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Serial killer Dennis Rader aka The BTK Killer taunted the cops for 30 years: ID investigates

Mugshot of Dennis Rader
Dennis Rader liked to play a cat and mouse game with the cops in Wichita, Kansas. Pic credit: El Dorado Correctional Facility

This week on ID, a three-episode special follows the case of Dennis Rader, aka The BTK Killer, who tormented law enforcement for 30 years with his letters and boasted about his murders.

Between 1974 and 1991, Rader killed ten people; nine of them were in Wichita, Kansas, while the other was in nearby Park City, Kansas.

His first victims were on January 15, 1974, when he killed four members of the same family. He entered the home of Joseph and Julie Otero, where he killed them and two of their young children. He left the scene with a radio and a watch and later told the cops he’d got sexual pleasure from the murders.

His next victim came a few months later when he waited in the home of Kathryn Bright before stabbing and strangling her as she arrived home.

It was in October of that year that Rader began sending or leaving letters for the authorities to find where he claimed responsibility for the murders. He said his code words would be “bind, torture, kill” of BTK for short; henceforth, be became known as The BTK Killer.

BTK didn’t strike again until 1977 when he strangled Shirley Vian in March and Nancy Fox in December. Rader’s modus operandi was to attack people in their own homes. He preferred strangulation as his method of killing, and he would steal souvenirs from the crime scene.

In the case of Vian, he locked her children in a bathroom while he tied up and killed their mother. After killing Fox, he actually telephoned the cops to report the homicide.

Dennis Rader toyed with the Kansas cops

Rader continued his cat and mouse game with the investigators by sending another letter taunting them about the murders.

His next murder wouldn’t take place until 1985, when he killed his neighbor, Marine Hedge, and left her body at the side of the road. Then in 1986, he strangled Vicki Wegerle to death in her home. And his final known murder took place in 1991 when he killed Dolores Davis.

Suddenly Rader then vanished off the radar. He stopped committing murders, and he ceased taunting the police with letters. By all accounts, he became a diligent public employee working as a compliance officer for Park City, KS. He was also focused on his family life; he had a wife and two children, to who he was reportedly very attentive.

However, when the 30 year anniversary of the Otero murders approached, there were numerous newspaper articles released to mark the tragic event. Rader’s massive ego got the better of him, and he started sending letters and clippings once again.

He was finally undone when he sent a floppy disc with information about the murders to a TV station. The cops were able to trace the disc to one of his computers.

Rader was finally arrested in February 2005. He eventually confessed to all ten murders and spoke in detail about his crimes. He seemed very relaxed, talking to the police officers who he actually considered as friends.

In August 2005, Rader pleaded guilty in a courtroom to the murders, thereby ending a mystery that had haunted Kansas for 30-years. He was ordered to serve ten life sentences consecutively.

More from Investigation Discovery

Follow the links to read about more serial killers profiled on ID.

Keith Jesperson became known as the Happy Face Killer because of the smiley faces that he drew on his letters to the media where he bragged about his murders. He is known to have killed at least eight women between 1990 and 1995 in six states.

Edmund Kemper, aka The Co-Ed Killer, murdered and dismembered at least ten people in the 1960s and 1970s. He received his nickname after mostly targeting young student women; however, he also murdered his mother and his grandparents.

BTK: Chasing A Serial Killer airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

Jerry Brown


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