Case Study of the BTK Killer | Biography of Dennis Rader

After Netflix made the Mindhunter series, BTK killer is right now one of the top searches on the internet. Even though Mindhunter was not that much of a hit, still BTK killer had so much popularity before Netflix’s Mindhunter. The search volume regarding BTK killer is pretty high.

In this blog, we are going to write about BTK killer a.k.a. Dennis Rader a.k.a. The Bind and Torture killer.

Introduction of BTK Killer

BTK killer is the acronym of The Bind and Torture Killer. The real name behind this is Dennis Lynn Rader. He would drive down the street and if he would see a woman, he would target her and his motive was to bind her and torture her. He showed no mercy to anyone. For three whole decades, he would taunt the police and press in a perverted game of cat and mouse. In these three decades, the police could not do anything but wait for the next victim. He was an absolute animal.

Life History of BTK Killer

Dennis Rader was born in Pittsburg, Wichita, Kansas. The town was also referred to as Cow Town due to its position on the cattle drives from Texas. Now the city is mainly named for its better know heritage as Aviation City. This city frequently gets bombarded by tornadoes. But on March 9, 1945, the city was hit by another catastrophe. On this day, the BTK killer was born. His father had four sons. Out of four, he was the eldest one. His childhood was pretty normal but his activity was abnormal just like most serial killers. He used to hang animals in his childhood and he was thrilled by doing it. He had a fetish for doing this type of perverted activity. He was sexually deviant according to his teacher. When he was 11 or 12 years old, one of his teachers scold him. He was angry at this and later went into the teacher’s house and groped with the window and as he saw her, he had an orgasm. Voyeurism, sexually deviant, and the feeling of being powerful were the symptoms of his abnormal life.

Both of his parents were really nice people. He was very quiet and not into athletic sports. In 1957, he used to go to Zion Lutheran Church. In 1963, he graduated from school. 1965-66 was his university life. He joined the US Force in 1966 as a mechanic. Dennis Rader was a college dropout. He switched his jobs between 1971 to 1974. He started his job as an outdoor supplier and in 1974, he worked for ADT Security Services.

Experience and Disorder

When he was in 9th grade, he was having weird sexual fantasies. He told he knew at that time what his future was going to be. He married his wife Paula in 1971. He used to portray a family guy in front of his wife. But he was a demon inside. He was very fond of reading detective magazines. These types of magazines are used to show violent activities like torture and bondage. These magazines also taught him to avoid being caught. He studied what the other serial killers used to do and what they wronged. He used to draw very obnoxious drawings. His drawing illustrated the inner sadistic and sexual deviancy.

First Murders of BTK Killer Dennis Rader

Wichita witnessed its first man-made tornado on 15th January 1974. Dennis Rader killed four members of the same family in Wichita. According to the then police captain in the Wichita Police Department, Richard La Manion, the neighborhood was well-established and had a very low crime rate. No one would have thought about that kind of murder in that area. The BTK Killer went in the back door of the house and cut the phone wire. Inside the house, the detectives would be presented with a scene they would never forget. They had a mother and a father and two children that were killed in a ritual-type process. The family was just moved into the area. BTK strangulated both the father Joe and his wife Julie. He then moved on to Joey, 9 years old. He put a bag over Joey’s head and suffocated him to death. He then took Josephine, an 11-year-old girl. He took her to the basement and hangs her. The Otero family was his first target.

In his trial, he told the judge that it was his sexual fantasy. He left semen in the spot. According to experts, it was sexually motivated initial contact that made him murder the four of Otero members. He told in the courtroom that, he had to kill Mr. Joe because he had no mask on and later would be traced down.

Second and Subsequent Murders

After the Otero Family killing, Dennis Rader was looking for his next target. Just after 79 days from his first murders, he struck again. His next victim was Kathryn Bright, a 21 years-old young woman. He was spying on her and went to her home. Kathy was coming from her university and when she came the home, she saw BTK was already there expecting her. But along with her, her brother Kevin also came. BTK did not anticipate it. BTK tied both of them and somehow Kevin got loose and got up. When Kevin started yelling, he shot him right in the head. Then he stabbed Kathy to death. But somehow Kevin escaped even after the shot in his head. But due to the head injury, he could not give anything important to the police except BTK’s height, age, and skin color.  

In 1977, he killed another woman. The victim’s name was Shirley Vian, a single mother with three children. The three children somehow escaped from him but he killed Shirley. He tied her up and then put a bag over her head and strangled her. The children could not give much information to the police. As this murder was three years later, so the police could not connect this murder with BTK Killer. After 9 months from Shirley Vian’s killing, he struck again. This time he killed 25 years-old Nancy Fox, a young woman. He went to the back of her house and cut the phone line. Then he was sitting there in the house and was waiting for the victim. Nancy came home without unaware of him and he tied her in the legs and handcuffed her hands. Then he strangulated her with a belt.

In 1985, he killed his neighbors a 53 years-old woman named Marine Hedge. He took her pictures after killing her. He wanted to play with her dead body. After 9 days of Marine Hedge’s death, her body was discovered. This time the police also failed to connect the murder.

In 1986, he killed Vicky Wagerle.

After 4 years, In 1991, the BTK killer killed his final victim. This time, 62 years-old Dolores Davis.

BTK Killer’s Weird behavior

Most of his murders were initiated by sexual fantasy. But one of the weirdest things about him was he portraited the crime scene and took pictures of the scene. He was a boy scout leader. He used to leave the campsite where the boy scouts were and then he used to dig a grave. In the grave, he used to be there with a mask on and put himself with women’s undergarments. Then he attached the camera to a cord and would take pictures of him. He took souvenirs and trophies from different crime scenes. He then took all these in his backyard. He also had self-created pornography there. He used to satisfy himself with these photos. He told Steve Osburn, the then defense attorney in a manner as if this was normal.

Dennis Rader was a Park City compliance officer that gave him authority in society. He used to write tickets for silly things. If the matter goes on court, he spent hours proving himself right. He prepared as if it was a capital punishment case.

Arrest and Conviction

BTK introduces himself to Police in 1974. At that time, three people were allegedly confessed to the Otero family killing. He could not stand this. So he wrote to the police telling them they had the wrong people in the custody and told them he will kill more people using his code name, Bind Them, Torture them and Kill them. After killing, Nancy he again told the police. This time he called and pointed to the location where he had killed her. In 1978, he again mailed the police about Shirley Vian. After not getting that much attention from the police, he went for the tv to gain publicity. He wrote a message to a locally based tv channel named KAKE. This message terrorized the whole community as well as the country at that time.

In 2004, after 30 years from his first murders, he wanted to resurface again. He used to hide the victim’s belonging and kept them somewhere in the city and then informed the media. All of these were gaining him publicity which he wanted. But he was not good with technology. He sends the police a disk where he gave some clues. Forensic computer crime units traced the disk and deciphered all the information of Dennis Rader.

In February 2005, Dennis Rader was arrested. He confessed all his monstrous work and killings. He was charged with 10 murders and he received life terms in prison for all ten. The total term for his punishment is 175 plus years without any possibility of getting parole.

Dennis Rader Family

According to his friends and classmates, Dennis Rader was pretty normal. He was a family man. His wife Paula never suspected him. He was normal in public. He has two children. BTK killer daughter’s name is Kerri Rowson and his son’s name is Brian. After the news of his arrest, his wife Paula Dietz divorce him filing an emergency divorce. She never attended the hearing or visited Rader. She is alive and had never given any public statement.

Read about other serial killers

Aileen Wuornos

Jeffrey Dahmer

Ted Bundy

David Berkowitz

Leave a Comment