Dennis Rader is evil personified. For three decades he led a double life. A family man and church leader but also a blood thirsty serial killer.
He started his murderous ways in January of 1974 at the home of Joseph and Julie Otero. Charlie Otero, their son stumbled upon the grim crime scene.
“I yelled out and that’s when everything broke loose and that’s when my brother and sister beat me home that day. They were in a state of shock in the bedroom with my family, my parents,” said Otero.
Rader also killed Charlie’s siblings, Josephine and Joseph. Rader went on to murder six more people over the course of three decades.
“He’s evil, completely evil below the surface,” said Richard Lamunyon, the former Wichita Police Chief.
Lamunyon says the killer toyed with the media and police through very descriptive letters.
“He had several suggestions in his original letters, and his new letters like Wichita Strangler. And, then in one of the letters he mentioned Bind, Torture, Kill,” said Lamunyon.
BTK described the way he killed his victims in graphic details. But after the last murder in 1991 he vanished, not to be heard from until March 2004.
So, why did Rader break his silence?
“What brought it out, I think the publicity the media was giving him. It was the 30 year anniversary of the Otero murders, see that’s what triggered it,” said Lamunyon.
Detective Tim Relph was a member of the Task Force headed up by the late Kenny Landwehr. Landwehr is the man credited with capturing BTK. He believes Rader’s ego and thirst for killing brought him out of the shadows.
When asked if there was any fear of BTK killing again after he resurfaced, Relph responded, “Oh yeah, he was. He’ll tell you he was.”
Relph says police knew the letter was legit because the writer knew intimate details of one of the murders.
“We know there were never any crime scene photos of Vicky Wegerle in her house. Those had to be taken by the killer,” said Relph. “At the bottom was the icon, and the icon was something we successfully kept quiet, kept secret for many, many years.”
The Wichita community was on heightened alert, the serial keller was back. But, this time Rader wasn’t as lucky in his game of cat and mouse with the cops. Technology would be his undoing. It began with Rader leaving cops a clue in a Home Depot parking lot.
“His vehicle, or a vehicle he was using was caught on Home Depot video surveillance. Didn’t get a tag but it gave us the vehicle,” said Relph.
Then a computer disk he sent to cops led them to Christ Lutheran Church in Park City.
“Before he sent this to us he looked at it on the computer and printed it out, printed it out on a piece of paper that said, this is a test, and that itself was the fatal key stroke,” said Relph.
And, finally DNA evidence put Rader at several crime scenes.
“That allowed them to know that yeah this is one and the same person. The individual who left his material, his DNA material in that basement was Dennis Rader,” said Sedgwick County assistant district attorney Kim Parker.
It was a DNA sample from Rader’s daughter that sealed his fate.
“From two or three different crime scenes we had samples of the killer. So, we know she was the daughter of the perpetrator. So, we obviously knew it was Dennis Rader at that time,” said Relph.
Wichita’s long nightmare was almost over. On February 25th, 2005, on his way home for lunch from work, the Park City compliance officer was taken into custody.
KSN’s Darren Dedo: So, what was the first thing that went through your mind, when you sat down and you looked across the table and you saw the BTK killer?
Relph: I always wish he’d been smarter, you know, cause we’d given him credit for years for being so clever and really he was just good at keeping his mouth shut.
During 34 hours straight of interrogation, Dennis Rader admitted to the 10 murders.
Dedo: Did he ever tell you why he did it? Why he killed?
Relph: Well, he was entitled to. He believed that’s just the way he is.
Rader avoided trial by pleading to all of the murders. The death penalty wasn’t an option when the crimes were committed. But, families had to sit through gruesome details as Rader described his murderous spree.
“I found out that my mother had said she was asking God to forgive him for what he’s doing to her while he’s killing her. Broke my heart,” said Charlie Otero.
Rader was sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences. He’s serving them at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. His reign of terror was over in Wichita. Some found closure in knowing that the killer was gone for good.
“He’s in jail, he’ll never be out. He can sit there and think about it and maybe he’ll ask for forgiveness someday,” said Lamunyon.
When asked what Charlie Otero would want to say to Rader today if he could somehow get him a message, Otero had only one response.
“Words can’t describe what I would want to say to him, just there are no words.”