WICHITA, Kan. -- The man suspected in a string of 10 slayings attributed to the BTK serial killer has confessed to at least six of the killings, a source with direct knowledge of the investigation said yesterday.
Investigators now think Dennis L. Rader may have been responsible for as many 13 slayings, including at least one that occurred after the death penalty was enacted in Kansas, the source said on condition of anonymity.
Rader told police about several of the murders under questioning Friday, the day of his arrest, according to the source. Police spokeswoman Janet Johnson declined to comment.
Rader was being held in lieu of a $10 million bond in the deaths of 10 people between 1974 and 1991. Police had long linked the BTK killer to eight murders, but added two more after Rader's arrest.
Now police suspect the BTK killer in the deaths of two Wichita State University students, as well as a woman who lived down the street from another known victim of BTK, the killer's self-coined nickname that stands for ''Bind, Torture, Kill."
Prosecutors had said initially they could not pursue the death penalty against Rader because the 10 murders linked to BTK occurred before Kansas state law allowed capital punishment.
Rader, 59, could appear in court today or tomorrow, when he would stand in front of a judge on video while prosecutors detail the charges against him. The judge also is to review Rader's bond and set a permanent amount.
Police were confident Rader's arrest last week would bring to an end 30 years of fear about the BTK strangler. But as they pored over news of a suspect's capture, many residents here were left with an unsettling feeling -- that he had been hidden among them all along.
Charlie Otero, whose parents and two siblings were BTK's first victims in 1974, said yesterday that he was ''waiting with anticipation" to learn more about the DNA evidence that has been credited with helping crack the case.
Otero believes his family was targeted, although the rest of BTK's victims were likely chosen at random. He isn't sure why the family was targeted but said it's interesting that Rader and his father served in the Air Force at the same time in the 1960s.
Rader, a married father of two, a Cub Scout leader, and an active member of a Lutheran church, was anything but a recluse.
His job as a city code enforcement supervisor required daily contact with the public, and he even appeared on television in 2001 in his tan city uniform for a story on vicious dogs running loose.
At his church and around town, many expressed shock that Rader was accused of being the BTK killer.
''Disbelief, absolute disbelief," said a tearful Carole Nelson, a member of Christ Lutheran Church, where Rader was an usher and the president of the church council. ''I never would have guessed in a million years."
Before becoming a muncipal employee, Rader worked for a home-security company.