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True crime. Casually done.

Dennis Rader: The BTK Killer

Written by Chris Lake

INTRO

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Wichita [WHICH-it-tah] is basically an American cliché. Named for a First Nations people who’d come from the Oklahoma area and settled along the Arkansas to farm and trade, they encountered the Spanish explorer Coronado in about 1541, who, being a Spanish explorer, presumably stole all their gold. Later, they started trading with the French in the late eighteenth century, resisted invasion in the early nineteenth, and were massacred in an event some historians still have the cheek to call the “Battle” of Wichita. After this, they established a treaty with the US, which was repeatedly broken, until they were harried into Kansas by the Greycoats[1] during the Civil War, and then shuffled off to a reservation so that European settlers could establish a booming cattle town on their old trading post. Of course, naming the city after them made up for it all, and I’m sure parlour socialists gushing about their unusual architecture and highly interesting circular theory of time is sufficient indication that all’s well and we’re all friends now. Anyway, this cow town was a major part of the Wild West story, with the Pony Express barrelling through, and characters like the Dalton Gang and Wild Bill Hickock. Once the westward expansion was over, Wichita settled down into a quiet, prosperous midwestern city. A quick scan of their news services shows mostly articles about house prices and drink driving convictions – a sure sign of idyllic prosperity. The Chamber of Commerce lists a Mexican restaurant as one of the “11 Wonders” of Wichita, and one of the top articles which shows up in a general search details how the city’s general contentment and unremarkable nature causes it to miss out on multiple commercial infrastructure projects. Sure, the light aircraft company Cessna had its start here, and the name of the city is celebrated in the great American myth, but the general sense of Wichita is of nothing really happening, and in a way the locals are very happy with, thank you very much. Which is why the news of a serial killer stalking the suburbs of this quiet Kansas town left such a deep scar in its history and psyche.

THE THEORY OF DANGEROUSNESS

If you’re ever unfortunate enough to mention the series Mindhunter to me, you’ll fall victim to my regular rant about all the manifold and serious logical and research problems with the theory of dangerousness which main character Douglas created, and which has blighted not just the study of criminal psychology, but popular understandings of violent crime ever since. But you’re not here to listen to my opinions, so let’s talk about Dennis Rader.

There’s a lot of discussion about Rader “not fitting the profile”. At first glance, his zoosadism (torture of animals for sexual gratification) seems to make him an ideal fit, but there’s a whole lot of other elements which just don’t work. The stereotypical profile of a serial killer is a quiet loner who can’t maintain relationships or stable employment and has a history of serious childhood abuse or neglect. Born on March 9, 1945, Rader was the eldest of four sons. He had a very normal upbringing. His parents were hard-working middle-class folk who, according to Rader, didn’t pay him enough attention – a frequent eldest child complaint. They didn’t abuse him, and it seems his childhood was idyllic and free of trauma or violence. Except, of course, for the violence he committed on animals. It seems that Rader’s grandparents kept chickens, and while he was helping to slaughter them, he noticed that he became sexually aroused. This was to start his own sexual awakening, where he would hang cats and dogs for sexual gratification, before moving on to stealing underwear and doing the Peeping Tom while wearing women’s clothing. At some point he seems to have progressed to auto-erotic asphyxiation and would masturbate while wearing bindings on his arms and legs. It seems that for no apparent reason, Rader developed a sadistic asphyxiation and bondage kink. Watching his confessions and reading the summaries of evidence, another pillar of the serial killer stereotype falls over as well – that of above average intelligence. Rader’s speech and grammar are halting – functional at best and incomprehensible at worst. He loves to talk – once police got him going he went for thirty hours – but it’s definitely a love of the sound of his own voice rather than any gifts as a conversationalist or raconteur [rak-on-tur]. Basically, it’s clear from listening to him speak and reading his materials that he’s a bit of an idiot.

