Police destroy DNA samples from BTK probe
By ROXANA HEGEMAN
WICHITA, Kan. -- Police on Tuesday incinerated more than 1,300 DNA samples taken to eliminate possible suspects in the BTK serial killer investigation, inviting the media to watch the event.
Dennis Rader, who called himself BTK for his preferred method to "bind, torture and kill" his victims, pleaded guilty last June to killing 10 people from 1974 to 1991. He was sentenced in August to 10 consecutive life prison terms.
Most of the 1,326 samples were taken voluntarily, but some were taken under court order. Some possible suspects had worried that the samples could end up in crime databases, despite police assurances that they would not.
A judge ordered their destruction.
"On this one we wanted to have the media so the public will know - for those 1,300-plus people who took swabs - that this is where they ended up," said Deputy Chief Robert Lee.
About 25 people - all members of the media or law enforcement - watched as white smoke billowed out of an incinerator.
Among those watching was Wichita Eagle reporter Hurst Laviana, one of several journalists whose DNA sample was taken during the long search for the BTK killer.
Laviana had finished covering a routine police briefing in 2004 when a detective pulled him aside and told him five people had fingered him as a suspect in the killings. Laviana allowed police to take the DNA swab.
"I don't have any feeling about it," Laviana said as he watched the burn. "It is just another milestone in the whole investigation - a small one."