Puzzle By Serial Killer BTK Spells Out Missing Girl’s Name In Unsolved Case: Police

A newly uncovered word puzzle written by infamous serial killer Dennis Rader, known as BTK, spells the name of a missing Oklahoma girl and the location she was last seen, authorities said.

The Osage County Sheriff’s Office received the annotated puzzle in a package last month, Sheriff Eddie Virden told KFOR, highlighting words that can be connected to the disappearance of 16-year-old cheerleader Cynthia “Cindy” Dawn Kinney. She was last seen in June of 1976, leaving the laundromat owned by her family in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Rader originally sent the puzzle to a Kansas news station in 2004. It has since been posted elsewhere, including a website devoted to the Zodiac Killer’s ciphers, with different “solutions.”

A word puzzle created by infamous serial killer BTK spells the name and other details about missing Oklahoma girl Cynthia Kinney, as well as the names of 10 of his known murder victims.
A word puzzle created by infamous serial killer BTK spells the name and other details about missing Oklahoma girl Cynthia Kinney, as well as the names of 10 of his known murder victims.

Osage County Sheriff’s Office

The new puzzle, marked in red pen, follows the guidelines of a “path finder” puzzle — letters connected by crisscrossing lines. The puzzle had previously been interpreted as a more straightforward word finder, solved by circling consecutive letters.

The woman who sent the package, and wishes to remain anonymous, told the sheriff in a letter not to “view it as a puzzle.”

“View the puzzle as a map that Rader created to plot his victims,” she wrote, according to KFOR.

Last August, sheriff’s officials named Rader as a prime suspect in Kinney’s disappearance and dug up the property where his family once lived in Park City, Kansas. They believe his job as a security system installer at the time and one of his journal entries could place him at the scene where she vanished, the sheriff said in a press release.

“This journal entry alludes to a significant event marked as ‘PJ-Bad Wash Day’ during a period in which Rader acknowledged being outside the Wichita area,” the press release says, noting that “PJ” is Rader’s abbreviation of “project,” a word he used for his potential victims.

Words that can be found in the newly interpreted puzzle are Cindy, Kinney, Osage, Laundry Mat, Pawhuska and Kihekah. The name of Kinney’s family’s laundromat was Osage Laundry, and it was located on Kihekah Avenue in Pawhuska.

The names of BTK’s 10 known murder victims and his Kansas home address can also be found in the puzzle, KFOR said.

The sheriff’s office did not respond to a request for comment from HuffPost about the new puzzle solution.

In September, the sheriff announced the formation of a BTK task force, which in addition to members of law enforcement includes a number of high-profile true crime figures such as Nancy Grace and Paul Holes. Writer Kerri Rawson, Rader’s daughter, was an original member of the task force and talked about meeting her father in prison last summer for the first time since his conviction, but announced her resignation in November. She continues to work with law enforcement agencies in her role as a protected witness, she said.

Writer Kerri Rawson, Dennis Rader's daughter, was one of the original members of a task force formed to look for evidence of other potential victims.
Writer Kerri Rawson, Dennis Rader’s daughter, was one of the original members of a task force formed to look for evidence of other potential victims.

Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Rawson, a vocal advocate for crime victims, referred to her father’s puzzles in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday, saying that she had known about “recent developments,” but the unexpected media coverage caused her to relive past trauma.

“[Twenty] years ago this month, my dad made a word search puzzle, and dropped it off at the mailbox, mailing it to local tv news, before driving with my mom & brother to visit me in Michigan. It had been 9 months since I had last seen my family, and it was our last vacation. He was arrested 9 months later, and not long after that I sat down with that word search for the 1st time. Quickly finding my own address,” Rawson said.

Rawson said she wasn’t told that the new details about the case would be shared with the media.

“And then came the PTSD,” she said. “Anything unexpected can and will send it flying.”

Rader, now 79, is currently serving 10 consecutive life sentences for the murders of 10 people between 1974 and 1991.

Cynthia Dawn Kinney went missing in 1976.
Cynthia Dawn Kinney went missing in 1976.

Osage County Sheriff’s Office

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