Rader left high school in 1964 and attended Kansas Wesleyan University for a year. Being a poor student, he dropped out and joined the US Air Force, serving as a technician in Japan and other places that weren’t Vietnam from 1966-70. He appears to have volunteered for the Air Force to avoid combat in Vietnam, a common practice at the time. Rader was honourably discharged and married Paula Dietz [deets] in 1971. He worked for a time at the Leekers IGA[2] – a supermarket where his mother was a bookkeeper, then did some odd jobs here and there, assembling outdoor equipment for a sort of marquee company and enrolling to study at Butler Community College, where he got an associate degree[3] in electronics which he used to get better jobs including a stint with Cessna. By 1979, he’d received a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Administration of Justice. From 1974-88 Rader was an installer for ADT Security Systems (more on which later), and after that he became a census officer and then a compliance officer in Park City, the suburb of Wichita in which he was raised. Rader was an active member of the Christ Lutheran[4] Church, a scout leader, and a government official. He and Paula raised two children, Kerri and Brian, and right up until the time of his capture, Kerri described their lives as “The American Dream”. By all measures, Dennis Rader was a very average man living a an average life – a life which the theory of dangerousness developed by Douglas said he shouldn’t have been able to maintain.

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THE EARLY MURDERS

Watching Rader’s police interviews and court testimony is a strange experience, mostly because he’s a very boring speaker. And then there’s the issue of stupidity. His grammar is halting, tortuous and often unclear. He painstakingly details his own nomenclature – “projects” are potential victims, “trolling[5]” is what he calls the victim selection phase, “stalking” the reconnaissance and surveillance phase, and “hits” are what he calls his kills. He describes a changing MO, starting hesitantly with the Otero family, then using ruses for his next few victims, before simply openly stating his intent (minus the killing) for his final crimes. He talks about pre-packed bondage kits, bemoans their lack when he’s failed to bring them along, and describes in detail how he attempted to deal with irritants like children and dogs. Rader’s a classic power and control killer, and it’s interesting to see the matter-of-fact way he describes his reactions to losing control of victims and situations. Criminal psychologists point to his methods and nomenclature as evidence of deliberate compartmentalisation – an effort to maintain the wall between his murderous self and the ordinary family man he was for most of the time. Rader himself describes his personality as “the cube”, each side different but related, and easy to rapidly switch between. It’s worth pointing out, though, that this creation of euphemistic terms and the self-aware division of his homicidal operations into phases is very military, and possibly evidence of the formative effect of his years in the Air Force.

His first murders, on the 15th of January 1974, were perpetrated against the Otero family. The Oteros were from Puerto Rico and met in Harlem, New York. They’d recently moved into the Sedgewick County area of Wichita, an optimistic neighbourhood working its way into the general prosperity of the city. Joseph was an Air Force veteran, champion boxer, gourmet cook, and father of five children – Charlie, Danny, Carmen, Joseph II, and Josephine. He’d retired from the Air Force as a Master Sergeant and gone on to obtain a commercial pilot’s license, settling in Wichita for its vibrant aviation industry and working as a pilot instructor and mechanic. He was a highly popular member of the community. Julie had come to the US on a banana boat[6], where she’d met Joseph and married him after two years of dating. She was a judo enthusiast, having taken it up on military bases, who encouraged her children to participate, and was universally described as vivacious, popular, and active in the community. Joseph was known to be a loving but strict father, emphasising the importance of doing well at school. At the time, all the children were popular and high-performing, with eleven-year-old Josephine showing the greatest academic promise.

