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You have to have the control, which is the bonding. That’s been a big thing with me. My sexual fantasy...if I’m going to kill a victim or do something to the victim, is having them bound and tied. In my dreams, I had what they called torture chambers. And to relieve your sexual fantasies you have to go to the kill.
~ Dennis Rader

Dennis Lynn Rader (March 9th, 1945 - ) is an American serial killer known for killing at least 10 people in and near Wichita, Kansas between 1974 and 1991. He was known as the BTK Strangler (or simply BTK), which stood for his modus operandi: "Bind, Torture, Kill". He would also send taunting letters to police and newspapers describing the details of his crimes.

After a decade-long hiatus, Rader resumed sending letters in 2004, leading to his 2005 arrest and subsequent guilty plea. He received 10 consecutive life sentences - one for each of his victims - and is currently incarcerated at the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Butler County, Kansas. His last communication with the media was in 2005.

Criminal history

On January 15th, 1974, four members of the Otero family were murdered in Wichita, Kansas. The victims were father Joseph Otero, aged 38, mother Julie Otero, age 33, and two children: Joseph Otero Jr. age 9, and Josephine Otero age 11. Their bodies were discovered by the family's eldest child, Charlie Otero, who was in 10th grade at the time, as he returned home from school. After his 2005 arrest, Rader confessed to killing the Otero family. Rader wrote a letter that had been stashed inside an engineering book in the Wichita Public Library in October 1974 that described, in detail, the killing of the Otero family in January of that year.

In early 1978, he sent another letter to television station KAKE in Wichita, claiming responsibility for the murders of the Oteros, Kathryn Bright, Shirley Vian and Nancy Fox. He suggested many possible names for himself, including the one that stuck: BTK. He demanded media attention in this second letter, and it was finally announced that Wichita did indeed have a serial killer at large. A poem was enclosed titled "Oh! Death to Nancy," a parody of the lyrics to the American folk song "O Death."

He also intended to kill others, such as Anna Williams, who in 1979, aged 63, escaped death by returning home much later than expected. Rader explained during his confession that he became obsessed with Williams and was "absolutely livid" when she evaded him. He spent hours waiting at her home, but became impatient and left when she did not return home from visiting friends.

Marine Hedge, aged 53, was found on May 5th, 1985, at East 53rd Street North between North Webb Road and North Greenwich Road in Wichita. Rader had killed her on April 27th, 1985 and he took her dead body to his church, the Christ Lutheran Church, where he was the president of the church council. There, he photographed her body in various bondage positions. Rader had previously stored black plastic sheets and other materials at the church in anticipation for the murder and then later dumped the body in a remote ditch. He had called his plan "Project Cookie".

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 the author of the letter denied being the perpetrator of the Fager murders. The author credited the killer with having done "admirable work." It was not proven until 2005 that this letter was, in fact, written by Rader. He is not considered by police to have committed this crime. Additionally, 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.

His final victim, Dolores E. Davis, was found on February 1st, 1991, at West 117th Street North and North Meridian Street in Sedgwick. She had been killed by Rader on January 19th, 1991.

Victims

Name Sex Age Date of Death Place of Death Cause of Death Weapon Used
Joseph Otero M 38 January 15, 1974 803 North Edgemoor Street, Wichita Suffocated Plastic bag
Julia Maria Otero F 33 Strangled Rope
Joseph Otero, Jr. M 9 Suffocated Plastic bag
Josephine Otero F 11 Hanged from a
drainage pipe
Rope
Kathryn Doreen Bright F 21 April 4, 1974 3217 East 13th Street North, Wichita
died at Wesley Medical Center.
Stabbed 3 times
in abdomen
Knife
Shirley Ruth Vian Relford F 24 March 17, 1977 1311 South Hydraulic Street, Wichita Strangled Rope
Nancy Jo Fox F 25 December 8, 1977 843 South Pershing Street, Wichita Strangled Belt
Marine Wallace Hedge F 53 April 27, 1985 6254 North Independence Street,
Park City
Strangled Hand(s)
Vicki Lynn Wegerle F 28 September 16, 1986 2404 West 13th Street North, Wichita Strangled Nylon stocking
Dolores Earline Johnson Davis F 62 January 19, 1991 6226 North Hillside Street, Wichita Strangled Pantyhose

Trivia

  • He is a featured character on the Netflix-original television series Mindhunter, where he is portrayed by Sonny Valicenti.
  • Stephen King says his novella A Good Marriage, and the film based on it, was inspired by Rader.

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