In June 2005, Dennis Rader, otherwise known as the BTK Killer, stood trial for the murder of 10 victims from 1974 to 1991. The trial of the BTK Killer documents the gruesome details of Rader's killing spree. Rader's signature was to bind, torture, and kill his victims - hence his grim title. In 2004, authorities considered the BTK Killer case cold - that is, until Rader began sending messages to the local media.
When Rader stood trial, he openly described each of his slayings in detail. The most chilling moments from the BTK trial include Rader recalling the planning and execution of each of his kills, all of which occurred no less than 14 years before police apprehended Rader. These documented transcriptions of Rader's creepiest moments are in the public record.
From Rader's testimony:
The Court: Now, let's turn to count No. 6. In that count, they claim on March 17, 1977, in Cedric County, KS, that you unlawfully killed Shirley Vian maliciously, willfully, deliberately, and with premeditation, by strangulation, inflicting injuries from which she [died] on March 17, 1977. Can you tell me what you did on that day?
The Defendant: Yes... on that one, she was completely random. There was actually someone across from Dillons [who] was a potential target. It was called Project Green, I think. I had project numbers assigned to it. And that particular day, I drove to Dillons and parked in the parking lot and watched this particular residence, and then got out of the car... I don't remember the address now. Knocked, nobody answered it.
So I was all keyed up, so I just started going through the neighborhood. I had been through the neighborhood before... I'd been through the back alleys and knew where certain people lived. While I was walking down Hydraulic, I met a young boy and asked him if he could ID some pictures. Kind [of] was a ruse I guess, a ruse, as you call it. And I had to feel it out and saw where he went. I went to another address, knocked on the door. Nobody opened the door. So I just noticed where he went and went to that house. And we went from there.
The Court: Now you call these projects. Were these sexual fantasies also?
The Defendant: Potential hits. In my world, that's what I called them. They were called projects - hits.
The Court: And why did you have these potential hits? Was this to gratify some sexual interest or...?
The Defendant: Yes, sir. I had a lot of them... if one didn't work out, I just moved to another one.
From Rader's testimony:
The Defendant: I told Mrs. Vian that I had a problem with sexual fantasies and I was going to tie her up and may that I might have to tie the kids up. And if she would... cooperate with me at that time. We went back. She was extremely nervous. I think she even smoked a cigarette. And we went back to one of the back areas of the porch, [and I] explained that I had done this before... I think if I remember right, she had been sick. I think she came out of the bedroom when I went in the house.
So anyway, we went back to her bedroom. And I proceeded to tie the kids up, and they started crying and got real upset, so I said, "Oh, this is not going [to] work." So we moved them to the bathroom. She helped me. And then I tied the door shut. We put toys and blankets and odds and ends in there for the kids, to make them as comfortable as we could. We tied... one of the bathroom doors shut so they couldn't open it, and... she went back to help me shove a bed up against the other bathroom door.
And then I proceeded to tie her up. She got sick and threw up. I got her a glass of water, comforted her a little bit, and then I went ahead and tied her up... [Afterward, I] put a bag over her head and strangled her.
The Court: All right. Was this a plastic bag also?
The Defendant: Yes, sir, I think it was. But I could be wrong on that. It was something - I'm sure it was plastic bag, yes.
From Rader's testimony:
The Defendant: Well, after that I did Mrs. Otero. I had never strangled anyone before, so I really don't know how much pressure you had to put on a person or how long it would take...
The Court: Was she also tied up there in the bedroom?
The Defendant: Yes. Yes, both their hands and their feet were tied up. She was on the bed.
The Court: Where were the children?
The Defendant: Well, Josephine was on the bed and Junior was on the floor at this time.
The Court: So we're talking, first of all, about Joseph Otero. So you put the bag over his head and tied it. And he did not die right away. Can you tell me what happened in regards to Joseph Jr.?
The Defendant: He moved over real quick-like and I think [he] tore a hole in the bag. And I could tell that he was having some problems there. That at that time, the whole family just went... and panicked on me. So I worked pretty quick...
The Court: What did you - you worked pretty quick. What did you do?
The Defendant: Well, I mean, I strangled Mrs. Otero and then she went out. She passed out. I thought she was dead. She passed out. And I strangled Josephine. She passed out. I thought she was dead. And then I went over and put [the] bag on Jr.'s head, and then, if I remember right, Mrs. Otero came back. She came back and...
The Court: Sir, let me ask you about Joseph Otero Sr. He had torn a hole in the bag.
The Defendant: I think I put either a cloth, or a t-shirt, or something over his head and then a bag.
The Court: Did he subsequently die?
The Defendant: Yes. I mean, I didn't just stay there and watch him. I was moving around the room.
The Court: All right, so you indicated you strangled Mrs. Otero after you had done this, is that correct?
The Defendant: Yes, I went back and strangled her again, and finally killed her at that time.
From Rader's testimony:
The Defendant: Well, I confronted the family, pulled a pistol to point at Mr. Otero, and... [said I] wanted to get the car. I was hungry... I was wanted. And I asked him to lie down in the living room. And at that time I realized that wouldn't be a really good idea. So I finally - the dog was a real problem, so I asked Mr. Otero, [if he] could get the dog out. So he had one of the kids put it out. And then I took him back to the bedroom.
The Court: You took who back to the bedroom?
The Defendant: The family to the bedroom. The four members.
The Court: All right. What happened then?
The Defendant: At that time I tied them up.
The Court: While still holding them at gunpoint?
The Defendant: Well, in between tying, I guess.
The Court: All right. After you tied them up, what did do you?
The Defendant: Well, they started complaining about being tied up. And I re-loosened the bonds a couple of times. I tried to make Mr. Otero as comfortable as I could. Apparently, he had a cracked rib from a car accident. So I had him put a pillow down for his head... [or] I think a parka or a coat underneath him. You know, they talked to me about... giving the car and whatever money. I guess they didn't have very much money. And from there I realized... I didn't have a mask on or anything. They already could ID me. And I made a decision to go ahead and put them down, I guess, or strangle them.