Yes, My Husband Worked the BTK Investigations

Homicide Detective R. B. Zortman

My husband’s first twenty-year law enforcement career was for the Wichita Police Department in Kansas. He was a detective for  thirteen years, a homicide detective for the final eleven and retired in October 1981 as the senior homicide detective for the last three.  I am frequently asked if he worked the BTK cases. Yes, he worked the first four BTK cases in January 1974, April 1974, March 1977 and December 1977. He even spent the night in  the Otero home (the first case, with four victims) as both a detective and SWAT Team member on the theory that killers often like to return to the scene of their crimes.

Recently there has been a lot of publicity about those BTK cases, but I’m not here to talk about the specifics of them. I’m going to focus on some strange personal ironies that occurred between the first four cases from 1974 through 1977, the last ones between 1985 and 1991 and his arrest in 2005.

When BTK was arrested on February 25, 2005, the name of the street where he was taken into custody was Kechi Parkway. I’d never heard the name Kechi (Key-cheye) before, and I liked it. My husband mentioned it was a Native American name. We were awaiting the flight and arrival of our now fourteen year old Siamese cat from Little Rock, Arkansas, so I decided we’d name the new kitty Kichai, which is the way the Indians spell it. It means He who walks in the sand.

An irony that cropped up after the arrest is that my husband’s homicide partner’s wife worked for a bank near Park City, Kansas  and unknowingly managed transactions with BTK many times during the years my hubby and his partner were searching for him. In addition, they lived just three miles from the home of BTK.

While reading “A Serial Killer’s Daughter”, I discovered that BTK rode the Durango to Silverton narrow gauge railroad train in May 1999. We live just twenty miles from Silverton and went there often to watch the train come in and the passengers disembark. Most of them immediately went to a nearby restaurant for lunch where we frequently ate among the train passengers. There’s a good chance we sat and ate lunch in the same room with BTK and never knew it. If not, we likely saw him get off the train with his daughter.

While publicizing her book on Dr. Phil the other day, Kerri Rawson said she believes we aren’t catching this sort of criminal quickly enough because they are looking for someone who isn’t normal in appearance. However, from the very start, my husband told me BTK was not going to look like some weirdo. He would not stand out in a crowd.  In appearance, he’d look very much like the average guy next door.

Personally, I am enjoying reading Kerri Rawson’s book. It is well written and, to me, quite interesting. I hope she has great success with it and that it gives her a measure of closure. Her book is “A Serial Killer’s Daughter”. She has a perspective that nobody else could possibly have and I hope writing it was cathartic.


Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, BTK, homicide detective, serial killers | 4 Comments



This morning it suddenly occurred to me that I have neglected my blog far too long. I’ve been totally engrossed in my work in progress that is taking me in a totally new direction. When I’m seriously writing, I tend to neglect the housework, and meals aren’t up to par, either. My husband is extremely patient when I am at my computer all day but I am starting to notice signs of cabin fever in him, which is unusual.

With all the snow we are having this winter, coupled with cold temperatures and wind, getting outside to walk has become a rare treat. Since we do that together, I know the hubby misses it, as I do.  I am once again watching  snow accumulate as I write this. The positive side is new snow will keep him occupied shoveling, snow-blowing and plowing, and all of those chores give him aerobic exercise while it occupies his mind.

An author friend of mine suggested I write something different for a change, both in size and subject. Oddly, a title and protagonist immediately leaped into my mind. It is nothing like what I’ve written in the past for the last seven years in books and twenty-six years in short stories and articles. It is coming soon, and I will save the reveal for the big moment.

I have to tell you it is very refreshing and has put a new lilt in my enthusiasm to write. It has been a lot of fun and I am finally reaching the end of the project, with things like formatting and cover yet to be accomplished. It was still a lot of hard work, and perhaps even more work than usual, but I love the new direction.

Sometimes that is all we need in our lives – focusing in a new direction. It has worked for me and I’ll bet it will work for you, if you are ever in that bogged down feeling that sometimes haunts us during the winter months when the weather controls our lives.

Thanks for stopping by and as I always remind you, comments are most welcome.



