Son of BTK victim tells his story of faith
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — In 1996, five years after his mother’s murder, Jeff Davis painfully wrote the first edition of his book.
It didn’t get much attention.
Yet the book did inspire a letter to Davis, signed only as “A Taxpayer.”
The Wichita Eagle reports that the letter referenced the book and said it was unfortunate that the television show “Unsolved Mysteries” didn’t accept the story, since it “would have adapted well to the screen.” Part of the letter abruptly broke into a first-person retelling of what the murderer “might say if you could actually talk with him.”
Years later, after Dennis Rader had been arrested for the murder of Davis’s mother and nine others, police said that letter had been written by Rader.
Dolores Davis, Davis’s mother, was BTK’s final victim.
Rader is serving 10 life sentences for torturing and murdering 10 people in and around Wichita, starting with two children and their parents in 1974 and ending with Dolores Davis in 1991. Rader, who went by BTK for “bind, torture, kill,” evaded capture for 31 years.
Now, Davis is republishing his book, “The Shadow of Evil: Where is God in a Violent World?” He has updated it to include an afterword about BTK, a copy of Davis’s victim impact statement and the two letters that Rader sent to Davis before his arrest. It should be available this spring.
By writing the book, Davis wanted to wrestle with the emotional and spiritual toll that violence takes on its victims.
“This book is anything but an idealistic attempt to explain away agonizing issues and tormenting questions with happily-ever-after references to better days ahead. It simply represents the thoughts of one who, just like yourself, struggles every day with the aftermath of crushing adversity in his own life,” he writes in the preface.
The book is a tribute to his mother, Davis said. She was a “gentle soul” with a strong faith in God. If his book helps others in their faith as they struggle with questions about loss and violence in the world, then some good will come out of a “vacuum of absolute evil,” he said.
In the book, Davis tells how he first received a call from his sister saying their mother’s home had been broken into and their mother was missing. He describes the doubt and despair that took hold of him in the weeks until her body was found.
Each chapter starts with a quote from the Bible. In the first section of the book, “The Descent Into Darkness,” they are from the Old Testament: verses of sorrow and darkness from Ecclesiastes, Habakkuk, Psalms and Leviticus. In the second section of the book, he includes verses from 1 and 2 Corinthians along with a verse from Isaiah on rising “up with wings like eagles.”
Rader isn’t mentioned by name until the afterword. Rather, the book focuses on Davis’s struggle with questions about faith, evil and why God allows violence.
“We’ve all been marred permanently, emotionally scarred,” Davis said. “Well, we’ve got the road to some hope and some faith and some strength and some sense of purpose in moving up instead of moving down.”
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com