Dennis Rader BTK Serial Killer

dennis rader btk

Dennis Rader is a serial killer who was known at the BTK killer. BTK which stands for Bind, Torture and Kill reign of terror starting in 1974 and ending with his arrest in 1991. In this article on My Crime Library we are going to take a closer look at Dennis Rader the BTK killer.

Dennis Rader Early Years

Dennis Rader was born in Kansas on March 9, 1945 and was one of four children. Both of his parents worked long hours and Rader would later state that he felt ignored by his mother. Dennis would harbor thoughts of sexual violence and would commit a number of violent acts against animals.

Dennis Rader would join the US Military in 1966 and would serve until 1970. When he left the military Dennis Rader would work in a supermarket, where his mother worked as a bookkeeper. In 1971 Dennis would get married to Paula Dietz and the pair would have two children Kerri and Brian

Dennis Rader would go back to school and graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Administration of Justice. Rader would work for a security company where he would install security alarms in private homes.

In 1991 Dennis Rader would start a new job as a dog catcher and compliance officer in Park City Utah.

Dennis Rader Murdres

Dennis Rader started to kill people in 1974. According to court documents Dennis Rader would murder four members of the Otero family in Wichita Kansas. Dennis would murder Joseph Otero, age 38; Julie Otero, age 33; Joseph Otero Jr., age 9; and Josephine Otero, age 11. The murder victims would be discovered by other members of the family. After his arrest Dennis Rader would admit to the four murders

Between 1974 and 1977 Dennis Rader would murder three women Kathryn Bright (April 4, 1974), Shirley Vian Relford (March 17, 1977), and Nancy Fox (December 8, 1977). Dennis Rader would write the local press confessing to this crime and suggesting names that the press could call him. The BTK Killer was the one that they chose.

Dennis Rader attempted to murder another woman during this period but thankfully she was able to escape.

In 1985 the BTK Killer would murder Marine Hedge, aged 53, in Wichita Kansas. Dennis Rader would bring the victims body to his church where he posed her in a number of positions and taking photographs.

In 1988 someone claiming to be the BTK killer would murder three members of the Fager family. The press would later receive a letter from the BTK killer denying any involvement however during the letter approved of the killers work. It was later proven that Dennis Rader did write the letter however was not responsible for the triple murder.

In 1991 Dolores E. Davis, was found murdered in Park City Utah. This was the last known murder of Dennis Rader

dennis rader victims
NameSexAgeDate of DeathPlace of DeathCause of DeathWeapon Used
Joseph OteroM39January 15, 1974803 N. Edgemoor Street, WichitaSuffocatedPlastic bag
Julia Maria OteroF33StrangledRope
Joseph Otero, Jr.M9SuffocatedPlastic bag
Josephine OteroF11HangedRope
Kathryn Doreen BrightF21April 4, 19743217 E. 13th Street N., Wichita
(died at Wesley Medical Center)
Stabbed three times
in abdomen[80]
Shirley Ruth Vian RelfordF24March 17, 19771311 S. Hydraulic Street, WichitaStrangledRope
Nancy Jo FoxF25December 8, 1977843 S. Pershing Street, WichitaStrangledBelt
Marine Wallace HedgeF53April 27, 19856254 N. Independence Street,
Park City
Vicki Lynn WegerleF28September 16, 19862404 W. 13th Street N., WichitaStrangledNylon stocking
Dolores Earline Johnson DavisF62January 19, 19916226 N. Hillside Street, Wichita
(east of Park City)

Dennis Rader Arrest

Dennis Rader would send a floppy disc to the police and it would lead to his downfall. The police were able to find information on the disc that would identify Dennis Rader. On February 25, 2005 the BTK Killer would be arrested in Park City Utah.

Dennis Rader Prison Sentence

Dennis Rader would ultimately be convicted of ten counts of murder and would be sentenced to multiple life sentences with no chance of parole. Dennis Rader is kept away from the regular prison population and is allowed one hour of exercise per day. Due to his crime and notoriety he would not be safe in the general prison population

Dennis Rader 2022 Information

Work or Program Participation Not Working

Earliest Possible Release Date (1) Feb 26, 2180

Current Status Incarcerated

Admission Date Aug 19, 2005

Current Location (2)El Dorado CF-Central

Custody Level Special Management

Dennis Rader More News

Dennis Rader appeared as an ordinary family man in Wichita, Kansas, who collected stamps and served as the president of his church.

But the seeming doting father and trusted Cub Scout leader was also a murderer who terrorized residents for decades using the moniker BTK – bind, torture, kill.

In 2005, Rader, now 76, pled guilty to killing 10 people from 1974 to 1991. And for over a decade, Rader corresponded with Dr. Katherine Ramsland, a professor of forensic psychology, to better understand how lust, as well as a desire for fame and power, drove him to kill. Now, she’s sharing her story.

Ramsland is speaking out in a new true-crime docuseries on A&E titled “BTK: Confession of a Serial Killer.” The two-night special from executive producer Dick Wolf of the “Law & Order” franchise features never-before-heard conversations between Rader and Ramsland as they discuss his past and gruesome crimes.

