BTK Strangler – 1974-1991

By | January 3, 2017

“Bind them, Torture them, Kill them”


A mask found with the body of Dolores Davis is shown in court


Dennis L. Rader was born on 9 March 1945. In 1966 he joined the US Army Air Force and served for four years in Turkey, Greece, Japan and South Korea. In 1971, after demob, he moved into 6220 North Independence Street in Park City, Kansas. That year, on 22 May, he married Paula Dietz, a secretary at the Veterans’ Administration Hospital. In 1975 he had a son, followed three years later by a daughter.

Rader struck for the first time on 15 January 1974 when he murdered four members of the Otero family, Joseph and Julie and their son Joseph II (aged 9) and daughter Josephine (aged 11), at their home at 803 North Edgemoor Street. He also stole the family car. On 4 April Kathryn Bright, 21, was strangled at her home at 3217 East 13th Street and her brother shot — he survived. (Some dispute this was the work of Rader.)

Six months later, a letter referring to the Otero murders was found in a library book. It was the first time that the murderer suggested that he should be called the BTK Strangler; BTK stood for “Bind them, Torture them, Kill them.” On 17 March 1977 Shirley Vian Relford, 26, was strangled at her home at 1311 South Hydraulic Street. The killer locked her children in a bathroom before he murdered their mother.

On 8 December Rader rang 911 after murdering Nancy Fox, 25, at her home at 843 South Pershing Street. Rader began taunting the police and media, sending them cryptic messages. On 15 August 1979 police broadcast the 911 call on radio and television and received more than 100 leads. On 27 April 1985 Marine Hedge disappeared from her home at 6254 North Independence Street, the same street that Rader lived on.

Her body was discovered on 5 May near 53rd North Street and Webb Road. On 16 September 1986 Vicki Wegerle, 28, was strangled in her home at 2404 West 13th Street. On 1 February 1991 the remains of Dolores “Dee” Davis were discovered, 13 days after she was abducted. One message had been sent on a computer disk from a Lutheran church in Wichita. It was traced to dog catcher and church president, Rader, who was arrested on 25 February 2005.


Witchita, Kansas, USA


Tuesday 15 January 1974-Saturday 19 January 1991


On 1 March 2005 Rader was charged with ten counts of first-degree murder. The next day, he was sacked for failing to turn up to work since 25 February. On 27 June Rader pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first degree murder. On 18 August he was sentenced to ten consecutive life terms.


In March 2007 Rader’s home was demolished, having been bought by the city from his ex-wife for $56,000.

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