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Look Ma, I’m an Amateur Cybersleuth…in Pajamas…

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From an article titled “Amateur Cybersleuths flocking to BTK Case(link goes to the article at USA Today online) published by the Associated Press on March 2, 2005:

“…when Dennis L. Rader was arrested Friday and eventually charged with killing 10 people in and around Wichita from 1974 to 1991, it only fueled Internet interest in the case. Posters and bloggers speculated about motives, swapped rumors about clues that might have cracked the case and combed through old messages to see if BTK — whoever the killer turns out to be — had been reading and posting right along with them…”

Later in the article:

“…Some of the theories were far-fetched: BTK was a woman. BTK was three people. BTK was dead, and someone else had found his trophies and picked up the game.

But some conjectures turned out to be too close for comfort.

Steve Huff, an operatic tenor from Atlanta who maintains a BTK page on his Web log, or blog, speculated in December that the killer would be a balding, stocky, mustachioed neat freak who wore glasses with heavy frames…”

I added the link to my true crime blog’s BTK archive, it is not found in the article. Wouldn’t you?

Here’s a link to that “profile” I wrote – Steve’s eerily correct profile, except for a few major details.

I really think I just benefitted from being somewhat perceptive and analytical, and from coincidence.

But it’s hard, when I think of former CBS executive vice-president of news Jonathan Klein’s quote about bloggers as being the “guys in pajamas”, to not feel as if I’ve made another small score for the Pajama Posse.

I corresponded, by the way, with all the folks who propounded those crazy theories – BTK being a woman, a roving gang of crackheads, etc – and they were very sincere people…but working on issues all their own and using BTK to do it.

Hey, I probably was too…and the journey through the message boards devoted to BTK are a blog entry all their own.

I’m not quitting the day job, though. I’m still a much better singer than I am profiler.

But I will admit – when I finally saw Dennis Rader’s mugshot, he was so close in appearance to the monster I’d pictured in my head that I was more than chilled, I was freaked. Creeped.

I needed some holy water, garlic, and a cross, or something. Or an exorcism.

Anyway, go see my hits, and my misses – which are plentiful – if you get a chance. I think I was pretty much even with a number of the professionals, accuracy-wise. Please remember as you read that I wrote it all while wearing my Got-damn pajamas.

I must say that one thing that has occurred to me since Rader’s arrest is this; if I could nail some things like that, what else will I be right about in the future?

For one as prone to paranoia as I am, that’s an unpleasant thought.

I’ll see ya in the panic room. Sleeping there till further notice, yo.

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About Steve

  • RJ

    Steve Huff, an operatic tenor from Atlanta who maintains a BTK page on his Web log, or blog, speculated in December that the killer would be a balding, stocky, mustachioed neat freak who wore glasses with heavy frames…

    Balding – Well, we pretty much knew this guy was at least 50 years old (been killing since 1974, do the math…), so that’s an easy guess.

    Stocky – See above.

    Wore glasses – See above.

    Neat Freak – Fits nicely with mose “organized” serial killers.

    I’m not belittling you. It’s cool you were relatively close to “profiling” this guy.

    But a lot of that was simply basic stuff that anyone with common sense could have guessed. And “guessing” was exactly what it was…

  • “…But a lot of that was simply basic stuff that anyone with common sense could have guessed. And “guessing” was exactly what it was…”

    Yup. What is dawning on me just lately is that it’s all in the realm of guessing. See, when I thought about it, it was kind of a downer to realize that profiling had always been just educated guessing.

    Also, the fundamental information on which profiling has been based for many years now is a study of a limited number of white, male, serial killers and sex criminals in the 70’s and early 80’s. I don’t know if profiling studies are still going on, but due to the spate of failures in profiling of late, I’d think maybe not, and that today’s serial murderers are beginning to skew away from the original group used to form profiling concepts.

    Nearly everything I was right about was based on a logical deduction. I’d explained that in an earlier version of this blog entry, then decided I was tired and wanted to post something short. The only thing I can say that is weird is that I truly did, from all these factors, have a very vivid image of the guy in mind, and I was freaked by him looking so much like my mental picture.

    But there were plenty of other points where I totally blew it, too – he’s not single, he’s not a total loner, he’s still a little older than I figured, he’s a father – all the same points most of the other profilers I’ve read got wrong, too.

  • Does anyone REALLY sit in front of their computer in pajamas?

    Does anyone really wear pajamas anymore? Or are we just talking boxers and a T-shirt?

    I can imagine women sitting in front of their screens in nightshirts, but really, pajamas?

  • Flannel, frickin’, pajamas. Pyjamas, as the Brits say. Though lately I’ve switched to those super comfy fleece sweat-type pants they sell in Target. I wear my pajama bound geekiness with pride.

    With University of Georgia house slippers on, too. Which is a blasphemy, since I’m a UT Knoxville alum, but I gotta live with a Georgia grad. It’s a compromise.

  • Now wonder as I typed pajamas it looked incorrect but I went with oyur spelling. I first typed it pyjamas. There’s another Brit-English word RE the other thread.

    tracksuit pants they call sweat pants in England, though I’m sure “sweats” has become shorthand overseas as well.

