Dennis Lynn Rader is an American serial killer who murdered ten people between 1974 and 1991. He is known as the "BTK Killer".
Dennis Lynn Rader was born on March 9th 1945, in Pittsburg, Kansas. He was one of four children to be born to William & Dorothea Mae Rader. Although Dennis was born in Pittsburgh, he spent most of his childhood and adolescence in Wichita, as the family decided to move into the largest city of Kansas when Dennis was a young boy. Their home was located on N.Seneca Street, which remained as a Rader household until it was sold in 2005.
When Dennis was a child he appeared to be a just a normal average boy. He previously was apart of the boy scouts and participated in church youth group activities. He also attended the Riverview Elementary School, to which he was an average student, but with withdrawn tendencies. By his own admission, Dennis had said he developed fantasies about bondage, control and torture from an early age, while still in grade school. As he reached puberty, he dreamed of tying up girls and having his way with them. One of his favourite targets for his imaginary bondage was the Mouseketeer 'Annette Funicello'.
Dennis also admitted to killing cats and dogs when he was younger, by hanging them. He realized he had to keep his imaginary bondage, torture and death a secret from everyone. As no one knew he did all this when he was younger till he admitted it in his older years, it shows he did a good job of keeping this inner world a secret. Those who knew Dennis on a personal level described him to be, a quiet and polite young gentleman who preferred to keep to himself. He was also described to be a person that would think before he spoke and would always listen very carefully when spoken to, and would give you his full attention when he spoke.
Dennis came across as not to be very socially active in school, he showed no interest in the music that was around in his times. One of his former friends describe him as utterly lacking in a sense of humour, but tending to be studious and focused. In 1963, Dennis graduated from Wichita Heights High School. This is where he started his adolescence life. He started his career working at a grocery store, until 1965 when he decided to move away from Wichita to go to Kansas Wesleyan College in Salina, he only moved as this college was too far away from home to stay at home. Dennis was a below average student with poor grades.
In summer 1966, Dennis decided to join the US Air Force at the age of 21; apparently this was to avoid being made to go into the Vietnam War. Dennis firstly had to do his basic training, this was held at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. In order to do his Technical training, Dennis attended the Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita falls, Texas. Dennis served four years in the Air Force, being stationed at Alabama in 1967, Pacific in 1968 and Japan also in 1968, this is apparently where he was finally stationed until the end of his Air Force career in 1970. He also spent some time in Korea, Greece and Turkey but the dates for these places are unknown.
Whilst working for the Air Force Dennis attained the Air Force Good Conduct Medal, the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon and the National Defense Service Medal. But It was believed that the time Dennis had spent in the Air Force on duty was unremarkable. Dennis mainly worked on the installation of antenna equipment, along with other tasks as well. He also achieved the rank of sergeant. One of his former associates from the air force had described Dennis to be just one of the guys, just sort of blended in. It was a massive shock to this former associate when he found out Dennis was the 'BTK Killer' in 2005. In 1970, Dennis returned to his hometown of Wichita, Kansas after actively being discharged from the Air Force; but still had to serve 2 years in the reserves.
In 1971, Dennis Rader, now aged 26, had married a young lady by the name of Paula Dietz, aged 23, on May 22nd. Paula went to the same high school as Dennis and lived in the same area as him. By this time Dennis had a job working in a meat department of an IGA (Independent Grocers of Australia) Superstore and was also attending Butler County Community College in El Dorado studying Electronics, and Paula was a bookkeeper. Once married they decided to settle in a home located in the Park City, Not far from the Rader home in North Wichita.
In 1972, Dennis left the IGA superstore to work for Wichita's largest employer at the time, Coleman Co; a manufacturer of camping supplies. In 1973, Dennis finished from Butler County Community College and earned an Associate's (2 year) degree in Electronics. He also left Coleman and Co to work for a company called Cessna. This was a manufacturer of small aircraft's. Dennis then started his studies at Wichita State University. This would take Dennis six more years of night school to earn his degree. Late in the year of 1973, Dennis was let go the Cessna Company. He found himself in a low frame of mind, unemployed, unhappy and with times on his hands with nothing to do. This is believed to be where Dennis slipped back into his old frame of mind of bondage, control and torture.
The father, Joseph, was found by the children, on the floor in their home, his hands and feet were bound with cord that been ripped from a Venetian blind, from one of the rooms. The mother, Julie, was found on the bed in one of the bedrooms, also bound similar to the father. Both Parents were choked to death by the same type of cord used to bound them. The Sister, Josephine, was found by the police in the basement hung from a rope that was tied to a water pipe, she was only wearing a t-shirt and socks when she was found. The brother, Joseph II, was found, also by the police, lying near the bottom of his bed, hands and feet were bound just like the mother and father. Joseph was then suffocated with a plastic bag that was placed over his head.
The police had found the phone lines leading into the family home had been cut, unabling the family to make any phone calls for help during the murders. The Oteros family car, a 1966 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser wagon, was also missing. On further investigation of the murders, it was revealed there was semen in various locations of the house. Found mainly around the victims bodies.
At around 7:00pm later that day, police had found the missing family car in a nearby parking lot. It was believed that the killer had driven the car to nearest parking lot and chose the first empty space available; which happened to be under a light pole in the centre of the lot, easily visible to the public eye. Then the killer fled the parking lot on foot.
Not long after the murders, the supposed 'killer', had made an anonymous call to the Wichita Eagle Newspapers. One of the reports that took the phone call was given an instruction by the 'killer'. He told the reporter that he would find a valuable clue in a Mechanical Engineering book in the Wichita Public library. This reporter then took it upon himself to go to the library and track down the book the phone caller had told him to find. Inside the book happen to be a letter. The person who wrote the letter claimed to have killed the Otero family and also provided additional details to the murders that not anyone in the public or the police could have possibly known:
''I write this letter to you for the sake of the tax payer as well as your time. Those three dude you have in custody are just talking to get publicity for the Otero murders, They know nothing at all. I did it by myself and no ones help. There has been no talk either. Lets put it straight.
Position: Southwest bedroom, feet tie to the bed. Head pointed in a southerly direction.
Bondage: Window blind cord.
Garrote: Blind cord, brown belt.
Death: The old bag trick and strangulation with clothes line rope.
Clothed: White sweat shirt, green pants.
Comments: He threw up at one time. Had rib injury from wreck few week before. Laying on coat.
Position: Laying on her back crosswise on the bed pointed in southwestern direction. Face cover with a pillow.
Bondage: Blind cord.
Garrote: Clothes line cord tie in a clove-hitch.
Death : Strangulation twice.
Clothes: Blue house coat, black slack, white sock.
Comments: Blood on face from too much pressure on the neck, bed unmade.
Position: Hanging by the neck in the northwest part of the basement. Dryer or freezer north of her body.
Bondage: Hand tie with blind cord. Feet and lower knees, upper knees and waist with clothes line cord. All one length.
Garrote: Rough hemp rope 1/4 dia., noose with four or five turns.
Clothes: Dark bra cut in the middle, sock.
Death: Strangulation once, hung.
Comments: Most of her clothes at the bottom of the stairs, green pants, and panties. Her glasses in the southwest bedroom.
Position: In the east bedroom laying on his back pointed in eastern direction.
Bondage: Blind cord.
Garrote: Three hoods; white T-shirt, white plastic bag, another T-shirt
Clothes line cord with clove-hitch.
Death: Suffocation once, strangulation-suffocation with the old bag trick.
Clothes: Brown pants, yellow-brown stripe T-shirt
Comments: His radio is blaring .
All victims had their hands tie behind their backs. Gags of pillow case material. Slip knots on Joe and Joseph neck to hold leg down or was at one time. Purse contents south of the table. Spilled drink in that area also, kids making lunches. Door shade in red chair in the living room. Otero's watch missing. I needed one so I took it. Runs good. Thermostat turn down. Car was dirty inside, out of gas.
I'm sorry this happen to society.... ...Good luck with your hunting.
YOURS, TRULY GUILTILY.
P.S. Since sex criminals do not change their M.O. or by nature cannot do so, I will not change mine. The code words for me will be ... Bind them, Torture them, Kill them, B.T.K., you see be at it again. They will be on the next victim.''
