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Dennis Rader, or the BTK Strangler, is one of the most infamous serial killers out there. Delve into his double life and heinous crimes here.

BTK Strangler: Meet the man who taunted the public with his crimes

Dennis Rader, mostly known as the BTK Strangler, has become one of the most infamous serial killers in American history. Currently serving ten life sentences at the El Dorado Correctional Facility, Rader had viciously tortured & murdered ten victims.

The case of the BTK Strangler is horrific due to both the nature of the crimes and the twisted mind of the killer himself. Rader’s crime spree spanned from 1974 to 1991. Learn more about the history of the notorious murderer known to bind, torture, and kill.

Rader’s childhood: Violence and sexual deviancy

Even in his youth, Rader exhibited the warning signs of someone inclined to violent & deviant behavior. As a child, Rader would torture & kill small animals for fun, ruthlessly carrying out his cruelty before hanging them. These elements would later be seen in his disturbing murders.

According to statements from Rader, even as a child, he would fantasize about kidnapping & torturing women. He would soon begin acting out his voyeuristic fetishes by spying on his female neighbors while he was dressed in women’s clothing. This would also include stolen underwear. 

Rader would even act out his forbidden desires by binding himself while dressed as a woman. However, these acts were well-hidden, and no one was aware of the darkness which hid within him.

BTK’s facade of normalcy

Rader was a master of disguise who seemed to be living a normal life. Rader had served in the U.S. Air Force and afterwards married Paula Dietz in 1971. The two would go on to have two children. 

Rader graduated from Wichita State University with a degree in Administration of Justice. He would then start his new career with ADT Security Services. 

At this time, Rader was actively killing and gaining media attention. The country was horrified by the killer on the loose. Unbeknownst to the world, Rader would enter people’s homes and install security alarms for those terrified of the BTK Strangler.

Slipping mask

Rader was actually extremely involved within his community. He was the president of his church’s council, Cub Scout leader, and even a dog catcher & compliance officer. 

However, his true nature would occasionally slip. Many neighbors noted his stern attitude and enjoyment of bullying single women within the community. One woman even claims that he had killed her dog for no apparent reason.

Despite his ferocity, his daughter has stated that her family was normal, and she claimed she never thought her father was capable of being the BTK Strangler. 

Rader’s murders from 1974 to 1991

In 1974, Rader murdered four members of the Otero family in Wichita, Kansas. The victims were a couple, Joseph & Julie Otero, and their children Josephine & Joseph Jr. The children were only eleven & nine years old. The victims were found by the family’s three eldest children who were away at school during the murder. 

From 1974 to 1977, Rader murdered three women: Kathryn Bright, Shirley Vian Relford, and Nancy Fox. After these murders, Rader sent a letter to a local Wichita television station, detailing his crimes and even including possible names for his killer persona. BTK was one of the names which would be known throughout the country.

In his second letter, BTK had insisted on more media coverage for his killing spree and even included a poem titled “Oh! Death to Nancy”, referencing his murder of Nancy Fox.

After a period of some semblance of peace, Rader murdered again in 1985. He had killed Marine Hedge and took her dead body to the church he was council president. At the church, Rader posed her body in various bondage positions and photographed her. 

In 1991, Rader killed his final victim, Dolores E. Davis. Throughout all these decades, the police were unable to track down the BTK Strangler, and it was considered a cold case by 2004.

BTK’s taunting letters and ultimate arrest

Due to his decreasing media attention, Rader inserted himself back into the public eye by sending numerous letters to news channels & police. Rader had even placed a package filled with disturbing claims & details into a public library book return slot. The public soon began fearing the killer who teased an upcoming murder. 

In 2005, Rader had sent a floppy disk to the press containing more horrid contents. Fortunately, police were able to discover data from the disk which would trace back to Rader’s location. After police discovered him, they asked if he knew why he was being taken into custody. Rader responded, “Oh, I have suspicions why”.

In February 2005, Rader was arrested and charged with ten counts of first-degree murder. The city of Wichita and the rest of the country could finally rest easy.

Dennis Rader is one of the worst serial killers in history with a crime span of nearly two decades. His psychological evaluations and murder cases would become the prime description of a killer with sadomasochistic motives. To this day, everyone shudders at the infamous name “BTK”. 

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