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Pastor: BTK suspect 'pleasant to be around'


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Paul Carlstedt, left, and Pastor Michael Clark
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Parishioners surprised that suspect was in congregation.

Victims' families react to the recent arrest in the BTK killings.

A man police say is the BTK killer worked as the local dog-catcher.
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PARK CITY, Kansas (CNN) -- Police arrested Dennis Rader, 59, on February 26, and charged him with eight counts of first degree-murder and two other homicide charges in connection with Wichita's BTK serial killings between 1974 and 1991.

Rader is president of the congregation at Christ Lutheran Church in Park City, Kansas. CNN's Carol Costello spoke Monday to Paul Carlstedt, a member of the congregation, and the church's pastor, Michael Clark, about Rader.

COSTELLO: Pastor, Mr. Rader had just been elected president of the church council. Was he devout?

CLARK: Yes.

COSTELLO: How so?

CLARK: He was a very active member of the congregation, both in leadership and participation.

COSTELLO: So, when you heard he was arrested for being the BTK killer, you thought?

CLARK: I was very shocked. I was bewildered, confused. I guess those are all words that came through my heart and my mind.

COSTELLO: Pastor, you told CNN that Dennis Rader's daughter provided a DNA sample to federal agents. Do you know how that came about?

CLARK: I have no way of knowing that.

COSTELLO: Do you know if she was forced to give the DNA sample?

CLARK: I don't know that at all.

COSTELLO: We know she's 26 years old. Was she also a member of your congregation?

CLARK: She has moved and is living out of state. She has membership in our church, but since she's moved she's no longer active there.

COSTELLO: Was she close to her father?

CLARK: As I understand it from the information that I received from her mother and family, yes, she was.

COSTELLO: You talked to Mr. Rader's wife. How is she doing?

CLARK: She's handling this very hard.

COSTELLO: Did she suspect at all?

CLARK: From the conversations that I've had with Paula, she had no suspicions whatsoever.

COSTELLO: And neither did you. I mean, how would you describe his personality? I know you said he's devout. Some members of the congregation says he was sweet, he was caring, but others weren't so positive.

CLARK: He was a very pleasant man to be around. He was there every Sunday. I could depend on him to handle the sound system, to usher whenever we needed it. He engaged the members of the congregation in conversation, was willing to joke with people, but not an outgoing, boisterous kind of person.

COSTELLO: Paul, I want to talk to you now. We're just trying to equate a man who dropped spaghetti off at the church's potluck dinner and a man accused of torture and murder. Has the congregation come to terms with this?

CARLSTEDT: I don't know if we'll ever come to terms with this, but we are learning to cope. This is not the Dennis that we, as a congregation, or myself personally, know. You're right. Wednesday evening I spoke with him. He stopped at the church and said he was not going to be able to be there for the meal that night, but he had signed up for something so he brought it. And that's the Dennis that I know.

COSTELLO: I have heard that some members of the congregation were crying when they heard this came about. Is that true?

CARLSTEDT: Yes, that's true. I think the emotions will run deep because of our caring for Dennis and for Paula and the family and for the person that we know.

COSTELLO: A final question for you, Pastor. You promised to support Rader as a brother in Christ. Will you try to talk to him?

CLARK: As soon as I can. I'm attempting to do that now.

COSTELLO: Thanks to both of you.


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