On the 4th August 1974, Kathryn Bright was found in her home at 3217E. 13th Street. Kathryn was found partly dressed, bounded by cord and had been strangled to death just like the Otero family. but unfortunately Kathryn had also been stabbed several times. Evidence collected from the murder scene of Kathryn Bright directly pointed out that this murder had been done by the BTK killer. Also nearby the scene, a 'murder kit' had been found, which could have belonged to the BTK killer as it contained rope and wire cutting tools.
Kevin Bright, the brother of Kathryn, was also at the scene of the crime as he walked Kathryn home. The killer had attacked Kevin but fortunately, after he was strangled and shot in the head, Kevin faked his death, but the BTK killer had noticed he was still alive and shot him again directly in the head. Remarkably, Kevin again faked his death as the second shot again didn't kill him, and waited for the right moment to scarper off for help. This became a key piece of evidence as the police now had a witness.
Kevin remembered how the BTK killer had told him that "he was a wanted man in California and was seeking a car to escape". Kevin also stated that the BTK killer had commented "Hey, haven't I seen you at University?". Kevin was the only survivor of the BTK killer.
Three years later, on 17th March 1977, the Wichita police had received a phone call for assistance at 1311 South Hydraulic Street. On arrival, they found the body of Shirley Vian. Just like the other victims Shirley had been bound with cord, partly dressed but was suffocated with a plastic bag over her head. On further investigating the house, they found Vians Children locked in the closet. Vians son, Steve Relford, aged 5, had tragically witnessed the whole incident by looking through the keyhole of the door.
On 8th December 1977, the Wichita police recieve another phone call. This time the police were instructed to go to 843 South Pershing Street. The caller had told the police he had the driving licence of the woman he just murdered. On arrival at 843 South Pershing Street, police found the body of Nancy Jo Fox on the living room floor. On investigation they believed Fox had been killed the night before and died of strangulation. Again semen was found but they concluded Nancy had not been raped. Police had also found that Nancy didn't have any defensive wounds leading to believe the BTK killer had very good control of his victims. He was either someone they knew, or felt comfortable with allowing into their homes.
After this incident, the BTK killer had gone silent. No communication was received linking into the BTK killings for several years, which made the police believe the killer was either dead or imprisoned elsewhere, as it was believed by psychologists, serial killers did not have the willpower to stop killing.
''How many do I have to kill, before I get my name in the paper or some national attention? Do the cops think that all those deaths are not related? Yes, the M.O. is different in each, but look at the pattern that is developing. The victims are tied up - most have been women - phone cut - bring some bondage mater sadist tendencies - no struggle, outside the death spot - no witnesses except the Vian's kids... After a thing like Fox, I come home and go about life like anyone else. And I will be like that until the urge hits me again...''
Five years later, in 1984, the police had set up the task force called 'The Ghostbusters'. This task force had decided to look at the evidence the police had collected from the BTK killings, these were then examined by extensive computer analysis. They found the murders were all close by one another and believe the killer must have been local. From some of the letters BTK himself had sent, they found they were all impossible to trace as they had been put through copying machines several times. Unfortunately for the killer, one of the copies had been traced to the Wichita State University Library. This lead to the police believing it was either a current or ex-student that could possibly have been the BTK killer.
On 27th April 1985, the body of Marine Hedge was found. Her body had been moved from the scene of the crime and disposed of elsewhere. From the evidence found, police believed this murder must have been related to the BTK killings, even though the body was moved as the other victims were not moved. The police had decided it was either a copycat of the BTK killer or it could possibly be the return of the original BTK killer himself.
In 1988, after the murders of three members of the Fager family in Wichita, a letter was received from someone claiming to be the BTK killer in which he denied being the perpetrator of this crime. He did credit the killer with having done "admirable work". It was not proven until 2005 that this letter was in fact written by Rader, and he is not considered by police to have committed this crime.
