Dennis Rader: The BTK Killer
"I probably would have hung the little girl. Like I said, I'm pretty mean or could be. But on the other hand I'm very -- you know, I'm a nice guy.”
Dennis Rader could not reach sexual satisfaction without binding, torturing and killing other human beings. He just didn’t see why another life should stop his perfect ‘moment’.
Dennis L. Rader was born in 1945 in the city of Wichita, in the state of Kansas, mid West US. He was an average pupil, a regular Boy Scout and an active church member. His was an unremarkable childhood though he later claims that he was dropped on his head as a kid. Brain trauma is commonly cited in serial killer cases such as Fred West and John Gacy. But Rader shows such an awareness of the serial killer mythology that any events or emotions that have no corroboration or source apart from Rader should be considered with care.
He says that it’s at school that he first develops unnatural urges. These fantasies are ‘almost like a picture show’ which he wants to direct and produce, no matter what the cost. He begins to strangle local cats and dogs.
But Dennis is adept at separating his inner demons from his public persona. He joins the Air Force for four years and serves abroad during the late 60s. On his return home to civilian life, he drifts through a series of average jobs. He meets Paula Dietz, a gentle and softly spoken woman who he wins her over with his gentlemanly ways. He always opens the door for her and helps her on with her coat. In 1971, they marry. He starts night school but it will take him six years to graduate with a degree in Administration of Justice. It gives him an insight into being a police officer, his desired profession.
1974 is a big year for Dennis. He makes his fantasies a reality and starts the year by killing four people from the same family. Then Paula announces that they will be starting their own family. With Paula expecting, Dennis starts work at a firm that installs burglar alarms. Perversely, his job teaches him further how to enter another’s home without detection.
The following year, his first child, a son, is born, and four years after that, he has a daughter.
In 1989, he loses his job. He’d always thought it inferior work and eventually he becomes a city compliance officer tasked with everything from animal to car control. It’s the closest he’ll come to being a policeman. He soon gains a reputation for the zealous enforcement of even the pettiest regulations. He harasses a neighbour over the height of her grass but complaints to his superiors from both staff and citizens over his inappropriate behaviour and abuses are largely ignored and he’s later promoted to supervisor.
While some find Dennis to be confrontational and arrogant, others consider him accessible and pleasant, explaining his positions of both Boy Scout leader and congregation leader of his local church. Unknown to those who think him a charming character and far beyond the worst suspicions of those who know him to be a bureaucratic bully, Dennis keeps a secret box, ‘the mother load’. A look inside reveals the true nature of Dennis. There are cut out pictures of child swimsuit models with sexual fantasies written on the back of them. Amongst them are various self shot photographs of him wearing pantyhose and bra in bondage positions. There are also drawings and photographs recording the last moments of his murder victims.