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  • The Independent

    BTK serial killer tied to cold case murder after cryptic puzzle decoded 20 years on

    By Katie Hawkinson,

    30 days ago

    Oklahoma officials may have tied a cold case disappearance to the infamous BTK serial killer .

    Dennis Rader, 78, is serving 10 consecutive life sentences after pleading guilty to 10 murders in 2005. He calls himself the BTK killer, which stands for “bind, torture, kill.” Now, local police say they have linked Rader to the 1976 disappearance of teen Cynthia Dawn Kinney using a crossword puzzle the convicted killer sent to the media twenty years ago, local outlet KSN-TV reports.

    In 2004, Mr Rader sent local news outlets a word puzzle containing the details about the women he killed. Now, Osage County, Oklahoma Sheriff Eddie Virden says that the puzzle connects Rader to Kinney’s disappearance.

    “It’s pretty hard to get around the fact that Cindy Kinney’s name is in there, that Osage Laundromat is in there, that Pawhuska is in there,” Sheriff Virden said.

    Kinney disappeared from an Osange laundromat at 16 years old. Rader has been a prime suspect in the 1976 cold case since August 2023, after police found additional evidence.

    Investigators said they have evidence indicating Rader may have buried Kinney in a barn near the Kansas-Oklahoma border. Her body has never been found.

    Last year, Sheriff Virden said officers received an anonymous call months after Kinney disappeared from a man claiming her body could be found in an old barn along the Oklahoma-Kansas border. Then, in September, law enforcement intercepted communications from Rader in prison that revealed there may be some hidden items in old barns, according to the sheriff.

    Her parents, Don and Markie, soon afterwards said they were afraid they would never know what happened to their “Cindi.”

    “We went 50 years thinking every time somebody had something, well, I hope this sheriff does,” Don Kinney said last year. “I hope he has good intentions.”

    Sheriff Virden says this new evidence strengthens the case that Rader was involved in Kinney’s disappearance.

    “We found carvings, markings in barns, things we believe are 100 per cent proof he has operated within our area,” he said.

    However, District Attorney Mike Fisher says his office is not as convinced.

    “I have not heard Mr Virden’s latest pronouncement about Dennis Rader and the Cynthia Kinney case,” Mr Fisher told KSN-TV. “However, I can tell you that the cold case unit of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has found no connection tying Rader to Cynthia’s disappearance.

    “They are still investigating other possibilities but because of the age of the Kinney case have found nothing that points to a particular suspect,” he continued.

    Meanwhile, in January 2023 the Osage County Sheriff’s Office launched a new investigation into hundreds of Rader’s drawings and writings that were recovered after his 2005 arrest.

    “We’re hoping that releasing these, someone might recognize one of these barns or the unique features in them, or the closeness of the silo to the barn or possibly might have even found items that they didn’t know why were there that could be very important in this case,” Sheriff Virden told CNN at the time.

    Earlier this year, Rader was also absolved of yet another cold case initially believed to be connected to him.

    Rader was a potential suspect in the 1990 murder of Shawna Garber, according to the McDonald County, Missouri Sheriff’s Office. Larry Hall, another serial killer, was also a suspect.

    But neither man is believed to have killed 22-year-old Garber — the sheriff’s office identified Talfey Reeves as the suspect — who died on 15 November 2021.

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