Posted in blogs, Book, Colorado, fiction, Jackie Taylor Zortman, new book release, Uncategorized, winter | 6 Comments


My guest author today, J. L. Greger,  is a fellow member of the Public Safety Writers Association and also a  friend and author. She is a triple threat, being a scientist, research administrator and novelist. Her new book The Flu is Coming is being released at just the perfect time and her suggestion as to when it might be best to read it, is right on the money.

Snowbound vs. Quarantined

Author J. L. Greger

As a child on a farm in Illinois in the 1950s I thought being “snowed in” was a fun adventure. As an adult I think it’s worrisome. I bet many of us will find themselves snowbound this winter. We already have in some parts of New Mexico  — which is unusual.

Let’s put being snowbound into perspective. The isolation for most of us lasts only a couple of days. Our main concerns are cancelled plans, snow removal, and nerves frayed by kids’ and spouses’ whines. If we’re honest, the snow is beautiful.

Now let’s consider the isolation of a quarantine. Under the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, states can invoke legally enforceable quarantines to control epidemics and to respond to acts of bioterrorism. A legal quarantine would only be invoked in the U.S. when there are no effective treatments or preventative measures, e.g. vaccines, for a contagious disease. Basically, the rights of a few individuals are lost (They’re isolated.) to protect the larger population.

Pretty scary. Thus, I thought a quarantine was the perfect situation for my new novel — The Flu Is Coming.

In The Flu Is Coming, a new type of flu — the Philippine flu — kills nearly half of the residents in an upscale, gated community in less than a week. A quarantine is invoked. It makes those who survive virtual prisoners in their homes. The Centers for Disease Control recruit Sara Almquist, a resident of the community, to apply her skills as an epidemiologist to find ways to limit the spread of the epidemic. As she pries into her neighbors’ lives, she finds promising scientific clues but unfortunately, she also identifies the criminal past of several of her neighbors Violence erupts when they try to escape the quarantine.

Don’t you think The Flu Is Coming would be the perfect book to read when you’re snowbound or anytime?


The paperback version of The Flu Is Coming is available at: The Kindle version at:


Bio: J.L. Greger is a scientist and research administrator turned novelist. She likes to include tidbits of science in her award-winning thriller/mystery novels: Murder: A Way to Lose, Riddled with Clues, and others. To learn more, visit

Posted in Author J. L. Gregor, Book, Flu, JL Gregor, Public Safety Writers Association | 2 Comments


Decided it was time to take down my Christmas blog when I got an email from my husband’s cousin telling me it looks great today. This is that time of year when I lose track of time and stay so busy I have to keep my schedule very handy. We have somewhere to be every single day this week and into the next one. In between appointments, I have managed to rewrite my WIP about six times. May this be the last one before my editor gets it. But I consider that real progress, considering the just passed holidays and the hubbub that goes with it.

We had a quiet New Year’s Eve with my hub sleeping through the midnight fireworks and  me pretty much not able to see them very well due to the falling snow. Oh yes, we have plenty of snow to keep us busy with shovels, snowblowers and the snow plow on the Jeep. But that’s what we expect in Colorado. What we don’t expect are these unusually cold temperatures that have been hanging around lately. It was minus four degrees when we got up. But it was a sweltering sixteen by the time we left for Montrose and twenty when we returned several hours later.

However, the purpose of this post is simply to update my blog and to hope all of you had a safe and happy new year’s eve and are enjoying 2019 so far. If I pull myself together soon, I might even take down the tree and Christmas decorations on schedule this Sunday.


Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments


Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

It’s rather astounding to realize that Christmas will be here in only  three days. I made my last batch of fudge this morning, the gifts are all bought and wrapped. the ones to distant important people in my life have been mailed and received, Christmas cards are long ago sent. Just one more dish to make for the wonderful big Christmas brunch my daughter-in-law and son provide on Christmas Day. It feels good when we finally can see that light at the end of the tunnel.

This year has been filled with wonderful surprise phone calls from so many dear friends who live far away. Such a simple gesture that can mean so much, especially at this time of year. We’ve all talked for hours and, frankly, it’s something we should do more often. I think we need to slow our lives down and remember while social media is easy, something a bit more personal (such as an actual phone call) can mean so much more.

