Dennis Rader, American serial killer also known as the BTK, was sentenced to 10 life sentences in prison after his trial in 2005. During the sentencing, victims’ families spoke about the effect his crimes had on their lives.
BTK stands for “bind, torture, kill.” Rader murdered ten people between 1974 and 1991. He was arrested in 2005 and charged with the murders after sending the police a floppy disk, which they used to track him down.
He pleaded guilty to the murders in court. Read on to learn more about Rader’s trial and prison sentence.
Rader Was Sentenced to 10 Life Terms in Prison
When I knew my dad is the BTK serial killer: Kerri Rawson said a police composite image she found online, among other evidence, helped her accept that her dad is the BTK killer after his arrest in 2005.
— 20/20 (@ABC2020) February 1, 2019
In June 2005 at his trial, he changed his plea from not guilty to guilty and described his crimes to the judge, as can be seen in the transcript from the trial.
The charges were for the 1974 murders of Joseph, Julie, Josephine and Joseph Jr. Otero, the 1974 murder of Kathryn Bright, the 1977 murder of Shirley Vian, the 1977 murder of Nancy Fox, the 1985 murder of Marine Hedge, and the 1986 murder of Vicki Wegerle.
When asked about why he killed, Rader admitted it was to fulfill his “sexual fantasies, and at his trial, he said, “If one didn’t work out, I just moved to another one.”
After the trial, he was sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences in prison, meaning he has a minimum sentence of 175 years behind bars. According to the Kansas Department of Corrections, Raider is currently being held at El Dorado Correctional Facility-Central where he has been since August 2005.
Rader was not eligible for the death penalty because his final murder took place before Kansas reinstated Capital punishment.
“I hope someday God will accept me. The dark side was there, but now I think light is beginning to shine,” he said at his sentencing, according to the Washington Post. “People will say I am not a Christian, but I believe I am. I know the victims’ families will never be able to forgive me. I hope somewhere deep down that will happen.”
Rader Sent Correspondence to Investigators Prior to Being Caught & Arrested
Charlie Otero was 15 when his parents and two of his siblings were brutally murdered by serial killer "BTK" Dennis Rader.
— 20/20 (@ABC2020) February 2, 2019
Starting in 1974, Rader sent letters to the authorities and dubbed himself “BTK.”
“It’s hard to control myself. You probably call me ‘psychotic with sexual perversion hang-up,’” he wrote, as noted by Biography.com. “The code words for me will be bind them, torture them, kill them, B.T.K.”
This need for attention eventually did lead to Rader’s capture. In January 2005, Rader sent a postcard to a TV station based in Wichita, according to Refinery 29. The postcard led investigators to two separate packages, one of which represented his 1974 murders and the other contained a letter asking police if he could communicate with them safely via floppy disk instead of letters.
Police sensed an opportunity to finally catch the serial killer, and they ended up tracking him down using floppy disks sent into them.
According to the American Bar Association Journal, once police received a disk from them, it was traced to a computer at the church where Rader was a leader. They then used DNA testing to further confirm that he was the BTK killer.
Wichita police Lieutenant Ken Landwehr said that Rader was surprised that police had lied to him about the safety of using the floppy disk to communicate.
“He couldn’t get over the fact that I would lie to him,” Landwehr told the American Bar Association Journal. “He could not believe that I did not want this to go on forever.”