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Under questioning, Rader admitted to selecting the Oteros basically at random, having spotted Julie and her daughter Josephine in the street when he was driving his wife to work. He prepared what he called a “hit kit” consisting of weapons and bindings and, intending to “do things” to Mrs Otero and/or Josephine, went to the family home between seven and seven thirty in the morning. He cut the phone lines, crept around to the back door and then hesitated. “I […] had reservations about even going, or just walking away,” Rader said during his plea testimony. Tragically, nine-year-old Joseph came out the back door at this moment. Rader pulled a pistol and forced him back inside. He’d been expecting only Julie and Josephine to be home, so was surprised to find Joseph Senior in the kitchen with his wife and daughter. Rader told them he was wanted in California, and that he needed food, money, and a car to get away. This was a ruse to keep the family compliant, and one he’d use again for future victims. The family consented to be tied up, so he took all four to a bedroom. At some point, Rader had a problem with the dog, so ordered them to put it outside. He bound Mrs Otero on the bed, the others on the floor. He found a pillow for Joseph senior’s head, as he learned he had a cracked rib from a car accident – this kind of care and attention is typical of power/control killers and is used to keep victims compliant. According to Rader, the family offered him the car, what little cash they had, and complained about the tightness of their bindings, which he loosened for them.

Rader didn’t really have as much control over this situation as he’d have liked. He recalls fretting over the fact that having all four of them in the same room wasn’t ideal, and he mentions the dog several times. He talks about “losing control” repeatedly, with an irritated expression on his face, as if recalling the irritation he felt at the time. In any event, he decided to kill Joseph Senior by placing a bag over his head. He then moved over to Julie and strangled her unconscious, thinking he’d killed her. In his own words, “I had never strangled anyone before, so I really didn’t know how much pressure you had to put on a person or how long it would take”. By now he’d also put a bag over the head of Joseph Junior, and as Joseph senior had managed to rip a hole in the bag over his head, he placed a T-shirt and another bag over it and tied it off with a cord – ligature strangulation would later become his preferred method. At this point, Julie regained consciousness and begged him to spare her son. He agreed, took young Joseph off to another room and killed him, then came back and finished strangling Mrs Otero, this time fatally. Finally, he took young Josephine down to the basement where he partially stripped her, tied her to a PVC pipe, and hanged her. He masturbated either while she asphyxiated, leaving semen at the scene – as he did at other crime scenes. “What’s that word, when an adult’s attracted to kids?” he later asked the police. They told him “Paedophile,” to which he responded, “Yeah, I think I got a bit of that in me.” When all was done, he collected some souvenirs – a watch and a radio – and began cleaning up the house using the right-hand rule to move from room to room. The right-hand rule is a mnemonic designed for various activities and is used in room clearing to ensure all axes of ingress and egress are covered. The bodies were discovered later that day by the three older children, Charlie, Danny, and Carmen. Charlie describes finding his parents’ bodies: “It was just like as if you’d ripped my chest open and torn my heart out”. Mercifully, the bodies of the two younger children were found by first responders rather than the fourteen-year-old Charlie. The murders absolutely stunned quiet city Wichita. Detective Gary Caldwell, who found young Josephine in the basement, described the scene as the most bizarre he’d ever encountered. A task force of 74 officers was assigned to the case amid a media frenzy, strong political pressure to get a quick result, and intense public outcry and scrutiny.

A few months later, in April, Rader moved onto his next victim. This was a twenty-one-year-old student named Kathryn Knight. Rader had “trolled” and “stalked” Katherine for some time, along with several others. During his confession Rader referred to Katherine as “a sweet kid”, and his plan to kill her as “Project Lights Out”. On the 4th of April Rader struck. He once again cut the phone line, broke into Kathryn’s house via a back door and waited for her to come home. Once again he was surprised by unexpected people in the house, as Kathryn had returned with her nineteen-year-old brother Kevin. Rader was carrying two pistols – a .22 calibre which he used to hold them at gunpoint, and a .357 Magnum he carried in a shoulder holster. He gave them the same story about being wanted in California, had Kevin tie Kathryn, and then took him to a separate room, applying a lesson learnt from his previous murders. When he returned to Kevin after torturing his sister for a bit, Kevin fought back. Rader says Kevin broke his bonds, saying in court, “If I had brought my stuff […] Kevin would be dead today. That’s not a brag – that’s just a statement of fact.” Kevin and Rader struggled for a while before Rader shot him in the face. Thinking he was dead, he then returned to Kathryn, but he found more than he’d bargained for there as well – Kathryn fought, in his words, “like a hellcat”. He got to a point where he thought he had Kathryn subdued when he heard movement in the other room. Going back to Kevin, he found he wasn’t dead, and what’s more, he still had a bunch of fight left in him. They struggled again, and this time Kevin even managed to get at the Magnum in his shoulder holster and there was a tense moment with Kevin and Rader, both struggling for the pistol, before Rader shot Kevin in the head with the .22 again. Surer of his kill this time, he returned to Kathryn’s room and tried to strangle her again, but she fought back. Rader gave up and stabbed her eleven times in the abdomen and lower back[7]. He heard Kevin, incredibly still alive, escape the house. Rader cleaned up and left without gathering any souvenirs. Kevin, who went on to be the only survivor of a BTK attack, ran for the police. Kathryn, also still alive, called an ambulance – Rader wasn’t as good at cutting phone lines as he thought – before tragically dying hours later in surgery.

I’ve written a few of these now, and while I diligently read all the eye-searing, mind-polluting detail available, I don’t usually inflict it on viewers. As Simon said in a previous post, this websitel should be more CSI than Saw. In the case of these first five murders, however, the detail is revealing. According to Rader’s confession, the Otero slayings had a very long gestation period. He started with pure fantasies, altering magazine adverts to make them into bondage scenes, drawing pictures, and writing long text accounts. He’d formulated earlier plans of snatching a woman from a convenience store, and had gone as far as surveillance and reconnaissance for the attack before abandoning it in favour of the Oteros. And even in his assault on the Otero home, there really isn’t much in the way of solid operational planning. The fussy “hit kit” – the weapons and gear he’d pre-prepared – and other elements might mislead a casual observer into thinking of him as some sort of secret agent level infiltrator, but that reality only existed in his own confused mind. Closer examination shows that what he came packed for was a fantasy. He had no real plan beyond gaining access, his efforts to control the family were shambolic, succeeding only through surprise and firepower, and from his own account it only occurred to him quite late in the attack that he’d have to kill them all. A similar lack of preparedness is evident in the Knight attack, where it seems he assumed she would cooperatively play the victim. It’s this dichotomy between the careful and cautious stalker and the childish bumbler which is so frustrating, as it’s clear Rader was only just barely organised enough to evade detection for so long. Just the slightest turn of fortune against him could so easily have ended his run of murders much earlier.

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A LONG CLEAN RUN

Rader continued committing murders between 1974 and 1991 – an unusually long, clean run. Over much of this time the citizens of Wichita were unaware they had a serial killer in their midst. Rader sent multiple communications to the police, the first being in 1974. A troubled youth had for some reason confessed to the crime and implicated two of his friends. “Troubled youth” isn’t very informative and doesn’t really give us any clues as to what the lad was thinking or why he might have confessed, and various ethical considerations mean that we’re probably not going to find out in our lifetimes. Regardless of this, however, suffice it to say that false confessions happen quite frequently and for a variety of reasons ranging from homelessness, through to payment in the case of organised crime, right through to serious mental incapacity. We can feel sympathy, I think, for people whose lives are so crap that a bit of fame or money and a life sentence sounds like an upgrade, but Rader had no such compassion. He was simply annoyed that somebody else was going to get credit for his work. So, he called up a local TV station and directed them to a mechanical engineering book in the local library, in which they found a letter detailing elements of the Otero crime which hadn’t been made public.

This letter was the subject of intensive scrutiny. It was typed – appallingly and with handwritten corrections – and contained some ramblings and an itemised list of each of the victims, their cause of death, and their positions in the crime scene. I have a sample here, with the handwritten corrections in bold. “Those three dude you have in custody are just talking to get publicity for the Otero murders. They know nothing at all. I did it by myself with no ones help. There has been no talk either, let’s put it straight……..”. After this, the list of victims begins. The unique errors in this letter were theorised as an attempt to disguise literacy levels and education – and a somewhat dim-witted attempt at that. As it turns out, it was simply dim-witted – this was Rader’s real level of literacy and the way he generally wrote and spelled. Reading through his private writings – his fantasy descriptions and attempts at an autobiographical novel – one gets the impression of a man who’s thinking through treacle. He has real trouble expressing himself clearly, no understanding of narrativization, and a limited understanding of the meanings of basic words. A lot of people have only watched his guilty plea, which was televised because: “America”, but this was clearly a coached performance. During his confessions he frequently stumbled, used the wrong words – “stocked” for “stalked” or “assimilated” for “simulated” – and outlined thought processes which frequently indicated that what the police were dealing with here wasn’t an evil genius, but rather a fussy moron. This might seem to be at odds with the way BTK is usually portrayed – almost every story or video about him goes on about his “fiendish” intelligence and waxes lyrical on his “meticulous” MO, but this isn’t a true picture of the man. I understand that in order to comprehend this kind of evil we have a sort of psychological need to mythologise it – to believe that exceptional evil requires exceptional humans to commit it. But the disturbing truth is that it doesn’t. Simply being a lone, organised offender with moderate operational discipline and information security is generally enough, when combined with a bit of luck. Of course, this is a bit of an itchy thought as it highlights the vulnerability of people in peaceful open societies, but there it is. No evil genius is so hard of thinking he can’t write or even talk coherently, and there’s nothing meticulous about leaving semen at most scenes, or keeping souvenirs in your own closet, or compulsively and voluminously writing down your crimes. One of the major factors in Rader’s long clean run seems to have been his caution. He was extremely risk averse – the AG describes it as “cowardly” – and when he couldn’t see a way ahead, he would just simply go home.

After the Otero and Bright murders, Rader went silent for a few years. From his own accounts, he was still actively trolling, stalking and fantasising. He talks about having done rehearsals – breaking into houses just in order to see if he could and to steal intimate garments. He mentions a few failed attempts where women had resisted him, or simply not come home in time – he complains bitterly about the constraints of married life. “I had commitments,” he bleated in his police interviews, indicating he could have “got a lot more done” if he’d been a “lone wolf”. Then, in 1977, he murdered Shirley Vian and Nancy Fox. Shirley Vian was a single mother with three small children, whom Rader kept locked in a bathroom while he murdered their mother. Rader had initially attempted to break into another house but having failed to do so, decided to pretend to be a private detective and showed a photo of his own wife and son to a child he met in the street, pretending to be looking for them. He then followed the child to the Vian household, congratulating himself all the while on dressing and operating like James Bond – a frequent fantasy of his – before tying the young woman up and strangling her with a belt. Later that year he murdered Kathryn Fox, a murder he considered to be the most perfect of his “projects”. I’ll spare you the details, but this was one where he finally managed to break into a house, find his victim alone, and enforce compliance. His own writings and drawings relating to the Fox murder are particularly grim, and it’s clear Rader has a special place in his memory for the recollection of that killing. Afterwards, he called police and claimed the Fox and Vian murders, as well as one other.

Another fallow period was to follow, this time lasting eight years. By Rader’s own account he simply got busy with work and family life. By now, Wichita residents had been reluctantly informed they had a serial killer in their midst – reluctantly because police correctly surmised BTK was simply after attention, and they initially calculated (somewhat naively) that depriving him of it might remove some of the motivation to murder again. This news had caused many in Wichita and elsewhere to install home security systems, and one of the biggest providers of these was ADT – a company which still operates on a massive scale today. I myself have lived in several homes with ADT alarms and patrols. Of course, ADT was the company Rader worked for as an installer, and he used this relative freedom of movement to scout for victims, as well as using his access to private homes to facilitate the stealing of masturbation aids such as nightgowns and socks. In 1985, Rader killed a near neighbour: Marine Hedge, whom he slightly knew. He actually left a cub scout camp – Rader became a scout leader when his son joined – in order to do this. He spent quite a bit of time setting up an alibi through what he calls “my most complicated hit”, but which to an outside observer is just random silliness. Rader took taxis and did multiple vehicle swaps, spent time in a bowling alley to establish an alibi, and generally tooled around like a man who’d completely forgotten what he’d told the other scouting staff. Or that he could have just not told anyone he was leaving the campsite. In any event, he killed Marine Hedge in her home and, after a quick moment to regain what he idiotically terms “my reposure”, took her body to his own church where he posed it for bondage polaroids, before dumping it in scrubland. By now Rader was performing hand exercises to improve his strangling. A few months later, in 1986, Rader killed Vicki Wegerle, a woman he’d spotted while working for ADT. Given the presence of barking dogs, his victim’s resistance, and her claim her husband would arrive soon, Rader hastily strangled her and took some quick polaroids for “Sparky big time”, before leaving. “Sparky” was his name for his penis, so “Sparky big time” was his elegant euphemism for orgasm.  

Rader’s last known murder was of a woman called Dolores Davis in 1991, the same year he quit his job at ADT and became a compliance officer for the Park City Council. It seems Rader was targeting her young daughter but was hoping to perhaps “get them both”. After spending a great deal of time trying to figure out a way into the house, he eventually chose the night of the annual Trappers Scouts “Dead of Winter” outing and simply threw a cinder block through her back window late at night. After subduing and killing her, Rader took her body to the Kansas Department of Transport lake and dumped her there. The hurried killing and dumping occurred because Dolores had told him she was expecting an unspecified visitor – this was after eleven p.m. – and Rader somehow believed her. Despite this, he returned to the house to clean the scene, before leaving for the scout camp because, in his words, he “had a time constraints”. He returned the next night to take bondage polaroids, which he recalls being unsatisfied with as “you can see where animals had attacked her.”

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THE WORLD’S MOST SATISFYING OWN GOAL

After 1991, Rader simply dropped off the map. There were no more killings, the decades long investigation became a cold case, and Rader became an animal control officer who, according to some accounts was overzealous and a bully, but was generally considered a nice guy and pillar of the community by others. Somewhere in this time he’d been elected president of the congregation of his church – Christ Lutheran – which is not a position unpopular people tend to attain, so this does open to question whether the people seeing “clues” to his murderous career in his conduct were perhaps projecting later knowledge onto their memories. Basically, BTK’s memory was fading, and it was an article published on the thirtieth anniversary of the Otero murders which seems to have most made this sting for Rader. The article claimed that Kansas students no longer feared the spectre of BTK. It also speculated BTK was dead, in prison for some other offence, or had simply got too old to be a threat. Rader, offended by this, began leaving dead drops containing word puzzles, false clues, crime souvenirs and, in one case, a bound barbie doll posed to look like Josephine Otero, complete with crudely fashioned pubic hair stuck on the crotch. He also seeded false information into these packages, including the highly sophisticated and fiendishly clever step of obscuring his date of birth. Some fragments of a novel and short stories were released, presumably to show the profound genius at work behind his killings, and consistent with this goal I’ve included a sample:

“…the natural sex appeal of girl and fantasies of them bound and torture, or mainly just being helpless grew each day inside his body. Soon, just the thought of a girl being bound was enough. He could play with him self and think and immediate have an ejection. Eventually the long years of fantasy, the thinking and desire boil over and in one night he began to stake his prey.”

Yep. Total genius.

Anyway, after a few months of Rader trying to “terrorise” the Wichita community with his Barbie dolls and literary master works, dead drop instructions were sent to KAKE TV indicating a package at Home Depot. Interestingly, this package was very nearly lost forever as the employee who found it threw it out thinking it was a joke. Patient detective work – i.e., leaving a notice in Home Depot and then actually manning the phones – led to the box’s recovery. Several items were in it – a souvenir, some of the usual muddle-headed documents, one describing a fantasy of setting up a Holmes-style murder hotel – as well as a document entitled “COMMICATION[8]”, which said, “Can I communicate with floppy and not be traced to a computer. Be honest.” The police were instructed to take out a classified ad saying, “Rex it will be ok”, should this be the case. Rex, by the by, was short for “Rex for Sex”, one of the many names Rader wanted to be known by. Like a horribly twisted child unable to decide whether he wants to be “Max Powerthrust”, “Ramjet Ultima”, or “Lucien Darkmind”. Anyway, lead detective Ken Landwehr, who’d actually been an investigator on one of the earlier taskforces, duly placed the ad and continued his actually quite stellar police work, consulting with interagency experts and patiently and thoroughly going over all the available evidence. And so it was that on the sixteenth of February 2005, a local TV station received a padded package with excessive postage affixed, containing a floppy disk with a single document: “Test A.RTF[9]”. Landwehr’s team right clicked on the document, looked at properties, and uncovered the fact that someone called Dennis from Christ Lutheran Church had made it. Some elementary Googling later, and they had grounds to seek a warrant to DNA test daughter Kerri Rader’s medical samples, which matched the semen they still had from multiple scenes. From there, the capture of Dennis Rader himself was conducted flawlessly.

Once Rader had the DNA results explained to him, he simply confessed. He was shocked that Detective Landwehr had lied to him. “We’re both law enforcement,” he said, referring to his time as a local dogcatcher. Rader didn’t speak at his arraignment, so a plea of Not Guilty was entered on his behalf, but by the time he came to trial he’d changed his plea to guilty and delivered testimony admitting to all ten of the murders he was charged with. Rader was sentence to ten consecutive life sentences, as he was arraigned some four years before Kansas had re-established its death penalty. And so ended the career of a man who should go down in history as a shining example of the crushing banality of evil, rather than as the criminal genius he’s so frequently and falsely represented as.

DISMEMBERED APPENDICES

  1. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Rader became a dogcatcher and lawn measurer after he’d been rejected by the county police.  I mean no disrespect to the local police forces in the US when I say that pretty well any able-bodied, functionally literate human can get some kind of police job, even if not as an officer, and it’s revealing that Rader couldn’t.
  2. Dennis Rader’s daughter Kerri has been reconciled to her father and is now a high-profile motivational speaker and published author who’s dedicated her life to helping people deal with sudden trauma, which she undoubtedly experienced when the FBI went to her house and blurted out her father’s true identity while interviewing her on the day of his arrest. She also seems pretty dedicated to promoting her brand, but I guess that’s fair enough.
  3. It’s strongly believed by some investigators that Rader has more murders under his belt, but that he’s clammed up since Kansas re-introduced the death penalty. If true, this would explain the long periods of silence, as Rader’s MO has been sufficiently typical and varied that it might be difficult to connect crimes in different areas or cities.
  4. Rader was planning a new murder when he was arrested and is now in solitary confinement and reportedly eager to speak to any journalist, investigator, or complete rando about his crimes or any other aspect of his life. Given this, I’d strongly suggest nobody make any contact with him ever again. All his thoughts are in the eighteenth district Sedgwick County court documents, case number 05CR498 anyway, so why help him get off on the memories of old crimes?

[1] Confederates

[2] This is an Australian supermarket chain, so what it’s doing in Kansas I’ve no idea. I can only apologise.

[3] Similar to a diploma.

[4] Lutheran is one of the oldest of the Protestant sects, being originated by Martin Luther. It’s known as one of the stricter Christian sects, but definitely isn’t one of those crazy snake-handling, speaking-in-tongues churches.

[5] In the sense of fishing, not the internet.

[6] Literally a fast boat for exporting bananas before they spoil, which often carried passengers as well.

[7] Many accounts cite three stab wounds, probably because of Rader’s own account, but the coroner’s report and the first responder’s account both cite eleven wounds – three in front and the rest in the back, under the ribs.

[8] None of these are my typos – this is how “meticulous” Rader was.

[9] Rich Text Format – more common in word processor days.

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