I’m on my fourth or fifth rewrite of my current WIP and just about have that ready for my editor. Of course, I know she is busy with the holidays and her own family now, but come the first of the year, off it will go to her and my beta readers. Perfect ending for 2018.

The purpose of this blog post is simply to tell each and every one of you how important you are to me and how thankful I am to have you in my life. My wish is that we all have a wonderful Christmas and that 2019 is the best year ever. I no longer make resolutions or create expectations for the coming year, but I am always hopeful and looking for the best being yet to come.

Many blessings to each and every one of you.


Author Jackie Taylor Zortman and husband, Richard.


Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, Christmas, Colorado, Friendship | 6 Comments


Author Keith Bettinger

My Christmas guest is my good friend, author Keith Bettinger. Keith was the first to read the manuscript for my non-fiction book WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW. Since he is not only a retired Suffolk County, New York police officer, he is also a long-time grief counselor and there couldn’t have been a more perfect person to review my journey through  grief from the death of my 21-year-old grandson. He writes from the heart, so be prepared.


Keith Bettinger

            It all started years ago, one summer day at a gas station on a busy street on Long Island, New York.  A mongrel dog living out of garbage pails, delivered a litter of puppies behind the station’s dumpster.  People felt sorry and left food for the mother dog and her puppies and somehow they managed to survive.

Eventually, the weather changed to autumn and people realized the future for the mother dog and her puppies would become bleak as winter approached.  Someone called animal control and the mother dog and all but one of her puppies were captured and taken to the shelter to hopefully find new homes.   One puppy remained free and was left to survive on his own in the only world he knew – his world behind the dumpster at the gas station.

In the meantime, in another part of the county, lived a husband and wife, both of them were police officers.  The female officer was a counselor in the department’s employee assistance unit and the husband was assigned to the mounted unit.  They didn’t have any children, but they did have two Labrador Retrievers.  The older Lab came as part of the marriage; he was with the husband before there was a wife.  The second Lab eventually joined the family after the wedding ceremony.

The older Lab was fourteen years old and having all the difficulties that come with advanced canine aging.  The husband and wife were going away on vacation and boarded both dogs with their veterinarian.  While away, they received a phone call from the veterinarian; their old Lab had quietly passed away.  The doctor told them he believed the old Lab simply waited for them to go away so he could pass on without them being present.

The couple returned home with empty spaces in their home and hearts.

Eventually, Christmas Eve arrived and the puppy was still living on his own having avoided attempts to capture him.  An immigrant family had their eye on the puppy for quite a while, and they thought the puppy would make a great Christmas present for their children.

On Christmas Eve evening, they lured the puppy their way with hamburgers from a fast food emporium and finally managed to capture him while he was distracted and eating.  They placed him in their car and were driving to their home with the feral puppy, a puppy that had spent his entire short life dodging cars, not riding in them.

Suddenly the puppy panicked within the car and was acting wild and causing additional panic amongst the couple.  The family pulled into a large parking lot and opened the doors to get out of the car and quiet down. The puppy immediately jumped out of the vehicle and was running around the large parking lot nestled between two busy highways.

Witnessing this event was a police lieutenant who was making a call from the police call box in the corner of the parking lot.  She went over to investigate, thinking the family was abandoning the dog.  When everything was explained, translated and sorted out, the family, left and the lieutenant put the puppy in the patrol car where it now rode quietly and peacefully back to the mounted unit’s office.

Sitting in the office, manning the desk was the officer who had lost his Lab not so long before.  Without any words of introduction, the puppy calmly walked in with the lieutenant and went right over to the officer; put his chin on the officer’s knee, waiting to be petted.  No crying, no growling, just with a look that said I need love and affection and so do you.

When the four pm to midnight shift ended, the officer took the puppy home with him.  He wondered what his wife would say when they arrived.  At the house, the puppy quietly walked through the doorway, greeted the wife, and then walked into the living room. He sat down on the floor and looked at the bookshelf.  On the bookshelf was the urn containing the cremains of the old Labrador Retriever.  It was as if the puppy was telling the old timer he would now watch over the husband and wife, the old timer’s former owners.

