Old word puzzle by convicted serial killer spells missing Oklahoma teen’s name, other clues

OSAGE COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) — A 20-year-old word puzzle created by the infamous BTK killer Dennis Rader contains the name of a missing Oklahoma teen and several other clues which appear to tie him to her case.

Rader killed from 1974 to 1991, giving himself the nickname BTK for “bind, torture and kill.” He played a cat-and-mouse game with investigators and reporters for decades before he was caught in 2005. He is serving 10 life terms in the state of Kansas, one for each of the victims he confessed to killing.

Convicted BTK killer Dennis Rader listens during a court proceeding, Oct. 12, 2005, in El Dorado, Kan. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle via AP, Pool, File)
Convicted BTK killer Dennis Rader listens during a court proceeding, Oct. 12, 2005, in El Dorado, Kan. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle via AP, Pool, File)

16-year-old Cynthia ‘Cindy’ Dawn Kinney vanished from the Osage Laundry in June of 1976. Law enforcement has been unable to pinpoint her killer since.

However, Osage County Sheriff Eddie Virden started re-combing through evidence in the case in 2022.

“We had a homicide occur last fall, and it was a pretty big investigation … pretty complicated case. I woke up at 1:30 (AM), tossed around, couldn’t get back to sleep. I thought, I’m just going to get up, so I go and make a pot of coffee, flip on the TV,” said Virden in late September. “There’s a documentary on about the BTK killer. I’m sitting there, drinking coffee, waiting for daylight. As I’m watching it, things start kind of popping out that are familiar.”

Bits and pieces of the documentary made Virden reflect on Kinney’s case and wonder if she could have been a victim of BTK’s. A major piece of the puzzle that stuck out to Sheriff Virden was the time in which BTK would kill/kidnap his victims.

Sheriff Virden said BTK would act mid-morning, which is around the same time Kinney disappeared from the laundromat.

On April 15, the Osage County Sheriff’s Office received a package from a woman who wishes to remain anonymous. The package contained a word puzzle BTK sent to a Kansas news station in 2004.

“There’s hints all the way through that can’t be overlooked,” said Virden Tuesday afternoon.

Don’t view it as a puzzle. View the puzzle as a map that Rader created to plot his victims.

A letter included in the package received on April 15, 2024 reads

At first glance, the word puzzle looks like any other ordinary crossword search.

In 2004, a handful of the words identified were Wichita, prowl, fantasies, ruse, spot victim, and serviceman.

A closer look at the puzzle now reveals words such as:

  • Cindy

  • Kinney

  • Osage

  • Laundry Mat

  • Kihekah

  • Elgin

  • Pawhuska

  • Oklahoma

  • Cleveland

“Kihekah” is the name of the street where the Osage Laundry is located.

The word puzzle also spells out the names of BTK’s ten known victims and BTK’s home address in Kansas. Sheriff Virden believes it details locations connected to the victims.

“It’s up to us to figure out everything that he gave us and put those together, connect the dots, and then get the answers we’re looking for,” said Virden. “We’re still in the process of trying to evaluate that and sending them out, trying to get some expert opinions on it to see what we can get. But it’s pretty hard to get around the fact that Cindy Kinney’s name is in there.”

Defense attorney for BTK serial killer says his client isn’t involved in teen’s disappearance

In addition to the new discovery of potential clues hidden in the word puzzle, the Osage County Sheriff’s Office has uncovered yet another entry from the BTK killer.

The entry is a list of states with markings indicating whether BTK traveled to the state and what for. There are a total of eight markings referencing his travels to Oklahoma.

Some of the markings indicate he traveled to Oklahoma for a vacation, a boy scouts trip, business, or other reasons.

“We know [BTK] refers to his murders as ‘Factor X’… that in some of his journals and other stuff, he marked murders with Xs. In this particular case, everything is marked with a X. The clues go on and on,” said Virden. “We have searched many locations. We’ve found items that we believe are evidence and we’ve found carvings, markings in barns, things that we believe are 100% proof that he’s operated within our area.”

Sheriff Virden told Nexstar’s KFOR his department has confirmed BTK’s first cousin and uncle live in Oklahoma City. BTK has visited the metro, he added.

Per Virden, there was also a woman who filed a report with OKC Police detailing a “horrible experience” that is “very credible.”

Oklahoma deputies search Kansas property formerly owned by BTK; BTK’s daughter speaks out

“She described an item [BTK] had with him. She would have no way to have knowledge. But going through some of the things we recovered, we’ve confirmed that he did have that item she described in his possession,” explained Virden.

Virden described another case where a different woman in Oklahoma City said she felt like she was being stalked decades ago.

A drawing by the BTK killer recovered by the Osage County Sheriff’s Office and shown to KFOR shows extreme similarities to the woman claiming to be the one he drew.

“There’s multiple connections to Oklahoma City and not just Oklahoma City, but all over,” said Virden.

Virden told KFOR he wants the BTK killer to know the investigation into Kinney’s murder has not slowed down and he feels extremely close to nailing the case.

Sheriff Virden said his department plans to investigate both new and old locations that may have connections to BTK’s victims soon.

The Osage County Sheriff’s Office has created a National BTK Task Force to help aid in Kinney’s cold case.

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