought spaghetti sauce and salad to a church supper, even though he was unable to attend himself, church member Paul Carlstedt recalled. Carole Nelson called Rader "a very kind man," recounting his concern over her recent kidney operation.

Bob Smyser, a fellow usher at Christ Lutheran, said his 5-year-old son recognized Rader's photo when it was flashed on the television screen at home. The boy looked up at his father and asked, "Daddy, he tricked us — didn't he?"

"I am not sure what to tell him," Smyser said. "I am not sure what to tell myself."

Investigators searched the church property Friday, but the church's pastor, Michael Clark, declined to say what they were looking for. A crisis intervention team was called to talk on Sunday afternoon with church members.

The congregation had prayed for the capture of the BTK killer and the end of the nightmare that has gripped this city for decades.

"We prayed that it would come to a conclusion — (this is) not the conclusion we thought," Carlstedt said.