FOR ALMOST 20 YEARS, A HUSBAND AND FATHER WAS SUSPECTED OF MURDERING HIS WIFE, BUT THE MURDERER WAS THE "BTK" KILLER --
"48 HOURS MYSTERY" SATURDAY, OCT. 1
The Wegerle Family Speaks For the First Time About Their Victimization
When Vicki Wegerle was mysteriously strangled in Wichita, Kan. in 1986, her two young children not only lost their mother, but nearly lost their father, Bill, in the crime's aftermath. Many believed for the past 18 years that Bill killed Vicki, but the murderer was really Dennis Rader, aka the BTK killer. The Wegerle family -- Bill, and his two grown children, Stephanie and Brandon -- speak for the first time to Correspondent Erin Moriarty about the pain Rader has caused their family. In addition, Moriarty was the only network reporter allowed to meet with Rader in prison and speak with him via phone several times after his conviction. 48 HOURS MYSTERY: "Out of the Shadows" will be broadcast Saturday, Oct. 1 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Wegerle tells Moriarty he remembers leaving for work on the morning of Sept. 16, 1986. His daughter, Stephanie, went off to school and Vicki stayed home to take care of two-year-old Brandon. Then, a strange thing happened as Wegerle returned home for lunch: he passed his own car on the way home, but his wife wasn't driving it. When he arrived home, Wegerle found Brandon by himself. Then, he found Vicki tied up and strangled in their bedroom and called 9-1-1.
For the next 18 years, police wouldn't have enough evidence to charge Bill or anyone else with Vicki's murder. Still, rumors persisted that Wegerle had killed his wife. In addition, Wegerle had failed two polygraph tests, but one of the test-givers believed the failure was stress related.
Wegerle tells Moriarty that he understood that police would look at him in his wife's murder, but he also says, "This monster�came into my home and took my wife away from me. [He] took my life, our whole lives, away from us as we knew it, and changed us as people for the rest of our lives."
The Wegerle children, Stephanie and Brandon, remember the 18 years after their mother's death.
STEPHANIE: I remember going back to school and my friends would tell me on the playground that "'my mom and dad said that your dad did it.'"
MORIARTY: That was tough, wasn't it?
STEPHANIE [cries]: Uh-huh.
MORIARTY: What would you say to them?
STEPHANIE: I didn't say anything. We knew what the truth was, so it just made me more aware of who I was friends with.
MORIARTY: What about you, Brandon?
BRANDON: I had a teacher in middle school�She relayed to her younger son that me and my dad were bad people and to stay away from us.
BRANDON: 'Cause my dad killed my mother.
MORIARTY: As you two got older, did you wonder what had happened to your mom?
MORIARTY: What would you think?
BRANDON: I can remember at age seven or eight, grandma told me that she thought it was BTK. But, at that age, that meant nothing to me.
Rader told Moriarty that his childhood hero was Harvey Glatman, a serial killer in the 1950s who targeted young single women in Hollywood. Glatman became the inspiration for the boy who would grow up to terrorize Wichita.
In June, Rader pled guilty to murdering 10 people, including children, over the last three decades. He was sentenced to 175 years in prison.
48 HOURS MYSTERY: "Out of the Shadows" is produced by Paul Ryan, Nancy Kramer and Ian Paisley. Judy Tygard is the senior producer and Susan Zirinsky is the executive producer.