CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, February 25, 2005

BTK Serial Killer Case Studied in the Classroom-UPDATED

UPDATE: There has been a break in the case and a suspect arrested. Here's some video. [Jack Chin] reports:  "The BTK serial killer investigation in Kansas is being used as a teaching tool in college criminal justice courses around the country.  The killer known as BTK -- which stands for 'Bind, Torture, Kill' -- has been linked to eight unsolved killings in Wichita from 1974 through 1986. BTK resurfaced last March with letters to Wichita media and police. Police have collected more than 4,000 DNA swabs in an effort to find the killer.  'It's a very compelling case,' said Volkan Topalli, an assistant professor in the criminal justice department at Georgia State University in Atlanta. 'There's a lot of material to work with.'  Topalli said he will touch on the case next semester during the serial-murder portion of his course on aggression and violence.  At Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, students in a master's-level forensics class are tackling the case much in the way that Wichita authorities have been investigating it since it first surfaced.  Graduate student Jackie Hoehner is trying to recreate the crime scene and layout of the home where the serial killer struck first in 1974, strangling four members of the Otero family.  'It is extra exciting because of the way he has resurfaced,' she said.  Hoehner said one of the key mysteries is what happened to BTK during all the years he was not communicating publicly. Her theory: He moved away, then returned.  Jeri Myers, a forensic science coordinator at Nebraska Wesleyan, said her students treat the BTK case as if they were professionals solving the mystery. She said her students learn what they can about the initial investigation, then analyze communications and look for similarities to create a suspect profile."  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

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Please keep me posted.

Posted by: James Graves | May 1, 2005 6:18:33 PM

The BTK Prosecutor is worth studying as a classic example of how not to handle a high profile case. On the day of the first announcement of the arrest, she took over the press conference, several decibels too high, and went on and on about how her office would never reveal the name or photo of the ARRESTED defendant because she was prohibited by the rules of ethics from doing so. Meanwhile, while she was still ranting and raving, CNN identified the guy and showed his photo. She has continued to say and do strange things---taking his plea date as an opportunity for her to announce---speaking to him---that she was seeking the 40 hard year term under Kansas law; she could have just advised his lawyers or the court. She's worth watching for the lesson of how not to act.

Posted by: GregKarber | May 5, 2005 8:15:03 AM

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