For more than 30 years, serial killer Dennis Rader struck fear into the hearts of the people of Wichita, KS, by committing 10 brutal murders. Rader - who called himself the BTK Killer because he liked to bind, torture, and kill his victims - lived a double-life, hiding in plain sight with the help of his wife and two children who were completely unaware of his crimes. He is considered one of the most prolific American serial killers of all time.
After getting away with murder for more than three decades, Rader finally got caught because he got sloppy. Why? Because he loved bragging to the media through letters and graphic photographs, taunting police and others that they would never find him. If murdering wasn't twisted enough, there was a collection of disturbing images and drawings created by the BTK Killer.
He Communicated With The Media Through Creepy Letters
In October 1974, Rader wrote a letter detailing the murders of Mr. and Mrs. Otero and their two young children, and he left it in a book in a Wichita library. In it were details about the crime, and when it was found, it was handed over to the local media. In 1978, Rader sent a letter to a Wichita radio station in which he admitted being the person responsible for killing the Oteros, Kathryn Bright, Shirley Vian Relford, and Nancy Fox.
The previous year, Rader strangled 25-year-old Nancy Fox to death on December 8, 1977, in her Wichita home. Shortly after killing Fox - whom he had stalked for months prior to her murder - Rader called 911 to report her death to the authorities, providing law enforcement with an audio recording of his voice.
Rader found Fox's murder particularly satisfying, causing him to write two poems about the young woman's murder that he sent to the press. Ultimately, his pathological need to communicate with the media and law enforcement led to his arrest and ended the BTK Killer's reign of terror.
He Took Pictures Of One Of His Victims In Church
More than seven years after he murdered Nancy Fox, Rader killed his next known victim, 53-year-old Marine Hedge in her Park City, KS, home on April 27, 1985. Rader strangled Hedge to death with his hands, removed her clothing, wrapped her lifeless body in a blanket, and placed her corpse in the trunk of his car.
Then, Rader drove to his Lutheran church and took Hedge's body inside, where he tied up her corpse with bondage equipment and out her in sexually explicit positions. Rader used a Polaroid camera to take obscene pictures of Hedge's body in the church before disposing of her corpse in a drainage ditch where she was eventually discovered.
He Named Himself The BTK KillerPhoto: Unsub Film / YouTube
In his early communications with the media, Rader suggested a number of different monikers the press could use to refer to him and his murders. One of these suggestions included the "BTK Strangler," with BTK standing for "Bind, Torture, Kill." Initially, the media referred to the unidentified murderer as the BTK Strangler, but eventually Rader was called the "BTK Killer" or simply "BTK." After a series of letters in the 1970s, Rader didn't communicate with the press again until 1988 - praising an unidentified perpetrator who had murdered three people.
In 2004, Rader resumed communication with the media when he sent a letter a local newspaper, using the name Bill Thomas Killman for the return address. In the note, he claimed responsibility for murdering 28-year-old Vicki Wegerle in her Wichita home on September 16, 1986. To prove the killing was the work of the BTK Killer - as many people had suspected Wegerle's husband of her murder - Rader included photos of the crime scene and a copy of the young woman's drivers license.
He Was Caught When He Sent A Floppy Disk To Police
After communicating with the media and police 10 times in 2004 and 2005, Rader asked law enforcement if they would be able to trace computer files back to him if he sent them messages on floppy disks. Officials assured the BTK Killer - via a coded newspaper ad - it would be impossible for them to link him to documents saved to computer disks. Incredibly, Rader assumed the officers were telling him the truth, so he sent a floppy disk to a Wichita TV station in February 2005.
When investigators reviewed the document on the disk, they discovered metadata on it that indicated the file had been saved by a person named Dennis. They also learned the disk had been used at both a Park City library and the Christ Lutheran Church. Armed with these locations and a first name, police searched the internet and discovered Dennis Rader was the president of the church's congregation.