Dennis Rader is an American serial killer who murdered at least 10 people in Sedgwick County (in and around Wichita), Kansas, between 1974 and 1991. He was known as the BTK killer (or the BTK strangler), which stands for Bind, Torture and Kill, an apt description of his modus operandi. Letters were written soon after the killings to police and to local news outlets, boasting of the crimes and knowledge of details. After a long hiatus these letters resumed in 2004, leading to his arrest in 2005 and subsequent conviction.
Using personal jargon for his killing equipment, Rader casually described his victims as his “projects” and at one point likened his murders to euthanizing animals by saying he “put them down.” Rader created what he called a “hit kit,” a briefcase or bowling bag containing the items he would use during murders: guns, tape, rope and handcuffs. He also packed what he called “hit clothes” that he would wear for the crimes and then dispose of. Rader bound, tortured, and killed his victims. Rader would strangle his victims until they lost consciousness, then let them revive, then strangle them again. He would repeat the pattern over and over again, forcing them to experience near-death, becoming sexually aroused at the sight of their struggles. Finally, Rader would strangle them to death and masturbate to ejaculation into an article of their clothing, usually underwear.
Rader was particularly known for sending taunting letters to police and newspapers. There were several communications from BTK during 1974 to 1979. The first was a letter that had been stashed in an engineering book in the Wichita Public Library in October 1974 that described in detail the killing of the Otero family in January of that year. In early 1978 he sent another letter to television station KAKE in Wichita claiming responsibility for the murders of the Oteros, Shirley Vian, Nancy Fox and another unidentified victim assumed to be Kathryn Bright. He suggested a number of possible names for himself, including the one that stuck: BTK
A sample of one of his letters:
The victims are tie up-most have been women-phone cut- bring some bondage mater sadist tendencies-no struggle, outside the death spot-no wintness except the Vain’s Kids. They were very lucky; a phone call save them. I was go-ng to tape the boys and put plastics bag over there head like I did Joseph, and Shirley. And then hang the girl. God-oh God what a beautiful sexual relief that would been. Josephine, when I hung her really turn me on; her pleading for mercy then the rope took whole, she helpless; staring at me with wide terror fill eyes the rope getting tighter-tighter.
Rader plead guilty and was sentenced to life in prison – a sentence he is currently still serving.