BTK Killer Worried Over the Fate of his Remains


By C.W.S.

When thinking about serial killers, one of the first traits that come to mind is a complete lack of empathy, and that is usually the case. However, serial killers sometimes do show empathy, but it is most often for themselves. Dennis Radar, known as the BTK killer because of his method of murdering his victims (bind, torture, kill), has been in the news once again, this time over his concerns about his remains. After a cancer scare prompted him to move forward with the writing of his will, the Wichita Eagle received letters from the incarcerated Rader about his current state of mind. “I had two relatives died of colon cancer and I was sure it had found me,” he wrote.

Who is the BTK killer

Dennis Rader was by most accounts a family man living in Park City, Kansas with his wife and two children. He had previously been in the US Air Force, and had since worked at grocery stores, warehouses, and as a security guard. His childhood was relatively normal, however he was known to torture animals, both by outside reports and his own.

Between 1974 and 1991, Rader would murder at least 10 people, sometimes taking long breaks between the killings. Rader became infamous for the strange, taunting letters he would send to police and the media, often attempting to control what they were calling him.

Dennis Rader

Dennis Rader

The first letter was discovered inside an engineering book at the Wichita Public Library in October 1974 and it detailed the murder of the Otero family by Rader. On January 15th, he broke into their home and cut the phone line, going on to kill by strangulation or suffocation Joseph and Julie Otero, as well as two of their children, Josephine and Joseph Jr. Rader later claimed that he was able to derive sexual pleasure from the murders. "It's hard to control myself. You probably call me 'psychotic with sexual perversion hang-up,’” he stated in the note, also proposing the name BTK killer. He stole a radio and watch from the scene, as he was prone to taking souvenirs from his victims. The family was discovered by their other son, 15-year-old Charlie.

In April 1974, Rader stabbed and strangled Kathryn Bright to death after hiding in her apartment. Rader also attempted to kill her brother Kevin, shooting him twice. Kevin survived and became the first witness to describe Rader, calling him in an interview with Time Magazine "an average-sized guy, bushy mustache, 'psychotic' eyes." 

In March of 1997, Rader murdered Shirley Vian in her home after locking her children in the bathroom. She was bound and strangled to death, fitting the MO of Rader. Then in December he strangled Nancy Fox to death, also inside her home. Rader than called the police to report the murder he had committed. He sent the following poem to a local newspaper [sic]:

Oh! Death to Nancy
What is this tahtI can see
Cold icy hands taking hold of me
for Death has come, you all can see.
Hell has open it,sgate to trick me.
Oh! Death, Oh! Death, can't you spare me, over for another year!
I'll stuff your jaws till you can't talk
I'll blindyour leg's till you can't walk
I'll tie your hands till you can't make a stand.
And finally I'll close your eyes so you can't see
I'll bring sexual death unto you for me.

Rader also sent a package shortly after a failed murder attempt on the life of 63-year-old widow, Anna Williams in April of 1979. He broke into her home, stole and few things, and waited for her to get home. When she did not arrive in the time frame he expected, he grew frustrated and left. Two packages were sent a month later, one to her home and one to a local news station, including the poem below [sic]. Anna moved away from the Kansas area shortly after the package was received.

Oh, Anna Why Didn't You Appear

Oh, Anna, Why Didn't You Appear
T' was perfect plan of deviant pleasure so bold on that Spring nite
My inner felling hot with propension of the new awakening season
Warn, wet with inner fear and rapture, my pleasure of entanglement, like new vines at night

Oh, Anna, Why Didn't You Appear
Drop of fear fresh Spring rain would roll down from your nakedness to scent to lofty fever that burns within,
In that small world of longing, fear, rapture, and desparation,the game we play, fall on devil ears
Fantasy spring forth, mounts, to storm fury, then winter clam at the end.

Oh, Anna Why Didn't You Appear
Alone, now in another time span I lay with sweet enrapture garments across most private thought
Bed of Spring moist grass, clean before the sun, enslaved with control, warm wind scenting the air, sun light sparkle tears in eyes so deep and clear.
Alone again I trod in pass memory of mirrors, and ponder why for number eight was not.
Oh, Anna Why Didn't You Appear

By 2004, the cases for these murder were cold, but the media would receive 11 more letters from Rader that would eventually lead to his capture. The Wichita television station KAKE received a letter in May that contained proposed chapters to a book called the “BTK Story.” The letter included fake IDs and a word puzzle. Then in June, a package was found taped to a street sign, containing incredibly graphic details about the murder of the Otero family. It also containing a drawing labeled "The Sexual Thrill Is My Bill." Then in July a package was put into a public library book return slot, and then another in October dropped in a UPS box. This one contained pictures of bound children pasted on them, a death threat poem for lead investigator Lt. Ken Landwehr, and autobiographical details of Rader that were later proven false.

Then a package was found in nearby Murdock Park. Inside was the real drivers license of Nancy Fox, and a doll that bound at the hands and feet, with a small plastic bag over its head. He was later arrested when surveillance footage caught him dropping off another package in a parking lot, driving a black Jeep. Then metadata on a floppy disk he sent led police led them to Rader’s home, where they found a black Jeep.

With DNA evidence provided by his daughter, Rader pled guilty and sentenced to several life sentences. He gave a rambling monologue at the end that prosecutors likened to an Oscar’s acceptance speech. He has been in solitary confinement since he entered prison.

Rader writes to the Wichita Eagle

The recent cancer scare shook something up in Rader, obviously, as he made the decision to send more strange, unsolicited correspondence over to the Wichita Eagle. He wrote to them that he was “back to normal now,” once doctors had cleared him. However, the cancer scare was enough to push Rader to make plans for his own “a kick-the-bucket scenario.” The Wichita Eagle points out that the word “scenario” is also a word he used to refer to the murder plans for his ten victims.

The BTK killer, the man who created his own serial killer moniker, meaning “bind, torture, kill,” is worried about his own body and what will happen to his belongings. He appears almost tenderly worried about himself, especially his poetry and art. Of course, this is typical of those with cluster B personality disorders which are extremely common among serial killers. Even those who have victimized people in the most heinous ways are still able to position themselves as a primary victim.

He continues: “I did write [my daughter] and ask her and the family if they would like my left-over art, poetry, papers, log books, journal, etc. I gave them a couple of months to decide. I thought perhaps Kerri might like to work with someone to ‘chap book’ or a bio on me.” Yes, the BTK killer would like a poetry chap book made after his death. 

Artwork included in the letter

Artwork included in the letter

“The family knows I want to be cremated and where to scatter the ashes, assuming they claim my body,” he wrote last week. “If not, the [prison] facility will have it done, and I think the ashes [will be] place in a ‘niche’ at Hutchinson, KS. Which will greatly disappoint my soul or ghost!” Rader continued.

However, his daughter isn’t too interested: “That’s the normal BS from him.” She went on to say “…we told him, as early as 12 years ago, that we’ll do what he wants us to do when the time comes,” she said. “I don’t understand why he keeps bringing it up. Except I think my dad is just trying to get attention. He’s a controller, and what he still has left is boxes of stuff he wrote, so he’s trying to control that.”

 Rader’s daughter and wife all but disowned him after they found out about his crimes. His daughter communicates to him rarely, and only through writing. “I don’t know of anyone who has a father like mine,” she said. Although they are willing to honor his request for cremation, the one thing that his former family are unwilling to do is to cause anymore harm to the victims’ families, so they won’t be selling any of this poems or art.

Looks like the BTK killer will have to deal with never knowing what will happen to himself or his belongings, a fair price to pay for doing the exact same thing, in a much more horrifying ways, to ten victims without consideration. And he will probably never be able to see the contradiction.