Wichita BTK, the self-designated nickname used by Wichita serial killer Dennis Rader, has apparently become a part of pop culture.
In an episode of the "Gilmore Girls" broadcast on the WB network Tuesday night, one young college student expressed fears that she'd be murdered in her off-campus apartment if another girl were not her roommate.
She told her, "If you see me BTK'd, you'll know why."
BTK, the name Rader gave himself in cryptic, taunting messages to police and the media starting in 1974, stood for "bind, torture and kill." After years of silence, he resurfaced in 2004 with a letter to The Wichita Eagle.
Rader was arrested early this year and charged with 10 murders. He pleaded guilty and in August, at a nationally televised hearing in which he gave detailed descriptions of stalking and killing his victims, he was sentenced to 10 consecutive life terms in prison.
Margaret Dawe, an associate professor of English at Wichita State University, said she wasn't surprised at BTK becoming a verb, but added, "What surprised me is how fast it showed up on national television."
She said she thought the term would probably be only a fleeting fad.
"It's so callous that I can't imagine anyone in Wichita using it," Dawe said. "You would have to be more distant from it. I don't think it will stick, although that may be only my idealism speaking."
Lawrence Davis, chairman of the Wichita State English department, compared it with fad terms such as "rad," "slimed," "going postal" and "Lewinskied," which had a short life span. They may be around from a few months to a few years, Davis said, but won't last for the long haul.
"When you consider that English is at least 1,400 to 1,500 years old, there's a lot of time for change," Davis said.