Decades after serial killer Dennis Rader, also known as BTK, killed his family, Charlie Otero opened up about finding faith and peace. Otero was a sophomore in high school on January 15, 1974, when he found his family murdered after walking home from school.
After arriving home, Otero’s siblings, Danny and Carmen told him that his parents were “playing a bad joke,” according to Otero’s comments to Reader’s Digest in 2008. Walking further into the home, he saw his father and mother’s bodies in their bedroom.
Otero originally believed his younger siblings, Josephine, 11, and Joseph Jr., nine, were still at school, but when police arrived, they found the bodies of both of the children.
Rader began terrorizing Kansas in the 1970s and was an active serial killer for nearly 20 years before he was caught. Investigators believe he killed his last victims in 1991, and he was arrested while driving near his home on February 25, 2005.
Rader Murdered the Otero Family in 1974
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
When it came time to go to court, Rader admitted matter-of-factly that he’d killed the family, according to CNN’s transcript of the trial.
He told the judge that he had attacked the family in the morning and had gained entry to their home after one of the children opened the door to let the dog out. He said he had planned some of what he was going to do when he got there, but he “lost control of it” when he got there.
He said he originally asked them for their car, telling them that he was also hungry and wanted food. He tied them up and held them at gunpoint before he says he “realized… I didn’t have a mask on or anything. They could already ID me.”
He continued, adding that he “made a decision to go ahead and put them down.”
Otero said when he arrived home that day, he noticed that the kitchen was a mess and the dog was outside, which wasn’t normal for the family. His parents’ bodies were found in the bedroom, 11-year-old Josie was found dead in the basement, and 9-year-old Joey was found in another room.
Charlie Otero Said He Lost His Faith After His Family Was Killed
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 a 20/20 episode about his family being murdered, Otero opened up about what it was like when he found his family murdered and the aftermath of that for him.
“It was just like if you ripped my chest open and tore my heart out,” he told ABC’s 20/20.
Otero recalled that his father was an “outgoing, jovial” man and his mother was a “very caring, loving Catholic woman.” He told the outlet that he was very thankful that he didn’t find his younger siblings’ bodies.
“I don’t know how I would have handled it,” he said.
According to Kansas.com, Otero spent some years living “off the land,” partying too hard and living close to violence. He told the website that he had been living life as a “wild man” for years, but that changed when he went to prison after pleading guilty to aggravated battery. While he was in that New Mexico prison, Dennis Rader was arrested for the murder of his family.
In 2008, Otero moved back to Wichita and moved in with his fiancee. According to the report, he had a garage where he stored his motorcycle and works on other motorcycles at work, which is located just a few miles from where Radar spends his time behind bars.
He now spends time talking to inmates and homeless people about religion.
“I’m talking to them about opening their hearts to the Lord,” he told Kansas.com.