January 15, 2005: Church Deacon is BTK Serial Murderer!

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A Brief History

On January 15, 2005, the serial murderer known as BTK (bind, torture, kill) was finally arrested while driving near his home in Park City, Kansas.

Digging Deeper

Digging deeper, we find Dennis Rader, a Lutheran church deacon and president of the church council, living in suburban Wichita and 60 years old at the time of his arrest.

Rader’s mugshot at the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas

Rader got his nom de guerre courtesy of himself, as he had suggested several possible names for him to be called in messages left for the police and the media.  In spite of the audacity of taunting police with messages, Rader went uncaught from 1974 to 1991 in which time he committed 10 known murders.

Rader might never have been caught, except he apparently missed the notoriety so much that he began sending messages to the police again in 2004!  He also claimed he was going to start killing again, but this time police had new technology to help them capture BTK.

DVD cover art of The Hunt for the BTK Killer (2005).

It was advancements in DNA testing that helped catch Rader when a pap smear from his daughter was taken (with a court-ordered warrant), after cutting-edge computer technology had traced a floppy disk he had sent to the media to a computer at his church.

Pleading guilty to 10 murders, Rader is serving life sentences for each.  Victims ranged in age from 9 years old to 62.  Apparently some murders attributed to BTK were actually copycat murders, and the 10 for which he was convicted are the only positive cases.

Poster of I Survived BTK (2010).

Interestingly, Rader held a number of surprising jobs for a serial killer!  In the middle of his killing spree, he installed home alarm systems, many of which were for people who were “protecting” themselves against BTK!  Although he had earned a Bachelor’s degree in the Administration of Justice, the only law enforcement job he ever held was that of a dog catcher which he held until arrested.  Between the two previously mentioned jobs, he frighteningly worked as a census taker, which presents a lot of potential for abuse!

Rader also admitted to having abused animals as a child, common in serial murderers, and also to having a fetish for women’s panties.  Rader must have concealed his devilish nature well enough to get elected president of the church council, making him a real wolf in sheep’s clothing!

Panties in different colors

Question for students: What would be an appropriate punishment for Rader?

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Historical Evidence

For more information on this despicable waste of life, see…

Potter, Tim and Roy Wenzl.  Bind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of BTK, the Serial Killer Next Door.  HarperCollins e-books, 2009.

[AMAZONPRODUCTS asin=”0061373958″]

Dodd, Johnny and John Douglas.  Inside the Mind of BTK: The True Story Behind the Thirty-Year Hunt for the Notorious Wichita Serial Killer.  Jossey-Bass, 2008.

[AMAZONPRODUCTS asin=”0470325151″]

Capps, Mary and Jim Dobkins.  My boss was the BTK killer.  UCS PRESS, 2011.


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About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.