BTK: The Serial Killer Next Door

Jul 16, 2012 - by Denise Noe

Dennis Rader

Dennis Rader

Over a 17-year span that ended in 1991, Dennis Rader, who dubbed himself “BTK,” murdered 10 people. Fourteen years later, in an attempt for lasting notoriety, the psychopath who became the president of his Lutheran congregation, led Wichita police to his front door.

by Denise Noe

For years on end, Wichita, Kansas and its surrounding environs were terrorized by a most peculiar serial murderer. Part of what made him so “peculiar” was that people who knew him in everyday life found him utterly normal. In contrast to the stereotype of the serial murderer as a lonely bachelor, Dennis Rader, who would become infamous as “BTK,” was a pillar of the community. His wife and two children loved him, he was able to rise to the top rung of his Lutheran congregation’s administration, he was active as a Scout leader, and he was able to keep his last job as a glorified dog catcher for 15 years. He literally was the serial killer next door.

On the other hand, he was totally without compassion or empathy for any of his victims, not even small children victims. He was a remorseless serial killer who aspired in his later years to treat his killings as if they were a motion picture and live in infamy after his death, his family be damned. 

His background offers frustratingly few clues to what led to the warping of his personality – but warped it most assuredly was. Although he did not want the homicidal desires that obsessed him, enacting them did not leave him tormented.  He could torment and murder, then return home or attend church with not the slightest sign of guilt or distress. What remains mysterious is how such extreme abnormality co-existed with a façade of perfect normalcy.

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