From 1974 until 1988, Rader worked at the Wichita-based office of ADT Security Services, a home security company. He installed security alarms as a part of his job; many of his clients booked the company to stop BTK from entering their homes, unaware that BTK himself was installing them. Rader was a census field operations supervisor for the Wichita area in 1989, prior to the 1990 federal census. He then became a dogcatcher and compliance officer in Park City. In this position, neighbours recalled him as being sometimes overzealous and extremely strict; one neighbour complained that he euthanized her dog for no reason.
On January 19th 1991, the body of Dolores Davis had been found near a river in Sedgwick County. On investigation police found that she had been abducted from her home, strangled and again her body was moved and disposed of near the river. The police had now finally concluded that the BTK killer was the main suspect. Almost 20 years after the first murder was committed by the BTK killer, he was still at work, leading police to the assumption that this serial killer was 'part time', he could go on a killing spree, then stop, then resume his killing years later. This was difficult for the police to come to terms with. They had never came across a 'part time serial killer'.
By 2004, the investigation of the BTK Killer had gone cold. Then, Rader began a series of communications to the local media. Thirty years after the first murder, on 19th March 2004, The Wichita Eagle received a letter from someone using the return address Bill Thomas Killman. The author of the letter claimed that he had murdered Vicki Wegerle on September 16, 1986, and enclosed photographs of the crime scene and a photocopy of her driver's license, which had been stolen at the time of the crime. Police had noted that the body and the clothes were moved into different positions for each shot. Prior to this, it had not been definitively established that Wegerle had been killed by BTK. They were able to rule out the fact they could have been crime scene photos, as the evidence is not allowed to be touched until all photographic evidence had been taken, so they knew these photo's must have been taken by the BTK killer.
DNA collected from under Wegerle's fingernails provided police with previously unknown evidence. They then began DNA testing hundreds of men in an effort to find the serial killer. All together, over 1300 DNA samples were taken and then later destroyed by court order. Police had now linked Vicki's murder to the BTK killings. The return address on the letter was 1684 South Oldmanor. Police quickly drove to the location only to find an empty, vacant lot.
On 5th May 2004, KAKE, channel 12 in Wichita, Kansas received a letter containing chapter headings for the "BTK Story", a word puzzle and photocopies of two employees identification cards. Neither employee had any idea on how anyone could have possibly got hold of a photocopy of their identification cards, especially third party. police were able to identify that it was the BTK killer that sent the letter, although it's meaning was unknown.
On June 9, 2004, a package was found taped to a stop sign at the corner of First and Kansas in Wichita. It contained graphic descriptions of the Otero murders and a sketch labeled "The Sexual Thrill Is My Bill". Also enclosed was a chapter list for a proposed book titled "The BTK Story", which mimicked a story written in 1999 by Court TV crime writer David Lohr. Chapter One was titled "A Serial Killer Is Born". In July, a package was dropped into the return slot at the downtown public library containing more bizarre material, including the claim that he was responsible for the death of 19-year-old Jake Allen in Argonia, Kansas earlier that month. This claim was found to be false and the death was ruled a suicide. In October 2004, a manila envelope was dropped into a UPS box in Wichita. It contained a series of cards with images of terror and bondage of children pasted on them, a poem threatening the life of lead investigator Lt. Ken Landwehr and a false autobiography containing many details about Rader's life. These details were later released to the public.
In December 2004, Wichita police received another package from the BTK killer. This time, the package was found in Wichita's Murdock Park. It contained the driver's license of Nancy Fox, which was noted as stolen from the crime scene, as well as a doll that was symbolically bound at the hands and feet and had a plastic bag tied over its head. In late 2004, Wichita police Lieutenant Ken Landwehr, held a public news conference and released details about the BTK killer to reporters, details that were gained from the text of the BTK letters to the Wichita Eagle. Landwehr explained:
"In these letters, he has provided certain background information about himself which he claims is accurate. The contents of the letters revealed an amazing amount of detail including the fact that he was born in 1939 (which would make BTK around 65 years old in 2004), that his family moved around often and always lived near railroad tracks, that his father was killed in World War II and he had been raised by his mother with the help of his grandmother, that his mother dated a railroad detective, that his grandfather played the fiddle and died of lung disease, that he had a cousin named Susan who lived in Missouri, and that he had once had a friend named Petra who had a younger sister named Tina."
