Home » » Dennis Rader

Dennis Rader

Notable Quotable
“He had a little shed out back of his house where he’d hidden his souvenirs, panties, jewelry, bras, etc. He’d sit in a chair by the shed, pull out his trinkets and relive the murder of his vics.”
—Television writer Tom Towler, who wrote a teleplay on the Rader case
Dennis Rader was born on March 9, 1945, in a quiet corner of Kansas, close to where Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri all meet. He was the first of four sons born to William and Dorothea Rader, and he was baptized at Zion Lutheran Church in Pittsburg, Kansas. His father was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps and starting in 1948 worked for the KG&E electric utility company.

Dennis Rader

When Dennis was still a boy his family moved to a home on Wichita’s North Seneca Street. To paraphrase a poem by W. H. Auden, when a monster shows up for Thanksgiving dinner he looks like everyone else at the table. As a boy, Rader seemed like most other kids. He joined the Boy Scouts, participated in church youth-group activities, and attended Riverview Elementary School. He did not shine as a student, and he started to develop bondage fantasies even as a young boy. While other boys were thinking about kissing a girl or going “all the way,” he was thinking about tying them up so he could have his way with them. He says Mouseketeer Annette Funicello was his favorite target for bondage fantasies. To other people, Rader seemed like a very serious, focused person, a bit withdrawn, with no sense of humor. However, when people spoke to him he would give them his full attention, and everyone liked that about him.

He graduated from Wichita Heights High School in 1963, and in 1965 entered Kansas Wesleyan College in Salina, too far away from Wichita to live at home. He was still a poor student, and in the summer of 1966, at age twenty-one, Rader quit college and joined the U.S. Air Force, apparently to avoid being drafted as a foot soldier in the Vietnam War.

While in the air force Rader did not demonstrate any bizarre behavior and seemed perfectly normal—in fact, years later when he was arrested for the horrendous string of murders, his fellow soldiers, like everyone else, were stunned. Dennis Rader was not an Einstein, but he was always cunning enough to conceal his true persona. Rader put in four years with the air force and was stationed stateside as well as overseas. He was honorably discharged as a sergeant. While in the air force he was unremarkable in many ways. In the summer of 1970, he returned to Wichita and served two more years in the reserves.

On May 22, 1971, Dennis Rader and Paula Dietz were married. Dennis was twenty-six, and Paula, a practicing Lutheran as was Rader, was twenty-three. They settled in Park City, Kansas, not far from the Rader home in north Wichita. He worked as a butcher for Independent Grocers Alliance for a while, then started at Coleman Company, a manufacturer of camping supplies and Wichita’s largest employer at the time. He worked for thirteen months there until July 1973, when he got a job with airplane manufacturer Cessna. He was also attending Butler County Community College in El Dorado, and he earned a two-year associate’s degree in electronics in 1973.

A Creepy Connection
When Dennis Reader was a Boy Scout leader, he taught his scouts the knots he later used to strangle his victims.

The First Kill
In the fall of 1973, Rader enrolled at Wichita State University and spent six years there before earning a degree—he was a poor student, garnering only Cs and Ds. Then, in late 1973, he was fired by Cessna. This perhaps precipitated his murders the first on January 15, 1974, when he murdered an entire Wichita family, the Oteros. For a first killing, it was quite remarkable: a husband, wife, and two young children, and in a quite a gruesome fashion (see Part 4, “In Their Own Words”).

Ironically, he then found years of solid employment with ADT Security, a company that sold and installed alarm systems for commercial businesses. While he installed security systems, he became a full-fledged serial killer known to the police and, ultimately, the public as the BTK Killer (for his MO of binding, torturing, and killing his victims). He held several positions at ADT, including installation manager. It was believed that he learned how to carefully defeat home security systems while there, enabling him to break into the homes of his victims without being caught. He was fired in 1988.

Rader killed from 1974 to 1991—ten people in all—and then he unaccountably stopped, a strange action for a serial killer. Television writer Tom Towler, who wrote an arresting, hightension teleplay on the BTK Killer, told us “I spent time with several of the cops and others in Wichita who were involved.

The odd thing about Rader is that he stopped killing—unheard of with a serial killer. He’s never given a satisfactory answer as to why he was able to stop, but several people who’ve spoken with him think that when he got the job as dog catcher the new-found authority took the place of his urge to kill.”

