Southern Baptists in Wichita, Kan., are claiming credit in the arrest of an alleged serial killer, saying a January prayer meeting helped capture the BTK killer.
Dennis Rader, an active Lutheran and Cub Scout leader accused of leading a double life as a serial killer, was charged Tuesday with 10 counts of first-degree murder. The BTK killer, whose nickname stands for “Blind, Torture, Kill,” was suspected of eight deaths since 1974, but authorities said they linked two additional victims to the killer.
Police haven’t said what led them to Rader, 59, who was arrested Friday. But members of the Heart of Kansas Southern Baptist Association are convinced that their prayers helped provide a break in the case.
About 150 people gathered Jan. 11 at Immanuel Baptist Church in Topeka for a prayer vigil asking “BTK to surrender and do the right thing,” Pastor Terry Fox told the Wichita Eagle at the time.
On Monday, Baptist Press quoted Fox as saying the arrest had created excitement in the church and the community “has seen what can happen because of prayer.”
“I don’t think Immanuel will ever be the same,” Fox said. “It’s taught our church a lesson…that when God’s people join together, there’s incredible power in prayer.”
“Members are saying, ‘Pastor, God really heard us’ and that prayer has helped capture BTK,” he said.
Pat Bullock, director of missions for the association, said Southern Baptists “put God out on a limb” by praying publicly for the serial killer to be apprehended, “but that’s what He wants us to do.”
“I felt it was a little risky to do, but I still believe with all my heart that when I pray things happen all around the world,” Bullock said. “If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be praying.”
Fox said some members wondered what would happen if the church prayed and BTK either killed again or wasn’t caught. He said he is certain that God led the church to host the prayer meeting and that church members now are “absolutely convinced” that God answers prayer.
At a former church in Corpus Christi, Texas, Fox was a volunteer chaplain for the sheriff’s department. He told BP the experience made him more sensitive to issues facing the Wichita police, and he realized they needed support.
“Good police work is important, but [spiritual] warfare was involved, and I felt like we needed to tackle that issue,” Fox said. “They can do a lot of good things, but most of the officers have no understanding of spiritual warfare.”
“We felt like Satan had just blinded the police department from being able to capture this guy,” Fox said. “It had been a 30-year investigation. When we realized the police needed support, that’s when we stepped up to the plate.”
Rader is a member Christ Lutheran Church who has held leadership positions over the past 30 years, according to a statement on the church’s Web site. Pastor Michael Clark said members of Christ Lutheran are “in a state of shock and bewilderment about the turn of events that have unfolded this week.”
“We are all concerned for Dennis Rader and his family,” Clark said. “We lift up our prayers in support of all of them,” as well as for victims and family members involved with the BTK murders.
Jeff Rader told The Wichita Eagle that no one in the family believes his older brother is the BTK serial killer. “I don’t think my brother is BTK,” he said. “But if he is, if that’s the truth, then let the truth be the truth. And may God have mercy on his soul.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.