There has been a lot of media attention lately towards B.T.K., the notorious Bind, Torture, Kill serial killer that remained uncaptured by police for many years. A lot of this media attention arises because B.T.K. chose to communicate with a journalist after many years without word from the killer. After no communication for 20 years, B.T.K. sent a letter to the Wichita Eagle.
The letter had a copy of a driver's license that belonged to a local woman whose murder had not been linked to B.T.K. The newspaper printed the license, even though local authorities instructed them not to. The newspaper did not release all of the information in the letter, though, as the police requested they did not. The letter sent to the newspaper contained not only the license, but also pictures of the victim's body, and it was signed with B.T.K.'s signature.
Then, two television stations also received forms of communication from the killer. He sent a word puzzle to KAKE-TV. The puzzle contained many hidden words. Some of these were D.Rader and 6220. Dennis Rader is the man that has been arrested with the B.T.K. crimes, and 6220 is his street address.
KAKE also received a package that was left in Wichita Park that contained a license of a B.T.K. victim as well as a doll whose head was covered with a plastic bag and its hands were tied up with pantyhose. KAKE was told not to show the doll on television, just in case the sight of the doll would make B.T.K. want to claim another victim.
Both the newspaper and television station believed that they had a responsibility to the public to put out the information they received from B.T.K., but they also chose to withhold some information to not compromise the investigation. The new communication from B.T.K. led to his capture, when clues from the messages he sent led police to suspect Dennis Rader. So why communicate with journalists when it is their job to release information?
Another serial killer that communicated with a journalist was David Berkowitz, also known as the "Son of Sam" killer who terrorized New Yorkers by shooting people in the 1970's. Berkowitz communicated with Jimmy Breslin, a newspaper writer, saying that there were more crimes coming in the future. Some believe that some killers want to be captured. They do not wish to hurt people, but they can not control themselves. Whatever the reason why some killers choose to communicate with the news, journalism ethics come into play when dealing with a serial killer case. There are some things journalists can release, and some they can not. They have to make the decision what to release to the public.