It is almost impossible that a church council president will turn out to be the killer of 10 persons in his locale. Sadly, that is the story of Mr. Dennis Lynn Rader, a serial killer who killed ten people in and around Wichita, Kansas, between 1974 and 1991. He was brutal; he sent details of his murder to the police so they could give him some credit for this crime; it was a shock even to the cops.
Dennis was a security alarm installer for people in his neighborhood, a job that gave him insider details on homeowner’s whereabouts. He lived with his family at 6220 Independence in Park City until his arrest, and their house was auctioned for $90,000 in March 2007.
You may wonder if Denni has a wife or even children – the answer to that is yes. He has a wife, who divorced him in 2005 when he was convicted. He has two children, Brian Rader, who has stayed mute since the tragic story of his father, and Kerri Rader, who now goes by Kerri Rawson after her marriage to Darian Rawson in 1999.
Dennis put his family in an uncomfortable position; he lived a double life – he openly stated that his family was a pawn in his game.
So, what is Dennis’s story? Before we get into that, let’s run you through some quick facts about Dennis.
Dennis Lynn Rader Life Timeline
Dennis was born on March 9, 1945, to Dorothea Mae Rader (née Cook) and William Elvin Rader in Pittsburg, Kansas.
He graduated from Wichita Heights High School in 1965 and moved to Kansas Wesleyan University. Dennis is an active member of his local Christ Lutheran Church and held the position of Preside of the Congregation Council Officer.
He dropped out of Kansas Wesleyan University in 1966 in the first year due to poor grades and joined the U.S. Air Force.
He served in the United States Air Force from 1966 to 1970, moved to Park City (a suburb of Wichita), and worked in the meat department at I.G.A. supermarket, where his mother was a bookkeeper.
In 1971, He married Paula Dietz, with whom he has two children.
He earned an associate degree in electronics in 1973 from Butler County Community College and furthered his education at Wichita State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice. He later got a job as an assembler for the Coleman Company – a camping equipment maker company. In the same year, he was laid off.
In 1974, Dennis worked at the Wichita-based office of ADT Security Services to make a living. He installed security alarms for the residents who wanted to take security measures about the B.T.K. killings, not knowing that Dennis was behind the massacre.
In 1974, Rader started his killing spree, committing a series of murders in Kansas that lasted for 17 years.
On July 27, 1975, Dennis welcomed his first child, Brian Rader.
In 1978, Dennis welcomed his second child, Kerri Rader.
In 1988, he left his job at ADT Security Services and became a census field operations supervisor for the Wichita area in 1989, before the 1990 federal census.
In May 1991, Rader began working as Park City, Kansas’s compliance and animal control officer. He was known to be an authoritarian. A neighbor complained that Rader killed her dog for no reason while working as a compliance officer.
On February 25, 2005, Rader was arrested by the Kansas police. June 27, 2005, Rader pleads guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder.
On August 18, 2005, Rader was sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Dennis Lynn Rader’s Crime Chronology: How it all began and ended
Dennis’s Crime records began four years after he left the U.S. Airforce and a year after he was laid off from his electrician job at Coleman Company in 1973. The company did not
- On Tuesday, January 15, 1974, he killed Joseph Otero, 38, his wife Julie, 34, a Coleman employee, and their children Joseph II, 9, and Josephine, 11, in their home in Wichita, Kansas. He made the children watch as he strangled their parents to death and later killed Joseph. He dragged Josephine to the basement, pulled off her underwear, and hung her from a sewer pipe, choking her to death. The little girl asked what would become of her; he told her she would be in heaven with her family as he masturbated. He took her underwear as a souvenir of his first kill.
- On April 4, 1974, he killed Kathryn Bright, 21, another Coleman employee, in her home. Dennis broke into her house and was confronted by her brother, Kevin Bright, who escaped with gunshot wounds. Dennis then proceeded to stab Kathryn multiple times. After killing Kathryn, Dennis wrote a piece that reads in part, “Those three dude you have in custody are just talking to get publicity… The code words for me will be…Bind them, torture them, kill them, B.T.K., you see he at it again. They will be on the next victim.”.
