AP Links Serial Killer To Cub Scouts, But Why?

Dennis Rader of Park City, Kan., the man arrested in the BTK serial murder investigation in Wichita, Kansas, is a 59 year-old municipal codes enforcement supervisor. Neighbors remember him as an unpleasant man who often went looking for reasons to cite his neighbors for violations of city codes. It is possible that his job allowed him to get close to his victims under the veil of official business without arousing suspicions. There are also several other connection points to BTK victims in Rader’s biography, yet the Associated Press chooses to focus its attention on one particular detail that seems totally unrelated to the story. Earlier today this is how the Associated Press was reporting the story:

Kansas Police Make Arrest in BTK Killings

Feb 26, 4:17 PM (ET)

By ROXANA HEGEMAN

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – A manhunt for a serial killer who for 31 years taunted police with letters about his crimes ended Saturday when authorities said they finally caught up with the BTK killer and linked him to at least 10 murders.Later in the day the Associated Press changed the headline of it’s wire story; using a new angle to pump the story:

Cub Scout Leader Arrested in BTK Killings

By ROXANA HEGEMAN, Associated Press Writer
Saturday, February 26, 2005

(02-26) 20:56 PST Wichita, Kan. (AP) — A 31-year manhunt for a serial killer who taunted police with letters about his crimes ended Saturday when authorities said they finally caught up with the man who called himself BTK and linked him to at least 10 murders.According to the Wichita Eagle Dennis L. Rader:

  • Worked as a compliance supervisor in charge of animal control, nuisances, inoperable vehicles and general code compliance since about 1990

  • He worked for Coleman in the early 1970s — as did two of BTK’s early victims

  • He served in the military during the Vietnam era and worked for years at a home security company in Wichita

  • He attended Wichita State University — long linked to the BTK case

Yet none of these details was worthy of a headline – only the unrelated service to the Cub Scouts is mentioned. The report does not indicate whether Rader’s association with the Cub Scouts is in the past or present, but since his children are grown it’s very possible that he is a former Cub Scout leader.

Wizbang reader John Dean (who alerted us to this change – and is not the Watergate figure) asks these questions of the AP:

“Is Mr. Rader currently registered with the BSA as a leader and actively serving in the capacity of a Cub Scout leader, or is this something from his past?

Did anyone bother to verify this?” Why is Mr. Rader’s status as a Cub Scout leader any more newsworthy than his apparent membership in the Lutheran Church or they fact that he is married or that he appears to be heterosexual?”Whether this is subtle bias, sensationalism, or just sloppy headline writing; it should be addressed by the AP.

Update: This AP story makes it sound like Rader is a former Cub Scout leader.

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