One of the most infamous Kansas killers may one day be buried among the mix of marked and unmarked graves at the corner of K-61 and Avenue G.
Dennis Rader, also known as the BTK serial killer, said in a letter to The News that it is rumored one day he may be buried at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility site if no one claims his body. His daughter, Kerri Rawson, said the family has told him for years they would scatter his remains in the Flint Hills.
"Dad has been worried we won't actually follow through and likes to use what he has left, his body, as leverage," Rawson said in a message.
The rumor stemmed from a cancer scare that Rader said lasted from mid-March to April before being cleared by a doctor. Rader noted he’s familiar with “two Rader relatives” that died from colon cancer.
If he was to die and family or the “close friend” Rader said he listed on the deceased inmate form do not claim him, Rader would end up at either the Lansing Correctional Facility or the Hutchinson Correctional Facility cemeteries.
According to the Kansas Department of Corrections, those are the two places where unclaimed remains of an inmate would go. In 1899, the first inmate buried at HCF was Harry Williams, a 5-foot, 8-inch African-American from Memphis, Tennessee.
Williams was arrested for grand larceny and moved to the prison on Jan. 1, 1899. He died on April 24, 1899, and was buried thereafter.
No records exist for the cause of death or Williams’ age. However, those scant details alone are a miracle.
A Jan. 13, 1925, fire that started in the administration building destroyed records of other burials, according to KDOC spokesman Jordan Bell. The fire caused more than $100,000 in damage and was attributed to melting snow that leaked through the roof and onto exposed wire. No one was seriously injured.
The cemetery's mix of crosses and headstones lies a few hundred yards from where the fire started, away from the limestone wall with guard towers on which work began in 1885. There are 24 headstones and 32 crosses.
The names on at least six headstones and a cross are legible; two are the same person — Ted Wallace, 1913-1931. Bell did not know why Wallace has a headstone and cross.
Records provided by the KDOC have a total of 34 names to go with the 56 crosses and headstones. The rest of the worn markers have a prison number on them, no identification at all or an engraving that is not legible.
Matching those names to KDOC records reveals a few murderers but mostly men convicted of sex-related crimes — usually with a child. That’s the case for Jerry Osborne, the last person buried there in 2014, whose name does not appear on any headstone or cross.
Likely the least nefarious of charges goes to a Phillip McGuckin. The man was sentenced on two counts of unlawful sale of securities in December 2002. He died less than a year later at the age of 67. Those charges in Sherman County are the only listed against the man in Kansas, according to KDOC records.
That’s a stark contrast to the rap sheet of 72-year-old Rader, who was charged with 10 first-degree murders for crimes that occurred between 1974 and 1991.
Rader has been at the El Dorado Correctional Facility since 2005. His sentence ensures Rader will die in prison.
“My family knows where to spread my ashes," Rader wrote. "But my (Spirit) … will be being (sic) unsettled if KDOC does it."