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Known as the "BTK Killer"—which stands for "bind, torture, and kill"—Dennis Rader terrorized the Witchita, Kansas, area from the 1970s to the '90s.
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Shortly after Fox's murder, Rader sent a poem to a local newspaper about the Vian killing in January 1978. Several weeks later, he sent a letter to a local television station stating that he was responsible for killing Vian, Fox, and another unknown victim. He also made allusions to several other notorious killers, including Ted Bundy and David Berkowitz,
also known as the "Son of Sam."
Despite his cat-and-mouse game with authorities, Rader was able to keep the lid on his secret, murderous life. He continued to work at ADT. On the surface, Rader was reportedly an attentive husband and father. He and his wife had their first child, a son, in 1975 and a daughter in 1978. The next year, Rader graduated from Wichita State University with a degree in administration of justice. Still he continued to taunt authorities and appeared to be poised to strike again.
In April 1979, Rader waited in an elderly woman’s home, but he left before she came home. He sent her a letter to let her know that the BTK Killer had been there. In an effort to catch him, the authorities released the 1977 recording of the phone call to police, hoping that someone might recognize the voice.
After several years without a known crime, Rader killed his neighbor Marine Hedge on April 27, 1985. Her body was found days later on the side of the road. The next year, he killed Vicki Wegerle in her home in September. His final known victim was Dolores Davis was taken from her home on January 19, 1991.
It is not known why Rader seemed to stop killing. He had left ADT in the late 1980s and started working as a Park City compliance supervisor in 1991. In his new position, Rader was known to be a stickler for the rules. He measured the height of people's lawns and chased stray animals while toting a tranquilizer gun. According to reports, Rader took pleasure in exerting his limited authority over his neighbors and other members of the community. He was also a Boy Scout troop leader and an active member of his church.
With many news stories marking the thirtieth anniversary of the Otero murders, the BTK Killer resurfaced in 2004. Rader sent local media outlets and authorities a number of letters. These were filled with items related to his crimes, including pictures of one of the victims, a word puzzle, and an outline for the "BTK Story." During 2004 and 2005, he also left packages with more clues around, including a computer disk. That disk helped lead authorities to Rader's church. They also noticed his white van on security tapes of some of the package drop-off areas. Authorities were also able to obtain a DNA sample from Rader's daughter, which helped cement their case against him.
Rader was arrested on February 25, 2005, and later charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder. Some neighbors and members of his church, where he served as president of the church council, were stunned by the news and could not believe that the man they knew was the serial killer that had haunted the area for so long.
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Many of the most horrifying acts of violence are committed by serial killers. Always looking for next victim, these murderers kill again and again, never fully satisfied by their bloody deeds. Their twisted motivations—and even more twisted techniques—land the people in this group among the most frightening criminals in history.
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