- He did not send it to the police directly; instead, he left it in an engineering book in Wichita public library and called Wichita Eagle to tell them of the written piece’s location so the police could recover it and give him credit. Still, they did not give him credit or mention yet because three men had already claimed the kill and were in custody. Kathyrn’s brother, who survived, described Dennis as having psychotic eyes.
- After killing Kathryn, Dennis took a break to welcome his child, Brain Rader, born on July 27, 1975.
- On March 17, 1977, he killed Shirley Vian, 24, in her home. He raped Shirley Vian and let her children watch and escape later. He then composed a poem titled Shirley Locks, which reads in part, “Shirley Locks, Shirley Locks..Thou shalt not screem…but lay on cushion and think of me and death”.
- On December 8, 1977, he killed Nancy Jo Fox, 25, in her home after he locked her children in the bathroom. He called the police to inform them and noted this kill with a poem titled “Oh! Death to Nancy. “
- On April 27, 1985, Dennis left a Boy Scout group that he was supervising to tie and choke Marine Wallace Hedge, 53, to death. The following morning, he returned to the scout’s retreat where his son was participating, without any sign that he had killed someone. Marine was the old lady Dennis greeted every morning as he went to church. After her death, Dennis even went up to the family to console them, reassuring them that “we’re safe.”
- Seeing that the media would not credit him for his crimes, neither would the police, Dennis wrote a letter to a local T.V. station, KAKE, saying, “How many people do I have to kill before I get my name in the paper or some national attention?” he writes, before reeling off a list of suggested nicknames, including “The B.T.K. Strangler,” “The Wichita Hangman” and “The Asphyxiator.”,
- Claiming his previous crimes In his letter to KAKE, Dennis suggested his name to be B.T.K.
- On September 16, 1986, he killed Vicki Lynn Wegerle, 28, in her home, making her 2-year-old child watch from the playpen. Initially, the police pinned the crime on Vicki’s husband, Bill, until it was investigated further, and Dennis was found to be the killer.
- On January 19, 1991, he killed his last known victim, 62-year-old Dolores Earline Johnson Davis, and dumped her body at West 117th Street North and North Meridian Street in Park City.
Dennis Rader Arrest
It may have taken longer for the law to catch up if Dennis had stopped killing in 1991, but Dennis did not like that the police and media stopped talking about him till the extent they declared him dead.
So in 2004, to keep his reputation alive, Dennis began sending packages containing evidence of his crime scenes to the police.
The package had in it dolls bound up and gagged up like his victims, and another contained a pitch for an autobiographical novel he wanted to write titled The B.T.K. Story.
A document’s meta-data contained in a floppy disk gave him up.
In January 2005, B.T.K. sent a letter to the police in a cereal box asking if he could be traced by a letter he wanted to send over using a Floppy disk. Frankly, the police replied in a classified ad that they could not.
Serial killer Dennis confidently sent the floppy disk to the police but forgot to clean up the floppy disk thoroughly. Inside the floppy disk, the police found the metadata of a deleted Microsoft Word Document. The document was traced to the Christ Lutheran Church as the council president authored it. And guess who that was? Dennis Rader.
Well, that was not enough. D.N.A. samples recorded from crime scenes matched the D.N.A. sample of Dennis’ daughter’s pap smear, and dang, the police drove to his residence and arrested him.
Dennis Rader was taken from his home in front of his family on February 25, 2005. As a father living a double life, he tried to keep a reassuring face and promised his daughter that all would be cleared up soon. But he knew that he was done for. As he was transported, he was asked if he knew why he was arrested; Denni said, “Oh, I have suspicions why.”
On June 27, 2005, Dennis pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and complained that the police lied to him. He was sentenced to 175 years in jail without parole.
In a new related case, an accused Idaho killer, Bryan Kohberger, 28, was studying under a serial killer expert, Dr. Katherine Ramsland, who was in a close relationship with Dennis Lynn Rader.