Police were unsure how accurate these statements were but did believe that at least parts of the information were correct. In January 2005, Rader attempted to leave a cereal box in the bed of a pickup truck at a Home Depot in Wichita, but the box was discarded by the truck's owner. It was later retrieved from the trash after Rader asked what had become of it in a later message.
Surveillance tape of the parking lot from that date revealed a distant figure driving a black Jeep Cherokee leaving the box in the pickup. In February, more postcards were sent to KAKE, and another cereal box left at a rural location was found to contain another bound doll, apparently meant to symbolize the murder of 11-year-old Josephine Otero.
The police now knew the BTK killer had resurfaced and was now disposing the 'trophies' he had collected over the series of murders. Fortunately for the police the killer was disposing them hurriedly and sloppily. Also whilst doing this, the BTK killer was filling in the gaps of where the police were confused on why BTK had done some of the things he did. One example of this was one of the letter explaining why Shirley Vian's children were left alive:
'They were very lucky; a phone call saved them. I was going to tape the boys and put plastic bags over their heads like I did Joseph and Shirley - and then hang the girl. God-oh God what a beautiful sexual relief this would been.'
In his letters to police, Rader asked if his writings, if put on a floppy disk, could be traced or not. The police answered his question in a newspaper ad posted in the Wichita Eagle saying it would be safe to use the disk. On February 16, 2005, Rader sent a purple 1.44-MB Memorex floppy disk to Fox TV affiliate KSAS-TV in Wichita. Also enclosed were a letter, a gold-colored necklace with a large medallion, and a photocopy of the cover of a 1989 novel about a serial killer (Rules of Prey).
Police found metadata embedded in a deleted Microsoft Word document that was, unbeknownst to Rader, on the floppy disk. The metadata contained "Christ Lutheran Church", and the document was marked as last modified by "Dennis". An internet search determined that a "Dennis Rader" was president of the church council. From the Home Depot incident, the police also knew BTK owned a black Jeep Cherokee. When investigators drove by Rader's house, they noticed a black Jeep Cherokee parked outside. Sometime during this period, police obtained a warrant for the medical records of Rader's daughter. A tissue sample seized at this time was tested for DNA and provided a familial match with semen collected at an earlier BTK crime scene.
This, along with other evidence gathered prior to and during the surveillance, gave police probable cause for an arrest. Rader was stopped while driving near his home in Park City and taken into custody shortly after noon on February 25, 2005. Once in handcuffs, Rader was asked by an officer, "Mr. Rader, do you know why you're going downtown?" to which he replied, "Oh, I have suspicions why". Immediately after his arrest, law enforcement officials, including a Wichita Police bomb unit truck, two SWAT trucks, and KBI, FBI, and ATF agents, converged on Rader's residence near the intersection of I-135 and 61st Street North.
After his arrest, Rader talked to the police for several hours. He stated he chose to resurface in 2004 for various reasons, including David Lohr's feature story on the case and the release of the book "Nightmare in Wichita: The Hunt for the BTK Strangler" by Robert Beattie. He wanted the opportunity to tell his story his own way. He also said he was bored because his children had grown up and he had more time on his hands.
Police searched Rader's home and vehicle, collecting evidence, including computer equipment, a pair of black pantyhose retrieved from a shed, and a cylindrical container. The church he attended, his office at City Hall, and the main branch of the Park City library were also searched that day. Officers were seen removing a computer from his City Hall office, but it is unclear if any evidence was found at these locations. At a press conference the next morning, Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams announced, "the bottom line: BTK is arrested".
On February 28, 2005, Rader was formally charged with 10 counts of first degree murder. The Sunday after his arrest, the Associated Press cited an anonymous source alleging that Rader had confessed to other murders in addition to the ones to which he had already been connected. When asked about the reported confessions, Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston said, "Your information is patently false", but refused to say whether Rader had made any confessions or whether investigators were looking into Rader's possible involvement in more unsolved killings. On March 5, news sources claimed to have verified by multiple sources that Rader had confessed to the 10 murders he was charged with, but no additional ones.
He made his first court appearance via video conference on March 1, 2005, from jail. District Judge Greg Waller Tuesday set his bail at $10 million and appointed a public defender to represent him at a preliminary hearing on March 15. On May 3, Waller entered 'not guilty' pleas to the 10 charges on Rader's behalf, as Rader did not speak at his arraignment. On June 27, the scheduled trial date, Rader changed his plea to 'guilty'. He described the murders in detail and made no apologies. On July 26, 2005, after Rader's arrest, Sedgwick County District Judge Eric Yost waived the usual 60-day waiting period and granted an immediate divorce for his wife, agreeing that her mental health was in danger. Rader did not contest the divorce, and the 34-year marriage was ended. Paula Rader said in her divorce petition that her mental and physical condition had been adversely affected by the marriage.
He faced sentencing on August 18, 2005. Victims' families made statements and were followed by Rader, who apologized for his crimes in a rambling, bizarre 30-minute monologue that District Attorney Nola Foulston likened to an Academy Awards acceptance speech. He was sentenced to serve 10 consecutive life sentences, one life sentence per murder victim. In total, Rader would be eligible for parole after 175 years of imprisonment, in 2180. Because Kansas had no death penalty at the time the murders were committed, life imprisonment was the maximum penalty allowed by law.
On August 19, Rader was moved from the Sedgwick County Jail to the El Dorado Correctional Facility, a Kansas state prison, to begin serving his consecutive life sentences as Kansas Department of Corrections #0083707. His earliest possible release date is February 26, 2180. According to witnesses, Rader talked about innocuous topics such as the weather during the 40-minute drive from Wichita to El Dorado, but began to cry when the victims' families' statements from the court proceedings came on the radio. Rader is now being held in the EDCF "Special Management" unit, also known as solitary confinement, for "the inmate's own protection". This is a designation he will most likely retain for the remainder of his incarceration.
He is confined to his cell for 23 hours a day with the exception of voluntary solo one-hour exercise yard time and access to the shower three times a week. Beginning April 23, 2006, Rader reached "Incentive Level Two" and has been allowed to purchase and watch television, purchase and listen to the radio, receive and read magazines, and receive other privileges for good behaviour. The victims' families disagreed with this decision. According to Rader's record in the Kansas Department of Corrections database, he had a Class Two disciplinary report concerning 'mail' on April 10, 2006.
All of Rader's known crimes occurred within the state of Kansas. He killed ten people in total and collected items from each murder scene. He also intended to kill others, notably Anna Williams, 63, who in 1979 escaped death by returning home much later than he expected. Rader explained during his confession that he had become obsessed with Williams and was "absolutely livid" when she evaded him.
Rader spent hours waiting in her home but became impatient and left when she did not return home from visiting friends. Two of the women Rader had stalked in the 1980s and one he had stalked in the mid-1990s filed restraining orders against him; one of them also moved away. Rader admitted in his interrogation that he had been planning to kill again. He had set a date, October 2004, and was stalking his intended victim. Following Rader's arrest, police in Wichita, Park City and several surrounding cities looked into unsolved cases with the cooperation of the state police and the FBI. They particularly focused on cases after 1994, when the death penalty was reinstated in Kansas. Police in surrounding states such as Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas also investigated cold cases that fit Rader's pattern to some extent.
The FBI, Civil Air Patrol and local jurisdictions at Rader's former duty stations checked into unsolved cases during Rader's time in the service. After exhaustive investigations, none of these agencies discovered any further murders attributable to Rader, confirming early suspicions that Rader would have taken credit for any additional murders that he had committed. The 10 known murders are now believed to be the only murders that Rader is actually responsible for, although Wichita police are fairly certain that Rader stalked and researched a number of other potential future victims. This includes one person who was saved when Rader called off his planned attack upon his arrival near the target's home due to the presence of construction and road crews near her home. In his police interview, Rader stated that "there are a lot of lucky people", meaning that he had thought about and developed various levels of murder plans for other victims.
Because Rader did not contest his guilt, most evidence was not tested in court. However, physical and circumstantial facts that would have corroborated Rader as the BTK killer include:
- DNA analysis of BTK's semen and material taken from underneath the fingernails of victim Vicki Wegerle match the DNA profile of Dennis Rader.
- Rader's grammar and writing style matches letters and poems received from BTK, though none of his communications were handwritten, but typed, stenciled, stamped with a stamp set or computer generated.
- A pay phone that the killer used to report a murder in 1977 was located a few blocks from ADT Security (Rader's workplace at the time).
- Rader had attended Wichita State University in the 1970s. Wichita Police Detective Arlyn G. Smith II and his partner George Scantlin traced BTK's photocopied communications to two photocopy machines, one at Wichita State University and a second copier at the Wichita Public Library. BTK murder victim Kathryn Bright's brother Kevin, who was shot twice by BTK, reported that the killer had asked him if he had seen him at the university. A poem in one of the killer's letters was similar to a folk song taught by a professor on that campus in that time period, though Rader himself dismissed any connection.
- Rader lived on the same street as Marine Hedge, just houses away. The BTK killer's other victims were in and around central Wichita, except for his final victim Dolores (Dee) Davis, who lived a half-mile east of Park City.
- Two of the victims (Julie Otero and Kathryn Bright) worked at the Coleman Company, though not during the same period that Rader worked there. Rader worked at Coleman only a short time and not at the same location as the victims.
- Rader's 16 plus hour confession, given fully and freely after receiving multiple Miranda warnings and recorded on over 20 DVDs, in which he alluded to all 10 known murders in remarkable (and grisly) detail.
- Semen found on Josephine Otero or near the bodies of his victims Josephine Otero, Shirley Vian and Nancy Fox was critical evidence linking Rader to the crimes, and DNA obtained from fingernail scrapings of Vicki Wegerle's left hand matched Rader's DNA, eliminating any doubt that he was her murderer. Rader also sent trophies to police in his letters, and others were discovered in his office. Other cold cases in Kansas were reopened to see if Rader's DNA matched crime scenes, but Rader's confession was limited to the 10 known victims and police and prosecutors do not believe there were any more victims because of the extensive records and memorabilia he kept on each of his victims
On October 25, 2005, the Kansas attorney general filed a petition to sue Mendoza and Tali Waters, co-owners of Cambridge Forensic Consultants, LLC, for breach of contract, claiming that they intended to benefit financially from the use of information obtained through involvement in Rader's defense. On May 10, 2007, Mendoza settled the case for $30,000 with no admission of wrongdoing.
On July 22, 2005, a controversy erupted on CNN's Nancy Grace show over a poem that Dennis Rader had written that was passed on to someone who then sold it on an auction site that specializes in serial killer memorabilia. The poem was titled "Black Friday", an ode to the day he was arrested. The poem expressed Rader's unhappiness about being caught, with one of the verses proclaiming, "The dark side of me has been exposed." This is a verbatim copy of that poem:
"Just a quick glance and I knew all was lost.
I saw in real life...now a on going mind view, the black and white, were now my new boss.
I saw my life as I know quickly fade away.
I saw my love ones, in mind and thoughts that I would never be able to touch, hold, communicate closely with and kiss with care will now be at bay.
I saw the Black Side of me, was now caught and others would not suffer from my lots,
But then it dawn on me, it was not as I thought.
Yes the other in me will cause no suffering.
The living remained, the Mother, Brother, Sisters, Children, Close Friends and wife will suffer.
Ands the real me of blood, flesh and mind will suffer."
After the BTK killer, Dennis Rader, was arrested, police uncovered his stashes of writings, photos, artwork and other assorted items he had kept over the years related to his crimes. He had a bondage fetish and enjoyed wearing the undergarments of his slain female victims.
His obsession for bondage expressed itself in his artwork. He used tracing paper to reproduce female images from photographs, and then would add ropes and other bindings. Rader was obsessed with cutting out magazine and newspaper ads of women models and sketching binding materials over the images.
He enjoyed tying himself up in all sorts of ways. Using various mechanisms he was able to photograph himself with a Polaroid camera. During his years as a Boy Scout troop leader, he nearly got caught once when he couldn't escape his own bonds after tying himself up inside a camper during a scout outing. He eventually worked himself loose.