  • Eric Olsen

    I love PJs, wear them every night, NEVER work in them though. When I put on PJs, I know it is time to not work. Here in Ohio, it’s cold half the year, gotta wear something

  • RJ

    Interestingly enough, despite the stereotype of serial killers as being just white dudes, there have been quite a few female serial killers. And blacks, at least in the USA, are over-represented. Only 12% of the population, but nearly 20% of known serial killers in the 20th century.

  • I think serial killing is cultural rather than ethnic.

    That said, the most successful and widely recognized – with the exception of Wayne Williams – have been white males.


  • Some quick additional reading on this subject suggests that there’s been a rise in african-american serial killers since the 1970s. Perhaps this is a sign that desegregation and affirmative action are working.


  • That’s why I said in the comment above that the fundamental basis on which profiling was initiated at the FBI is no longer applicable.

    The definition of what a serial killer is has become too narrow, at least in the public consciousness. There are plenty of crime writers and law enforcement thinkers who will agree with you.

    Recent women aside from Aileen Wuornos who are multiple-murderers; Dana Sue Gray, Dorothea Puente, Karla Homolka (sorry, but if she could participate in the rape and murder of her own sister, she’s psycho in her own right), and possibly grifter Sante’ Kimes. There are more, they just slip my mind at the moment.

    Also, they are a good example of profiling failures – each of them skew away from easy definition, as none of the ones I named have similar backgrounds.

  • my indication show that all of the 9/11 hijackers tsill alive within nyc,boston,nj and dc area and some nypd and firefighter employeees corrupted among the groups with loacl mobster .also , at least trhtrre out of the 19 hijackers poses as law enforcement within nyc area and i’d like to hear from you all what you all think .ny3074@aol.com

  • BlackUnikorn

    It must have been horrible being one of the victim’s family members and having to go that long with no suspect apprehended and no closure ……………

  • Tristan

    And then after–what was it–30 years??

    to have that old wound re-opened so suddenly & harshly~~~!

  • Hey, to ny3074 – I see you’re still hogging that computer in the city library. Aren’t there free meds you need to be standing in line for?

  • I can imagine women sitting in front of their screens in nightshirts…

    Yes, but – do you? Have we, at last, seen the secret of Temple’s dedication to BlogCritics revealed? Share with us your internal vision of our BC ladies in their lingerie!


  • Dave Nalle;

    I think the stats on the race of serials have been terribly skewed. Case in point; the Atlanta Ripper. Between 1911 and 1912, Atlanta’s own answer to Jack the Ripper, described by one of his few surviving victims as a well-dressed black man, slashed nearly 20 women to death. All of the women were light-skinned and of a certain age group. The lack of public attention to the crime spree of the black Atlanta Ripper and his African-American victims to this very day is indicative of the Jim Crow south of that day and of a certain unconscious bias that exists to this day.

    I seriously don’t think race is or ever was a factor – the country with the highest (arguably) incidence of serial murder outside of the US, to the degree that this country has produced one of the only famous profilers outside of the US – Micki Pistorius – is South Africa. In Michael Newton’s “Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crime” a good number of unsolved serial cases come from townships in South Africa.

    It’s environment combined with heredity, and that can be completely exclusive of race.

  • That said, the most successful and widely recognized – with the exception of Wayne Williams – have been white males.

    You’re forgetting about the Virginia area sniper. (or was that Wayne Williams?)

    His background is similiar to others who didn’t primarily focus on women either.

  • John Lee Malvo was one of the DC Snipers. He and his partner were African-American. Their motivation was the same as any other serials’ – a sense of godlike power.

    Derek Lee Todd, a recent serial from Louisiana, killed both black and white women – both Todd and the DC Snipers threw the profilers for a loop.

    A newer wrinkle still is Peoria Serial Killer Larry Bright, a white guy in his late thirties who killed specifically black women because of a sexual fixation he had on them.

  • Tristan

    Where are the serial killers that target serial killers ….!


  • Bennett Dawson

    Steve, You gotta admit, we’ve never seen a “typo stutter” quite like “trhtrre”…

    M-m-my G-g-g-generation and all that.

    And dear Temple, my wife makes those fleece sweats for the family. We call ’em “fuzzies”.

  • Tristan

    News Release this afternoon:

    “Authorities apprehended an individual they had sought for months and are almost certain he is the serial killer they were seeking due to the milk around his lips and the alphabets floating in the bowl he was found face down in………..”

  • You were right that he was still active in church, though. Which seems to me a more important thing to be right about than that he’s bald.

  • Jackey

    To this day Dana Sue Gray does not see herself as a serial killer amazingly because she knew or knew of all her victims. She feels they all looked down on her and she went off temp and blacked out on each killing… I regularly correspond with her via U.S. mail she is in the CA. Chowchilla Womens Prison.
    It is unbelievable how the killers think of themselves as the victim after taking innocent lives, she did not kill prostitutes, men who mistreated her or anything like that.

  • nancy

    Jackey, could you please post an additional message if you see this? I’m interested in your correspondence w/Dana Sue Gray for a personal reason. Thanks a lot.