Home True Crime Dennis Rader – How The Btk Killer Terrorized The City of Wichita

Dennis Rader – How The Btk Killer Terrorized The City of Wichita

Known as a loving husband and a church leader, he has been living a double life for 3 decades and secretly also known as the Bind Torture and Kill serial killer who murdered 10 people in Wichita Kansas.

Name: Dennis Rader

Moniker(s): BTK

Date of Birth: March 9, 1945

Date of Death: still alive

Victim Count: 10

Years Active: 1974-2004

Region Active: Sedgwick County, Kansas, U.S.

Date of Arrest: February 25, 2005

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Dennis Rader Standing in Court
Photo Credit: Cosmopolitan

Dennis Rader is undoubtedly the epitome of a narcissistic sociopath. During his court proceedings, Rader gave a now-infamous confession in which he coldly and callously laid out the details of all ten murders to which he had plead guilty.

Known better by his self-invented moniker, BTK (abbreviation for “bind, torture, kill”), Rader terrorized his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, for thirty years.

Outwardly, Dennis Rader was a quiet, unassuming man, involved in his church and community. A father of two, Rader worked for ADT security company for some time. Entering homes every day allowed Rader ample opportunity to troll for new victims, and his familiarity with security systems would allow him to disable victims’ alarms with ease. He later worked as a local dog catcher.

Born March 9, 1945, Rader had problems from an early age, doing poorly in school. He had significantly worse problems internally, however. While still in elementary school, Rader began having sexual fantasies of bondage and torture.

Rader did just as poorly in college as he had done throughout his childhood. In 1966, at age 21, Rader joined the U.S. Air Force, remaining in active duty until 1970. During that time, Rader kept detailed journals of his activities stalking women. He hadn’t taken it any further than stalking. Rader got married in 1971, to Paula Dietz, who would stay with him until his arrest.

In 1973, Rader went back to school, though he did just as poorly as previous times in school. He went to night classes for the next six years before finally earning his degree in Electronics. By the time he earned his degree, Rader had killed seven people.

Dennis Rader When He Got His First Degree
Photo Credit: Owlcation

Rader’s first murder took place on January 15, 1974. Rader noticed Julie Otero, a thirty-four-year-old mother of five, with her eleven-year-old daughter, Josephine, while taking his wife to work.

He gathered up a kit consisting of a gun, cords, knives, and various tools for breaking and entering. Rader had been breaking in to homes since his childhood, so the feat wasn’t new. The stalking wasn’t, either, and he patrolled the Otero house until he had memorized the comings and goings of all seven members of the family. He made his move on January 15, though he wasn’t aware that Julie’s husband, Joe, was home.

Rader snuck in to the backyard at eight that morning, cutting the telephone line. He barged in through the back door and ordered Julie and Joe’s youngest, nine-year-old Joey, to put the dog out, pointing his gun at him. Rader tied up each member of the family still in the home. The three oldest children were already at school. Rader strangled Joe and Julie Otero first, then strangled and suffocated Joey. Rader then led Josephine into the basement, where he hung her over a sewer pipe and masturbated, leaving seminal fluid on the floor.

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Rader struck again in April. He stalked twenty-one-year-old Kathryn Bright, entering her home on April 4th, and waiting in a bedroom for her to come home. She came home at two that afternoon, but with company—her 19-year-old brother, Kevin. Rader shot Kevin, but he survived and managed to get away. Kathryn wasn’t so lucky. She died in the hospital from Rader’s multiple stab wounds.

Rader would lay low for three years, though he did begin communicating with local press. He contacted the Wichita Eagle to lead them to a letter he had hidden in a library book. In this letter, he named himself BTK.

Rader’s next victim, Shirley Vian, was killed on March 17, 1977. In December of that year, Rader killed Nancy Fox. After Nancy’s murder, Rader began communicating in earnest with police and local press, taunting as well as sending clues. However, as quickly as the communication had begun, it stopped. BTK went into hiding, laying low for the next eight years.

Rader fulfilled his twisted desires instead by reliving his murders through trophies from the crime scenes and photographs of his victims. However, on April 27, 1985, Rader gave in to “Factor X,” as he called his desire to kill. He slipped away from his son’s Boy Scout campsite, feigning a headache. He headed to the home of fifty-three-year-old Marine Hedge, a neighbor of his. He choked her to death and dumped her body in a ditch alongside the road. On September 16, 1986, he struck again, killing Vickie Wegerle.

Dennis Rader posing with a child
Photo Credit: Detroit News

Rader satiated his urges in other ways until 1991. In January of that year, he slipped away from another Boy Scout camping trip in the dead of night, careful not to rouse anyone. He made his way to the home of his latest “project,” or, intended victim, sixty-two-year-old Delores Davis. He tied her up, strangled her, dumped her body, then made his way back to the campsite as though he had never left. He later returned to her dumping site to photograph the body.

After the murder of Delores Davis, BTK vanished just as quickly as he had returned. Rader bided his time, reliving his past crimes through his trophies and photographs once more.

Come 2004, around the 30th anniversary of the Otero murders, local media ran stories on BTK. To Rader’s frustration, newspapers theorized that the infamous murderer was now dead or behind bars as an explanation for his sudden disappearance.

Rader sent photocopies of photographs of the dying Vickie Wegerle and her missing driver’s license taken in 1986 to the paper with his signature “BTK” symbol attached. Once the items were confirmed to be legitimate, Wichita once more flew into a frenzy of fear.

Rader’s communication with the press began in earnest. Had he been able to contain himself, it’s likely he would never have been caught. But Rader’s ego was his downfall. In May 2004, he sent a lengthy word puzzle to a local TV station.

On June 9th, he sent a package full of grotesque evidence, including a lengthy, graphic confession to the Otero murders and a sketch of Josephine Otero’s body at the crime scene.

On July 17th, he sent another package which contained a letter threatening to kill again. Rader continued to send packages until February 3, 2005, totaling ten in all by that date.

Packages contained things such as Rader’s supposed life story, a doll bound with a victim’s driver’s license at its feet, and information about his “projects,” sometimes packaged in cereal boxes.

By February 3rd, Rader had grown comfortable with both the press and police. He arrogantly assumed he could trust the police. In his February 3rd package, he asked if he could send a floppy disc to the police department without them tracing its origins.

Police played along, placing the ad in the paper reading “Rex it will be OK” that Rader had asked for. Rader subsequently sent the disc, which law enforcement traced back to the computer, and his account, in his church’s office.

Investigators identified Rader quickly, and his vehicle matched the one caught on surveillance cameras at one of his package drops.

Law enforcement obtained a DNA sample from Rader’s daughter and tested it against DNA at the crime scenes. It proved a match.

Rader was arrested on February 25, 2005. His chummy attitude toward the police outweighed the cat-and-mouse game he initially tried to play during interrogation. Before long, he was giving a grisly, detailed confession to his long string of murders.

Dennis Rader wondering where did he went wrong in custody.
Photo Credit: Meaww

Rader gave the same lengthy, gruesome confession in court on June 27, 2005, when he pleaded guilty to ten counts of murder.

On August 18th, he was sentenced to ten consecutive life sentences. Rader settled well into life in prison.

His daughter, who so unwittingly caught the BTK killer went on to speak out about her father and the pain his crimes caused her, even writing a book, “A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming.

Want more spine-chilling stories? Get our most shocking and horrific stories sent straight to your inbox, sign up for True Crime Seven’s newsletter and you can also receive a FREE copy of “The Briley Brothers” today.

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