Using personal jargon for his killing equipment, Rader casually described his victims as his "projects" and at one point likened the murders of his victims to killing animals by saying he "put them down". Rader created what he called a "hit kit," a briefcase or bowling bag containing the items he would use during murders: guns, tape, rope and handcuffs. He also packed what he called "hit clothes" that he would wear for the crimes and then dispose of.
Rader developed a pattern for his murders. He would wander the city until he found a potential victim. At that point, he would stalk the person until he knew the pattern of their lives and when would be the best time to strike. Rader often would stalk multiple victims at a time, so he could continue the hunt if one victim didn't work out. At the time of the murder, Rader would break into the house, cut the phone lines, and hide until his victim came home.
Rader would often calm his victims by pretending to be a rapist who needed to work out some sexual fantasies on them. This caused many of his victims to be more cooperative and even help him, thinking that once the rape was over, he would leave them alone. Instead, Rader would kill them. The name BTK, chosen by Rader for himself, also dictated his methods.
Rader bound, tortured, and killed his victims. Rader would strangle his victims until they lost consciousness, then let them revive, then strangle them again. He would repeat the pattern over and over again, forcing them to experience near-death, becoming sexually aroused at the sight of their struggles. Finally, Rader would strangle them to death and masturbate to ejaculation onto the corpse.
In 2014 it was reported that Rader stated he is working on book to help victim's families by collaborating with a professor on study of his mind. He said it is to help raise funds for the families of his 10 murder victims. In a handwritten open letter from his cell Rader revealed the news:
"The main reason for the book idea, is to help the VF's (Victims Fund) monetarily wise; something I had hoped for years, to help them and in a way to pay my debt to them. I can never replace their love ones, my deeds too 'dark' to understand, the book or movies, etc. is the only way to help them. I mean to burn no bridges and hope some day to open up. People like me, need to be understood, so the criminal professional field, can better understand, the criminal mind. That would be my way helping debt to society."
He adds that he cannot say very much because he is barred from making or fueling profits from his crimes. Rader also insisted he has turned down many requests by the news media to talk with him because he was trying to stay true to the court agreement with the victims’ families.
Following his arrest, several of the victims' relatives sued Rader, and secured a settlement that agreed he can never profit from his crimes or coverage of them. Rader had signed over his media rights to the families of the people he killed when he was sent to jail.
The non-fiction book will not be sensationalist, author Katherine Ramsland insists, and Rader will not profit from it. She stated:
"I'm trying to make this a serious effort that will have some benefit for people who study this kind of crime."
Kerri Rawson, the daughter of BTK, broke the family’s nine-year silence. She stated an interview by writer Stephen King about the upcoming movie “A Good Marriage” prompted her to break the self-imposed silence. In the interview she stated:
“He’s exploiting my father’s 10 victims and their families”.
“He’s just going to give my father a big head, and he absolutely does not need that. Great – now Stephen King is giving my father a big head. Thanks for that. That’s the last thing my dad should get.”
She also said King will make money, as she said he always does, only this time from the grief of all the victim families. “How many millions does he already have? Any money King makes off this story should go either to abused children, battered wives, or police,”. She also stated that she’s read at least a dozen Stephen King novels and loved them all but won’t read another.
She said her father was also a huge King fan – she worries that King’s books might have influenced some of the bad things her father did in some of his later murders.
“We feel exploited, We consider ourselves the 11th victim family. Stephen King has the right to tell a story, but why bring us into it? Why couldn’t he just find inspiration for another good story, but leave out where it all came from?”
She went on to say that she, her brother and her mother didn’t know that her father was BTK until the FBI told her in February 2005, shortly after Dennis Rader’s arrest.
She said her father is where he belongs, in prison, and that she has never visited him there.
“I haven’t been brave enough for that yet. He has said he is sorry, but that means nothing. He is not worth all the books and the news stories and all the attention.”
At this time Dennis Rader is 71 years old and is still in El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas.
“When this monster entered my brain, I will never know, but it is here to stay. How does one cure himself? I can’t stop it, the monster goes on, and hurts me as well as society. Maybe you can stop him. I can’t.”
- Dennis Rader - BTK
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