Some psychologists do agree with that assessment: He stopped killing because of the job he took as supervisor of the Compliance Department at Park City, a two employee, multifunctional department that gave him power and a sense of importance. He and his coworker were in charge of animal control, housing problems, zoning, general permit enforcement, and a variety of nuisance cases. And it was said that Rader exulted in his power and was quite strict and arbitrary.

Rader was also a religious man. He was a congregant of Christ Lutheran Church in Wichita, which had about two hundred members. He had power there, too, having been elected president of the congregation’s council.

Disappearing Killer
By 2004, the trail of the BTK Killer had gone cold. Then, Rader sent an anonymous letter to the police, claiming responsibility for one of the old murders. What may have precipitated him corresponding with the police—which he had also done while he was killing—was a book about the BTK Killer. Author Robert Beattie was advised by a police officer friend to write the book as a potential way to smoke out Rader. When the book was published, Rader began once again to send notes to the police about his murders. He wanted to make sure he was the big cheese.

In one letter to the police, Rader asked whether the police could trace info from floppy disks. They said no, but of course they could. Rader then sent a message on a floppy to the police department, and they tracked it to Rader’s church and then Rader himself.

To confirm Rader was the BTK Killer they lied to his daughter, telling her that to clear her father they needed a sample of his hair. Fooled, she provided it willingly and when they tested it against DNA samples from crime scenes it was a match.

On February 25, 2005, Rader was arrested near his home at 6220 Sixty-first Street in Park City and accused of the BTK killings. At a press conference the next morning, Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams flatly asserted, “The bottom line . . . BTK is arrested.” Rader pled guilty to the BTK murders on June 27, 2005 (for the graphic account of his crimes that he gave in court, see Chapter 37). On August 18, 2005, he was sentenced to serve ten consecutive life sentences, one life sentence per victim. This included nine life sentences, each with the possibility of parole in fifteen years, and one life sentence with the possibility of parole in forty years. This means that, in total, Rader will be eligible for parole in 175 years. Lots of people would have loved to see Rader killed, but at the time Kansas didn’t have the death penalty.
Share this article :


  1. After I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify
    me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I receive
    4 emails with the exact same comment. Perhaps
    there is an easy method you are able to remove me from that service?
    Many thanks!

    Have a look at my website :: acoustic guitar chord

  2. Many of these key logger type Spy Software. Keystroke logger with
    most modern key words gives you the ability to monitor peer-to-peer activity.
    Application monitoring- keylogger will record the application that was
    in use. You can also press and hold 'Ctrl', 'Alt',
    and 'Delete' keys together on the keyboard, capture all keys typed on the keyboard.

    my page keylogger free

  3. It іѕ appropriatе time to maκe ѕome plans fоr thе future and it is time to be
    happy. I've read this publish and if I could I wish to suggest you few fascinating issues or advice. Maybe you can write subsequent articles regarding this article. I wish to read more issues about it!

    My blog post :: americas cardroom poker promotions

  4. Nice publish, that is exactly the info I used to be
    trying to find. Are you likely to become covering
    this topic in higher detail soon? Hope so! Thanks

    Also visit my webpage: precision nutrition recommended books

  5. Oh my goοԁneѕs! Αωeѕоmе artіcle
    dude! Mаny thаnkѕ, Ноwеveг I am going through trοubles wіth your RSS.
    I ԁon't know the reason why I can't ϳoіn
    it. Is thеre anуbody elѕe getting iԁentical RSS
    problems? Anyone that knоws the anѕweг can you kinԁly
    reѕрοnd? Thanx!!

    Havе а loοk at my blog post :: RPMPoker Offer

  6. Hi there, for all timе і used to cheсk
    blog posts here early in thе morning, fοr the reаsοn that i like to
    find out morе аnd moге.

    Heгe iѕ my page - WebReаd (blog.syxyxx.com)

  7. Thаnk yοu fοг the gοod ωгiteup.
    It in faсt was a amusement account it.
    Loοk advanсеd tο faг aԁded agгeeable from you!
    By the way, how coulԁ we communicаtе?

    Also visit my web blog :: MіnteԁΡoker Promotions ()


The World Of Serial Killers | Site map
Template Modify by Creating Website. Inpire by Darkmatter Rockettheme Proudly powered by Blogger