“When I first wrote to him, he appreciated the fact that I had academic credentials and that I was also an expert on serial killers because I had done a lot of writing on them prior to talking with him,” Ramsland told Fox News. “But he had a test for me. He wanted me to solve some codes that he sent me. 

“He wanted to make sure I wouldn’t just dismiss it. But for practical purposes, he wanted to use codes to disguise what we were talking about when we got into very dark, raw subjects. And I was willing to do that. That was a good signal to him that I would work with him in the way he wanted.”

Ramsland first corresponded with Rader in 2010. They exchanged numerous letters, spoke on the phone and even met face-to-face at El Dorado Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in Kansas. In 2016, Ramsland wrote the book “Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer” under an agreement that proceeds from its sale would go to the victims’ families trust fund.

“My initial impression of Dennis Rader was that he wanted to challenge me,” Ramsland said. “And what surprised me was the fact that there wasn’t anything in his background that would correspond with the typical formula we have of serial killers. I recently heard a detective say that all serial killers have trauma in their background. He was wrong about that.”

“Dennis Rader challenges the idea we have about serial killers,” she added. “He was a family man. He was a churchgoer, even a president of his church congregation. He had a full-time job. He was part of his community. So we have to be careful about some of the stereotypes we form about these kinds of offenders. 

“Otherwise, we’ll start thinking we know them when we don’t. And in Dennis’ case, there wasn’t any particular reason in his background. No trauma. He was an all-American boy, the oldest of four boys in his family. He had an intact family and played on his farm. So where did it all come from? That intrigued me.”

Rader joined the Air Force and married Paula Dietz in 1971. Every Sunday, he and his spouse went to church. The couple shares two children, a boy and a girl. Rader’s father, who died in 1996 after retiring as a plant operator at a utility company’s generating station, was described by childhood pals as strict but never cruel, the New York Times reported. 

Rader struck as the BTK for the first time in 1974. Four members of the Otero family — Joseph, 38, wife Julie, 34, and two of their children — Josephine, 11, and Joseph II, 9 — were bound and strangled inside their homes. The slain matriarch had worked on an assembly line for the Coleman Company, the same place Rader worked in the early ‘70s.

Rader taunted the media and police with cryptic messages during a cat-and-mouse game that began after the murders. He signed the letters “BTK.”

That same year, 21-year-old Kathryn Bright, who also worked at the Coleman plant, was found stabbed in her home. She was bound with a cord and partially dressed. Her brother was shot but survived.

Rader returned to his seemingly normal life until 1977. Shirley Vian, 24, was found on her bed with a plastic bag over her head and a cord wrapped around her neck, hands and feet. That same year, 25-year-old Nancy Fox was strangled with nylon stockings in her home.

Rader hid in plain sight as he helped raise his family. Then in 1985, 53-year-old Marine Hedge was found strangled alongside a dirt road. The next year, 28-year-old Vicki Wegerle was found strangled in her bed.

Rader returned to a low-profile life once more as he became heavily involved in his church community. That changed in 1991 when he abducted 62-year-old Dolores Davis, his final victim, from her home. She was found strangled and bound under a bridge.

Ramsland said that growing up, Rader was “humiliated by his mother” which stayed with him over the years.

“That really played on him,” she explained. “It’s something he still thinks about, even to this day. And we haven’t studied humiliation as a factor in the development of extreme offenders much. And I think maybe we need to rethink that. And he certainly got an early exposure to using ropes for an erotic activity. 

“And then he began to read these true detective magazines that his father would hide in the car. So that made him clandestine … He wanted to feel significant. And he wanted to have power over women because females made him feel off balance.”

“He didn’t like that as the oldest boy, he was expected to be strong and masculine, and yet they seem to kneecap him right and left without even trying, just by being female,” she shared. “And his fantasy life certainly propelled him.”

Rader resurfaced in 2004 with more chilling, taunting letters. The break in the case came in 2005 after a computer disk Rader sent was traced to his church. His chilling courtroom confession ended a mystery that haunted Wichita for decades. He was sentenced to 10 consecutive life terms in prison.

“During that courtroom hearing, Dennis felt like he was in a position to teach people about who he was,” said Ramsland. “In a way, he also thought of himself as a victim. He thought he had some things in common with the victims … Rader is a narcissist, so he just thought this was a way to present himself.”

When asked if Rader saw himself as a monster, Ramsland said, “At times.”

“Dennis Rader does think of himself as a monster, but he also thinks of himself as a good person who did some bad things,” she explained. “He will talk about a monster in his brain. It’s his ‘Factor X,’ which is a way to distance himself from criminal responsibility. He thinks, for the most part, he’s not a monster. He certainly was in those instances when he selected a victim and carried through with his crimes. But overall, he doesn’t think of himself that way.”

Dennis Rader Videos

What Does BTK Stand For

BTK refers to Bind, Torture and Kill which is what Dennis Rader was dubbed as

Dennis Rader Now

Dennis Rader is currently incarcerated in a solitary cell at the El Dorado Correctional Facility

Dennis Rader Release Date

Dennis Rader is serving a life without parole sentence
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