Most serial killers have an underlying reason for their actions. These reasons might not be rational or understood by regular people but it drives them anyway. The BTK killer loved the thrill of binding, torturing and killing his victims. He got sexual release and gratification from his killings and lived a double life with a wife and two children in the city of Wichita, Kansas before he was finally apprehended. Dennis Rader killed a total of ten people over 3 decades and almost got away with it until his urge to brag and taunt the press led to his discovery and apprehension.
Dennis Rader’s Background
He was born Dennis Lynn Rader in Pittsburg, Kansas, U.S on the 9th of March 1945. His parents – William Elvin and Dorothea Mae Rader – raised Dennis and his 3 brothers in Wichita. While growing up, Dennis admits to having sadistic sexual fantasies that involved bondage and torture. To act out his fantasies, he began to torture, hang and kill small animals. He also fulfilled some of his sexual fetishes by masturbating with ropes or bindings around his neck and arms and also spied on some of his female neighbors.
After high school, he attended Wesleyan University but dropped out after a year. He then enlisted with the United States Air Force and served between 1966 and 1970. After his discharge, he relocated to Park City and began to work in Leekers IGA supermarket where his mother also worked as a bookkeeper.
In 1971, it seemed that Dennis Rader had gotten his life back on track as he met and married Paula Dietz and went ahead to have two children.
To provide a good life for his family, Dennis went back to college at Butler County Community College, El Dorado, where he earned a degree in Electronics, graduating in 1973. He then proceeded to Wichita State University where he studied Administration of Justice, graduating in 1979.
Between 1974 and 1988, he worked with ADT Security Services, installing security alarms for homeowners who were mostly concerned about the BTK serial killers on the loose. How ironic! In 1991, he began to work as a dogcatcher and the Park City compliance officer. Until his arrest, Dennis Rader was an active and committed member of the Christ Lutheran Church and once served as the church council president.
Dennis Rader’s Victims
From all indications, Dennis seemed to have led a normal life. So how did the killings start? After several years of fantasizing about killing, Dennis finally made his move on his first victim – the Otero family in Wichita. He murdered in cold blood, the husband and wife (Joseph and Julie) and two of their three children (Joseph and Josephine). He then wrote a graphic description of the murder and stashed it inside a book in the public library.
The thrill of killing and getting away with it prompted him to kill many more unsuspecting victims and he began to court the attention of the media with his constant letters to television stations and the police.
Dennis Rader is known to force his way into the abode of his victims and lay in the wake for them. Some of his victims were lucky like Anna Williams who came home late from visiting friends while he waited for her in her home. He got impatient and left. Asides the Otero family, his other victims includes Kathryn Bright, Shirley Vian, Nancy Fox, Marine Hedge, Vicki Wegerle and Dolores E. Davis. Asides his first family victim, all his other victims are females, ranging from 21 to 62 years old and he mostly kills by strangulation and suffocation.
The BTK Serial Killer’s Arrest and Conviction
Thirty years after his first kill, most of the cases were considered cold but Dennis Rader, celebrating and commemorating his first kill started a new series of correspondence with the media and police which led to his arrest. In one of his letters to the police, he asked if he could use a floppy disk to send them some files without it being traced back to him, he was reassured that it won’t.
Unfortunately for him, some previously deleted files on the disk led them straight to him. He didn’t show any form of remorse while on trial as he went ahead to describe in details, how he killed his victims. He was charged with ten counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to ten consecutive life sentences with a minimum of 175 years.
It might not be well known or stated but Dennis Rader’s story has inspired several works of art, including the book by Katherine Ramsland – Confession of a Serial Killer which is a guided autobiography. Other works include A Good Marriage by Stephen King, Red Dragon by Thomas, The Hunt for the BTK Killer, Mindhunter, The Clovehitch Killer, Cold Case Files: Finding BTK. “BTK: A Killer Among Us” and his daughter’s 2019 book titled A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming.