Dennis Rader, a 59-year-old former home security company worker, haunted the mid-western town of Wichita, Kansas for decades as he silently stalked victims, broke into their homes and left them a tangled, broken mess.
Rader taunted police by sending them a series of letters full of spelling mistakes in which he named himself BTK for the grisly method he employed in seven violent attacks between 1974 and 1991 that left 10 people dead.
Dressed in a beige suit jacket and dark tie, Rader showed no emotion as he described the slayings, pausing only briefly to take sips of water as he told the court how he used various ruses to talk his way into some of the homes.
After posing as a telephone repairman, criminal on the run or a private detective, Rader said he pulled a gun on his victims and told them that he had “a problem with sexual fantasies” and was going to tie them up and rape them.
In several cases he tried to comfort his victims before he tied them up, sitting with them as they smoked cigarettes.
But instead of raping the women, Rader strangled them with a belt or panty hose, masturbated over their dead bodies, took some of their personal belongings to keep as “trophies” and then made his way home to his wife and children.
Rader told the court that he “trawlled” the city for most of his victims, waiting months or years for the right person to catch his fancy.
But one day, when he was “all keyed up”, he chose a woman at random.
Shirley Vian was home with her children on March 17, 1977 when Rader knocked on her door.
Threatening her with a .357 Magnum, Rader told Vian he was going to tie her up and rape her and then got her to help him tie the children up as well.
“I explained to her that I’d done this before,” he said. “I proceeded to tie the kids up but they were crying so that didn’t work. So we put them in the bathroom.”
The children were still upset, Rader told the court, so he and the mother gave them blankets and toys, locked the bathroom door and then pushed a bed up against it so they could not escape.
“She got sick, proceeded to throw up and so I got her a glass of water to comfort her and then I put a bag over her head and strangled her,” he told the court in a flat monotone voice.
The BTK slayings confounded law enforcement for decades and left residents to anxiously wait for the next sadistic slaying.
Rader struck first in January, 1974, killing Joseph and Julie Otero and two of their children.
Rader referred to his victims as “projects” and said he often prepared for the slayings by bringing a “hit kit” and wearing “hit clothes” that he would dispose of after the murder.
He frequently took Polaroid pictures of his victims, in one case taking the body with him so he could take more pictures of her in sadomasochist poses.
A Cub Scout leader, devout churchgoer and married father of two, Rader was a respected member of the local community before his arrest.
Rader will not be eligible for the death penalty because the murders occurred before Kansas reintroduced capital punishment in 1994.
District Attorney Nola Foulston said she will seek 10 consecutive life sentences for Rader at a sentencing hearing on August 15.