The husband and wife knew they had a new member of the family who came into their lives on a very special night in a very special way.

About Keith Bettinger:

Keith Bettinger is a retired Suffolk County (N.Y.) Police Officer. He’s been writing for law enforcement publications for more than 45 years and has received 22 awards for his articles, stories, poems, and books. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Relations with a major in Clinical Counseling. During his career he received the department’s Bravery Medal, Silver Shield Award, Meritorious Police Service Award, Special Service Award, Professionalization Award, Department Recognition Award, five Headquarters commendations and six Precinct commendations. He also was a field training officer and an instructor on Post Shooting Trauma and Critical Incidents. Keith has written three books, FIGHTING CRIME WITH “SOME “DAY AND LENNY, END OF WATCH AND MURDER IN McHENRY. He has also contributed stories to the following anthologies: I Pledge Allegiance, Cop Tales 2000, Charity, True Blue, To Protect and Serve, and Dad’s Bow Tie. He also shares with Jack Miller, the screenplay Master Cheat. Keith lives in Las Vegas with his wife Lynn.

NOTE: In addition to the things mentioned in his bio, Keith was also at the 9/11 Ground Zero and debriefed the numerous other officers who also were there.

Please leave a comment to let us know you stopped by to enjoy his article.



Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, Author Keith Bettinger, Christmas, Law enforcement | 4 Comments


Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

On this Black Friday, I happen to be the guest on author Thonie Hevron’s blog at Hope you’ll take a moment to stop at her site and read what I have to say about Thankfulness.

Comments are always welcome, of course.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


It’s a bit startling to realize the holidays are actually upon us already. I’ve decided it is the magical season. If I’m really mindful, I can find good things happening all around me.

Detective Max Richards Book 2

For example, for the second time in about a month, Barnes & Noble has featured my novel SNOW ANGEL in their ads. How cool is that? If you want to check it out, here is the link: . I’ve never had them feature one of my books in their ads before, so to have it happen twice in a month is such a wonderful surprise. Of course, if you want the Kindle, it’s available at

And speaking of surprises, yesterday I received a phone call from a dear high school classmate of mine back in Cincinnati. She’d been cleaning out stuff and dropped a book. Out popped an unsealed and unread letter that I’d written to her in 2008. She called to apologize for not having answered it. We laughed over the fact it was ten years ago and I don’t even remember writing it. We managed to chat for over an hour and it was so much fun to remember way back when we were hanging around with our little bunch of girlfriends and remembering the sometimes crazy, but always fun things we used to do. Unfortunately, we have lost many of the gals we ran around with. Big school with many small groups of tight buddies.

Then, out of the blue, an author friend of mine sent me a wonderful story that may require having some tissues handy. It will appear on my blog at Christmas time. This friend is not only a retired Long Island NY police officer, he is a grief counselor and the very first author to read my first book’s manuscript for WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW, A Grandparent’s Journey Through Grief. It sold like hot cakes when it first came out and still sells “as needed”. We bonded right then and there and have remained good friends for the last eight years. I love his article and can’t wait to share it with you. But just like Christmas gifts, you have to wait a little while.

WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW is not yet available as a second edition, but you can buy the first edition trade paperback directly from me.

My other book is only available in the second edition as a Kindle on at the present, but will eventually also be out as a second edition paperback. Meantime, the Kindle is at . First edition paperbacks can also be obtained directly from me, however.

Don’t forget that books make a wonderful Christmas gift. Personally, I have not yet begun Christmas shopping and haven’t a clue as to where to start. Books do happen to be high on my list of gifts to give, however. They never fail to please.




Posted in Author Jackie Taylor Zortman, Author Keith Bettinger, books, Christmas | 3 Comments

TANGLED WEBS by F. M. Meredith a.k.a. Marilyn Meredith

Today I am hosting my friend and fellow author, F. M. Meredith a.k.a.  Marilyn Meredith. This lady makes the Energizer Bunny look lazy. In addition to caring for her home and family, she writes two different series of books a year and can accomplish more in a day than the rest of us do in a week.  Here’s what she has to say:

Rocky Bluff, the Setting for Tangled Webs

Rocky Bluff is an imaginary beach town somewhere between Santa Barbara and Ventura in Southern California. It’s geography is the main reason it hasn’t grown and become a popular vacation destination. One side of the town backs up to a bluff. The bluff overlooks the ocean and  is filled with expensive homes and a spacious church. On the southern side there is a condemned pier and a campground, the remains of a warehouse and the ocean coming too close to the cliffs where the 101 highway is, limiting how much the town can grow.

