Dennis Rader, also known as ‘BTK,’ murdered ten persons in the Wichita, Kansas region between 1974 and 1991, frequently leaving clues to mock investigators.
Dennis Rader: Who Is He?
Dennis Rader, born in 1945 in Pittsburg, Kansas, had a double life: by day, he was a dedicated family and business man, but by night, he tormented the Wichita, Kansas, region as the “BTK killer,” committing 10 murders and engaging in brazen contact with authorities between 1974 and 1991. In 2004, Rader’s alter identity reappeared, but his predilection for leaving clues led to his capture and life sentence the following year.
Between 1974 and 1991, Dennis Rader, commonly known as ‘BTK,’ murdered 10 people in the Wichita, Kansas area, usually leaving clues to taunt detectives.
Who is Dennis Rader, exactly?
Dennis Rader, born in Pittsburg, Kansas, had a double life: during the day, he was a loyal family and business man, but at night, he terrorized the Wichita, Kansas, region as the “BTK killer,” committing 10 murders and engaging in brazen confrontation with authorities between 1974 and 1991. Rader’s alter ego emerged in 2004, but his penchant for leaving trail led to his arrest and life sentence the following year.
Rader strangled four members of the Otero family — parents Joseph and Julie, and two of their daughters, Josephine and Joseph Jr. — in their Wichita home on January 15, 1974, before fleeing with a watch and a radio. His modus operandi, or pattern of activity, would include strangulation and souvenir-taking. He also left semen at the crime scene and subsequently claimed that murdering gave him sexual satisfaction. Charlie, the Oteros’ 15-year-old son, discovered the dead later that day when he returned home.
A few months later, Rader struck again: on April 4, 1974, he waited in the apartment of Kathryn Bright, a young lady, before stabbing and strangling her when she arrived home. Kevin, Rader’s brother, was shot twice by Rader, but he survived. According to a TIME magazine story, Kevin subsequently characterized Rader as “an average-sized guy with a bushy beard and ‘crazy’ eyes.”
‘BTK’ has gone public.
Rader hid a note in a public library book in October 1974, in which he admitted to killing the Oteros.The letter was published in a local newspaper, and the sloppy writing offered authorities some insight into who they were dealing with. According to Rader, “Controlling myself is difficult. You probably refer to me as “crazy with a sexual perversion problem.”” “The code words for me will be tie them, torture them, murder them, B.T.K,” he said, indicating that he will attack again. The initials remained, and the killer became known as the “BTK killer” or just “BTK.”
In 1977, Rader committed his next known crime. Shirley Vian was tied up and killed in March of that year after locking her children in the toilet.He strangled Nancy Fox at her home in December and then contacted the cops to report the crime. Rader wrote a poem about the Vian assassination to a local newspaper shortly after, in January 1978. He wrote a message to a local television station some weeks later, claiming responsibility for the deaths of Vian, Fox, and another unidentified victim. He also made references to Ted Bundy and David Berkowitz, widely known as the “Son of Sam,” among other renowned murders.
Rader managed to maintain his secret, homicidal existence hidden despite his cat-and-mouse game with police.He and his wife had a boy in 1975 and a daughter in 1978, according to reports. Rader earned a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice from Wichita State University the following year. Despite this, he continued to harass officials and looked to be planning another attack.
Rader waited in an old woman’s house in April 1979 but departed before she returned. He wrote her a letter to inform her that BTK had arrived. In an attempt to apprehend him, police released a 1977 audio of his phone conversation to police in the hopes that someone might identify his voice.
On April 27, 1985, Rader murdered his neighbor Marine Hedge after a period of silence. Her corpse was discovered on the side of the road a few days later. Vicki Wegerle was murdered in her home the following year. Dolores Davis, his final known victim, was kidnapped from her home on January 19, 1991.
Return, arrest, and incarceration
BTK faded from view during the following few years as Rader concentrated on job and family. He left ADT in the late 1980s and began working as a compliance supervisor for Park City, a Wichita suburb, in 1991. Rader was recognized in his new role for being a rule follower. With a tranquilizer rifle in his hand, he surveyed the height of people’s lawns and hunted stray animals. Rader, according to stories, enjoyed using his limited influence over his neighbors and other community members. He was also the president of his church council and the leader of his Boy Scout group.
BTK reappeared in 2004 in the wake of several news pieces commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Otero killings. Rader wrote many letters to local media outlets and authorities with materials relevant to his crimes, such as photos, a word problem, and a blueprint for the “BTK Story.” He also left clues in the form of gifts, including a computer disk that led police to Rader’s church. Investigators also discovered his Jeep on surveillance videos from some of the package drop-off locations, and they backed up their case with a DNA sample from Rader’s daughter.
On February 25, 2005, Rader was arrested and charged with ten counts of first-degree murder. His neighbors and church members were taken aback by the news, unwilling to believe that the guy they knew was the serial murderer who had terrorized the neighborhood for so long.
On June 27, 2005, Rader pled guilty to all charges. He detailed the horrific facts of his crimes in court as part of his plea. Many others noticed that he portrayed the horrific events without remorse or emotion. Rader was transferred to El Dorado Correctional Facility to spend his 10 life sentences since he committed his crimes before the state reinstated the death penalty in 1994.