The 101 also divides Rocky Bluff. On the eastside, ranches and orange orchards climb the hillside.

The town and the beach are separated by sand dunes. Old cottages are being replaced by three story condos, though not finished, many have already been sold.

Valley Boulevard is the main street on where many old and new businesses are located. A recent earthquake demolished some, others were rebuilt On or near the boulevard is a museum, the police department, city hall, the library, gift shops, restaurants, schools, the hospital, and a day care center.

The residential part of town is also built on a hill with side streets leading from the boulevard. Many of the homes have been here for a long time, Craftmans, some Victorians, and here and there, homes built later. There are also a few apartment complexes.

In other words, Rocky Bluff is like many small towns. The biggest problem for the police department is lack of funds to finance more personnel and newer equipment.

Though Rocky Bluff is a product of my imagination, I can see each business, home, streets, the beach, and hills in my mind as well as any place I’ve lived.

Marilyn, who writes the RBPD series as F. M. Meredith




Blurb: Too many people are telling lies: The husband of the murder victim and his secretary, the victim’s boss and co-workers in the day care center, her stalker, and Detective Milligan’s daughter.




Bio: F. M. Meredith who is also known as Marilyn once lived in a beach town much like Rocky Bluff. She has many friends and relatives in law enforcement. She’s a member of MWA, 3 chapters of Sisters in Crime and serves on the PSWA Board.



Facebook: Marilyn Meredith

Twitter: @marilynmeredith


Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Losing My First Publisher

When I wrote my first book (non-fiction grandparents grief book) WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW, I had no clue how to find or use a publisher. But via Keith Bettinger, a former police officer and grief counselor who was the first to review my manuscript via the Public Safety Writers Association, I was linked to Oak Tree Press and its publisher, Billie Johnson. She immediately accepted my manuscript and I signed with her on November 12, 2012. At the time, she was only publishing fourteen books a year. Where I live in the Colorado mountains, we have a tourist season from Memorial Day through October and Billie worked hard to make sure my book would be available by that time. It was on the market May 17, 2013. It turned out beautifully. I like the classy look of the books Billie provided with great covers and cream-colored pages. This particular book sold like hotcakes. I personally sold three hundred myself almost immediately. It still sells today, as needed, though it is not yet available on-line as a second edition, but can be purchased directly from me.

Detective Max Richards Book 1

Billie was present when my second book FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST won First Place as a Non-published Fiction Book at the PSWA Writing Competition in Las Vegas on July 13, 2014 and couldn’t wait to publish it with the award sticker on the cover she created. This book also sold extremely well. I think that says a lot about the quality and enthusiasm Billie had for her authors.Unfortunately, after a serious illness struck her twice a few years ago, she was no longer able to function as the Oak Tree Press publisher, so in September 2017 I took my rights back and moved to Aakenbaaken & Kent. This was no reflection on Billie or Oak Tree Press. It was just time to move on since I had a new manuscript SNOW ANGEL ready to roll and Billie could no longer accommodate her authors.

Billie Earlene Beard-Johnson

On September 28, 2018 at the age of 71, Billie passed away, unfortunately. Her obituary was written lovingly and revealed a lot of things about Billie most of us never knew. We knew she loved cats. But she also was passionate about Trivial Pursuit, CNN, MSNBC and mystery novels. It also told  you would have a hard time finding her without a pack of Extra Spearmint gum on or near her. She will always have a special place in my heart for giving me my start as a published book author and for the ease with which we were able to work together. By the time of her death, she had around one hundred fifty authors working for her. That’s a large jump from just fourteen a year. It speaks volumes about her ability and success with Oak Tree Press. I will miss her and never forget her. May she rest in peace.

Detective Max Richards Book 2

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments