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The world's most prolific teenage serial killer...

A GYMSLIP murderess aged just 17 was being held last night for knifing THIRTY men to death

The schoolgirl stunned cops by owning up to a serial killing spree that started when she was a 15-year-old.

She told detectives she wanted to confess before she turned 18 and could be tried as an adult.

The girl - too young even to be named - said she began targeting men in her home city of Sao Paulo, Brazil "for money, revenge and to bring justice".

She even SMILED as she reeled off her list of victims - which is feared to make her the world's most prolific teenage serial killer. She calmly bragged to police: "I don't have enough courage to hold a gun - but I can hold a knife.

"I am confessing because I promised I would do so before becoming 18 - to avoid upsetting my family."

The schoolgirl told how she always used the same knife - butchering one man for throwing a glass of brandy in her face in a bar row.

But police were last night still unclear about what drove her to keep on killing.

Sources said one theory is she was hired by gangland bosses as an assassin because she was so innocent-looking. The teenager's sensational confession came after she was arrested over a Sao Paulo street fight.

It shocked a country still reeling from the arrest of a TV crime show host for allegedly arranging killings to boost ratings.

Ex-cop Wallace Souza, in his fifties, built up a massive audience with dramatic film of police chases, raids and arrests.

Former colleagues became suspicious that camera crews from his Canal Livre show always seemed to be on the scene.

He denies charges that also include drug trafficking, threatening witnesses and possessing firearms.

His son is among 15 others also arrested in the scandal.

The TRUTH is out there...........

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Reply with quote  #62 

Richard Kuklinski Mafia Hitman.

Richard Kuklinski 'The iceman' Part 2 of 12

Richard Kuklinski 'The iceman' Part 3 of 12

Richard Kuklinski 'The iceman' Part 4 of 12

Richard Kuklinski 'The iceman' Part 5 of 12

I wont put all the 12 episodes on the site but they are well worth watching. max

One of these days.....

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Reply with quote  #63 
 Interviewer: Did you ever let anyone go? feel sorry for them?
  Richard Kuklinski  ; Yes once, I let a guy go but then I just shot him anyway.


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Reply with quote  #64

One of these days.....

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Reply with quote  #65 

good link mate

some sad barstewards in that list max 


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Reply with quote  #66 



Scott Lee Kimball
Scott Lee Kimball

As Scott Lee Kimball languished inside a Montana prison during the early years of the new millennium, he bragged to his fellow inmates that he was a hit man, a tough-guy persona he may have adopted in part to elevate himself within the inmate hierarchy. For some reason, he also liked to call himself "Hannibal," after the serial killer character from the Thomas Harris novels. Although his hit man description was a stretch, Kimball did kill people—especially women—but the authorities did not yet know that about him. Serving time on a variety of charges including theft, passing bad checks and forgery, Kimball nonetheless had hatched a plan to put him back on the streets.

His scheme included talking to the authorities about a murder-for-hire plot that involved his former cell mate, Steve Ennis, and that cell mate's mate's girlfriend, Jennifer Marcum, 25, of Denver, a stripper and the mother of a 4-year-old child who, police would learn, had befriended Kimball. At the time, the FBI was investigating a sizeable ecstasy operation in the Denver area, and Kimball assured investigators that he could join up with the drug ringleaders and provide information to the FBI. By December 2002, Kimball had convinced the FBI that he would make a good paid informant.

Jennifer Marcum
Jennifer Marcum

The FBI agreed, in part, to Kimball's proposal, becoming involved because of the possible murder-for-hire scenario. Marcum, it turned out, had been a potential witness in a Drug Enforcement Administration methamphetamine case against Ennis, and Ennis allegedly wanted another potential witness against him killed and made plans to use Marcum to get the job done. Before the year ended, Kimball's plan had worked, and he was back on the streets, minimally supervised.

Within a few months of Kimball's release, Jennifer Marcum disappeared. Then, between August 2003 and September 2004, Kimball's uncle, Terry Kimball, 60, disappeared, along with Kaysi McLeod, 19, of Lafayette, Colo., and LeAnn Emery, 24, of Aurora. Terry Kimball was originally from Georgia, but was believed to have been living with his nephew in Colorado at the time of his disappearance. Before the investigation of this twisted case was all over, authorities would learn that Scott Kimball had married Lori McLeod, the unsuspecting mother of Kaysi McLeod, in Las Vegas, Nev., shortly after getting out of prison, and the newlyweds then spent their honeymoon camping in the area where Kaysi's remains would eventually be found.

An Investigation Begins

Although a number of people were involved in the investigation of Scott Lee Kimball, FBI Special Agent Jonathan D. Grusing and Lafayette Police Department Detective Gary Thatcher were among the primary investigators involved in clearing the difficult, convoluted case. They were assisted by several federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Colorado and other states. Grusing came on board on November 9, 2006, after Kimball had become a suspect in the four murders, when he was assigned by the FBI's Denver office to investigate the murder-for-hire allegations surrounding the disappearance of Jennifer Marcum.

Jennifer Marcum
Jennifer Marcum
During his review of the FBI's case file on Ennis, Grusing learned that Kimball had told Carle Schlaff of the FBI's Denver office on June 29, 2003, that Marcum had been murdered by one of Ennis's associates because of the fear that she would testify against Ennis in the methamphetamine case. Kimball also reportedly had stated that he had been asked by an Ennis associate to dig up Marcum's body, which he claimed was located somewhere near Rifle, Colo., to recover her breast implants and an intrauterine device—each of which, he believed, contained serial numbers that could be used to help police identify her body. Whether or not the story was true remained to be seen, but investigators soon came to think that Kimball was concerned that the items might link Marcum's body to him rather than to Ennis's associate.

As Grusing continued his review of the case file, he learned that Jennifer Marcum's cellular phone had last been used on February 17, 2003 at 9:30 p.m., and that her 1996 Saturn sedan, supposedly given to her by Steven Ennis, had been noticed by officers of the Denver Police Department in a parking lot at Denver International Airport during the early morning hours of the following day. Follow-up inquiries made by the local police revealed that Marcum had not been scheduled on any outbound flights although Kimball later claimed that she had traveled to New York City to purchase a handgun that supposedly was to have been used to shoot the federal witness who was planning to testify against Ennis.

It seemed noteworthy to Grusing and others that cell phones belonging to Jennifer Marcum and Scott Kimball had not been used from February 17, 2003 to February 20, 2003, even though both of their phones had been used significantly to call each other prior to February 17, 2003. When Kimball was later asked about his whereabouts on those dates, he claimed that he had taken a trip to the mountains near Craig, Colo. He remained evasive about what he had been doing in that area.


Two Fathers Prod the Cops into Action

Meanwhile, according to ABC News, the fathers of Jennifer Marcum and Kaysi McLeod began their own inquiries into their daughters' disappearances due to what had seemed to them to be a lack of interest by law enforcement in the missing person's cases: Jennifer worked as a stripper and had ties to a known drug dealer; Kaysi had a history of drug problems and had left home a number of times after she had turned 18. Bob Marcum, Jennifer's father, and Rob McLeod, Kaysi's dad, took matters into their own hands to move their daughters' cases along.

Kaysi and her father Rob McLeod
Kaysi and her father Rob McLeod
Bob Marcum began posting billboards with Jennifer's photo that asked for information about the missing young woman, and appeared on television news programs to further publicize her mysterious disappearance. While Marcum appealed for information, it was Kaysi McLeod's best friend, Tabetha Morton, who had made a connection between Scott Kimball and Kaysi. Morton called Rob McLeod in 2005 and told him that Kimball "went missing when Kaysi did." Kimball by that time was married to Kaysi's mother, Lori McLeod, which is how Morton had come to know about him.

Rob McLeod immediately began searching for additional information about Kimball, and in June 2005 discovered a news article about Jennifer Marcum's disappearance. After reading in stunned disbelief that Jennifer had last been seen with Kimball, McLeod began tracking down Jennifer's family, who resided in Illinois.

Terry Kimball
Terry Kimball
A short time later, the McLeods and the Marcums met to compare information about Kimball and his relationship to their daughters. Lori McLeod told Bob Marcum everything she knew about Kimball and what he had said about Jennifer, and the two families drove together to a number of locations that they believed to be connected with their daughters' disappearances. Hoping for a clue that could shed some light on what had happened, they nonetheless came up empty-handed.

However, during one of their discussions, the two families realized that a third person connected to Kimball had gone missing—Terry Kimball, Scott Kimball's uncle. Lori McLeod related how Terry had moved in with her and Scott, but that Uncle Terry had inexplicably left on September 1, 2004, never to be seen again. When Lori had asked Scott where Terry had gone, Kimball told her that Terry had won the lottery and had taken his girlfriend to Mexico.

After they had pieced their information together and had a clear picture that three people with a connection to Scott Kimball had disappeared without a trace, Rob McLeod and Bob Marcum went to the FBI. After a bit of prodding, they eventually convinced the FBI to take their information and allegations seriously.

A Former Cell Mate Talks to the FBI

During an interview with Grusing on November 18, 2006, Bob Marcum related that he and Jennifer's mother, Mary Willis, had met with Scott Kimball in August 2005. During that meeting, Kimball had said that he knew precisely where Jennifer's body was buried, and that he could take them to the location in the mountains because he wanted her to have a "good Christian burial." Marcum and Willis, however, did not trust Kimball and declined his offer.

Scott Lee Kimball
Scott Lee Kimball
"I figured he was a killer, and I wasn't going anywhere with him," Marcum told ABC News. "I figured I'd end up dead after the things that he said."

Grusing met with Marcum and Willis a number of times during the course of the investigation, and learned that Kimball had told Jennifer's parents that their daughter's body was buried near Rifle, Colo.

On January 25, 2007, Grusing and LPD Detective Gary Thatcher traveled to the Missoula County Detention Facility in Missoula, Mont., where they interviewed one of Kimball's former cellmates. According to the former cellmate, Kimball had asked him if he thought that fake breasts could be traced. The cellmate replied that the name of the manufacturer and the serial number were located inside the implants to allow tracing in the event of liability lawsuits. During that conversation, Kimball had reportedly said, "I know a guy that will pay you to cut implants out of a dead body." When the cell mate asked Kimball why anyone would be concerned about implants when a body would have fingerprints, footprints, teeth, and a skull, Kimball responded, "You cut off the feet, head and hands and there's no trace of it."

Kimball also told the cellmate that the woman in question was buried in the mountains. He apparently had not mentioned which state she was buried in, and while it was not known whether he had dismembered Jennifer Marcum's body when he disposed of it, the implication was that the breast implants and IUD had become a concern to him. Although it was not known how Kimball had learned of Jennifer's breast implants and IUD, it was possible that he had learned of them during his dealings with her former boyfriend, Steve Ennis. At one point, however, Kimball related information implicating another man in Jennifer's death, and said that it had been the killer who had been willing to pay Kimball to remove her breast implants and IUD.


LeAnn Emry

LeAnn Emry
LeAnn Emry
LeAnn Emry, 24, disappeared without a trace in January 2003 after checking out of a hotel in Colorado. Her mother and father, Howard and Darlene Emry, last saw LeAnn on January 16, 2003, when she packed her suitcases into her car for what was supposed to have been a spelunking expedition to Mexico. Exploring caves had been one of her favorite pastimes, and had seemingly helped her get through a short and unhappy marriage. Although she had faced difficulties with a bipolar disorder throughout much of her young life, her parents recalled being happy for her as she set off on the trip from which she would not return.

"Every weekend, every spare moment she had, LeAnn had been going caving, so this was not out of the ordinary," her father told a reporter for the Idaho Statesman.

Two weeks later, however, a sheriff's deputy from Moab, Utah, called her parents to report that her car had been found abandoned along a dirt road near Book Cliffs.

"When he told me was a shock," her father said. "I just felt sick to my stomach."

Although her parents filed a missing persons report in Arapahoe County, Colo., where they resided at the time, they were told that LeAnn was likely a runaway and that there was nothing to indicate foul play. As such, there would not be an investigation, unless a body was found, although her purse and some other belongings had been found inside her car. Her credit cards, however, were missing. With the help of banks and credit card companies, Howard and Darlene Emry were able to recreate a 10-day trail of gasoline charges that led through Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada. It was clear that she had not gone to Mexico, and her parents were left wondering whether she had made the charges to her cards of if someone else had done so. The main purchases made with them had been gasoline.

LeAnn's E-mail

Eleven days after leaving home, LeAnn called her parents for the final time, saying that she would be staying in Mexico a little longer. Based on what he had already learned from putting together a timeline based on her credit card charges, her father knew that her comment about being in Mexico was not the truth. He eventually learned that the call had been placed in Colorado, and that she had mailed a gift certificate to her sister from the same location.

Then a glimmer of hope surfaced. Howard Emry learned that one of LeAnn's credit cards had been used in California a few days after her car had been found abandoned, leaving him with the thought that his daughter was still alive. However, his hopes were dashed when he obtained the credit card receipts and found that the signatures on them were not LeAnn's. It also turned out that the credit card charges in California had been made by a prostitute who told investigators that she had received the credit card in question from a man as payment for sexual services.

A short time later, her parents learned that she had been corresponding with a relative in Idaho via e-mail a few weeks before she disappeared. In one of those e-mails she wrote: "I have to orders come from Hanable...and he's a dangerous person...." In another e-mail she wrote: "I'm in an underground world." In yet another she wrote: "If Hanable knew I was talking to you, he'd...have me killed in a second. Plus, he'd have you killed too."

It was clear to Howard and Darlene Emry that their daughter was involved in something that was troubling her, but they had no idea what the dark secret was that she was concealing from them. They considered that she may have been trying to protect them from whatever it was that she was involved in. Although the Emrys contacted their local law enforcement and the FBI, no one wanted to open an investigation to the mystery that surrounded LeAnn's disappearance.


Five Years Later

On October 30, 2007, Grusing contacted the Emrys after they relocated to Idaho and asked to speak to LeAnn about a possible suspect in an ongoing homicide investigation. Howard Emry explained that LeAnn had been missing for nearly five years.

"He didn't say anything for a while," Emry said. "I think it was just a shock to him that there was another person to add to the list."

Howard Emry explained to Grusing that through his own investigation he learned that LeAnn had been introduced to a man who called himself "Hannibal." According to what he had learned, "Hannibal" had befriended LeAnn and had assisted her in writing a series of bad checks and misusing her credit cards, and that the activity had continued until the time her car was found abandoned near Moab, Utah.

LeAnn Emry
LeAnn Emry
The following day, Grusing and Detective Thatcher followed up on some of the information obtained from Howard Emry, including the fact that LeAnn's boyfriend at the time of her death was an inmate who had been housed on the same cellblock as Kimball in late 2002. Kimball apparently had concocted a plan to help LeAnn's boyfriend escape from prison so they could unite in Mexico. Kimball instructed the inmate to refer to him as "Hannibal" in his dealings with LeAnn so that she would not be privy to his real name.

Within days of the planned escape, LeAnn's boyfriend had been placed in solitary confinement for poor behavior and had been unable to speak to LeAnn. Later, after learning the circumstances of LeAnn's disappearance, the boyfriend told Grusing that he knew that Kimball had taken her and probably killed her. Grusing showed LeAnn's boyfriend a photo of a young girl with long, brown hair, dated January 18, 2003, obtained during a search of Kimball's laptop computer. By the time of his interview with LeAnn's boyfriend, Kimball had been arrested for a violation of the conditions of his release and was back in jail on a variety of charges, and Grusing took advantage of the situation to gain access to Kimball's computer. The inmate confirmed that the photo was of LeAnn, but said that her hair was blond the last time he saw her.

Kimball's Computer

A search of Kimball's computer turned up hundreds of photos depicting violent rape pornography. The images were of women who were tied up or were in the process of being bound, gagged, and assaulted with a variety of weapons. Although most of the images had been downloaded from the Internet, some were not—including images of LeAnn.

The implications of the photos were sordid, but Grusing and other investigators did not share the precise details of what they had found, particularly with regard to the images of LeAnn.

"It is not necessary," Howard Emry said. "She was going through hell. She was going through terrible, terrible things. I don't need to know any more. I just feel very bad that I wasn't able to help her."

Grusing and others had been successful in tracing Kimball's and LeAnn's movements together in the Denver area from January 1-16, 2003, and in the states of Oregon and Washington from January 17-19, 2003, using motel receipts, phone records, credit card receipts, and check records. Grusing also discovered that LeAnn had purchased Kimball's laptop for him at a Best Buy in Lakewood, Colo., on January 10, 2003, for $1,684.73, using her bank debit card. The same method of investigation placed them together in Wyoming from January 24-25, 2003.


Plea Bargain

Kaysi Dawn McLeod
Kaysi Dawn McLeod

In a complicated plea bargain arrangement that was worked out in early 2009 after being charged with four murders, Scott Lee Kimball was allowed to plead guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Terry Kimball, Jennifer Marcum, LeAnn Emry and Kaysi McLeod, in part so that the victims' families could have some semblance of closure. One of the counts pertained to Terry Kimball's murder, and the second count pertained to the murders of Marcum, Emry, and McLeod. As part of the plea bargain, Kimball also agreed to assist authorities in locating his victims' remains.

As a result, the remains LeAnn Emry were found on Wednesday, March 11, 2009, in the Book Cliffs region of southeastern Utah. On Monday, June 29, 2009, remains believed to be those of Terry Kimball were found in a remote area of Vail Pass. A year earlier, on Tuesday, September 30, 2008, a hunter had discovered a skull and other bones in a remote area of northwest Colorado. The FBI subsequently confirmed that the skull and bones were those of Kaysi McLeod. Marcum's remains have not been found, even though Lori McLeod told FBI agents that Kimball told her that Marcum's remains were near Rifle, Colo. She explained that she and Kimball had been passing through Rifle on their way to Denver from Las Vegas when Kimball told her that he worked for the FBI and was involved in a case that involved Marcum's murder.

Terry Kimball
Terry Kimball

After being sentenced in 2008 to 53 years in prison on theft and a number of other charges, Kimball was sentenced on Thursday, October 8, 2009, to an additional 70 years in prison for his guilty pleas to second-degree murder. Although the 43-year-old serial murderer believes he will one day get out of prison on parole, the Colorado Department of Corrections lists his estimated parole eligibility date as July 28, 2056, at which time Kimball would be 89.



I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".

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Reply with quote  #67 



BTK - Birth of a Serial Killer

Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and recognized as one of the major mid-sized cities in the nation.  Founded in 1868, the city enshrined the name of Wichita Indians, who had made that area their home.

Wichita, Kansas
Wichita, Kansas

The people of Wichita take great pride in their community, a fact which has earned the city the national distinction of "All American City" not once, but three times.  Home to Boeing, Cessna, Learjet and Ratheon, the city has also been nicknamed the  "Air Capital of the World." 

In this booming city with one of the best economies in the nation, something terrible was born. It's hard to say just when it happened and how long it took to reach maturity. No doubt it began as a fantasy, an angry internal cauldron of hate and frustration. Slowly, the fantasy became an obsession that demanded fulfilment. The planning and execution of this seminal event took over his conscious thought. Just once, he told himself, and then he would be free of this overwhelming need. It wouldn't be necessary to ever risk doing it again. 

But he was deluding himself. The trophies, the photos, and the memories were poor substitutes for the electrifying thrill and release of the act itself. The power he felt when he held a life in his hands was unparalleled. There just had to be some way to continue what he was doing without getting caught. Stopping was not exactly an option he had to consider.

Of course there was a way. For someone with his intellect, there was always a way. Cops are stupid, he knew that. No match for him. No Harvard graduates there on the Wichita police force. If he was careful, there was no reason for him not to indulge himself as many times as he wished. Truth be told, that element of danger added to his excitement and kept him on his guard.


On January 15, 1974, a chilly winter day, 15-year-old Charlie Otero began his afternoon walk home from school.  Charlie, his parents, and four siblings had recently moved into a quiet peaceful suburban neighborhood in a small frame house located at 803 North Edgemoor Street.

Charlie, happy that another school day had come to an end, walked gingerly up the side walk towards his home.  As he opened the front door and walked into the living room, nothing immediately seemed out of the ordinary. "Hello, is anyone home?" he called out into the quiet house.  There was no response.  Not even a bark from his dog. Such quiet was unusual. With some trepidation, Charlie walked toward his parents' bedroom.  A strange feeling of dread welled up inside him.

Julie Otero
Julie Otero
Charlie's father, Joseph, 38, was lying face down on the floor at the foot of his bed; his wrists and ankles had been bound.  His mother, Julie, 34, lay on the bed bound in similar fashion, only she had been gagged.  For a few seconds, Charlie could not move, he didn't know what to do.  Moments later his senses came back to him and he rushed out in desperation to get help for his parents, not realizing that he had experienced only a portion of the horror that the house had in store.

Joseph Otero
Joseph Otero
A neighbor who came over to the house to help realized that when he tried to call the police, the phone lines had been severed.

Joseph Otero II
Joseph Otero II
As the police searched the house, they were shocked to find nine-year-old Joseph II in his bedroom face down on the floor at the foot of his bed.  His wrists and ankles were also bound, the only difference being that over his head was a hood -- and according to one reporter, he had three hoods covering his head.

Josephine Otero
Josephine Otero
The worst was yet to come. Downstairs in the basement, Charlie's eleven-year-old sister, Josephine, was discovered hanging by her neck from a pipe; she was partially nude, dressed only in a sweatshirt and socks, and she had been gagged.

Investigators were stunned at this daytime execution-style multiple murder in such a quiet neighborhood.

From the very beginning of this case, police have been very cautious about revealing the details of the murders. What they did say was that all four of the victims had been strangled with lengths of cord cut from a Venetian blind. There were no cords like that in he house, so the killer had brought the cords, hoods, tape, wire cutters and possibly a gun with him.

According to Capt. Paul Dotson of the Wichita Police Department, semen was found throughout the house, and it appeared as though the killer had masturbated on some of the victims, although none had been sexually assaulted.  Joseph Otero's watch was missing from the scene and has never been recovered.  Aside from Julie Otero's purse being dumped and the missing watch, there was no real evidence of forced entry, robbery, or a struggle.

The coroner determined that all four murders occurred well before noon and very likely around 8 or nine in the morning. Police theorized that while Joseph Otero was driving the older three children to school that the murderer gained entry into the house where Julie and her two younger children were by themselves. Once the killer subdued and bound the three of them, he waited for Joseph to come home to take the younger two children to school and caught him by surprise. Someone had put the Oteros' notoriously unfriendly large dog out in back of the house.

The killer hung around for about an hour an a half, then took the Otero family car and left it parked near Dillons grocery not far away. Otero's neighbors noticed a man, possibly with a dark complexion, leaving Otero's home in their car.

The Otero's car was discovered in Oliver Square's parking lot
The Otero's car was discovered in Oliver Square's parking lot

Police initially wondered just who these Oteros were and what they had done to warrant this brutal execution. Several things they learned suggested motives, but nothing conclusive.

Joseph Otero had been born in Puerto Rico and, after moving to the States, began a career in the military. Just before his death, he had retired from the Air Force where he was a flight instructor and mechanic. He was physically very fit and was an excellent boxer. His colleagues liked him and no one could voice a motive for his slaying.

The same type of report came back on Julie. She had recently been caught in a downsizing at Coleman Company, but she would have been rehired when business picked up again. She, too, was a friendly person and a very good mother. Like her husband, she was very accomplished in the art of self-defense. She had extensive training in judo.

A police sketch of the man believed to have been seen in the area
A police sketch of the man believed to have been seen in the area
The Otero children were very good in school and were liked by the people who knew them. They, too, took up the family sport of judo and were well beyond the average when it came to self defense.

So, what to make of this case? This brilliantly planned and orchestrated crime which required surveillance, perfect timing, and the ability to subdue a group of people who were normally more than capable to defending themselves. It had the hallmarks of a military operation, but then there were these nagging details that the police didn't want to discuss. Police Chief Floyd Hannon told the Wichita Eagle in January of 1974 that "the way in which family members were slain indicates a fetish on the part of the assailant."  


In October of 1974, just nine months after the Otero family murders, the Wichita Eagle's Don Granger received an anonymous call, presumably from the Otero killer himself.  The caller directed him to a mechanical engineering textbook in the Wichita Public Library.  Inside the book, Granger found a letter claiming credit for the killings of the Joseph Otero family, and promising more victims.  The authenticity of the letter was not in doubt since it contained details that only the police and killer knew.

The letter was addressed to the "Secret Witness Program" under which people with information about a crime could pass on that information to police through the newspaper and remain anonymous. Investigators immediately requested that the letter be withheld from the public in an attempt to prevent a string of false confessions. The Wichita Eagle complied with the police request.

However, Cathy Henkel, a reporter for a 2-month-old rival newspaper called the Wichita Sun, received a copy of the letter and printed part of it in an article she wrote on Dec 11, 1974, some 11 months after the crime had been committed.

The killer wrote that the three individuals being questioned for the Otero murders were not involved. The following excerpts with their many misspellings and grammatical errors were printed in the Sun :

"I write this letter to you for the sake of the tax payer as well as your time. Those three dude you have in custody are just talking to get publicity for the Otero murders. They know nothing at all. I did it by myself and with no ones help. There has been no talk either. Let's put this straight...." The killer provides details of the crimes and crime scene that were not published in the paper.

"I'm sorry this happen to society. They are the ones who suffer the most. It hard to control myself. You probably call me 'psychotic with sexual perversion hang-up.' When this monster enter my brain I will never know. But, it here to stay. How does one cure himself? If you ask for help, that you have killed four people they will laugh or hit the panic button and call the cops.

"I can't stop it so the monster goes on, and hurt me as well as society. Society can be thankful that there are ways for people like me to relieve myself at time by day dreams of some victims being torture and being mine. It a big complicated game my friend of the monster play putting victims number down, follow them, checking up on them, waiting in the dark, waiting, waiting.... the pressure is great and sometimes he run the game to his liking. Maybe you can stop him. I can't. He has already chosen his next victim or victims. I don't know who they are yet. The next day after I read the paper, I will know, but it to late. Good luck hunting.


Although the letter was unsigned, it contained this postscript:

"P.S. Since sex criminals do not change their M.O. or by nature cannot do so, I will not change mine. The code word for me will be....Bind them, toture them, kill them, B.T.K., you see he at it again. They will be on the next victim."

B.T.K., despite a few feeble attempts to appear to have a weak grip on the English language, is quite well educated and is a reasonably good speller when he is not trying to deceive his audience. He has no trouble with words like "psychotic," "complicated," and "perversion." He has also done quite a bit of reading about the criminal psychology of that era. The famous letters from California's Zodiac Killer and the Jack the Ripper letters were well known from newspapers and books. Interestingly, the Zodiac began his murder series on October 30, 1966 and wrote his first letter to the police almost one month later on November 29, 1966. Even more interesting is the fact that the Zodiac, after three years of silence, sent the first of a series of four letters to the San Francisco Chronicle on January 29, 1974. Chances are that B.T.K. had read about this in the newspaper and decided to open the lines of communication with the media and police.

Kathryn Bright
Kathryn Bright
The Wichita Eagle reported that on April 4, 1974, just three months after the Otero murders, Kathryn Bright, 20, and her brother Kevin, 19, went to her home at 3217 E. 13th Street at approximately 1 p.m.  There was an intruder hiding in the house, waiting for her to return. 

The intruder told them he needed money and a car to escape from the California police. At gun point, Kevin was forced to tie his sister to a chair and was then taken to another room where he to was tied up and gagged. A few minutes later, the man tried to stangle Kevin with a rope, but Kevin resisted and was shot twice in the head. He heard sounds of distress from his sister in the next room. Kevin managed to escape and get help for his sister, but she died five hours after being taken to the hospital with three stab wounds in her abdomen.

Police also noted that the Kathryn was partially undressed and that there was obvious ligature activity around her neck. Kevin assisted the police in sketching a likeness of the intruder, but he was not identified. Police did not associate B.T.K. with this crime at that point in time.

Shirley Vian
Shirley Vian
Three years later on March 17, 1977, Wichita police were dispatched to 1311 South Hydraulic Street. Upon arrival, police entered the home and discovered 26-year-old Shirley Vian dead.  She lay on her bed partially undressed, hands and feet bound, a plastic bag draped over her head.  Upon removing the bag investigators noted the BTK's signature cord wrapped tightly around her neck.  The armed intruder had locked Shirley's three children in the closet. The children eventually managed to free themselves and call police.

Authorities remove Vian's body from crime scene
Authorities remove Vian's body from crime scene
Again, investigators believed that the crime was premeditated. The incident occurred during the daytime and there was no sign of forced entry.  The killer had stopped one of the victim's sons on the street that morning, and showed him photographs of a woman and child, purportedly seeking directions to their home.

Different Worlds Collide

The town of Wichita was by now in a blind panic. Hundreds of people coming home for the evening would regularly check to see if their telephone lines had been cut (a BTK trademark).  Working women hurried home and locked their doors.  BTK was quickly becoming a ghost story told to newcomers at parties and bars.

Nancy Fox
Nancy Fox
On Dec. 8, 1977, BTK placed a call to the emergency hotline  "Go to this address," he told an emergency dispatcher, "You will find a homicide - Nancy Fox."   Investigators were able to quickly trace the call to a downtown phone booth, where witnesses indistinctly recalled a blond man, approximately six feet tall, using the phone booth moments earlier.  Unfortunately, the quality of the recording was too poor for investigators to perform any type of voice analysis.

Following the caller's instructions, officers rushed to 843 S. Pershing.  Upon arrival, investigators immediately noticed that a window had been broken, allowing entry to the home.  Upon entering the apartment house, officers discovered 25-year-old Nancy Jo Fox dead in her bedroom, a nylon stocking twisted around her neck.  Unlike previous victims, she was fully clothed. Fox's driver's license (like Joseph Otero's watch) was missing from the scene.  Again, investigators theorized that the killer took the license as a memento of the crime.  The murder had occurred at night, semen was found at the scene, but an autopsy later revealed that Fox had not been sexually assaulted.

Vanishing Act

As abruptly as they started, the killings appeared to have ended in 1977.  It seemed as though BTK had vanished.  Or had he?

Eula West, a receptionist at the Sedgwick County Courthouse, recalls, "I was taking all precautions, and everybody I heard talking about it did too." Many people refused to go outside at night for weeks. Some people bought firearms.

On January 31, 1978, BTK mailed a letter to the Wichita Eagle-Beacon. Within the letter was a short poem about Shirley Vian, who was murdered in March 1977.  However, it was accidentally routed to the advertising department by mistake and it went overlooked for days.

"It seemed as though every day we were waiting to see what would happen next," said Rose Stanley, who began work at a Wichita TV station just before the killings began. "He would choke the person almost to the point of death. Then he would let them come back. Then he would strangle them to death."

The Wichita Eagle Newspaper building
The Wichita Eagle Newspaper building
Distraught at the lack of publicity, BTK wrote another letter on February 10, 1978 to a local television station.  "How many do I have to kill," he wrote, "before I get my name in the paper or some national attention?"  In this latest letter, the strangler claimed to have murdered seven victims, naming Nancy Jo Fox as the latest.  Number seven remained nameless, adding, "You guess the motive and the victims."  According to The Wichita Eagle newspaper, even though investigators were unable to document the killer's claim, they took his word - announced acceptance of the body count - and assumed that the seventh unnamed victim was Kathryn Bright.  In addition to these claims, the killer blamed his crimes on "a demon" and a mysterious "factor X", he compared his work with that of Jack the Ripper, the Hillside Stranglers, and Son of Sam.

He claimed that he was sorry for the murders and that a monster had entered his brain. He also warned that he had chosen his next victim.

Until March of 2004, the last confirmed BTK incident took place on April 28, 1979, when he waited inside a house in the 600 block of South Pinecrest for the 63-year-old owner to come home. When she did not show up, BTK became angry and sent the woman a note along with one of her scarves.  "Be glad you weren't here," he wrote, "because I was." 

''I think people were really scared, especially if you were a woman living alone, which I was at the time," said Kathy Page-Hauptman, director of performing arts at the Wichita Center for the Arts.

The BTK investigation was dormant through most of the early 1980s with no new leads or tips.

Ghost Busters

In 1983 two teams of detectives were assigned to reinvestigate the murders.  They set out on a cross-country trip, collecting saliva and blood samples from over 200 people that had been flagged by their computer as prime suspects in the case.  The samples collected were all voluntary, only five of the men refused.  The blood tests ultimately eliminated all but 12 of the names on the list (including the five who refused the tests).

In July of 1984, investigators, set up a task force, nicknamed "The Ghostbusters" and hired a computer consultant to work with them in an attempt to try and discover the identity of BTK.  After assembling their massive collection of DNA evidence, seven years after the last murder, investigators finished entering their data into an IBM computer, and a list of suspects began to spew out.

"The Ghostbusters" task force discovered some of the most promising evidence during their investigation.  One of the most startling clues was the revelation of one similarity, all of the murders occurred within 3 1/2 miles of one another.  This led investigators to believe that the BTK strangler only felt comfortable killing in areas that were familiar to him.

During the fall of 1984, one of the task force investigators took the February 10, 1978 BTK letter to Xerox headquarters in Syracuse, New York.  There a lab technician concluded that the letter was a fifth-generation copy of the original, which would make it virtually impossible to trace.  In addition, the technician went on to state that the machine used to generate the copy was located at the Wichita State University library.

During the investigation into the letters, the contents of the poems were also regarded as clues.  It was soon discovered that the Vian poem was patterned after a "Curly Locks" nursery rhyme that had only just appeared in Games, a puzzle magazine.  After making this startling discovery, investigators obtained a list of all the subscribers to the magazine in question.

The Fox poem, titled "Oh Death to Nancy," had been patterned after a poem entitled Oh Death which had been published in a Wichita State University textbook.  The book had previously been used in an American folklore class; hence, investigators obtained a copy of the class roster.

Law enforcement officials have not yet released BTK's letters to the public. When asked to typify them, Capt. Paul Dotson stated, "Here I am. Pay attention."

Using all of the available evidence obtained, investigators soon began to assemble lists of every white male that lived within a quarter-mile of the Oteros' house in or around January 1974.  Investigators also made similar lists for the Vian, Fox and Bright homes.  In addition, task force investigators compiled lists of men living within 1 1/4 miles of each of the victim's homes; they also assembled lists of white male students who attended Wichita state University between 1974 and 1979.  The smallest list contained the names of eight people who had checked out the mechanical engineering textbook from the library where the Otero letter was found.

Detectives decided that the most significant of all were the address lists. ''The main crux of our search always was geographical," said Lt. Kenneth Landwehr of the Wichita Police Department.  "According to the behavioral scientists, the individual lived close to where he was striking."

Lt. Kenneth Landwehr at a press conference
Lt. Kenneth Landwehr at a press conference
Once the lists were completed, investigators used their computer to try to come up with a more precise list of suspects.  The computer gave them 225 possible suspects, most of whom no longer resided in Wichita. One by one, the detectives set out to eliminate each of the 225 possible suspects.

One of the key pieces of evidence that the killer left behind was his semen.  Lab technicians were able to determine that it was a type of semen found in fewer than 6 percent of all males.  Police will not comment as to the type, citing their rules of evidence.

The Next Step

Although the two-year investigation ended without an arrest, the knowledge gained and some of the samples collected formed the of the basis for the work of the squad.

''We tried a hundred thousand theories," now retired Lt. Al Stewart said.  "We checked house numbers, the victims' length of residency, the phases of the moon, we read books, looking for arcane connections to mythology, witchcraft and demonology."

On Oct. 31, 1987, the body of 15-year-old Shannon Olson was found dumped in a pond in an industrial area, partially disrobed and stabbed numerous times.  Her hands and feet were bound. The murder sparked off an outbreak of letters to the police and media suggesting the BTK Strangler committed the crime.

On Dec. 31, 1987, Mary Fager, the married mother of two daughters, returned to her Wichita home after spending 2 1/2 days out of town.  Upon entering her house, she discovered her husband, Phillip Fager, dead; he had been shot twice in the back.  Her two daughters, 16-year-old Kelli and 10-year-old Sherri, were both found strangled in the hot tub situated in the basement of the home.  Sherri's hands and feet were bound with black electrical tape, which later washed loose.  Kelli Fager was nude.

Soon after the Fager murders, someone wrote a letter to Mary Fager, claiming to be the BTK Strangler.  The letter declared that while he had not committed the murders he was a fan of whoever had.  FBI experts said they cannot irrefutably say that the letter came from BTK, but one source involved in the investigation who saw the letter himself, states that there is no doubt in his mind that it was authentic.  "It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck," the source stated.

According to Lt. Landwehr, a local contractor stated to police that he went to the Fager house, where he was doing construction work, and discovered the father's body.  He went on to claim that he had heard some noise in the house and fled in the family's car.  The contractor was arrested in Florida four days later.  According to Landwehr, the man claimed he had a total blank of the events that had occurred.

The contractor was arrested and subsequently charged with the Fager murders. However, a jury acquitted him of all charges.

Lt. Landwehr said they have closed the Fager case because they are confident that the contractor was the killer.

Cold Case Squad

In 1991, the Wichita Police Department assembled a cold case squad when police received a new lead in the BTK murders.  Although the lead fizzled, Capt. Paul Dotson will not disclose the nature of the tip.

"I believe he is still probably in this community," Mike McKenna, a former Wichita police detective, said.

In 1997, Robert Ressler, a former FBI veteran who first applied the term "serial killer", helped outline a profile of BTK.  Ressler said the man was probably a graduate student or a professor in the criminal justice field at WSU in Kansas, was most likely in his mid-to-late-20s at the time of the killings and was an avid reader of books and newspaper stories concerning serial murders.  Additionally, because his pattern of killings has not been seen in Wichita since the '70s, he has "left the area, died or is in a mental institution or prison," Ressler said.

Robert K. Ressler
Robert K. Ressler
"I've learned that if man gets the opportunity, he will do devious things," Ressler said. "He has a dark side, whether it's poisoning his neighbor's roses or killing his neighbor."

In February of 1998, Police Chief Richard LaMunyon said in an interview that a "typewritten, rambling communiqué, which purports to be from BTK" received by police about a week after the Fager murders has no connection to the Dec. 30 murders of Phillip Fager, and his daughters.  LaMunyon said a continuing investigation has not yet confirmed whether the serial killer sent the letter.  LaMunyon went on to say that the department does sporadically receive bogus letters from people claiming to be the BTK strangler.

As 1988 came to a close, a former BTK task force detective, Al Thimmesch, retired.  Al says he regrets never solving the murders. ''One of the things that bugged me was BTK," he said. "It was one that I worked on for a long time."

Investigators call BTK fastidious, calculating and meticulous; with a strong possibility that he may be heard from again.  "This type of personality doesn't stop voluntarily," said Wichita Police Capt. Paul Dotson.  "This type of person continues to kill."

Sedgwick County Sheriff Mike Hill, who worked on the 1978 probe, said, "It's sad to say the only way that we'll ever find out who this individual is will be we'll have to have a victim."  Nevertheless, Stewart hopes that some day a beat cop will stumble onto the BTK still savoring his press clippings or souvenirs.

Obsession by John Douglas
Obsession by John Douglas
FBI Profiler John Douglas in the book Obsession has a chapter on the BTK strangler. It is the chapter called "Motivation X".  Within the book, Douglas states that there were no defensive wounds found on any of the victims, assuming that the killer used a gun to control them.  He further stated that the killer's letters to the police had so much detail that he is convinced that the perpetrator had taken his own crime scene photos in order to have a keepsake of the crime to fantasize about later.

Douglas states that the killer used police lingo in his letters - Douglas thinks he may actually be a cop, or may impersonate a cop - he probably reads detective magazines and may have even bought a police badge.  He would attempt to insert himself in the investigation.  He would be tempted to brag or leave hints about what he had done.

Douglas states that the killer was in all probability a loner, inadequate, in his 20s or 30s, might possibly have an arrest record for break-ins or voyeurism, but probably no actual rapes.

Douglas further states that the perpetrator may have stopped killing because he is in jail for something else, or a mental hospital, may have died, or maybe he injected himself so closely into the investigation, he got scared.  It is even a possibility that the memories and photographs are enough for him to contain his obsession.


On August 4, 2000, David Lohr contacted Dr. Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, President of the Violent Crimes Institute, and asked her to draw up a profile of the killer based on the information at hand. The profile read as follows:

"From the information provided to me which is limited (no crimes scene photos, police report, etc), I have constructed the most likely type of person to have committed the murders in the 1970s. I do not believe the murders from the 80s were connected."

  1. Single, white male 28-30
  2. Resided near Oteros or spent time in the area to form fantasy about Josephine (this was his main target). Lived in a house, not apartment.
  3. Over 6'1, tall and trim. Neat in appearance with short hair. Clothes darker by choice.
  4. Considered quiet and conservative by those who would know him. Modest. I believe people would mistake him as kind because of his quiet demeanor. But he suffers from extreme pathology -- psychopath. 

    There are no voices or demons. This man knew exactly what he was doing. 

    He was and, if alive, still would be an extremely sad individual. Sad for himself and his pain. Completely self-absorbed.

    Because I did not have access to the letters, his job status is questionable to me. I do feel that his job was very secondary to him. Money was not important either. His compulsion to kill was and ALWAYS would be number 1. He would not be satisfied with fantasy. He would be forced to act. Therefore, I find it hard to believe that he did not kill between 1974 and 1977. If there were no murders in Kansas at that time, he was someplace else.

    He was very immature -- the games, magazines, choice of child target. The fact that he did not sexually assault lends credence to this. He masturbated on the victims but did not rape.

    At the same time, he is very patient in his crimes, stalking and killing without detection. This makes him a paradox, which in and of itself would be disturbing even to him.
    I do feel like he is very comfortable with books and would have many of them in his home. Not just a few, many, many books. True crime as well as books, which feed his fantasies. I feel as if they would be found all over his house. He was smart, highly intelligent.

    This is not someone who is heavily into drugs/alcohol. They do not cause his crimes. He may drink at times, but that would not be an excuse for the murders.
  5. He had a car, which would have been dark in color as well. However, this is a person who would enjoy walking around neighborhoods looking at people and victims.
  6. Due to his immaturity, he would be comfortable with people much younger than him. He would not have many friends, only acquaintances who really do not know him. All of his relationships would be superficial. He would not be married, and any history with women would be short-lived and meaningless.

This is not a person who would stop killing on his own. There are 3 reasons to stop:

  1. Death
  2. Prison
  3. Too disabled or sick to kill

Period. This is a compulsive psychopath who enjoyed killing and wouldn't give it up.

I generally give more detailed analyses but due to limited information, this is what I can provide."

Dr. Deborah Schurman-Kauflin
Violent Crimes Institute President.


Although Wichita police invested 100,000 hours in at least a half-dozen investigations from 1974 until 1991, BTK was not caught.  The FBI called the case one of its top unsolved mysteries.

The search for the "BTK Strangler" had been scaled down to one detective.  The remaining detective on the BTK case, Lt. Kenneth Landwehr, stated that the case files were not just sitting around collecting dust:  "I've been told by the chief that this investigation will stay open until we have no more (reasonable) leads to follow", adding: "that can almost be to infinity."

The investigation has involved thousands of suspects and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in man-hours, travel expenses and telephone bills.

The Otero home, undated photo
The Otero home, undated photo
Over twenty-five years later, the Otero house has changed hands a half-dozen times.  Charlie Otero and two siblings have since moved to Albuquerque but have not been heard from since the Ghostbusters investigation.

Suddenly in 2004, after so many years, BTK investigation was re-launched after the killer sent a letter to The Wichita Eagle that claimed responsibility for the 1986 murder of Vicki Wegerle, who was strangled in her home at 2404 W. 13th. BTK provided some very convincing evidence of the letter's authenticity by including crime scene photos and Wegerle's driver's license. She was the mother of two children, one of whom was home at the time of the murder.

To be continued...

I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".

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BTK Returns

Vicki Wegerle, victim
Vicki Wegerle, victim
After nearly 30 years of silence, BTK once again terrorized the city of Wichita.  The killer resurfaced on March 19, 2004, when he sent a letter to The Wichita Eagle newsroom. 

The residence of Vicki Wegerle
The residence of Vicki Wegerle
According to reports in the Eagle, the letter suggested the killer was taking responsibility for the September 16, 1986, unsolved death of Vicki Wegerle, who was found in her home at 2404 W. 13th Street.  Included with the letter were a photocopy of Wegerle's driver's license and three photos of her body. 

Investigators are not yet releasing the contents of the letter, however it has been reported in the media that the return address on the letter was from "Bill Thomas Killman" (BTK) -- 1684 South Oldmanor.  Investigators have since determined the name to be fictitious and the address a vacant lot.  Why he chose them is unknown, but many speculate there is a hiding meaning behind it.    

A police officer inspects Wegerle's car
A police officer inspects Wegerle's car
On March 24, 2004, Lt. Ken Landwehr, who has been investigating the BTK case for over 20 years, confirmed that the letter was from BTK.  The single fingerprint removed from the letter, he stated, would most likely come back to an employee from the newspaper and not from the killer. 

Landwehr told Wichita news station Kake-10 that investigators were following leads from more than 290 telephone tips and requested that anyone with information should call the BTK hotline.  It's not traceable, so tipsters can remain anonymous.

Gregg McCrary
Gregg McCrary
On March 25, 2004, Gregg McCrary, a former FBI profiler, told The Wichita Eagle he felt BTK was bragging about his crimes and he craves the media attention: "'Look at what I've done.'  He can't resist doing that," said McCrary.  "Frightening the public is like playing God.  It's a heady, intoxicating experience, so they're not afraid to make contact with you (the media) or police -- that's all a part of the game for a guy like this.  He's outwitted law enforcement and everybody else all these years."

Psychologist Dr. Harold Brodsky spoke with KAKE-TV on March 28, 2004, and said giving BTK attention is a good thing.  "Are we falling into his hands by showing him this attention?  The reality is, if we don't show him this attention, he's going to do something diabolical," said Brodsky. Regardless of where he has been and why he has suddenly come back, one thing is certain -- he has once again brought panic to the city of Wichita.  Investigators have surmised that the killer is living in the area.   No one feels safe and practically everyone is taking steps to protect themselves.  Sales of security systems, locks, guns, personal alarms, pepper spray and other security devices have sky rocketed.  The case has drawn the attention of national news organizations and CNN, MSNBC and Good Morning America are covering it from all angles. 

 In the mean time everyone seems to have the same questions:  Will he make contact again?  Or more importantly: Will he kill again?  Unfortunately, no one has an answer to either question and only time will tell if BTK strikes again.

"Will There (Be) More?"

On May 5, 2004, another letter suspected to be from BTK was sent to Kansas television station KAKE-TV. The letter was three pages. On the first page was typed "The BTK Story," under which was a list of chapters taken from Court TV's Crime Library story on the killer, Ron Sylvester reported in The Wichita Eagle. Intriguingly, some of the chapter titles were changed from those listed in Crime Library original story. For example, Chapter 7 originally titled "BTK- The Next Step" was changed to "PJ's," Chapter 4 titled "BTK- Different Worlds Collide" was altered to read "Fantasy World" and the chapter titled "BTK Cold Case Squad" was changed to "Will There (Be) More?" 

Wichita Eagle logo
Wichita Eagle logo
The second page of the letter was titled "Chapter 8" and contained word puzzles with letters in vertical rows, Jeanene Kiesling reported in a May KAKE-TV article. On the last page were photocopies of business ID's belonging to two men, one a former Southwestern Bell worker and the other a former employee of the Wichita public school district, the Associated Press reported in June. According to the article, the phone company employee was later contacted but he could not understand why a photocopy of his ID was in the letter. Upon further investigation, the school district employee listed on the card did not exist and the logo of the school used on the card had been discontinued. Interestingly, the three-page letter was different from the March letter sent to The Wichita Eagle in that the return address on the envelope bore the name Thomas B. King (TBK) instead of Bill Thomas Killman (BTK), Sylvester reported.

It didn't take long for the FBI to authenticate the letter as a genuine BTK communication, believed to have been his third in a three-month period. The first known communication in 2004 was the March 19th letter sent to The Wichita Eagle. The second known communication allegedly by BTK was an anonymous letter sent to Wichita's KSN-TV in April 2004, which purportedly contained a photo of an unidentified baby.

There was no doubt that the killer was back to his old habit of taunting police. However, it is likely that he was also providing them with vital clues to his identity and details regarding his past murders. It was suggested that the killer may have used the IDs represented in the letter to gain access to the victims' homes. Moreover, police alleged that the chapter titled "PJ's" could be a clue linking the killer to a faculty member at Wichita State University

Many wondered why the killer chose this point in time to resurface. Some believed that the killer reemerged because he missed the media attention, which he seemed to crave. There is also a chance that his most recent communications were a warning that he might strike again in the near future. BTK's new letters have re-ignited the investigation into the killer, as well as the community's fears of more brutal murders. Many wonder whether the BTK killer can be captured before he gets a chance to kill again.

More Clues Revealed

On June 17, 2004 another letter was found in a mechanical engineering book in the drop box of the Wichita Public Library. The letter was immediately handed over to police, who later revealed that it was yet another genuine BTK communication. This time the letter detailed some of the events surrounding the 1974 Otero murders, among other things.

The entire letter's contents have not yet been revealed by authorities. However, it is believed that there might have been more clues present in the letter, which linked the killer to Wichita State University. Initially, it was unclear why the hunt for BTK continuously led the police to the school campus. Yet, in August 2004 investigators finally revealed the significance of the university in their investigation.

Professor P.J. Wyatt, who taught an English literature class at the university between 1964 and 1986, was of interest to police because of a folksong she analyzed titled "Oh Death." The song was of great significance to the BTK killer and inspired a poem he wrote called "Oh! Death to Nancy" which was found in a 1978 letter. It was alleged that the altered poem referenced BTK's murder of Nancy Fox in December 1977. Investigators looked for hidden meanings in the poem that might help them apprehend the killer but it turned out to be of little use. Unfortunately, the professor could not assist investigators in the case because she passed away in 1991 of cancer.

Nancy Fox, victim
Nancy Fox, victim

More interesting than "Oh! Death to Nancy" is the poem that BTK wrote to Anna, an intended victim, who did not come home in time to be murdered by BTK. He waited in her home for her to return, but then became impatient and left. This poem, part of which is printed below, commemorates this event.

Oh, Anna Why Didn't You Appear 

T' was perfect plan of deviant pleasure so bold on that Spring nite
My inner felling hot with propension of the new awakening season

Warn, wet with inner fear and rapture, my pleasure of entanglement,
like new vines at night

Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce
Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce
The poem is in many ways remarkable because of the levels of meaning that BTK suggests in the words he uses. Reminiscent of James Joyce's epic, Finnegan's Wake, BTK uses words that suggest several meanings. Starting with the very first line in the poem, the T with the superscript 1 is used in scientific research to designate the beginning phase of a study. Subsequent phases would be T2, T3, etc. On another more ordinary level, the superscript 1 could be interpreted as an apostrophe to create "T'was" except that "T'was perfect plan" is missing a word, like "a" or "the." It appears as though whatever BTK had in store for Anna was something "bold" and new.

"Felling," for example, suggests the purposeful killing of a living tree, as well as the taking of Anna's life. It also describes his feelings of excitement as he anticipates his meeting with her. Like Joyce, he creates words by juxtaposing parts of other words. "Propension" is not some mistake on BTK's part, it is his creation of a new word to represent the anticipation of this new encounter. "Propension" may be a combination of other words like "propensity" or "property" or "possessions."


What's the point of these intellectual gymnastics? No doubt, BTK sees himself as an artist and gets pleasure in creating these poems and lyrics with multiple levels of meaning. There is almost certainly another motivation as well. BTK likes to demonstrate his considerable intelligence. He believes that he is a superior intellect and enjoys pointing out to authorities that he is still at large.  In other words, he is smarter than all of them local experts, FBI profilers, amateur sleuths, psychics. Thus far, it appears that he is right.

The search for BTK has not only caught the attention of those in the United States but also that of millions around the world. The BTK case has even led to the production of a British documentary film concerning the murders and the ongoing investigation, Theresa Freed reported in a September 2004 KAKE-TV article. Freed reported that the "British film crew not only wants to tell the BTK story but (also) offer police new insight into the case."

The new insight came in the form of a British psychic named Dennis McKenzie who traveled with the crew to Wichita. Freed said that McKenzie has successfully assisted in several high profile investigations, including the Soham murders. He was also able to contribute to the BTK investigation by producing an image of the killer with the help of a sketch artist, as well as other potentially valuable information concerning the murder cases, Freed stated. It is hoped that the new leads will result in the eventual apprehension of the BTK killer. Until that time, Wichita residents are left in a perpetual state of fear, wondering if there will be a new victim in the near future.

Name Games

On October 22, 2004, a suspicious letter was left at a UPS drop box outside the OmniCenter building at 250 N. Kansas Street in Wichita, Kansas. Police suspected that the letter was written by BTK and have sent it to the FBI for verification three days after its discovery. Interestingly, the letter was discovered on the 30th anniversary of BTK's first communication with the authorities. Chances are that the timing was no coincidence. The contents of the letter and the identity of the person who alerted police of its whereabouts still remain unclear. 

Homicide Detective Kelly Otis of the Wichita Police, who is working on the BTK case, interviewed people who were in the immediate area of the office building and who worked there at the time the letter was allegedly placed at the scene. It was hoped that someone might have witnessed the person who left the letter in the UPS box. One person who was interviewed by Otis claimed to have seen a suspicious individual dropping a letter off at the UPS box on the same day the letter in question was purportedly left at the drop box.

On October 26, 2004, Beth Jett of KAKE-TV news quoted an unidentified man saying, "you could see the nervousness in his eyes...I was right around the corner (from the UPS drop box) and he looked back at me and that's when he took off." The man believed that the suspicious person he saw might have been the BTK killer. BTK is thought to be around 50-60 years old with graying hair and of medium stature. 

In the meantime, the authorities continue pouring over clues left by the BTK killer. It is clear that the killer has gone to great effort to misguide and confuse the authorities by providing them with false information likely mixed with subtle truths. It is almost certain that he is highly educated or at least well read, judging by his use of statistical jargon and James Joyce-like style of writing. Moreover, his use of the name Thomas King in one of his letters is very possibly yet another clue to his choice of literature. There is a Canadian author of articles, stories and poems mostly about Native American life who bears the same name.

Both Thomas King and James Joyce are two of many famous authors whose works have been studied by literature students at Kansas State University. Could BTK have studied these authors at some point at the university? There seems to be many links between BTK and the school, especially with the now-deceased lecturer Professor P.J. Wyatt. With the mounting evidence, there is a good chance that BTK was once a student at the university or may have even worked there. However, it may also be another ploy used by the killer to mislead investigators.     

Envelope of letter sent by BTK
Envelope of letter sent by BTK

If the names BTK used in his letters were in fact clues to his identity, many wonder what would be the significance of the name Bill Thomas Killman. Some believe the name is a puzzle in itself and if arranged properly might spell out a hidden message or meaning. However, the name could also be another sophisticated tool used to taunt police.

Return address on the envelope
Return address on the envelope

Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann (with one "l" and two "n"s) devised a tool, known as the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, which is used to help people handle conflict. The instrument is sometimes used by police departments to help officers deal with people who are aggressive or scared, which they often encounter in their line of work. When the killer used the name Bill Thomas Killman in his previous letters, could he have been indirectly referring to this conflict instrument and using it as a tool to mock the police? It is a question that may never be answered. Unfortunately, until the BTK killer is caught we can only speculate about his identity or motivation for his horrific crimes.



On Nov. 30, 2004, Wichita Police did a press release offering a great deal of background information supplied by BTK about his life. This is, indeed unique in the history of serial killers. Occasionally, the concept that serial killers "want to be caught" finds its way into the news. This is pure fiction. Serial killers are pyschopaths. They are entirely self-focused. They will not intentionally put themselves in harm's way. Psychopaths are notorious liars and BTK is no exception.

So, now that BTK has supplied a number of supposedly true facts about himself, what are we to make of it?  Are we now to believe this serial killer? Are we now to chase down and investigate his claims?

We would be foolish to do so. If BTK wanted to reveal his identity, he would walk into any police station and do so. But he does not because he is a psychopath who is enjoys taunting and playing with the police and engaging the huge public following that he has amassed. Now that he has "revealed" this biographical sketch, he can be assured that countless BTK amateur sleuths, as well as FBI and Wichita police, will be completely absorbed in it. What could be more gratifying to a dedicated narcissist?

It's possible that some of the information that BTK has volunteered about himself may be true, but you can be assured that nothing factual that he has volunteered will trip him up. He's just too smart for that. Keep in mind that he is very smart, potentially smarter than his pursuers. It's more likely that everything that BTK has volunteered about his biography is false or misleading. He's playing with us, his public.  We shall see. The fact that BTK is pushing for attention based on details of his life, rather than recent murders, suggests that he is not in a position to operate freely without the threat of discovery.

Police Power

Throughout the fall of 2004, police continued their intense search for BTK, this time looking to their own ranks. BTK is believed to have what some might consider "inside knowledge" of police activity or law enforcement training. For practical reasons, many serial killers are focused on the investigation into their crimes. Some, like the notorious South Carolina serial killer, Pee Wee Gaskins, and Dr. Frank Sweeney, Cleveland's Kingsbury Run murderer, have even cultivated police sources by hanging around taverns where cops visit and luring them into conversations about the investigation.

Serial killers are also attracted to law enforcement because it represents power, the ingredient that the serial killer lacks in his everyday life. Kenneth Bianchi, one of the Hillside Stranglers, took courses in police science and posed as a psychologist so that he could pal around with investigators working on his case. It was more than just a practical activity to avoid becoming a suspect himself, it was the vicarious thrill of outsmarting the police and exerting power over them.

Dr. Frank Sweeney did the same type of thing while decapitating 13 or more victims in the 1930s. The famed Eliot Ness was head of law enforcement in Cleveland at that time. When Eliot Ness focused his attentions on Sweeney, Sweeney reciprocated by sending Ness taunting post cards and even a papier maché torso. Sweeney got tremendous pleasure from outsmarting the very smart Eliot Ness.

This is what is happening here with BTK. Instead of exerting power over his victims as he tortured and killed them a couple of decades ago, he is now exerting power over the police. His games, his letters, his packages are putting enormous pressure on them to produce an arrest. Not only that, BTK has found a way to hold power over thousands of fascinated amateur sleuths who flock to the chat rooms and message boards to theorize and analyze BTK's every word. With the Laci Peterson circus finally coming to a close, BTK is making a bid to be the next televised obsession. He has become a celebrity.

Was BTK ever a Wichita cop? It's not likely, although he may have experience in the military police. Just to be on the safe side in case BTK turns out to be another Gerard Schafer, Wichita police called on retired police officers in mid-November to volunteer to have the inside of their mouths swabbed for DNA samples so they could be eliminated as potential suspects. However, investigators ran into unexpected difficulty when at least one police officer refused to participate in the ongoing investigation.

According to Roy Wenzl's November 21, 2004 article in the Wichita Eagle, retired Det. Frank Cummins was skeptical of the DNA tests because of long-term privacy concerns. Wenzl reported that "because of the nature of DNA, because it can show genetic family relationships, it would be like handing the police department a permanent set of fingerprints, without permission from every person genetically related to him." Moreover, Cummins believed that the tests were a waste of money and he distrusted how the police would utilize the samples. Consequently, he decided not to voluntarily provide DNA samples. He would not be the last person to refuse police testing.

Too Many Clues

In November, 2004, police publicly revealed for the first time information that BTK revealed about himself in a letter. The personal information was released in the hopes that someone might recognize the killer's description and come forward with even more information about his identity or whereabouts. It is likely that these "revelations" are simply disinformation provided by BTK to throw the police off his trail. Jeanene Kiesling of KAKE-TV gave out these new details on November 30, 2004:

  • BTK claims he was born in 1939, which would make him 64 or 65 years old.
  • His father died in World War II. His mother and grandparents raised him.
  • He has a fascination with railroads and between 1950 to 1955, his mother dated a detective with the railroad.
  • In the early 1950s he built and operated a ham radio. He also has knowledge of photography and can develop and print pictures.
  • He also likes to hunt, fish and camp.
  • In 1960, BTK claims he went to tech school and then joined the military for active duty and was discharged in 1966 at which time he says he moved back in with his mother.
  • He worked repairing copiers and business equipment.
  • He admits to soliciting prostitutes.

BTK is now playing to an ever increasingly devoted audience and needs to keep their interest alive. So one can expect to see many more communications from him as he discards incriminating evidence.

In the meantime, there are also old theories re-emerging that BTK might have served in the U.S. Air Force. BTK's first victim, Joseph Otero, was known to have served in the Air Force and at the time of his death worked at Rose Hill Airport. Some believe that BTK may also stand for "Born to Kill" the name and initials of several Air Force squadrons.

In mid-December, 2004, an unidentified man found a suspicious white plastic bag wrapped in rubber bands in Murdock Park. The man took the bag home and looked inside it, when to his surprise he noticed items that may have belonged to some of BTK's victims.

Investigators examined the bag's contents and found a driver's license belonging to Nancy Fox and a letter, along with other objects. The letter was similar to one found earlier in May 2004, which displayed a list of chapters taken from this Crime Library story. However, some of the chapter titles were listed differently.

In the most recent letter chapter 13 was changed from "Will There More?" to "Will There Be More?" The chapter originally had a different title. Yet, after the May letter, the title was changed to "Will there (Be) More." In BTK's latest communication it is clear that he made a concerted effort to correct his grammatical errors. It also appears that he is an avid true crime reader.

Furthermore, in the letter found in the bag, chapters one, two and eight were left blank unlike those in the May letter. In an interview with Larry Hatteberg of KAKE TV, he theorized that the empty chapters might have been directly linked to Nancy Fox's murder date in 1977. He stated that "the chapters BTK left out, if put together in a specific sequence, would mark the date Nancy Fox was killed," 12-8 or December 8th. If this were the case, it would be a vital clue that might provide insight into BTK and the way in which he communicates.  

The plastic bag was eventually handed over to the FBI. Information concerning the remainder of the bag's contents has since been withheld from the public in an effort to maintain the continuity of the ongoing investigation.

BTK Suspect Arrested


Monday, Feb 28 12 p.m. update

Law enforcement in Wichita are 99.9% sure that the suspect they have in custody, 59-year-old Dennis Rader, is the BTK killer, but while the tone of the February 26 news conference morning was confident, very few details of the investigation were divulged.

The 46 minutes of news conference self congratulations on "catching" BTK seems a bit misplaced considering that after 30 years of so-called investigation, police were not even able to tie three victims (Wegerle, Hedge and Davis) to BTK.  Let's also not forget that had it not been for his daughter, Kerri Rader, cooperating with the police before the arrest, there probably would have been no arrest. It's hard to understand how so much investigative effort on the part of Wichita police and the FBI failed to respond to the obvious clues in Rader's past that tied in with the profile that had been developed for BTK:

  • He went to Wichita State University, where one BTK letter was photocopied and a Professor P.J. Wyatt had exposed in her classes the poem "Oh, Death" from which BTK created one of his poems.
  • He was in the Air Force. It was long speculated that BTK got the letters from "Born To Kill," a USAF squadron term. He may have met BTK victim Joseph Otero, also in the Air Force at that time.
  • He worked at Coleman's, where two other victims worked
  • He is an odd guy with a need to exert power and control as evidenced by the code compliance position he held with the Park City government. Several of his neighbors have gone on the record calling him a bureaucratic "bully." This type of behavior is consistent with a sadistic serial killer and should have been a red flag to investigators.
  • He lived nearby some victims, even on the same street as one of them.

It will be interesting to know if Rader was on any of the lists of suspects that police had collected over the past 30 years and, if so, why did they not collect any DNA from him?

It would be very surprising if some other cold cases don't turn out to be BTK victims as well. To name a few that have been listed by Wichita residents on Internet bulletin boards

  • "Nov. 12, 1974: Sherry Baker, a Wichita State University student
    stabbed in her apartment. Hands tied behind back (with a coiled telephone cord)
    No sign of forced entry.
  • June 29, 1985: Linda Shawn Casey, a Wichita State University student
    found dead on the bedroom floor of her home bound, beaten, sexually assaulted, tabbed repeatedly. No sign of forced entry. At the time, BTK was mentioned as a possibility but discounted due to the length of time since his last known victim.
  • Nov, 12, 1999: Tina Frederick, lived a few blocks from BTK victim Shirley Vian.
    Found shot to death in her apartment - lying on a bedroom floor."

Also, it's likely that there are even other BTK victims. Serial killers can't stop, they just become more imaginative about hiding their crimes.

District Attorney Nola Foulston said there is no statute of limitations on murder. However, the dealth penalty was not approved in Kansas until 1994. No death penalty applies to murder cases committed before 1994. In other words, the BTK case may not a capital case, unless they can tie him to new murders that occurred in 1994 or later.

Prosecutors will not be discussing the case publically after any charges are filed, Foulston said, to ensure that information released does not harm the trial.

Dennis Rader, suspect
Dennis Rader, suspect

Two new victims have been uncovered in the investigation, bringing the number of BTK victims from eight to ten.

Marine Hedge, victim
Marine Hedge, victim
The two victims most recently attributed to Rader have been identified as Marine Hedge, 53, and Delores "Dee" Davis, 62. The Wichita Eagle reported that Hedge was abducted from her home on Independence Street in Park City on April 27, 1985. She had been strangled by a pair of pantyhose and found eight days later on a rural dirt road near 143rd East and 37th North Street. The article stated that the case bore marked similarities to several other BTK murders in that, "the phone line at Hedge's home was cut" and her car had been driven from the crime scene to another location. Roxana Hegeman of The Associated Press claimed that Rader actually lived on the same street as Hedge. 

Delores Davis, victim
Delores Davis, victim
Delores Davis was abducted from her home on January 19, 1991 and found 13 days later under a bridge on 117th Street North near Meridian, Kansas. Her hands and feet had been bound with the pantyhose that were used to strangle her. According to the Wichita Eagle, her murderer cut the phone line at her home and "then threw a brick through a glass door at the rear of her home to get inside." After disposing of Davis' body, the killer drove her car to another location and abandoned it. Davis' murder remained unsolved for more than a decade.


In 2004, there was a great deal of excitement when police arrested a man that the media believed was connected to the BTK case. At around 7:30 in the evening on December 1,   2004 after a day of heavy surveillance, police arrested a 64-year-old man at his south Wichita residence. It was initially reported that the arrest was made in connection with the BTK case and was prompted by a tip off from an unidentified caller into the BTK information hotline. However, investigators later denied that the man arrested was in any way linked to the murder investigation.

Who is Dennis Rader?

Monday, Feb. 28 8:50 a.m. update

Dennis Rader, Mugshot
Dennis Rader, Mugshot
After 31-years, the identity of Wichita, Kansas' most notorious serial killer, known as BTK, was made public after the suspect's arrest on February 26, 2005. Dennis L. Rader, 59, of Park City, Kansas was taken into custody after having been stopped at a traffic light near his home on East Kechi Road shortly after noon that day. Even though formal charges have not yet been filed, the authorities said, "they would ask prosecutors to file 10 counts of first degree murder against Rader, including two murders in Park City that had not previously been attributed to the BTK killer," it was reported in a February 26th MSNBC article.

Police Chief Norman Williams
Police Chief Norman Williams
The question now on everyone's lips is, "Who is Dennis L. Rader?" Relatively little is know about him, especially since prosecutors are reluctant to divulge too much information, which could harm the up-coming trial. What is certain is that Rader spent most of his life in Park City.

Rader was born in 1945 and grew up in Wichita along with three brothers, all of whom graduated from Heights High School in Wichita.

Rader was in the Air Force in Viertnam from 1965 to 1969. Joseph Otero, BTK's victim, was also in the Air Force at the same time.

Rader worked in the meat department for a Park City grocery store and then as an assembler at the Coleman camping gear firm between 1971 and 1973, where he met two of his earlier victims, Mike Brunker reported in a MSNBC article.

He worked at ADT Security Services from 1974 through 1989. In 1989, he also worked for the U.S. Census bureau going door-to-door collecting information. While working in both positions, Rader had access to many area residents' homes. It is believed that he might have initially encountered some of his victims while on the job. 

At some point in the 1970s, Rader married and he and his wife Paula had two children, a boy and girl. At around the same time, he attended Wichita State University and in 1979 graduated with a degree in Administration of Justice. According to Fox News, Rader "never became an officer but instead went "into code enforcement, or what one critic called "a glorified dog catcher."

In his spare time, Rader lead a Cub Scouts group and was active in his church. No one imagined he was capable of doing any harm to anybody. Many referred to him as a kind of guy who wasn't very noticeable, one who never really stood out from others. In fact, it was his ability to "blend in" that allowed him to go undetected for so many years.

New Revelations

Tuesday, March 1 12:05 PM

Ron Sylvester of The Wichita Eagle and Frank Witsil of the Detroit Free Press reported today that 'A Michigan law enforcement official said Monday that federal agents went to the home of Dennis Rader's daughter to take a DNA sample shortly after his arrest Friday.'

Monday, Feb 28 1:20 p.m. update

Ron Sylvester reported in a February 28, 2005 AP article that investigators believed Dennis Rader was responsible for 13 murders, although the authorities vehemently deny this. The article further suggested that at least one of the additional murders is believed to have occurred after 1994, when the death penalty was re-instated in the state of Kansas. If police can prove that a previously unknown victim of BTK was murdered after 1994, prosecutors can make a good case for seeking the death penalty in this case, something for which many of the victim's families are hoping.

Associated Press reported Sunday that a source close to the investigation that police believed that BTK may have been responsible for the deaths of two Wichita State University students and a woman who lived down the street from another BTK victim. After Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams threatened legal action against anyone who spread erroneous information, AP modified its report to say that investigators are "looking into" whether BTK was responsible for another three killings.

Sedwick County D.A. Nola Foulston insisted that the information in the modified A.P report is false. However, if the three cases below are not being investigated by police, perhaps they should be. After all, the public has learned of three new BTK victims in the past year: Vicki Wegerle, Marine Hedge, and Dolores Davis.

Three cases have been posted on Internet bulletin boards which seem to fit the description of the victims in the Associated Press article.

  • "Nov. 12, 1974: Sherry Baker, a Wichita State University student
    stabbed in her apartment. Hands tied behind back (with a coiled telephone cord)
    No sign of forced entry.
  • June 29, 1985: Linda Shawn Casey, a Wichita State University student
    found dead on the bedroom floor of her home bound, beaten, sexually assaulted, tabbed repeatedly. No sign of forced entry. At the time, BTK was mentioned as a possibility but discounted due to the length of time since his last known victim.
  • Nov, 12, 1999: Tina Frederick, lived a few blocks from BTK victim Shirley Vian.
    Found shot to death in her apartment - lying on a bedroom floor."

It has also been revealed that at the time Rader worked for the security company ADT between 1974 and 1989, he "held positions that allowed him access to customers' homes, including a role as an installation manager," the Associated Press reported on February 27th. A majority of the murders attributed to BTK have occurred during the period that Rader was employed by the company. Thus, it is possible that he used his position to seek out potential victims.

The Wichita Eagle wrote that  "Rader worked at ADT Security Services. Nobody who worked with Rader during his 15 years with the company could stand him, according to several former co-workers."

Dennis Rader is a very polarizing figure: they either hated him or like him. As the Wichita Eagle reported, some people saw him as "arrogant, by-the-numbers, rude and confrontational. Others said he is efficient, nice, friendly and a regular guy."

Rader's bail has been set at a whopping $10 million, which will be set or changed during his next court hearing scheduled in the upcoming days. At that time, the 10 first-degree murder charges against him will be formally filed. Since there has been no indication, as of yet, that Rader has hired or asked for a lawyer, there is a chance that the court will have to appoint him one. Regardless, the lawyer will need time to review the case, which will likely prolong the hearing date, the Associated Press reported.

PICTURE2 Fox News reported that the suspect's daughter Kerri Rader, 26, provided the DNA samples that allegedly linked Rader to eight murders attributed to BTK between 1974 and 1986. The Wichita Eagle reported on Feb. 28 that Wichita Mayor Carlos Mayans confirmed that Kerri Rader's DNA was linked to the BTK victims.

Initially broadcast reports indicated that not only did Kerri Rader provide DNA samples to investigators, she had actually gone to the police to voice suspicions about her father being BTK. This allegation is denied by the Rader family and police. This ordeal has had a devastating effect on the Rader family, which is reportedly out of state in seclusion.

According to the Wichita Eagle, BTK's most recent communication was sent to the Fox News Wichita affiliate in mid February. Inside the package was a necklace, computer disk, and a copy of the cover of the 1989 John Sandford novel entitled "Rules of Prey." The story is about a serial killer called "the maddog."

Exercising Power and Control

Tuesday, Mar. 03 7:50 a.m. update

Rader was a Compliance Supervisor in Park City
Rader was a Compliance Supervisor in Park City
In most cases, serial killers are primarily motivated by the need for power and control. Rader was no different and often flaunted his self-perceived supremacy in his work and in everyday activities. At the time of Rader's arrest, he was employed by Park City as a compliance supervisor, which involved "animal control, inoperable vehicles, general code compliance and nuisances." However, if there was anyone a nuisance, Rader's neighbors claimed it was he.

Fox News said that Rader was often referred to as a "bureaucratic bully" who would go "out of his way to find reasons to give people citations." It was further reported that he would go around filming his neighbors in the hopes of catching them committing some minor transgression. He even measured the grass of one woman he disliked, in order to catch her in violation of a city ordinance.

According to Fred Mann and Les Anderson's article in the Wichita Eagle, two Park City residents, Sarah Gordon and her sister Hearther Herrera, had a "run-in" with Rader at their garage sale in the summer of 2004 because they didn't have a license for it. Rader reportedly told the women, "You don't want to mess with me. I'm nobody to mess with." He wasn't kidding. 

ABC News reported that Donna Barry, a neighbor of Rader's who has known him and his family since she was a child, had seen a darker side of Rader.

"Barry said she and her children were out on their front lawn one day, and a neighbor from across the street was outside with his dog. In his capacity as a dog catcher and ordinance officer, Barry said Rader approached the dog and allegedly tried to mace it.

"But, according to Barry, the 'wind blew the mace back in his face.' She says Rader groped for his tranquilizer gun, but couldn't get to it. That's when he allegedly pulled out a gun and shot the dog."

Other than the dog incident, "He was generally a really nice gentleman," she said. "I've known him since I was probably four or five years old. You know, he was the kind of neighbor that you could go down the road and he would stay up and talk to you and open the door for you and hold a conversation."

The Wichita Eagle reported that "several Park City residents and former co-workers described Rader as egotistical and arrogant -- a by-the-book person who pays attention to detail. The descriptions in many ways matched those offered by criminal profilers who have studied BTK. Charlie Otero, whose parents and sister were BTK's first known victims, believes that if Rader is BTK, he should get the death penalty.

Rader Court Hearing

Tuesday, Mar. 03 3:50 p.m. update

Rader on closed-circuit TV, being informed of the charges against him
Rader on closed-circuit TV, being informed of the charges against him
 On March 1, 2005, BTK suspect, Dennis L. Rader, appeared on a closed-circuit television in Sedgwick County's District Court to hear the 10 first-degree murder charges filed against him in the murders attributed to the BTK Strangler. Public Defender Steve Osburn, Public Defender Jama Mitchell and Assistant Public Defender Sarah McKinno were the court-appointed lawyers that Judge Greg Waller assigned to represent Dennis Rader during the hearing, the Wichita Eagle reported. The prosecution team will consist of attorneys Kevin O'Connor, Kim Parker and Aaron Smith. Even though the preliminary hearing has been set for mid-March, the Rader defense team will likely need more time to prepare for the case. Thus, the hearing might be pushed up to a later date.

Wichita's KAKE-TV reported that Dennis Rader confessed to some but not all of the crimes, yet the report has not yet been substantiated. In the days following Dennis Rader's arrest, there was a great deal of controversy concerning whether Rader's daughter played a role in his capture. Previously it was widely reported that Kerri Rader, 26, turned her father in and supplied the authorities with DNA samples in mid-February, which allegedly led to her father's arrest. However, according to Sylvester and Witsel's more recent article in the Wichita Eagle, Farmington, Michigan Police Chief Charles Nebus revealed that Kerri Rader actually supplied FBI agents with her DNA after her father had already been arrested, which makes it less likely that she played a direct role, if any, in her father's capture.

Interestingly, David Twiddy reported that Nebus "told The Associated Press that he didn't tell the newspapers a DNA test was being conducted."  Even more intriguing is on a March 2nd Fox News interviewed KAKE-TV anchor Larry Hatteberg who said that a credible source told him that Kerri Rader's DNA was collected when her father was under surveillance and that the results of the test were instrumental in Rader's arrest. To date, the facts remain unclear whether the DNA was obtained prior to or after Dennis Rader was taken into custody.

The police claimed that it wasn't Kerri Rader that led to his arrest but a computer disk that he mailed in a package along with other items to the Wichita television station KSAS. CNN reported that the computer disk was scrutinized by investigators and traced to the Lutheran church, where Dennis Rader presided over the assembly. Police technicians were able to "electronically peel back" information that was thought to have been erased, leading to the discovery of Dennis Rader's name, it was further reported.

To date, the authorities continue to search for evidence that could be used in the case against Rader. Dennis Rader's house has since been searched and several items confiscated, including his computer. Sylvester and Witsel said that metal detectors and shovels are also being used to search areas near Rader's house in the hopes of finding even more evidence. Hatteberg said during the Fox News interview that Wichita's sheriff has actually found new evidence that might be linked to the Dennis Rader BTK case but it is unclear what exactly has been discovered.

New Clues

On March 1, 2005, Wichita television station KAKE-TV released information, previously withheld by the police request, concerning the white trash bag BTK left in Murdock Park in December 2004. According to KAKE-TV, the bag's contents contained, a Barbie brand doll known as "PJ," which had a bag over its head, its hands tied behind its back and the feet bound by panty hose. The manner in which the doll was bound was similar to the way BTK tied up his victims before murdering them.

The name of the doll he chose was significant because its initials were that of Wichita State University English literature professor P.J. Wyatt, whom he referred to in earlier communications. At the time the bag was found it was revealed that Nancy Fox's driver license was in it, as well as a list of "BTK" chapters based on the Crime Library story on the BTK killings. Dana Strongin reported in the Wichita Eagle that "the police asked KAKE-TV to keep the doll secret" for fear that it might incite BTK to commit more murders.

KAKE-TV also revealed a puzzle BTK sent in a May 2004 communication that contained some 40 words and strings of numbers. According to the television station, some of the words hidden in the puzzle included, prowl, fantasies, spot victims, steam builds, go for it, Wichita spelled backwards, help, handyman and lost pet. What is most interesting is that BTK may have left important clues to his identity. KAKE-TV said that Rader's house number "6220" and his name "D Rader" appeared in the puzzle.

BTK puzzle
To be continued...

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BTK Messages Revealed

In 2005, there were several other BTK communications discovered. On January 25, 2005 a tip off to KAKE-TV led to the detection of "a suspicious package" on "a dirt road that runs between 69th and 77th Street North," the television station revealed in an article on the BTK serial killer case. The package, which was sent by BTK, contained a Post Toasties cereal box with several items of jewelry were eventually turned over to the FBI. The FBI later confirmed that the package was indeed from the Wichita serial killer known as BTK.

Earlier in January and again in February a postcard was sent by BTK to the television station.   Jeanene Kiesling reported in her KAKE-TV article that the two BTK postcards were similar in layout and directed the reader to the Post Toasties cereal box that was found on January 25th. BTK then sent KAKE-TV another post card, which thanked them for their quick response and also asked them to relate some information to the Wichita Police Department, the report further stated.

Then several weeks later in February, Fox News' KSAS-TV affliate received a padded manila envelope sent by BTK, which contained a necklace, a letter and another unidentified item inside, Fox 4 News reported. It is believed that the necklace belonged to one of BTK's victims but it is not clear which one. The package, which was BTK's seventh communication, was handed over to the police for analysis.

BTK's choice of MO-ID-RUSE probably relates to his use of fake IDs, such as the telephone company employee ID he sent in previous communications, as his MO modus operandi. In previous messages BTK used the terminology MO. In all probability, BTK used the fake IDs to obtain entrance to his victims' homes.

Interestingly, in Dennis Rader's capacity as a compliance officer for Park City and an installer for a security alarm company, Rader, if he is BTK, may have used his business cards in those two roles to gain admission to victims' homes.

Kerri Rader's DNA

Seldom in recent history has a story been so convoluted and controversial.

At first, media sources reported that Kerri Rader, Dennis Rader's 26-year-old daughter, had grave suspicions about her father and had gone to the police with them.

Then, other sources said that Kerri Rader was approached by federal agents in Michigan, where Kerri Rader lives, to provide a DNA sample after Dennis Rader's arrest. Later, other sources said that she provided the DNA sample before the arrest of her father.

Now comes an entirely new twist from Tim Potter of the Wichita Eagle: he reports that Kansas tissue samples of Kerri Rader were subpoenaed for her DNA without her knowledge.

Allegedly, according to Rev. Michael Clark, the pastor of Dennis Rader's church, Kerri Rader "gave the DNA for the purpose of clearing her dad." Clark understood Kerri Rader to be very upset that she was somehow caught in the middle of all of this controversy.

It's increasingly difficult to know what story, if any, is true.

Typically, D.A. Nora Foulston has declined to comment on this report. Foulston, who had promised to be forthcoming with information, has not fulfilled her obligation.

Digital Footprints

For as long as computers have been around, so has the science of computer forensics. It is a science that has been used for various purposes, especially compiling electronic evidence for use in criminal investigations. The BTK case is no different. Investigators in the case have claimed that the use of computer forensics is one of the methods used to bring BTK suspect Dennis Rader to justice.

Many believe that when they erase a document from their computer or floppy disk the evidence is lost forever. This is usually not the case. In fact, David Stenhouse, a computer investigator at Seattle's University of Washington said that, "a savvy investigator with the right tools can fairly easily reconstruct information that the user thought had been deleted," Dion Lefler of the Wichita Eagle reported.

According to an article by Joan Feldman and Roger Kohn of Computer Forensics Inc., computer-based evidence that has been recently deleted (residual data) can be recovered up until the time it is "overwritten with data from a newly saved file or until it is 'wiped' by specialized programs." In the case of the diskette and church computer allegedly used by Rader, this was not the case. Investigators were able to recover, at least partially, the digital footprints left behind when he purportedly wrote a message to Wichita Fox News affiliate station KSAS on February 16, 2005. When they recovered the data and contacted the church whose name was on the disk, Rader's name is purported to have popped up, leading to his arrest as key suspect in the BTK case. It is believed that their case was further strengthened by DNA evidence obtained either prior to or after Rader's arrest.

The precise evidence compiled against Rader, which eventually lead to his arrest is vague and the various theories surrounding it unsubstantiated. It is likely to remain that way for some time, at least until the case goes to trial. Lefler stated in another Wichita Eagle article that District Judge Greg Waller who is presiding over the BTK case has "issued a pair of orders" sealing the files that explain why Rader was arrested. The reason why the judge has issued the orders has been publicly withheld but the report stated that one reason is to prevent such disclosure from damaging the ongoing case against Rader.

District Judge Greg Waller
District Judge Greg Waller

The order to keep Rader's files closed has left many, especially the media, in an uproar. At present, information concerning the case has been wrought with inaccuracies and false reports. The Wichita Eagle, who has requested more information into Rader's arrest in an open letter to the judge, believes that the release of data might "quell much of the rumor and speculation that is currently running rampant."


BTK's Signature

Undoubtedly, BTK didn't want anyone to take the credit for the murders he committed. He was actually proud of his horrific actions. No where was it more evident then when he arrogantly signed his initials to many of the communications that were sent to Wichita media outlets.

According to Tim Potter's Kansas City Star article, only a select few working on the investigation ever knew that BTK signed his name in a "sexually suggestive configuration" in which he "stacked the 'B,' 'T' and 'K' from top to bottom with the 'B' shaped to look like a woman's breasts." The signature was deliberately kept from the public so that investigators could weed out possible copycat letters from authentic BTK communications, the report further suggested. Even though a large majority of the letters bore the BTK symbol, some of the communications did not.

BTK signature, image re-created
BTK signature, image re-created

Potter stated that the communications were evaluated by asking three specific questions and if most of the criteria were met then chances were high that the letter was from the murderer:

  • ·Do the contents reveal knowledge only the killer would possess?
  •  Do the messages show a continuity, where each communication builds on past ones?
  •  Do they repeatedly use certain words or symbols, including a logo or signature (such as the BTK signature)?

Investigators realized that the more communication they could establish with BTK, the more likely it would be that he would slip up and provide them with valuable information concerning his identity. Sometimes, investigators actually initiated contact by placing an advertisement in the newspaper.

In 1974, the police put an ad in the Wichita Eagle that read "B.T.K. Help is available," Stan Finger and Tim Potter reported 29 years later in the same paper. There was no known response to the police statement but in 1986 there was a suspicious ad that read, "Relief from Factor X is available at: P.O. Box 48265," the report stated. Interestingly, in a 1978 communication sent from BTK to KAKE-News, he wrote that he was driven by "Factor X" to commit the murders. Thus, it is highly likely that BTK used the ads as another means of communicating to the public.

Those Who Remain

It was the day they waited for ever since their loved ones were brutally torn from them years earlier by the hands of a ruthless serial killer. The arrest of BTK suspect Dennis Rader finally allowed the victims' families to put a face on their source of anger and pain but has done little to alleviate the loss that they all feel on a daily basis. The victims' families have experienced a mixture of anguish and joy, although most have cautiously suspended their relief and continue to hold out for justice, which still has yet to be served.

For Deloris Davis' son, Jeff, relief and justice are emotions he won't ascribe to Rader's capture. He was quoted by Eyewitnesses News in Memphis, Tennessee saying, "I don't use the word relief because it's notI don't use the word justice because it's neither until he (Rader) rots in hell." His chief emotion is anger, quickly followed by a thirst for revenge. He was further quoted saying, "I'm going to enjoy every step of the road that he takes before they crucify him." Many of the victims' family members share Jeff's feelings of outrage and hostility.

Most of the victims' surviving children have had difficulty moving past the trauma that abruptly altered their lives forever despite Rader's capture. Steve Relford, the son of Shirley Vian, suggested that he's only somewhat relieved by the arrest of his mother's alleged murderer because he still has yet to be brought to justice, CNN reported. According to the article on March 17, 1977, Steve, then 5 years old unknowingly let the killer into the family home. He watched in horror from the bathroom where he and his two siblings were held prisoner as his mother was tied up and strangled to death. "Nearly 28 years later he is still haunted by what happened" but since Rader's arrest Steve has been able to finally visit the home where his mother was murdered for the first time. It's at least one step forward in a lengthy healing process.

Charlie Otero and his sister, Carmen, were overjoyed at Rader's arrest more than 30 years after their brother, sister and parents' vicious murder. Wichita television station KSNW quoted Carmen saying, "Thirty years is a long time. I'm pretty relieved—a lot of mixed emotions." Charlie said Rader's capture was "a bittersweet victory" for the family that has been long overdue, it was reported.

Even though some the emotional scars are just beginning to heal, the physical scars still remain with Kevin Bright. In 1974, he and his sister Kathryn came home to find BTK waiting for them. A man who resembled Rader bound Kathryn, 21, with cord, stabbed then strangled her to death and then shot Kevin, then 19, twice. Miraculously, Kevin survived but he continues to suffer from nerve damage, CNN reported.

Moreover, he feels anguish and is not relieved by Rader's arrest because he's never claimed responsibility for her murder. The Kansas City Star quoted Kevin as saying, "I don't have closure. I won't unless he's (Rader) admitted to the police, unless he said he killed my sister." Yet then again, even if he did admit to hers or other murders it will never bring them back.

Piecing Together the Puzzle

The moment he found his parents murdered in their bed on January 15, 1974, Charlie Otero, then 15, had a sneaking suspicion that his father crossed paths with the murderer at some earlier point in time. In fact, he "suspected the killings had something to do with his father's military past," Tim Potter reported in an August 2004 Wichita Eagle article. Charlie's father, Joseph Otero, served 21 years in the Air Force (between 1952 and 1973) before retiring and finding work at Wichita's Rose Hill Airport as an airplane technician and flight instructor.

There is no telling if Joseph Otero and his killer ever served together. Yet, what is certain is that BTK suspect Dennis Rader also served in the Air Force. The two men's' careers actually overlapped during a four-year period, lasting between 1966 and 1970. However, there is no evidence that they were ever stationed at the same base together or even crossed paths, Potter suggested in a March 2005 Wichita Eagle article. According to the report, Otero spent most of his time stationed in Panama and Puerto Rico, whereas Rader was based in San Antonio, Texas, Mobile, Alabama and Okinawa, Japan.

Even though there is little evidence to support his theory, Charlie Otero continues to believe that the BTK killer and his father shared a military past because of a series of events that occurred days prior to the murders. A December 2004 Associated Press article quoted him saying that at "one time the power went out" and his father made the family hide in the closet. Moreover, Joseph tried to give him his ring in case something happened to him. The report further suggested that Charlie overheard a telephone conversation that led him to believe that his father's murder was directly connected to his military career.

Based on Charlie's account, it was clear that immediately prior to the murders, Joseph was terrified that something dreadful might happen and likely by someone he knew. To date, investigators are continuing to look for evidence that might link Rader to Otero during the overlapping period of time they served in the Air Force. At several police stations near where Rader was stationed, investigators are searching for murders that might resemble other BTK crimes. Investigators hope to obtain more insight into whether BTK's victims were chosen at random or deliberately targeted. Furthermore, they hope to determine whether BTK might have committed earlier murders in other locations prior to 1974.

Nightmare in Wichita

By Marilyn Bardsley

Attorney Robert Beattie's book Nightmare in Wichita: The Hunt for the BTK Strangler has strengths and weaknesses.

Its greatest strength is a very detailed accounting of the individual known BTK murders that began with the Otero family in 1974. From interviews with police, victim family members and associates, and journalists, Beattie has gleaned quite a bit of detail that never got into the newspapers.

<i>Nightmare in Wichita</i>, by Robert Beattie
Nightmare in Wichita, by Robert Beattie

For example, he learned of some twelve BTK suspects that the police had at one time under surveillance: among them were a couple of former police officers, a journalist who allegedly practiced bondage, an emotionally disturbed Vietnam veteran, and a former fireman who was said to have bound and tortured a prostitute.  All of the twelve, who remain unnamed in his book, were cleared, mostly by DNA.

The book starts out strong with a very comprehensive examination of the Otero family murders, dispelling some of the myths that have floated around various Internet bulletin boards, such as there was semen all over the Otero house. Beattie clarifies that semen was only found at the scene of Josie Otero's murder, on her leg and on pipes behind her hanging body.

Despite the grim subject matter, Beattie inserts some humor when Wichita officials travel to Puerto Rico to investigate the Otero case and are stopped by customs officials because of the horrific crime scene photos in their possession.

The further one gets into the chronology of the case, the less appealing the book becomes. Beattie fills up many, many pages with his meetings with various individuals that clearly interested Beattie, but are likely to bore readers.  His excitement about suddenly being interviewed as an expert after BTK resurfaced in March, 2004, is given much more coverage than the reader really needs. One gets the feeling that he's using filler to get to whatever number of pages he promised.

The most serious weakness in Beattie's book is the rush to publish and cash in while the case is so much in the forefront of public consciousness. The result is that the most interesting aspect of the case in recent times — the character, culpability and motivations of suspect Dennis Rader — are barely addressed. Rader's personality and his interactions with the community have been addressed more thoroughly on cable news than the few pages of information that Beattie has stuck on to the end of his book. As a reader, I wished that Beattie had published a bit later after more is learned about the man police have called the BTK Strangler.

This problem is not entirely Beattie's but rather the problem created for book authors by Internet sites that can publish, update and distribute the news around the world in the speed of light.

Not Guilty -- New Chapter

When BTK suspect, Dennis Rader, waived a preliminary hearing on April 19, 2005, in essence he was conceding that prosecutors have sufficient evidence to proceed with a full trial. 

On May 3 Dennis Rader, dressed in a dark suit, pleaded not guilty to the charge of murdering ten people in the BTK serial killings. 

Associated Press reported that Rader chose to stand mute during the brief arraignment and asked District Court Judge Gregory Waller to enter the plea for him. Waller entered the not guilty plea and set a trial date for June 27, although most expect the trial date to eventually be pushed back.

Although DA Nola Foulston indicted she would like to see the trial begin in the fall of 2005, the trial may not begin until 2006 because of the preparation time needed by the prosecution and defense.

Beefed-up security measures had been taken for Dennis Rader's May 3 arraignment and Rader had  been offered a bullet-proof vest. Once again media organizations from all over the country converged on Wichita for this event. Victims family members, such as Charlie Otero, came to hear the proceedings.

The Wichita Eagle reported that Foulston "will seek the Hard 40 penalty against Rader on one of the 10 counts against him. That means if convicted of that murder charge, Rader would serve at least 40 years before being eligible for parole. Rader is 60." One the victims, Dolores Davis, was killed in 1991 when the Hard 40 was still in effect in Kansas.

Judge Gregory Waller
Judge Gregory Waller

The astonishing amount of controversial secrecy by Wichita law enforcement through the decades in which the BTK case spanned was briefly continued in the courts with the sealing of key documents. On April 29, 2005, Sedgwick County District Court Judge Gregory Waller responded to papers filed by six media organizations petitioning the court to unseal documents in the BTK case.

In Kansas, the decision to seal those documents was supposed to have been made after a hearing. No hearing was held. DA Nola Foulston and Rader's legal team had requested that the documents be sealed so that pretrial publicity did not compromise any future trial. Judge Waller released all but the probable cause affidavit April 29.

One of the documents that was unsealed was the prosecution's list of 247 names of individuals who may be called to testify if Rader goes to trial. The list included investigators, people who knew Rader, relatives of the victims, and even journalists. Consistent with the quality of the law enforcement establishment that we have seen thus far in the 30-year-old case, the list of witnesses included at least five people who, according to the Wichita Eagle, are dead.

Dennis Rader Uncovered

Many Park City residents have complained that Dennis Rader used his position as a city compliance officer to try and assert authority and control over them. Some complained that he went so far as to harass them. See Chapter 20 "Excercising Power and Control" for more details.

A former Park City resident and mother of two, Misty King, was one such person who lived in fear of Rader's strange behavior.

According to a KAKE-TV article by Susan Peters, Rader began stalking King after she divorced from her husband and when another male friend took up residence with her. Rader became increasingly irritated. He came to her house on a continuous basis and bombarded her with numerous citations for not complying with trivial Park City code regulations, such as keeping her grass under a certain height, putting a tarp on the car, stacking a woodpile in her backyard and having an inoperable vehicle in her driveway, the report stated.

Rader listens to Attorney Sarah McKinnon
Rader listens to Attorney Sarah McKinnon
Peters quoted King who said that when she asked Rader what she did that was so wrong, he purportedly responded "Get rid of the boyfriend and everything will go back to the way it was."

Matters got worse when he allegedly started peeping into her windows on occasion and banging on her door wanting to speak with her. King also suggested in the article that Rader could have even attempted to gain entry to her house. Yet the pinnacle was when Rader confiscated the family dog and put him to sleep, which prompted her to flee Park City with her family. 

Rader's boss told Peters "'I don't know why I was never notified of the situation...I would have taken it very seriously.'"

King did notify the police when she caught Rader peeping, but the police dismissed her complaint. She told Peters "'I'm angry because they allowed it to happen. They believed 'if you work for the city, you can do no wrong.'"

Creating an Insanity Plea?

During the first week of May 2005, KAKE TV made public a letter containing two poems which were allegedly written by Dennis Rader while in prison. The documents were handed over by a fellow inmate who claimed that he asked Rader to write them for him so that he could give them to his girlfriend. One of the poems entitled "Tis' Spring Out There" was signed "Rader" and the second poem, titled "Black Friday" was signed "The Suspect."

The documents bore marked similarities with previous BTK communications, in that they were written in the same style and contained "many of his handwriting quirks," KAKE TV reported. Rader's defense attorney Warner Eisenbise said in another KAKE TV article that "if the poems are from Rader this could be a calculated move to set up an insanity defense" because he tried to portray two different personalities by signing the documents differently. To date, the defense has not filed any motion relating to an insanity defense but that could, of course, change.

Tis' Spring Out There

oh, to walk among the new season,

to heard a robin voice,

to see a dandelion bright,

to watch a butterfly flight,

to smell a simple flower bud,

oh spring these are the many reasons.


Black Friday

Just a quick glance and I knew all was lost.

I saw in real a on going mind view, the black and white, were now my new boss.

I saw my life as I know quickly fade away.

I saw my love ones, in mind and thoughts that I would never be able to touch, hold, communicate closely with and kiss with care will now be at bay.

I saw the Black Side of me, was now caught and others would not suffer from my lots,

But then it dawn on me, it was not as I thought.

Yes the other in me will cause no suffering.

The living remained, the Mother, Brother, Sisters, Children, Close Friends and wife will suffer.

Ands the real me of blood, flesh and mind will suffer.

The documents will likely be revealed at trial, along with other evidence compiled over the last 31 years. According to Ron Sylvester of The Wichita Eagle, the state has recently shared with the defense at least 45 discs containing vital information about Rader and the murders he is alleged to have committed. They are hoping that his attorneys will also hand over any evidence they might have, such as "copies of expert reports and mental exams" so that they can use it to further their case, Sylvester reported. It is not known when the trial will commence but it is expected to take place sometime between the fall of 2005 and mid-year 2006.

Surprise Confession Otero Murders

Dennis Rader in court
Dennis Rader in court

On Monday, June 27, to everyone's surprise, Dennis Rader confessed in court to the murder of ten people. It had been expected that he would plead guilty once his lawyers had ruled out defense on the basis of insanity.

Rader's chillingly graphic testimony was prompted by particularly pointed questions by Judge Waller, beginning with the murders of the four Oteros. Rader said he went to their home early in the morning, between 7 and 7:30. He claims that he did not know them, but that he had selected Mrs. Otero and her daughter Josephine to be participants in his sexual fantasy. He had planned the timing expecting that only Mrs. Otero and the two youngest children would be in the house. He never expected Mr. Otero to be there and it caused him to panic and "lose control."

That morning, he cut the phone lines and waited at the back door. He claimed he was having second thoughts about aborting the whole plan when Joseph Otero Jr. opened the back door to let the dog out, but then he went on to say that he went in the back door, pulled a pistol on the family. The dog didn't take kindly to him and so he insisted that the dog be put out side.

Joseph Otero
Joseph Otero

Rader told them that he was wanted by the police and needed food and a car. Otero offered him a car.

At this point in his confession, Dennis Rader made a very unusual statement: "There I realized that, you know, I didn't have a mask on or anything, that they could ID me, so I made a decision to go ahead and put 'em down, I guess, or strangle them."   What he is suggesting is that his intent was to engage in some type of sexual assault and then leave with the victims alive. It is incredible that someone as intelligent as Dennis Rader is and the amount of preparation he made for this attack that he didn't realize in advance that they could identify him, forcing him to casually decide to "put 'em down."  The word choice, "put 'em down," is used for euthanizing animals and that's all they were to a man like Dennis Rader.

First he put a plastic bag over Joseph Otero's head and tightened it with cords — which he brought along with him for this purpose, but Otero did not die right away.

By that time, the whole family, had panicked.

Julie Otero
Julie Otero

Then came another telling statement: "Rader: After that I did Mrs. Otero... I had never strangled anyone before, so I really didn't know how much pressure you have to put on a person or how long it would take..." Again, Rader gives himself away in his choice of words — ".did Mrs. Otero" — as though it was a routine exercise.

Joseph Otero began to put up a fight and tore a hole in the plastic bag, so Rader put another couple bags and some clothing over his head and tightened the cords. After that, Rader said he "worked pretty quick." "Well, I mean I strangled Mrs. Otero... she went out, passed out and I thought she was dead. I strangled Josephine and she passed out... I thought she was dead and then I went over and put a bag on Jr.' s head and then if I remember right, Mrs. Otero came back... she came back, and I went back and strangled her again, it finally killed her at that time."

When Judge Waller asked for clarification in the sequence of events, Rader replied: "First of all, Mr. Otero was strangled... a bag put over his head and strangled him. Then, I thought he was going down. Then I went over and strangled Mrs. Otero, and I thought she was down. Then I strangled Josephine and she was down and then I went over to Jr. and put the bag on his head. After that, Mrs. Otero woke back up and you know, she was pretty upset with what's going on and at that point in time, I strangled her... the death strangle at that time." But before Rader strangled Mrs. Otero again, she pleaded with him to save her son.

Joseph Otero Jr.
Joseph Otero Jr.

Rader went on to say ".so I actually had taken the bag off. I was really upset at that point in time. So basically, Mr. Otero was down, Mrs. Otero was down, then I went ahead and took Junior, I put another bag over his head and took him into the other bedroom. Put a bag over his head, put a cloth over his head, a T-shirt and bag so he couldn't tear a hole in it. He subsequently died from that. I went back up, Josephine had woke back up   "He then took Josephine to the basement and "hung her." He told the judge that after she was hung, he had some sexual fantasies — he masturbated on her body.

Josephine Otero
Josephine Otero

The judge asked Rader what he did next and Rader made another telling statement: "I went through the house, kinda cleaned it up: It's called the right-hand rule, you go from room to room clean things up. I think I took Mr. Otero's watch. I guess I took a radio. I had forgot about that but apparently took a radio."   Very efficient, procedural and premeditated. Perhaps Rader practiced the right-hand rule in the Air Force.  Finally, after he had cleaned up, Rader took the Otero's car and parked it at Dillons and walked back to his car.

Confession: Kathryn Bright

Kathryn Bright
Kathryn Bright

After the Oteros, came the April 4, 1974, murder of Kathryn Bright. When the judge asked how Rader selected her, he explained to the court that he had a number of "projects, different people I followed, watched. Kathryn Bright was one of the next targetsWell, I was just driving by one day and saw her go into the house with somebody else and I thought that was a possibility — there was many places in the area, College Hill, they are all over Wichita — but anyway, it was just basically a selection process, work toward it, if it didn't work, I just move on to something else. But in my kind of person — stalking and trolling — you go through the trolling stage and then stalking stage. She was in the stalking stage when this happened."

He broke into the house and waited for her to come home, not expecting her to have a man with her. He pulled a handgun on them and used the same excuse he used on the Oteros —he was a wanted man, needed a car. He recalled that he had Kevin Bright, Kathryn's brother, tie her up and then Rader tied up Kevin's feet to the bedpost.  

Kevin Bright
Kevin Bright
Then, Rader described what would be almost a comedy of errors had the situation not been fatal. Rader moved Kathryn to another bedroom and then went back to strangle Kevin but Kevin had loosened some of his bonds and started to struggle with Rader. Rader shot him and assumed he was dead. He then went back to strangle Kathryn, but she had not been tied up well and struggled with Rader too. Just as he thought he had Kathryn subdued, he heard Kevin in the other bedroom. When Rader tried to restrangle Kevin, the struggle started again. Kevin tried to get one of the two handguns Rader had with him and almost succeeded, but Rader took the other handgun and shot Kevin again. Believing that Kevin was finally "down for good that time," he went back to "finish the job on Kathryn.   She continued to struggle so Rader stabbed her several times underneath the ribs.

At the same time, he heard Kevin escaping:   "all of a sudden the front door of the house was open and he was gone, and oh, I tell you what I thought: I thought the police were coming at that time, that was it. I stepped out there; I could see him running down the street, so I quickly cleaned up everything that I could and left."

Rader's troubles didn't end there: "I already had the keys to the cars. I thought I had the right keys to the right car. I ran out to their car. I think it was a pickup out there, I tried it... it didn't work. At that point in time he was gone, running down the street and I thought, 'Well, I am in trouble,' so I tried it, it didn't work, so I just took off, ran, went east, and worked back towards the WSU campus where my car was parked."

Judge Waller made a point of asking Rader if he had brought a mask to Kathryn Bright's home. Rader said he did not. With this question, the judge highlights Rader's premeditated intent to kill Kathryn Bright.

Confession: Shirley Vian Relford

Shirley Vian Relford
Shirley Vian Relford

Dennis Rader claimed that the selection of Shirley Vian Relford on March 17, 1977 "was completely random. There was actually someone across from Dillons that was a potential target. It was called project Green, I thinkThat particular day I drove over to Dillons and parked in the parking lot and watched this particular residence and then got out of the car and walked over to it. I knocked and no one answered it."

Rader says he was "all keyed up" and so he walked around the neighborhood until he met a young boy, Shirley Relford's son, and asked him to identify some photos. Then Rader went to another address, knocked on the door, but nobody answered, so he went to the house where the boy went.

Judge Waller asked if Rader's so-called projects were sexual fantasies also.

Rader answered: "Potential hits. In my world, that is what I call them. Project — hitsI had a lot of them, so if one didn't work out, I just moved to another one.

When Relford or one of her children answered the door, Rader said he was a private detective. He showed the photograph that I had just showed the boy. Then with his pistol, he forced his way in the door.

He told Relford that he had a problem with sexual fantasies and was going to tie her up and maybe her kids too. She was extremely nervous. Rader then described what he did to her and the children: "I explained that I had done this before and at that point in time, I think she was sick. She had her night robe on. If I can remember right, she had been sick and I think she came out of the bedroom when I went in the house. So we went to back to her bedroom and I proceeded to tie the kids up. They started crying and got real upset. So I knew this was not going to work. So we moved them to the bathroom —she helped me — and I tied the doors shut. We put some toys and blankets, odds and ends, in there for the kids, make them as comfortable as we could. We tied one of the bathroom doors shut so they couldn't open it, and she went back and helped me shove the bed against the other bathroom door. I proceed to tie her up. She got sick, threw up. I got her a glass of water, comforted her a little bit and then went ahead and tied her up and put a bag over her head and strangled her. I had tied her legs to the bedpost and worked my way up and what I had left over [rope] and I think I looped it over her neck.

Rader said the children were making a lot of noise and then the phone rang. The children had mentioned that a neighbor was going to look in on them, so Rader put his tape, cords and other items back in his briefcase, which he called his "hit kit," and went back to his car in the Dillons parking lot.

Confession: Nancy Fox

Nancy Fox
Nancy Fox

When Rader got to the murder of Nancy Fox on December 8, 1977, he admitted that she had been one of his "projects." He explained to the judge that serial killers go through phases: first trolling, where they are looking for victims, and then stalking when they "lock in on a certain person."

Rader then described his serial killer methodology: "First, she was spotted. I did a little homework. I dropped by once to check her mailbox, to see what her name was. Found out where she worked, stopped by there once, Helzbergs. Sized her up. The more I knew about a person, the more I felt comfortable. So I did that a couple of times. Then, I just selected a night, which was this particular night, to try it and it worked out."

Rader knew what time she normally came home from work, so after he ascertained that no one was in her apartment, he cut the phone lines and broke in the back of her home. He waited for her in the kitchen.

Rader said that when she came home, " I confronted her, told her I had a problem, sexual problem, that I would have to tie her up and have sex with her. She was a little upset and we talked awhile and she smoked a cigarette. While we smoked a cigarette, I went through her purse identifying some stuff, and she finally said, well let's get this over with so I can call the police. So I said OK. She said, can I go to the bathroom. I said yes. She went to the bathroom. And I told her when she came out, make sure she was undressed. When she came out I handcuffed her, had her lay on the bed and I tied her feet. I was also undressed to a certain degree and then I got on top of her and I reached over, took either her feet were tied or not tied but I think I had a belt. Anyway, I took the belt and strangled her at that time.

Rader: After I strangled her with the belt, I took the belt off and retied that with panty hose, real tight, removed the handcuffs and tied those with pantyhose. I can't remember the colors right now. I think I may have retied her feet. They were probably already tied, her feet were. And then at that time, I masturbated.

Afterwards, Rader took some personal items of hers, cleaned up any evidence he might have left and went to his car that he had parked several blocks away.
To be continued...

I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".

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Confession: Marine Hedge

Marine Hedge
Marine Hedge

Marine Hedge lived down the street from Dennis Rader and once he selected her as a potential victim, it was easy for him to keep tabs on her. They knew each other in a very casual way. She worked in her yard a great deal and he would say "hello" when he walked by.

On the night of her murder, he quietly broke into her house and waited for her to return. When she came home, she had a man with her who stayed about an hour. Rader says: "I waited until the wee hours of the morning and then proceeded to sneak into her bedroom and flip the lights on real quick like, I think the bathroom lights. I didn't want to flip her lights on. She screamed. I jumped on the bed and strangled her manually.

"After that, since I was still in the sexual fantasy, I went ahead and stripped her. I am not sure if I tied her up at that point in time, but she was nude. I put her on a blanket, went through her purse, and personal items in the house. I figured out how I was going to get her out of there. Eventually, I moved her to the trunk of the car—the trunk of her car—and took the car over to Christ Lutheran Church, this was the older church, and took some pictures of herin different forms of bondage and that is what probably got me in trouble is the bondage thing. But anyway then I moved her back out to her car."

He thought about where he was going to dump her body and found a ditch around 53rd between Webb and Greenwich where he hid her body with some trees and brush over it.

Confession: Vicki Wegerle

Vicki Wegerle
Vicki Wegerle

Vicki Wegerle was another of Dennis Rader's "projects." He planned to tell her he was a telephone repair man as a ruse to get into the house, so he changed into what he called his "hit clothes":

"Basically things I would need to get rid of later. Not the same kind of clothes I had on. I don't know what better word to use, crime clothes, I just call them hit clothes. I walked from my car as a telephone repairman. As I walked there, I donned a telephone helmet, I had a briefcase — I went to one other address just to kind of size up the house. I had walked by it a couple of times, but I wanted to size it up more. As I approached it, I could hear a piano sound and I went to this other door and knocked on it and told them that we were recently working on telephone repairs in the area. Went to hers, knocked on the door, asked her if I could come check her telephone lines inside.

"I went over and found out where the telephone was and simulated that I was checking the telephone. I had a make-believe instrument. And after she was looking away, I drew a pistol on her."

Rader told her to go back to the bedroom where he was going to tie her up. He used some fabric in her bedroom to tie her hands, but they came loose and she tried to fight him off. He grabbed one of her stockings and strangled her with it until she stopped moving. When he thought she was dead, he rearranged her clothes and took several photos of her.

Again, Rader had to make a hasty retreat:

"There was a lot of commotion. She had mentioned something about her husband coming home, so I got out of there pretty quick. The dogs were raising a lot of Cain in the back, the doors and windows were all open in the house, and a lot of noise when we were fighting. So I left pretty quick after that, put everything in the briefcase, and I had already gone through her purse and got the keys to the car and used it."

Vicki Wegerle was fatally injured from the strangling but was not yet dead when Rader left her home.

Confession: Dolores Davis

Dolores Davis
Dolores Davis

Dennis Rader chose a very noisy way to get into the house of Dolores Davis. He threw a concrete block through her plate glass window to get in:

"She came out of the bedroom and thought a car had hit her house. I told her that I was, uh, I used the ruse of that I was wanted, on the run. That I needed food, car, warmth and I asked her, I handcuffed her, I told her I would like to get some food, the keys to her car, talked with her a little bit, calmed her down a little bit, and eventually I checked... I think she was still handcuffed. I went back and checked out where the car was, simulated getting some food, odds and ends in the house like I was leaving, went back, removed her handcuffs, then tied her up, and then eventually strangled her."

Like in most of the other murders, he took some personal items from her bedroom. He put her in a blanket and dragged her to the trunk of her car and hoisted her into the trunk and moved her to one place and then took his "hit" equipment to another place. This time, Rader's own commitments rushed him and he left one of his guns in her house, so he took her car back to her house, collected his gun, and walked back to his car. He then picked up Davis' body and dumped it under a bridge.

Judge Waller
Judge Waller
At the end of his confession, Judge Waller asked him: So, all of these incidents, these 10 counts occurred because you wanted to satisfy sexual fantasies. Is that correct?

Rader answered yes.


The Psychopathic Mind

When Dennis Rader made his unexpected confession in court, he unintentionally revealed to the world his true psychopathic nature. While the nature and delivery of his testimony would not surprise most medical and law enforcement professionals, the rest of the world was shocked.

Psychopaths do not feel emotions the way normal people do. Consequently, when their guard is down, they may say or do things that reveal their lack of concern for others and their absence of conscience. This was the case when Rader described his victims as "projects" and calmly explained how he selected a victim, gave the "project" a code name and then researched and stalked her until he found the right opportunity to attack.

Rader is a very accomplished psychopath: his ability to carry on two very different lives attests to it. "I was pretty cold. I shot from the hip very quickly," he told Larry Hatteberg of KAKE-TV. "Very compartmentalized. I can wear many hats; I can switch gears very rapidly. I can become emotionally involved. Be cold at it." This sounds a bit like a resume.

Some psychopaths, because they are narcissists and self-centered, become very successful in business, government and academia. A much smaller group — for lack of intelligence and/or self-control — become criminals. Of those criminal psychopaths, some become serial killers.

When professor of criminal justice at Seattle University Jacqueline Helfgott was asked how one could tell if a psychopath lived next door, Fox News reported Helfgott's response: "You wouldn't. You would have to know every segment of their life and be able to tie it all together.

Dr. Jack Levin, an expert on serial killers, told WebMD: The most essential characteristic is an excessive need for power and control, and we see this in most sexually-oriented serial killers....For a person with a conscience, Rader's crimes seem hideous, but from his point of view, these are his greatest accomplishments and he is anxious to share all the wonderful things he has done."

Dr. Michael Welner
Dr. Michael Welner

Dr. Michael Welner, creator of the depravity scale, a tool for jurors and judges that helps develop appropriate sentencing for criminals, considers Dennis Rader to be the "worst of the worst."

"In cases like BTK, based on what he said, it's clear that he intended to emotionally traumatize victims and cause gross suffering. It was clear in the way he communicated with the media that he intended to terrorize the community and clear that he got a thrill."

Dennis Rader Speaks

One must be very cautious in interpreting whatever Dennis Rader says after his frightening confession. It's always worthwhile to keep Dr. Michael Welner's words in mind when he describes psychopaths: "If they exhibit emotion, it's an effort to create an impression."

With that in mind, let's examine what Dennis Rader told KAKE-TV's Larry Hatteberg about his thoughts to express "remorse" for his crimes:

"Well, at the sentencing, it's going to be very remorseful, apologetic to them [victims' families]. I will be working on that. That's one of the things that I am working on is a speech prepared for that. I think sentencing will be a pretty emotional day, probably have to have a box of Kleenex that day."

Hopefully, Rader himself has now put to bed forever this fanciful notion that Rader wanted to get caught. Psychopaths do risky things because they believe they are superior to the police and much too smart to get caught. "No, I was not trying to be caught," Rader told Larry Hatteberg. "I just played cat and mouse too long with the police and they finally figured it out."

Dennis Rader had other "projects"(victims) selected. The police claim to know who these individuals were, but are not releasing their names.

Rader told Larry Hatteberg, "I know it is a dark side that controls me. I personally think, and I know it's not very Christian, that it's demons within me, at some point when I was young that controlled me."

That's comforting to know: the devil made him do it. Whew! For awhile, we thought Dennis Rader was responsible, but no, it's not his fault that he's a serial killer. It's demons. Well, at least he's not blaming his mother. With a little therapy and an exorcism or two, perhaps Kansas prison psychologists will give him a clean bill of health. Even if you don't believe the demon defense, there is somebody on a state parole board and someone in a state prison psychology department that does. There a many innocents who died because of this belief.


Legal Matters: Dennis Rader Update

The 34-year-long marriage between Dennis Rader and Paula Dietz came to an abrupt end on July 26, 2005 several months after she learned that her husband was the BTK serial killer. Sedgwick County District Judge Eric Yost decided not to enforce the standard 60-day waiting period and instead granted Paula a speedy emergency divorce within a day. Not surprisingly, Paula cited in the divorce papers that she suffered emotional stress after learning about the true character of her husband, Ron Sylvester reported in The Wichita Eagle. Based on the judge's quick response, he was likely sympathetic to her nightmarish situation and her desire to escape the marriage as soon as possible. 

In a another surprising event, Rader has waived his right to legal representation and has decided to defend himself in "a series of wrongful death lawsuits filed against him by several relatives of his 10 murder victims," Hurst Laviana said in a Wichita Eagle article. Mark Hutton, the victims' attorney suggested that Rader was either getting legal advice or "going to law school at night" because the legal paperwork he filed was so professionally done. Interestingly, Rader's desire to represent himself in court is highly reminiscent of narcissistic serial killer Ted Bundy who also defended himself during the 1979 Chi Omega sorority sisters murder trial.

Bundy meeting in court with lawyers
Bundy meeting in court with lawyers

However, Bundy was unsuccessful in his endeavor, which resulted in his subsequent execution. Many wonder just how successful Rader will be and if his grandstanding will do more harm then good. We can only wait and see.

The BTK Tapes

In August 2005, Sedgwick County prosecutors made a startling discovery, one that could have significant impact on serial killer Dennis Rader's sentencing hearing. They learned that Harvard neuropsychologist Dr. Robert Mendoza, who was hired by the defense team to evaluate Rader, taped the interview with the self-confessed killer at Sedgwick County Courthouse jail just days before he confessed to the murders in June. Prosecutors only learned about the tapes when NBC began advertising that they were going to publicly air portions of the tapes on August 12th during the television station's popular nighttime news program Dateline NBC.  According to Hurst Laviana of the Wichita Eagle, the network has been promoting the interview as "the first exclusive look inside the mind of the man."

Prosecutors have since filed a motion with the county court to be granted access to the tapes, if they could get them, in order to evaluate their content before Rader's sentencing hearing on August 17th. Attorneys for the defense suggested during court proceedings that they also were interested in evaluating the tapes that they supposedly never saw. No one seemed to know for certain exactly how NBC obtained copies of the tapes and the network was unwilling to reveal their source. What was certain was that the tapes held valuable information that could significantly influence Rader's sentencing.

Laviana stated that new information also surfaced concerning a "copy of a release signed by Rader on the day of the interview, which "allows Mendoza and his company to have full use of any materials obtained during the evaluation." The information has led some to question whether Mendoza and the company for which he works handed the tapes over to NBC and if they did, whether they profited financially from the transaction. Thus far, the rumors have been unsubstantiated and Mendoza has not come forward with any information concerning the tapes.

In Rader's Own Words

NBC released some excerpts from the taped interview aired on August 12, 2005 (Dateline NBC's, "Secret Confessions of BTK"):

On the "B" in Bind, Torture and Kill

Rader: You have to have the control, which is the bonding. That's been a big thing with me.  My sexual fantasy is ... if I'm going to kill a victim or do something to the victim, is having them bound and tied. In my dreams, I had what they called torture chambers. And to relieve your sexual fantasies you have to go to the kill.

On how he saw his victims as objects

Rader: I don't think it was actually the person that I was after, I think it was the dream.  I know that's not really nice to say about a person, but they were basically an object. They were just an object. That's all they were. I had more satisfaction building up to it and afterwards than I did the actual killing of the person.

On the "Factor X" and what caused him to kill

Rader:  Factor X is probably something I'll never know. I actually think it may be possessed with demons. Uh, I was dropped on my head when I was a kid...

Mendoza You can't stop it.

Rader:I can't stop controls me, you know, it's like in the driver's seat. That's probably the reason we're sitting here. You know, if I could just say, "No, I don't want to do this, and go crawl into a hole."  But it's driving me.

During an August 12th airing of the Today Show, Dateline NBC's Edie Magnus revealed more insight into Dennis Rader's murderous behavior, which included excerpts from the exclusive two-hour interview that was to be shown later that evening. During Mendoza's taped interview, Rader claimed, "I'm BTK, I'm the guy they're after, 100%." Rader confessed that the fantasies he described as having were "almost like a picture show," one, which he said he wanted to "produce," "direct" and go through with "no matter what the costs or the consequences."

Magnus said that Rader would often dismiss his victims as "a project," one, which began by stalking. Rader said during the taped interview that, "the stalking stage is when you start learning more about your victims (or) potential victims." He said, "I went to the library and looked up their names, address, cross reference and called them a couple of times, drove by there whenever I could." When he was ready to make his move Rader came armed with what he called his "hit kit," which included "plastic bags, rope, tape, knife, gun." It was the very tools he claimed he used to murder his victims.

If all goes well on August 17th, Rader will never get the chance to destroy lives again. It is expected that he will be sentenced to life behind bars. At least, that is what the families of his victims hope.

Otero Murders Evidence

On August 17, 2005, families of the victims murdered by Dennis Rader listened with heavy hearts to testimony concerning the Otero family murders, which occurred more than three decades earlier. According to of the Wichita Eagle, KBI assistant director Larry Thomas testified that Josephine Otero, 11, screamed for her mother as she struggled from the noose from which she hung in the basement of her home. The court heard that Rader derived sexual gratification while watching Josephine's death struggle as he tortured her. She was the last of four family members murdered that day, including her brother and parents. Heart-wrenching crime scene photographs of the family were also shown to the court depicting the events of that fateful day.

Other evidence presented in court revealed that Josephine was Rader's primary target and her mother his secondary target. He stalked the little girl and her mother for around two months after seeing them one day as he drove down the street where they lived. According to testimony heard in court, Rader told investigators that her was 'turned on' by Mrs. Otero and Josephine, stating that he was "attracted to Hispanic-looking women,' Buselt reported. The article further quoted Rader who told investigators that he 'always had a sexual desire for younger women."

During the court proceedings, evidence revealed that Rader lied to the Oteros after breaking into their house with a gun. He claimed that he wouldn't harm them and that he was on the run from the law and only wanted some food and money to see him through to his next destination. Edie Magnus reported in an NBC Dateline special on the Secret Confessions of BTK that the Otero family "bought his lie about being on the run from the law and not wanting to hurt them," so they allowed Rader to tie them up without any struggle. It was only when Rader began to strangle Mr. Otero that the children and Mrs. Otero realized that they were likely going to die.

Other evidence presented included photographs of Rader wearing pantyhose and a bra practicing bondage on himself, as well as a knife and mouth gag used on Mrs. Otero at the time of the murders, Buselt reported. The prosecution is expected to show the court other evidence taken from Rader's home, including dolls he allegedly practiced bondage with, which were bound with rope and handcuffed. It was clear that they wanted to impress on the judge that Rader was a sadistic and evil man with no limits or regard for human life.


Mounting Evidence

Dennis Rader in Court listening to evidence presented during the sentencing phase of his trial
Dennis Rader in Court listening to evidence presented during the sentencing phase of his trial

On August 17th, the court heard more evidence, concerning Rader's narcissistic and psychopathic sexual fantasies. According to testimony, Rader believed that in the afterlife the Otero family would serve him as slaves. Lori O'Toole Buselt reported that Rader hoped that Joseph Otero would be his bodyguard, Julie his bathroom servant, their son Joey his "sex toy and boy servant" and Josephine he would "teach sex and bondage to."

Kansas Bureau of Investigation's (KBI) Assistant Dir. Larry Thomas testified that Rader sat in a chair next to Joey and watched him die as he strangled him with a rope. KWCH 12 Eyewitness News correspondent Liz Collins reported that Rader "told Thomas that it was extremely hard to kill someone by strangulation and that he'd never done it before on a person but he had strangled cats and dogs before." Other evidence introduced from the Otero case included a Barbie-like doll with pubic hair and eyelashes drawn on it, which prosecutors claimed Rader altered to look like Josephine, Buselt reported. The doll was bound much like Josephine had been prior to her murder.

Wichita Police Department Detective Clint Snyder also testified, providing details concerning the murder of Kathryn Bright, 21, who Rader randomly selected to be his victim in the spring of 1974. Rader told Snyder that he gained entry to Kathryn's home when he knocked on her door asking for her help finding a neighbor's house. He didn't expect Kathryn's brother Kevin would be at her home with her but he didn't let that deter him. Rader tied them both up in separate bedrooms. When Kevin struggled, Rader shot him twice in the head. He then turned his attention to Kathryn.   

Rader told Snyder that Kathryn fought, "like a hell cat," making it almost impossible for him to do what "he wanted to do with her," Collins reported. Fed up with the struggle, Rader decided to "put her down" by stabbing her 11 times. Rader told Snyder that he was surprised by the amount of blood and the mess it made. Rader quickly left the scene after he killed Kathryn because Kevin managed to make a daring escape, despite his wounds. Astoundingly, Kevin survived but his sister wasn't so lucky.


Shirley Vian Relford Case Evidence

Wichita Police Department Detective Dana Gouge testified on August 17th about Shirley Vian Relford's murder.  Rader told her that he initially approached Relford's son on March 17, 1977, asking him if he knew who the people were in a picture he held out to the boy. Rader told Gouge that the people in the picture were actually his own wife and son. The lure worked and the young boy unknowingly led the killer to his home. While there, Rader told Gouge that he promised Relford that he wouldn't hurt them but that he just wanted to tie her up and take some pictures of her, Liz Collins reported for KWCH 12 Eyewitness News.

As Rader previously confessed in June 2005, he locked up Relford's three young children, aged 4, 6 and 8 in the bathroom with toys and a blanket. Gouge said that one of the kids threatened to break out of the bathroom but Rader said he would blow the kids heads off if he did. In the meantime, he tied Relford up, put a plastic bag around her neck and strangled her. He hoped to also make her a servant in his afterlife, much like he planned with the Otero's.

During the court proceedings, autopsy photos of Relford were shown to the court. The photos prompted the first emotional response from Rader since the beginning of the hearings. Buselt stated that he, "looked away, rubbed his forehead and let out a sigh." Steve Relford, who had been one of the children locked in the bathroom that managed to escape, stared contemptuously at Rader as evidence was being presented in court. At one point, when crime scene photos were shown, Steven Relford "frowned and looked away," Buselt further reported. It was simply too painful.

Dennis Rader (r) sits with counsel during the sentencing phase of his trial
Dennis Rader (r) sits with counsel during the sentencing phase of his trial

Rader told Gouge that if the kids hadn't fled from the house through a window in the bathroom, he would have killed them too. He was quoted as saying, "I probably would have hung the little girl. Like I said, I'm pretty mean or could be. But on the other hand I'm very -- you know, I'm a nice guy."

Nancy Fox and Marine Hedge Case Evidence

Rader stalked Nancy Fox, 25, for months before he murdered her, it was revealed in court on August 17th. According to testimony by Wichita Police Detective Tim Relph, Rader told him that Fox sexually appealed to him and that he had an "attachment with her," especially since she, "dressed nice" and was a "nice family girl," Buselt stated in The Wichita Eagle. Rader even went so far as to tell detectives that she was "one of the more- -more enjoyable kills," it was further reported. 

Fox's murder was one of the few Rader committed where he experienced no interruptions and where he was able to exercise complete control over his victim. Rader called it a "perfect hit," Relph said during testimony. Like his other victims, Rader strangled and tortured Fox in the hopes that he would make her his bondage slave in his heavily fantasized afterlife.

Later during the court proceedings, Sedgwick County sheriff's Sgt. Tom Lee took the stand. He testified about Rader's confessions concerning Marine Hedge's murder. Lee said that Rader found the killing of Hedge to be "his most complicated hit" because he actually moved her body to different locations, consciously changing his MO in an effort to throw off police. Lee suggested that Rader seemed pleased with himself that he was able to get away with her murder and body disposal and avoid detection. However, Rader admitted it was a bad idea that he took such a risk to murder in his "own habitat."

According to Lee, after Rader strangled Hedge he stripped her body, wrapped her in blankets and put her in the trunk of his car. He took the body to the church and carried it into the basement. He had the key to the building because he was a congregation leader. Lee said that Rader had earlier hid plastic in the church so he could act out his bondage fantasy with Hedge that night. Rader posed the body in sexually explicit ways using the plastic and then took pictures, Buslet said. Years later, investigators found pictures in Rader's home, which depicted him wrapped in plastic, similar to how Hedge was posed in the pictures. The photographs supported the prosecution's argument that Rader saw his victims only as objects, which he used for the sole purpose of acting out his sick fantasies.


Vicki Wegerle and Dolores Davis Case Evidence

Wichita Police Detective Kelly Otis was the seventh witness to be heard on August 17th. He testified about what Rader told him concerning Vicki Wegerle's murder. Rader told Otis that he dressed as a Southwestern Bell employee, wearing a yellow hard hat and carrying a company manual and fake identification, Buselt reported. His disguise was used to gain entry to Wegerle's home.

Wegerle, 29, was alone with her two-year old son, when Rader pulled a gun on her and made go to a back bedroom where he tied her up with leather shoelaces. Rader told Otis that she, like Kathryn Bright, "fought like a hell cat" while he was trying to "take her down." Buselt reported that DNA found beneath Wegerle's fingernail matched that of Dennis Rader.

The last testimony to be heard that day concerned the murder of Dolores "Dee" Davis, who was killed in January 1991. She was Rader's last known victim. Rader told Sedgwick County sheriff's Capt. Sam Houston that he waited for Davis to fall asleep before he broke through her sliding glass door with a cinderblock. According to Rader, Davis told him he couldn't be in her home but he quieted her when he threatened her with a gun, knife and club. Houston claimed that Rader bragged saying, "That's the control start to control them a little bit, you ease them a little bit. Just like you guys come in here and you buddy me, you try to make me feel at ease like it's going to be okay," Buselt reported.

Houston testified that Rader killed Davis, hoping to also make her one of his bondage slave women in his dreamed up fantasy afterlife. In the middle of the Captain's testimony, the proceedings were stopped, set to resume the next day. It would undoubtedly be one of many sleepless nights that the families of the victims would have to endure.


Evil Personified

During the second day of the sentencing proceedings, Capt. Sam Houston revealed more information concerning Rader's murder of Dolores Davis. According to testimony, Rader told Houston that while he tortured her he placed a thin painted plastic mask on her face to "pretty her up a little bit" and make her look "more feminine." The mask had been painted flesh tone with red lips and darkened eyebrows to make it look more lifelike in appearance. He was so wrapped up in his fantasy when he was torturing Davis that he ignored her pleas when she begged him to spare her life.

Rader admitted to Houston that after he killed Davis, he wore some of her clothes that he had stolen, along with a similar looking mask and a wig. When Rader dressed up as a woman, he posed himself in various bondage positions and took pictures of himself with a remote snap camera. In the pictures he appeared markedly distressed as if he were the actual victim. The pictures were used specifically to fuel his perverted fantasies and he kept them in a huge stash he referred to as "the mother load."  Most of Rader's stash was hidden in his house and office and included such items as binders with cut out pictures of models and starlets, such as Meg Ryan, index cards with child swimsuit models on them and sexual fantasies written on the backside, jewelry and clothing from his victims, newspaper clippings, a doll collection and his "hit kit," among other things, Buselt reported in The Wichita Eagle. None of his colleagues or his wife knew his hoard of pictures and other sexual paraphernalia ever existed.

Just when Houston's testimony about Rader couldn't get anymore shocking or bizarre, it did. He told the court that other photographs were found that included pictures Rader took of himself wearing a made-up mask and lying partially covered in a dug out grave that was initially intended for Davis. Davis was never buried there because Rader simply didn't have the time to do it. He claimed that at that time he was already late for a Boy Scout event. Instead of burying her he dumped Davis's body and the mask under the bridge and decided to revisit his "kill" the next day. When he did, he claimed that he was "creeped out" by the site of her body because animals had ravaged her remains.

After Houston stepped down, Wichita Police Lt. Ken Landwehr took the stand. He testified that Rader's case was different from other serial killers because of the length of time between each murder. Other than that, he was later quoted as saying that there was "nothing special" about him.

Rader was like most other serial killers, especially in his aversion to taking responsibility for his savage crimes. Rader found it easier to blame his blood lust on his  "compartmentalized personalities," one side of himself that he claimed he showed to his family and the church and the other dominated by "Factor X"- the killer. Lt. Landwehr told the court that Rader described himself in these terms on several occasions. The families of the victims were set to describe Rader in other terms, when they got their chance to say their piece following the court recess.


On August 18, 2005, family members of the victims courageously stood before the man who murdered their loved ones and for the first time told him what they thought of him and his horrendous actions. Rader was repeatedly called a monster and a coward by most of the family members who asked the judge for the harshest sentence possible. Some of the family members were so overcome with emotion that they were unable to say what they felt. Rader's evil was beyond comprehension or words. During the statements, Rader showed signs of emotion, wiping his eyes periodically as if he were overcome with grief for what he had done. Many likely wondered why he never showed such "remorse" while he was murdering innocent people.

After the court heard from the families, Rader stood up and gave a 20-minute long rambling statement that the District Attorney Nola Foulston later likened to an awards ceremony speech. Rader said that what he'd done was selfish and narcissistic. He also tearfully thanked the defense, members of the jail staff, his social worker and pastor whom he called his "main man." Shockingly, Rader unashamedly compared himself to his victims, as if they were "peas of a pod." It was his final assault on the victims and their families. Yet, many of them weren't there to hear Rader because they got up and left the courtroom seconds into his speech.

In Rader's final struggle for power and control, he listed a series of complaints he had about alleged errors the DA and investigators made in their presentation of the case. It was clear during Rader's statements that he reveled in the attention. It was what he longed for. At the end of his speech Rader made a brief apology to the victims' families

When Rader finally concluded his speech, Foulston said that Rader cried "crocodile tears" and suggested he had no real remorse for the victims or their families. She asked once again that Judge Waller take into consideration the harshest possible penalty when sentencing Rader. She also asked that he impose additional restrictions on him, including limits against his having access to pictures of humans or animals or even having writing materials, which she suggested he could use to continue acting out his perverted fantasies. 

Finally, the long anticipated sentencing of Rader commenced. Judge Waller sentenced him to a total of 175 years, to be served consecutively. Specifically, he sentenced him to "nine life terms and gave him the Hard 40 sentence—40 years in prison with no chance of parole—for the Dee Davis murder, KAKE News reported. Judge Waller also ordered that he pay restitution to the families of his victims as well as court costs. It was the harshest sentence that he could give Rader under Kansas state law. 


BTK Photo Gallery

Dennis Rader's home, investigators roped off the area with police tape as the investigation continues.

Police Chief Norman Williams at the press conference, confident that they now have their man.

Nola Foulston, the District Attorney in charge at the press conference. Due to the ongoing investigation, not much information was given to the media, only that the investigation is continuing.

Delores Davis was a victim, now identified as being one of BTK's victims at the press conference.

Dennis Rader's arrest photo

Dennis Rader was a Compliance Officer, able to issue citations for things like enforcement of the leash law for dogs, and maximum grass height of residential yards.

A recent photo of Dennis Rader

Finnegan's Wake

Joseph Otero, a victim of the BTK. His wife (below) and two of their children (not pictured) were also killed.

Julie Otero, one of the first known victims of BTK.

Josephine (l) and Joseph Otero, Jr. (victims) were discovered after a more thorough search of the Otero home.

Kathryn Bright, a victim of the BTK.

Lt. Ken Landwehr in a press conference, answering questions in late November, 2004.

Marine Hedge another victim added to the BTK list during the press conference on 2/26/2005

Nancy Fox, a victim of the BTK

The Otero's car was abandoned and then discovered later in the Oliver Square parking lot.

An undated photo of the Otero's family house, where BTK gained entry and killed most of the family.

Shirley Vian, a victim of the BTK.

Police and the coroner's office removing Shirley Vian's body from her home.

Vicki Wegerle, a victim of the BTK.

An undated photo of Vicki Wegerle's home.

Vicki Wegerle's car was inspected by police, after it was found away from her house.

Map showing Witchita and some of the major cities in the states adjacent to Kansas

Dennis Rader was informed of the charges against him via closed-circuit TV, with his lawyer.

Judge Gregory Waller examines paperwork during the reading of formal charges against Dennis Rader.

The police withheld some evidence during the investigation of the BTK killer. One item which helped them to authenticate letters was the way 'BTK' signed the letters. Above is a re-created example of how the signature looked.

Dennis Rader in 8th Grade (left, 1959) and in high school (right, 1963). Were there signs back then that were ignored?

Dennis Rader in court, looking concerned and stunned.

I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".

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What Makes Serial Killers Tick?
"It was an urge. ... A strong urge, and the longer I let it go the stronger it got, to where I was taking risks to go out and kill people risks that normally, according to my little rules of operation, I wouldn't take because they could lead to arrest." —Edmund Kemper.

Where does this urge come from, and why is so powerful? If we all experienced this urge, would we be able to resist? Is it genetic, hormonal, biological, or cultural conditioning? Do serial killers have any control over their desires?

We all experience rage and inappropriate sexual instincts, yet we have some sort of internal cage that keeps our inner monsters locked up. Call it morality or social programming, these internal blockades have long since been trampled down in the psychopathic killer. Not only have they let loose the monster within, they are virtual slaves to its beastly appetites. What sets them apart?

One of these days.....

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Ripper plea to be heard by courts


Peter SutcliffePeter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, will have his plea not to have to spend the rest of his life behind bars considered by the courts this summer.

The serial killer's application to have a tariff set which could lead to parole is due to be heard at the High Court in London on July 16 2010, it has been revealed.

Now known as Peter Coonan, the 63-year-old former lorry driver from Bradford was convicted at the Old Bailey in London in 1981.

He received 20 life terms for the murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of seven others in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, and a judge recommended that he serve a minimum of 30 years behind bars.

His name was not on a Home Office list, published in 2006, of 35 murderers serving "whole life" sentences and he was given no formal minimum sentence.

He is being held in Broadmoor top security psychiatric hospital after being transferred from prison in 1984 suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

Dr Kevin Murray, the psychiatrist who has been in charge of Sutcliffe's care since 2001, said in a 2006 report that he now posed a "low risk of reoffending".

It was on July 5, 1975, just 11 months after his marriage, that he took a hammer and made his first attack on a woman.

Sutcliffe believed he was on a "mission from God" to kill prostitutes - although not all of his victims were sex workers - and was dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper because he mutilated their bodies using a hammer, a sharpened screw driver and a knife.

He has spent nearly all of his years in custody at Broadmoor after being diagnosed as mentally ill, but refused treatment until 1993 when the Mental Health Commission ruled it should be given forcibly.



I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".

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Scots murders remain a mystery


Unsolved MurdersPolice say Scotland has at least 77 unsolved murders, with the oldest dating back to 1866.

The murder of Janet Henderson in that year has never been closed by Tayside Police even though detectives have no chance of finding the killer.

Also on Tayside’s books is the killing of Jean Milne, whose body was found in a house in Broughty Ferry nearly 100 years ago.

Strathclyde Police, Scotland’s largest force, has 53 of the unsolved cases on its records.

They include the notorious Bible John murders in the 1960s, when three women, picked up in a Glasgow dance hall, were killed by a well-dressed man fluent in Biblical texts.

on inspecting the body at midnight on the same day, it was still warm Some of these unsolved murders are under the microscope of detectives leading Operation Anagram, a UK-wide inquiry into the crimes of convicted serial killer Peter Tobin.

Tayside has ten unsolved murders, Lothian and Borders has eight, Grampian has four, Northern has four, while Fife has one.

Tayside Police said: “Unresolved homicides or murders are never closed and they remain open, should any new evidence be made known to police.

“In addition, all unresolved homicides are the subject of periodic review in an effort to identify new evidence and are also reviewed in light of recent scientific and forensic advances.

“This ensures that every possible effort is made to trace the offender in each case.”

Here, we delve into the cold case files of some of the nation’s unsolved killings.

Scotland’s oldest unsolved killing dates back to the 19th century. Although no-one will be brought to justice for the murder, the big question is: Can police, using case notes from the time, identify the perpetrator of the killing which shook Scotland more than 150 years ago?

Janet Rogers, 55, was hacked to death with an axe in the kitchen of her brother’s farm at Forgandenny, Perthshire in 1866.

Her mutilated body was found in a pool of blood at Mount Stewart Farm owned by her brother William Henderson. Her head had been “cleft in two”, police said at the time.

She had been assisting at the farm while her brother sought new servants, according to police details.

The walls and ceiling of the kitchen, where she was found, as well as furniture were spattered with blood and the axe – used for chopping wood and breaking coal there – was found nearby.

The head and handle were covered in the victim’s blood.

Attempts had been made to open some of the drawers but it appeared nothing was stolen.

Her brother, William Henderson, 48, said he found his sister on returning home from Perth market at around 6pm one Friday.

He went to Bridge of Earn, and informed the police constable stationed there.

He also wrote a letter, which he sent by special messenger to the county fiscal, saying: “Bridge of Earn, March 30. Dear Sir. Please come out here immediately as my sister has been murdered here today, while I was in Perth. Your obedient servant, Wm. Henderson.”

But one report from the Glasgow Daily Herald at the time said the fiscal questioned this because on inspecting the body at midnight on the same day, it was still warm.

The fiscal said that this could not have been the case if she had been dead for six hours.

He ordered that the brother be watched by police, who “took possession” of the farm, reports said at the time.

A doctor estimated that the woman had died between one and two o’clock that afternoon.

Mrs Rogers, also referred to by her maiden name of Henderson, usually lived in the neighbourhood of Stanley, and was only staying with her brother for a few days to assist him in “some particular work” about his farm.

Newspapers also initially carried descriptions of a tramp reportedly seen leaving the scene and a reward of £100 was posted for anyone who could offer information that might lead to a conviction.

An autopsy report held at the National Archives of Scotland says the woman had been struck repeatedly on the head and face with a small axe-like weapon.

A number of men were detained by police in the early stages of the investigation, including Mr Henderson – his servant and ploughman James Crichton, 44, had accused him of committing the murder.

But it was Crichton who was subsequently charged with murder.

Evidence given by Christina Miller, formerly Mr Henderson’s servant, revealed that after leaving the farm, she had remained a night or two at Crichton’s, and that one night while in bed she had heard him say to his wife that if the murderer was found out he should be hanged.

His wife is alleged to have replied that she and the family would be disgraced.

Crichton said in a statement: “I never had any quarrel with Henderson’s sister, and indeed I did not know her to be his sister, and thought her only a servant.”

At the end of Crichton’s trial, the jury retired for just 11 minutes to deliver a verdict of not proven.

The victim’s husband, James Rogers, had earlier written a letter to a local paper dismissing the thought that the ploughman could have been involved.

“Now, it was impossible that he could have committed such an unnatural, heartrending deed, and put the house in the state it was found in,” he said.

“Besides, she was his favourite member of the family, one whom he always opened his mind to.

“I will never forget his cries on Sunday morning.

“He took me aside from the house, and gave vent to his grief in cries most pitiful.

“I can assure the public, who have been listening to many a wild rumour these two weeks past, that there is not the

least shadow of suspicion resting on my mind, or on the minds of any of Mr Henderson’s friends, concerning this foul deed.”

The double life of a wealthy eccentric

Scotland’s second-oldest cold case is that of Jean Milne, a wealthy eccentric found bludgeoned and stabbed to death in her home nearly 100 years ago.

Ms Milne’s body was discovered at her home in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, on October 16, 1912. She had been hit on the head with a poker and her body lay undiscovered for three weeks.

Police appear to have been under pressure to close the case as quickly as possible. A Dutch-Canadian man was arrested almost immediately, but the case against him collapsed when it was discovered he was not in the country at the time of the murder.

It seems Ms Milne led something of a double life. On one hand, she was a church-going spinster who was often heard singing hymns while playing her pipe organ; on the other hand, she regularly travelled widely to pick up young men and take them home. She boasted to friends of “adventures” with men while on regular visits to London.

She is also said to have developed amorous relationships with women at her mansion, Elmgrove House, which is now a nursing home.

Ms Milne was battered with a poker and stabbed with a carving fork before being left to die at the foot of the staircase.

When a £100 reward was offered the floodgates opened and dozens of “witnesses” came forward to assert that Ms Milne had been enjoying the attentions of at least one handsome stranger.

Scotland’s top detective at the time, John Trench, was asked to assist with the case. He believed there were striking similarities between the Milne case and the murder of spinster Marion Gilchrist, 83, found bludgeoned to death in her flat near Glasgow’s Charing Cross in 1908.

A number of the letters flowing in after the reward was offered spoke of “a dashing American”.

When police were called to arrest a man for failing to pay a restaurant bill in London, the finger of suspicion began to point to Charles Warner from Toronto.

The detectives, who believed he could have been a former lover of the spinster, were particularly suspicious because he had no collar or cuffs on his shirt – perhaps a sign that they’d been removed and destroyed because of blood-staining.

Mr Warner protested that he had never been in Scotland in his life, and that his avoidance of the restaurant bill in Tonbridge had been prompted merely by hungry desperation after he had miscalculated his budget on a tour of France, Holland, Belgium, Antwerp and England. He had been in Antwerp when the murder took place.

Mr Warner was released without charge and went on to serve in the Canadian Army during the First World War.

Linked in infamy: Tobin and Bible John

Scotland’s unsolved murders have been trawled to try and link them to two of Scotland’s most notorious serial killers – Peter Tobin and Bible John.

There has even been speculation Tobin and Bible John, who murdered several women in Glasgow in 1968 and 1969, are one and the same. Bible John is known to have murdered Patricia Docker, Jemima MacDonald and Helen Puttock after picking them up at the Barrowland Ballroom in the city.

Tobin’s photograph at the time of his conviction for the murder of Angelika Kluk is said to bear a similarity to the artist’s impression of Bible John produced in the 1960s.

Tobin, a triple sex killer who had links with the church throughout his life, is believed to have left Glasgow in 1969 – just as the killings stopped.

Bible John earned his nickname after a taxi driver, who drove the murderer along with his last victim, remembered him quoting the Bible.

Tobin has been also linked to the murder of Pamela Hastie – one of Scotland’s 77 unsolved crimes – who was just 16 when she was raped and strangled then dumped in 1981. Her body was found in Rannoch Woods in Johnstone, the town where Tobin was born. Pamela’s killer attacked her as she walked home, hit her with a piece of wood and dragged her into bushes where she was raped. The teenager was then strangled with a length of twine.

The Sunday Herald also understands Tobin is being linked to another unsolved murder in Johnstone just two years later. Tracey Waters, 11, was attacked as she came home from a gymnastics class. She was strangled and her half-clothed body dumped in a backyard in the Shanks Crescent area while her mother was in the next street searching for her.

Tobin, police discovered, had a taste for strangling his victims. Cheryl McLachlan, a neighbour who managed to escape an attack in 2005 while she visited Tobin in his flat in Paisley, remembered seeing a tie and belt under one of the cushions on his sofa, which she was certain had been placed there to use on her later.

Other unsolved murders with a potential Tobin connection include that of Elaine Doyle, 16, who was found half-naked and strangled in Greenock, on June 2, 1986. The notorious Bible John murders are being investigated as part of Operation Anagram, a UK-wide inquiry into the crimes of Peter Tobin, 63. Tobin is currently serving three life sentences for the murders of Dinah McNicol, Vicky Hamilton and Angelika Kluk.

Angelika’s body was found under the floor of St Patrick’s Church in Glasgow on September 29, 2006. Tobin was arrested two days later at London’s National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery after a nurse recognised him from a television news report.


I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".

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First Hints

The first body found was mostly bones. A man looking for firewood in the lesopolosa, a rectangular "shelterbelt" or forested strip of land planted to prevent erosion, found the remains. While the area was only about 50 yards wide, with a path running through it, no one had seen this body until it was pretty well decomposed. There were small patches of leathered skin on some of the bones and some black hair hanging from the skull. The man who found the remains reported them to the militsia, the local authorities in this southern region of Russia

The body had no identifying clothing and had been left on its back, the head turned to one side. The ears were still sufficiently intact to see tiny holes for earrings, and those, along with the length of the hair, suggested that this victim had been female. It also appeared from her postmortem posture that she had tried to fight her attacker. It appeared that two ribs had been broken, perhaps by a knife, and closer inspection indicated numerous stab wounds into the bone. A knife had apparently cut into the eye sockets, too, as if to remove the eyes, and similar gouges were viewed in the pelvic region.

Whoever had done this, the police thought, had been a frenzied beast.

They did have a report on a missing 13-year-old girl, Lyubov Biryuk from Novocherkassk, a village not far away. Investigators called the uncle of the missing girl who had done an extensive search for her after she'd disappeared earlier in the month. He came to where the body lay to look at the remains.

Lyubov's uncle, perhaps clutching to some small glimpse of hope, said his niece's hair was not as dark and that the bones looked to him as if they had been there longer than she had been missing.

Major Mikhail Fetisov
Major Mikhail Fetisov (police file photo)
A few hours later, Major Mikhail Fetisov arrived from militsia headquarters in Rostov-on-Don, the closest large city.   He was the leading detective, or syshchik, for the entire region. He asked for records of other missing persons in the area and ordered military cadets in training to search the surrounding woods. He also ordered the remaining skin on the hands be fingerprinted.

The next day, the searchers found a white sandal and yellow bag containing the brand of cigarettes that the young girl had set out to purchase. Then fingerprints of the corpse and the schoolgirl's book covers confirmed that this body was Lyubov's. DNA analysis for body identification was several years away, but from what evidence they had, they could be sure it was the missing girl. The medical examiner hypothesized that warm temperatures and heavy rain had afforded the accelerated state of decomposition.

Despite a thorough search around the remains, no evidence was produced that could help to identify the person who had killed her, and the dress that Lyubov had worn was missing. That meant that no trace evidence could be collected from it. It was thought to be a random attack, nearly impossible to solve.

According to Robert Cullen, author of a well-known book on the case, most murders in that area of Russia fell into one of two categories: intimate killings, in which a person got into a rage or a drunken state and murdered someone he knew, usually a family member; and instrumental murders done to take something from the victim. But no one in the girl's family was a clear suspect and she'd had nothing of any value on her person.

There was a path near the body that people traveled often, and a road only 75 yards away. This had been a crime of some risk, with evidence of overkill. Although sexual crimes were considered manifestations of self-indulgent Western societies, there were plenty of signs that this incident had been just such a killing.

It became clear later from the autopsy report that she had been attacked from behind and hit hard in the head with both the handle and the blade of a knife. Perhaps she'd been knocked out right away. At any rate, she had been stabbed at least 22 separate times and mutilated in other ways. (In Hunting the Devil, told by Richard Lourie partly from the killer's perspective, the number of wounds was 41.)

The police came up with ideas and began looking for possible suspects: those who were mentally ill, juvenile delinquents, or someone with a history of sex crimes. They tried to find out whom Lyubov had known and how she might have encountered this killer.

One man, convicted in another rape, learned that he was a suspect and promptly hanged himself. That seemed to put an end to the investigation. There were no other viable suspects, and for all they knew, the killer had found his own form of redemption.

But then another victim was discovered.

The Division of Especially Serious Crimes

Less than two months after the discovery of Lyubov's remains, a railroad worker who was walking near the train station for Shakhty, a small industrial town 20 miles away, came across a set of skeletal remains. It appeared to have been there for approximately six weeks and was soon identified as an adult woman. The body had been stripped, left facedown, with the legs open. What made investigators take note was a key similarity with the murder of Lyubov: multiple stab wounds and lacerated eye sockets. That was a rare manifestation of murder.

Since no one of this approximate size and gender had been reported missing, no identification was made.

Only a month later, a soldier gathering wood about 10 miles south of that spot came across more remains, also of a woman lying face down. She had been covered with branches, but close inspection showed the pattern of knife wounds and damage to the eye sockets. She, too, remained unknown.

The linkage was obvious. A serial killer had claimed at least three victims. But no one was admitting that, especially not to the press. Officially what they had were three separate unsolved murders. (They actually had seven that year, Richard Lourie says, but they would not know that for some time to come.)

Major Fetisov organized a task force of 10 men to start an aggressive full-time investigation. He intended to get to the heart of this and stop this maniac from preying on any more female citizens. Among those he recruited was a second lieutenant from the criminology laboratory named Viktor Burakov, 37, and his perspective is presented in Cullen's book. He was the best man they had for the analysis of physical evidence like fingerprints, footprints, and other manifestations at a crime scene, and he was an expert in both police science and the martial arts. Known for his diligence, he was invited aboard the Division of Especially Serious crimes in January 1983. Little did anyone realize then just how diligent he would prove to be and would have to be.

Viktor Burakov
Viktor Burakov (police file photo)
That same month, a fourth victim was found. She appeared to have been killed about six months earlier and was near the area where the second set of remains was discovered. She, too, had the familiar knife wounds, but some female clothing was found nearby and assumed to be hers. She was possibly a teenager.

All they knew at this point was that the killer—whom they now called the Maniac—did not smoke (or he'd have taken the cigarettes found near Lyubov), and that he was a man. He had some issue with eyes, but whether it was based on superstition or a   fetish or some other consideration authorities had no idea. At any rate, as Cullen points out, gouging out the eyes indicated that the killer spent some time with the victims after they were dead.

With no definite leads, the unit decided to look back in time and see if there might be other victims. Burakov's first real task was to head an investigation in Novoshakhtinsk, a farming and mining town in the general area, where a 10-year-old girl had just been reported missing.


Olga Stalmachenok had gone to a piano lesson on December 10, 1982. No one had seen her since. Burakov questioned her parents and learned that she got along with them and had no apparent cause to just run away. However, the parents had received a strange postcard from "Sadist-Black Cat" telling them their daughter was in the woods and warning that there would be 10 more victims that coming year. Burakov dismissed this as a sick prank, but still feared that the girl was dead.

Then on April 14, four months after her disappearance, Olga's body was found in a field about three miles from the music conservatory where she had gone for her lesson. Her nude body was lying in a frozen tractor rut on a collective farm. The police left her in place until Burakov could arrive to see the crime scene for himself. Because she had been killed during the winter, the snow had preserved the corpse, so the pattern of knife wounds was clearly visible on her bluish-white skin. The skull was punctured, as were the chest and stomach. The knife had been inserted dozens of times, as if in a frenzy, moving the organs around in the body cavity. The killer had especially targeted the heart, lungs, and sexual organs. And as with the others, this offender had attacked the eyes with his single-bladed knife.

Without a doubt, Burakov knew that he was looking for a vicious, sexually-motivated serial killer who was attacking victims at a quickening rate, drawing no attention to what he was doing, and leaving no evidence. There were no resources that Burakov was aware of to utilize. Men who killed in this manner were supposedly few and only top-ranking officials knew the details of those investigations.

Burakov, who followed the long route from the conservancy to the place where the body was left, believed the killer had a car. He also felt sure the man did not frighten people when he approached. There was nothing overt in his appearance that would alarm women or children. That would make him harder to find, though he surely had some sort of covert mental disorder that hopefully some people noticed.

They decided to focus fully on investigating known sex offenders in the area, specifically where they were on December 11. Then on released mental patients, and then men who lived or worked around the conservancy who owned or used a car. Also, handwriting experts came in to compare the Black Cat card against samples from the entire population of that town. It was tedious work, with no promise of yielding a single clue. Yet doing nothing was guaranteed to provide no clue, so at least they had a start.

What they did not know, according to Lourie, was that a 15-year-old boy had also been killed in a similar manner near Shakhty, then left to be covered by snow. He would not be found for some time.

For the next four months, nothing turned up of any value, although they realized that snow could easily cover what might have occurred, and then it was discovered that the killer had struck again. In another wooded lesopolosa near Rostov-on-Don, a group of boys found some bones in a gully. Again, they could find no missing-persons report, and an examination of the bones not only linked this crime with the others but revealed that the girl (it seemed) had had Down's syndrome. That made things a little easier, despite the horror of realizing the killer had lured a mentally retarded child with no possibility of defending herself. They could check the special schools in the area to make an identification.

A 45-year-old woman was also murdered in the woods over the winter, but no one linked her to the lesopolosa series. That would come later.

The girl turned out to have been 13, attending a school for children with her condition. No one had missed her, since she often left, so no one had reported her. But her case took a back seat to the next body, discovered in September in a wooded area near Rostov's airport, two miles from victim No. 6. However it was an 8-year-old boy. He had been stabbed, like the others, including his eyes, and it turned out that he had been missing since August 9. Like the little girl going to piano lessons, he had ridden on public transportation.

This new development puzzled everyone. With what little was known about killers, the basic analysis was that they always went after the same type of victim. This man had killed grown women and young children, girls and boys. The investigators wondered if they might have more than one killer doing the same kind of perverse ritual. It seemed impossible, but so did the idea that so many victim types could trigger the same type of sexual violence in one person.

Then Burakov learned that the killer had finally been apprehended. It was over. He went to the jail to learn what he could about this man.


The suspect was Yuri Kalenik, 19. He had lived for years in a home for retarded children and had then been trained to lay floors in construction. He remained friends with older boys in his former residence and one day when they were riding on a trolley, the conductor caught them. Grabbing one boy, she wanted to know what he knew about the recent murders and he told her that Yuri had done them. So based on the squirming accusation of a mentally slow boy who was trying to free himself from punishment, the officials believed they had broken the case.

Yuri was arrested and interrogated. He had no right to a lawyer or to remain silent. He barely knew what was happening to him. Nevertheless, he denied everything. He had not killed anyone. Yet the interrogators kept him there for several days, believing (according to Cullen) that a guilty man will inevitably confess. It soon became clear to Yuri that to stop being beaten he would have to tell them what they wanted to hear, so he did. And then some. He confessed to all seven murders, and added four unsolved murders in the area to his list. Now all the police needed was supporting evidence. This young man was quite a catch.

Viktor Burakov accepted the task of further investigation. Yuri seemed a viable suspect, because he had a mental disorder and he rode on public transportation. And why would he confess to such brutal crimes if he did not do them? At the time—and even today—there was little understanding of the psychology of false confessions. Less intelligent people tend to be more susceptible to suggestion, especially when fatigued, and they will tell interrogators whatever pleases them—usually supplying whatever clues they hear from the questions. Sociologist Richard Ofshe recounts case after case of suspects who admitted to things they did not do, despite the harsh consequences, and Wrightsman lists several studies of people exonerated by DNA evidence who had confessed to the crime for which they were imprisoned. Most juries do not believe people will confess falsely and they accept a confession as the best type of evidence against someone.

Even better, when a suspect can lead police to the site of where someone was murdered, that's considered good confirmation, and Kalenik did just that with several of the incidents. Nevertheless, Burakov was not convinced. He saw that Kalenik did not go straight to a site, even when he was close, but appeared to wander around until he picked up clues from the police about where they expected him to go. Burakov did not consider that to be a good test. Upon examining the written confession, he was even less convinced. It was clear to him that Kalenik had been given most of the information that he was expected to say, and had then felt intimidated.

It was difficult to know just how to proceed, but then another body was found.

Operation Lesopolosa

In another wooded area, the mutilated remains of a young woman were found. Her nipples had been removed—possibly with teeth, her abdomen was slashed open, and one eye socket was damaged. She had been there for several months and her clothing was missing. Kalenik could have been responsible for this one, whose identity remained unknown, since he was free at the time, but not the next one, found on October 20.

She had been murdered approximately three days earlier, while Kalenik was in custody. He definitely did not kill her, but her wounds were similar to those of the other victims. Whoever had killed her was growing bolder and more frenzied in his surgical removal of parts. This victim was entirely disemboweled, and the missing organs were nowhere to be found. However, her eyes remained intact. She might not be part of the series, although she did ride the trains. Perhaps the killer had changed his method or had been interrupted.

Four weeks later and not far away from that site, a set of skeletal remains was found in the woods. Her death was estimated to have occurred some time during the summer, and her eyes had been gouged out.

It wasn't long before the 10th unsolved murder turned up, just after the turn of the year into 1984. This one was a boy, found near the railroad tracks. He was identified as Sergei Markov, a 14-year-old boy missing since December 27. For the first time, thanks to winter's preservative effects, the detectives, led by Mikhail Fetisov, were able to see just what the killer did to these young people.

He had stabbed the boy in the neck dozens of times—the final count would be 70—and he had then cut into the boy's genitals and removed everything from the pubic area. In addition, he had violated his victim anally. Then it appeared that he had gone to a spot nearby to have a bowel movement.

Clearly the jailed Kalenik was not responsible and the maniac who was perpetrating these crimes was still very much at large. In their rush to close these cases, the police had made a mistake.

Fetisov decided to retrace the boy's steps on the day he had disappeared. Beginning in a town called Gukovo, where the boy had lived and from where he had gone that day, he boarded the elechtrichka, or local train. In the same town was a home for the mentally retarded and the teachers there reported that a former student, Mikhail Tyapin, 23, had left around the same time as the boy and had taken the train. He was a very large young man and barely knew how to talk. Once again, the police got a confession.

Tyapin and his friend, Aleksandr Ponomaryev, said they had met Markov, had lured him to the woods, and killed him. They had also left their excrement. Tyapin, in particular, had numerous violent fantasies, and he claimed credit for several other unsolved murders in the area. But he never mentioned the damage done to the eyes. And he and Ponomaryev confessed to two murders that were proven to have been done by someone else.

The police were now thoroughly confused, and Fetisov had some doubts, while Burakov felt certain they had not apprehended the killer they were after. All of the so-called confessions were flawed. He believed that only one person was involved, that this person was a loner and not part of a gang, and that he was clearly demented in some subtly perceivable way.

Then they had their first piece of good evidence. The medical examiner found semen in Markov's anus. He had been raped and the perpetrator had ejaculated. When they apprehended the killer, they could compare the blood antigens. This would not afford a precise match, but could at least eliminate suspects. In fact, it eliminated all of the young men who had confessed thus far. They all had the wrong type of blood.

But then the lab issued another report, claiming it had mixed up the sample. The type did indeed match that of Mikhail Tyapin. That meant that the odds were good that they had Markov's killer.

Yet bodies still turned up.

Some Possible Leads

In 1984, numerous victims were discovered in wooded areas, some of them quite close to where previous bodies had lain before being discovered and removed. The first one found after Typapin's arrest was a woman who had been slashed up in the same frenzy as previous victims. Yet her eyes were intact and one new item was added: a finger had been removed.

They also had one more piece of evidence: a shoeprint left in the mud, size 13. On the victim's clothing were traces of semen and blood.

She was soon identified as an 18-year-old girl who had been seen at the bus station with a boy who worked nearby. When questioned, he had an alibi.

The medical examiner's report returned three significant facts: she'd had pubic lice, her stomach contained undigested food, and there was no semen inside her. The killer apparently had masturbated over her. It was also possible that, given her state of poverty, she had been lured away with the promise of a meal.

The police checked pharmacies for anyone purchasing lice treatments, but they came up empty-handed.

One thing they did discover was that this woman had a friend who had been missing since 1982. Matching dental records to skulls from various remains, they managed to identify their second victim in the series. That linked two of the victims together, one of whom had her eye sockets slashed and the other who did not.

Another suspect was caught and he confessed, but Burakov was looking for a certain personality type, and no one thus far seemed to come close. He spoke out to officials and was rebuked. His opinion also divided the task force into factions, helped along by the fact that the crime lab could not give them a definitive answer as to whether semen samples found on two victims were from the same person. They brought in a forensic scientist from the Moscow lab, who did better. They were type AB, she said, and with that, she eliminated their entire list of suspects. None of the confessions gathered thus far were any good and the killer was still at large.

He struck that March in Novoshakhtinsk, grabbing 10-year-old Dmitri Ptashnikov, who was found three days later, mutilated and stabbed. The tip of his tongue and his penis were missing. The semen on his shirt linked him to the previous two crimes where semen was found. Near this body was a large footprint.

This time, however, there were witnesses. The boy was seen following a tall, hollow-cheeked man with stiff knees and large feet, wearing glasses. Yet no one had recognized him. Someone else had seen a white car.

Lyudmila Alekseyeva
Lyudmila Alekseyeva (Victim)
Then a 17-year-old, Lyudmila Alekseyeva, was found slashed 39 times with a kitchen knife, and leads went nowhere, wasting time and resources. Soon there was another victim, and then another close by. One was a girl, killed with a hammer, the other a woman stabbed many times with a knife. Mother and daughter, they had died at the same time. By the end of that summer in 1984, authorities counted 24 victims that were probably murdered by the same man. Whenever semen was left behind, it proved to have the same AB antigen. There was also a single gray hair on one victim, which seemed to be from a man, and some scraps of clothing near a boy that failed to match his clothes.

Lourie writes that the killer had shifted his pattern somewhat that year. He now removed the upper lip, and sometimes the nose, and left them in the victim's mouth or ripped-open stomach.

With no witnesses, little physical evidence, and no way to know how this man was leading his victims off alone, the police felt the investigation was out of control. This killer had stepped up his pace from five victims the first year (they believed) to something like one every two weeks. Surely he would eventually make a mistake. They had no way of knowing as yet that they had not found the earliest murders and it would be some time before the killing spree was stopped. This man did not make many mistakes.


With all the surveillance, it was inevitable that certain suspicious men would be followed and detained, and this procedure produced two suspects, each of which was interesting for different reasons. One appeared to be the man they were after and the other became an informant.

The Minister of the Interior appointed a dozen new detectives to the case, and a task force of some 200 men and women became involved in the investigation. Burakov was appointed to head this team. That got him closer to leads as they came in. It also shouldered him with the heavy responsibility of forming a good plan to stop this killer. People were assigned to work undercover at bus and train stations, and to wander the parks.

According to Cullen, they decided that they were looking for a man between 25 and 30, tall, well built, with type AB blood. He was careful and had at least average intelligence, and was probably verbally persuasive. He traveled and lived with either his mother or a wife. He might be a former psychiatric patient, or a substance abuser, and he might have some knowledge of anatomy and skill with a knife. Anyone who generally matched these characteristics would have to submit to a blood test.

The press was not allowed to carry stories about the links among these crimes, only to ask for witnesses concerning one or another of the murders. No warnings were given to parents to protect their children or to young women out alone.

The Rostov bus station
The Rostov bus station (police file photo)
One undercover officer spotted an older man in the Rostov bus station. He spoke to a female adolescent and when she got on her bus, he circled around and sat next to another young woman. This was suspicious behavior, so Major Zanasovsky thought it was time to question him. The man's name was Andrei Chikatilo and he was the manager of a machinery supply company. He was there on a business trip, but lived in Shakhty. As to why he was approaching young women, he admitted that he'd once been a teacher and he missed talking to young people. The officer let him go.

However, he spotted Chikatilo again and followed him, boarding the same bus he got on in order to watch him. "He seemed very ill at ease," Zanasovsky's report states, "and was always twisting his head from one side to another."

He followed Chikatilo into another bus and saw him accost various women. When Chikatilo solicited a prostitute and received oral sex under his coat, they arrested him for indecent behavior in public and went through his briefcase. Inside were a jar of Vaseline, a long kitchen knife, a piece of rope and a dirty towel—nothing suggestive of business dealings.

Andrei Chikatilo, teacher
Andrei Chikatilo, teacher (school photo)
Zanasovsky believed he had the lesopolosa killer. He urged the procurator to come and interrogate the man. Chikatilo's blood was drawn and it was type A, not AB. He was also a member of the Communist Party, with good character references. There was nothing in his background to raise suspicion. Nevertheless, they kept him in jail for a couple of days to see if sitting in a cell might pressure him into a confession.

He denied everything, although he admitted to "sexual weakness," and was finally released. He was later arrested again for petty thefts at work and he served three months in prison. Still, he did not have the right blood type, so he was not their killer.

Burakov decided to breach protocol and consult with psychiatric experts in Moscow. He wanted to know what they thought of the idea of a single person killing women and children of both genders. Most were either uninterested or refused to say much, due to insufficient detail. However, one psychiatrist, Alexandr Bukhanovsky, agreed to study the few known details, as well as the crime scene patterns, to come up with a profile. He read everything he could find, specialized in sexual pathologies and schizophrenia, and was willing to take risks. This case, unusual as it was, interested him. He came up with a seven-page report.

Alexandr Bukhanovsky, psychiatric expert
Alexandr Bukhanovsky, psychiatric expert (police file photo)
The killer, he said, was a sexual deviate, between 25 and 50 years old, around 5'10" tall. He thought the man suffered from some form of sexual inadequacy and he blinded his victims to prevent them from looking at him. He also brutalized their corpses, partly out of frustration and partly to enhance his arousal. He was a sadist and had difficulty getting relief without cruelty. Often sadists like to inflict superficial wounds, as was evident on many of these victims. He was also compulsive, following the goading of his need, and would be depressed until he could kill. He might even have headaches. He was not retarded or schizophrenic. He could work out a plan and follow it. He was a loner and he was the only offender involved.

Burakov got two other opinions, one of which insisted there were two killers, and he felt that no one had given him anything that brought him closer to closing the case. He was still frustrated.

Working with the idea that the killer had a sexual dysfunction, the dogged investigator looked up records of men convicted of homosexual crimes and came across Valery Ivanenko, who had committed several acts of "perversion" and who had claimed he was psychotic. He also had a charismatic personality and once had been a teacher. At age 46, he was tall and wore glasses. He'd been brought to the psychiatric institute in Rostov but had escaped. In short, he sounded too good to be true. He was the perfect suspect.

Staking out the apartment of the man's invalid mother, Burakov caught and arrested him. But his blood was type A which eliminated him as the killer. In a deal, Burakov enlisted his assistance investigating the gay population in return for his release. Ivanenko proved to be quite good at getting secret information, which in turn led to others providing even more information under pressure. Burakov soon knew quite a bit about Rostov's underworld, from perversion to violence.

Yet Burakov still felt as if he was just going toward more dead ends. The gay men that he investigated just did not strike him as having the right personality disorder for these crimes. He began to come around to Bukhanovsky's view that this killer was heterosexual but probably impotent when it came to normal sexual relations. He needed more details.

Killer X

Pressure was on to solve the crimes that had happened already, but over the next 10 months only one more body turned up—a young woman—but she was killed near Moscow. The killer may have moved or traveled there, but they just couldn't tell. They wondered if the killer had left the area or been arrested. Perhaps he had died. Then a body was found in August of 1985. She bore similarities to the others and she lay near an airport.

Burakov went to Moscow to look at the photos of the dead girl. It was so similar to his recent victim in Rostov that he knew the killer had gone to Moscow for some reason. He checked the flight rosters between Moscow and the airport where their victim had been found, and had officers go painstakingly through all the handwritten tickets. But they failed to discover a significant clue right under their noses.

Then detectives in Moscow put together a series of murders of young boys that had begun when the Rostov killings had stopped. All three had been raped and one was decapitated.

But the Rostov crew was quickly drawn back to Shakhty. In a tree grove near the bus depot, a homeless, 18-year-old girl lay dead, her mouth stuffed with leaves. This was the same signature as the girl in Moscow earlier that month. She had a red and a blue thread under her fingernails, and sweat near her wounds that typed AB—different from her own type O blood. Between her fingers was a single strand of gray hair—similar to one of the earlier murders. This was the most evidence left at a crime scene thus far. The detectives believed they would break this case soon.

In fact they did find a good suspect who had also been implicated with a previous victim, and he did confess (after 10 days of intense interrogation), but to Burakov, it did not sound right. Nor could the suspect take them to the correct murder site. Once again, frustratingly so, he was not their man.

Chief Investigator Issa Kostoyev
Chief Investigator Issa Kostoyev (police file photo)
A special procurator with one serial killer investigation behind him, Chief Investigator Issa Kostoyev, was appointed to look into the lesopolosa murders. By this time, they had 15 procurators and 29 detectives involved. Many of them were watching train and bus stations for suspicious activity. The female officials worked undercover to try to lure men to talk to them. Kostoyev looked over the work done thus far and felt it had not proceeded well. In fact, he believed they'd already come across the man they were after and just hadn't known it. This did nothing to improve the already-low morale of the investigating team.

To try to learn more about the type of killer who would be so raw and brutal, Kostoyev had the classic nineteenth-century work on sexual predators by Richard von Krafft-Ebing translated into Russian. He also discovered a rare edition of Crimes and Criminals in Western Culture, by B. Utevsky, which included a chapter detailing cases of dismemberment and disfiguring of victims. He saw that some killers were driven merely by arrogance and the idea that their victims were objects that belonged to them to do with as they pleased. Kostoyev stored this information away to use when they found more suspects.

In the meantime, Yuri Kalenik was still in prison awaiting the completion of the investigation on him, which was now delayed by investigators looking into other areas. One of these leads produced yet a fifth false confession. Something was clearly wrong with the process, and Kostoyev was furious. He did not believe that Yuri was guilty of anything.

Burakov turned again to Dr. Bukhanovsky, finally allowing him to see all of the crime scene reports so he could write a more detailed profile. This, he thought, might help them to narrow the leads. Bukhanovsky took all of the materials and spent months of his own time writing 65 pages devoted to what made sense to him from his work with gay men, sexual dysfunction, necrophiles and necrosadists. He labeled the unknown suspect "Killer X."

The details, in brief, were the following: X was not psychotic, because he was in control of what he did and he was clearly self-interested. He was narcissistic and arrogant, considering himself gifted, although he was not unduly intelligent. He had a plan but he was not creative. He was heterosexual, with boys being a "vicarious surrogate." He was a necrosadist, needing to watch people die in order to achieve sexual gratification.

To render them helpless, he would hit them in the head. Afterward, the multiple stabbing was a way to "enter" them sexually. He either sat astride them or squatted next to them, getting as close as possible. The deepest cuts represented the height of his pleasure, and he might masturbate, either spontaneously or with his hand.

There were many reasons why he might cut out the eyes, and nothing in the crime scenes suggested what actually motivated X. He might be excited by eyes or fear them. He might believe his image was left on them, a superstition held by some. Cutting into the sexual organs was a manifestation of power over women. He might keep the missing organs or he might eat them. Removing the sexual organs from the boys might be a way to neutralize them and make them appear more female.

An interesting twist was the hypothesis that X responded to changes in weather patterns. Before most of the murders, the barometer had dropped. That might be his trigger, especially if it coincided with other stressors at home or work. Most of the killings were also done mid-week, from Tuesday to Thursday.

While he was vague about height and occupation, he now thought X's age was between 45 and 50, the age at which sexual perversions often are most developed. It was likely that he'd had a difficult childhood. He was conflicted and probably kept to himself. He had a rich fantasy life, but an abnormal response to sexuality. Bukhanovsky could not say whether or not the man was married or had fathered children, but if he was married, his wife let him keep his own hours and did not ask much of him.

His killing was compulsive and might stop temporarily if he sensed he was in danger of discovery, but would not stop altogether until he died or was caught.

Despite the length and detail of this psychological report, Burakov found nothing practical in it to help him find the man.

Police sketch of suspected killer
Police sketch of suspected killer
Then he consulted with someone who was much closer to these types of crimes: Anatoly Slivko, a man convicted of the sexual murder of seven boys, who faced execution. The police wanted this man to explain to them the workings of the mind of a serial killer. Slivko attributed his actions to his inability to engage in normal sexual arousal and satisfaction. Sexual murderers have endless fantasies through which they set up the rules of behavior and feel a demand for action, and the act of planning their crimes has its own satisfaction. He offered nothing practical for the investigation in what he said, but his manner under questioning showed them a compartmentalized mind that could kill boys and still feel morally indignant about using alcohol in front of children. That meant he could live in a way that hid his true propensities. Only hours after the interview, Slivko was executed.

The investigators believed that X was very much like Slivko, and that meant he would be next to impossible to catch.

But then, oddly, the killing seemed to stop.

To be continued...

I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".

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Only one dead woman turned up in 1985 in Rostov, and nothing happened that winter or the next spring. Then on July 23, the body of a 33-year-old female turned up, but it bore none of the markings of the serial killer, except that she had been repeatedly stabbed. Burakov had doubts about her being in the series, but not so with the young woman found on August 18. All of the disturbing wounds were present, but she had been mostly buried, save for a hand sticking out of the dirt—a new twist. Now they had to wonder whether there were others not yet found who were also under the earth.

The handwriting experts finally gave up on the Black Cat postcard, and the police could go no farther with the 14 suspects on the list so far, all of whom Burakov believed could be eliminated. He created a comprehensive booklet to give out to other police departments, and a card file was created to keep track of new leads. He and his team were dogged by the fear that this case might never be solved.

At the end of 1986 Viktor Burakov finally had a nervous breakdown. He was weak and exhausted, and could not sleep, so he went to a hospital, where he remained for a month. Then he was sent to rest for another month. Four years of intense work had come to this. But he would not give up.

He had no idea then that he was only halfway there. This devil was not yet finished.

Burakov's period of rest, however, had given him some perspective. He'd been able to think over their strategies thus far and felt that none was taking them down the correct route. Not only that, all were time- and resource-consuming. He might only catch this killer if he surfaced again—in other words, murdered someone. It was a grim thought, but it could be their only hope

Yet nothing occurred for the rest of that year or throughout all of 1987.

The winter melted into spring before a railroad worker found a woman's nude body in a weedy area near the tracks on April 6, 1988. Her hands were bound behind her, she had been stabbed multiple times, the tip of her nose was gone, and her skull had been bashed in. Only a large footprint was found nearby. People recalled seeing her but she had been alone. There was no sign of sexual assault and her eyes had not been touched. Nor had she been killed in the woods.

The investigators pondered whether they should include this murder in the series. Perhaps the lesopolosa killer was no longer in business. Yet only a month later, on May 17, the body of a 9-year-old boy was discovered in the woods not far from a train station. He'd been sodomized and then his orifices were stuffed with dirt. He also bore numerous knife wounds and a blow to the skull, and his penis had been removed.

Unlike the murdered female, the boy was quickly identified as Aleksei Voronko, missing for two days. A classmate had seen him with a middle-aged man with gold teeth, a mustache and a sports bag. They had gone together to the woods and Aleksei had said he would soon return but did not.

This was a strong lead, one that could be followed up among area dentists. Few adults in the region could afford gold crowns for their teeth.

Yet by the end of that year, they had turned up nothing. Not only that, they learned from the Ministry of Health that it had been a mistake to assume that typing blood in secretions was an accurate match to blood types (or, alternatively, to assume that the labs were providing accurate results). There were rare "paradoxical" cases in which they did not match. In other words, any of the suspects eliminated based on blood type could have been their killer. While this was frustrating news and made the investigation more difficult in many ways, it also opened a few doors from the past. However, it meant taking semen samples (which had to be voluntary), not blood types, and it also meant redoing four years worth of work to that point. The idea was overwhelming.

The only method of investigation that seemed viable now was to post more men to watch the public transportation stations.

Still, the killer did not strike. It was April 1989 before they came across another victim who could be added to the lesopolosa series.

The Count Rises

This discovery, in the woods near a train station, was that of a 16-year-old boy reported missing since the summer before. His killer had stabbed him repeatedly and had removed his testicles and penis. He was badly decomposed and had lain under the snow for months. A watch, inscribed from his aunt and uncle, was missing. It would help immensely if it was found in someone's possession.

None of the investigators assigned to ride the trains and watch people in the stations in that area had reported anything suspicious. No older men with boys or women. However, a ticket clerk reported that she had seen a man that summer on the platform. He had tried to convince her son to go into the words with him. The police did locate him, but quickly eliminated him as the killer they were seeking.

However, Yuri Kalenik had been released from prison after serving five years and he now lived near the area where the body was found. Perhaps they had been hasty in releasing him. When questioned, he insisted he knew nothing, so they let him go.

Then on May 11, an 8-year-old boy disappeared. He was found two months later by the side of a road, stabbed and genitally mutilated. This change in the killer's habits, from the woods to out in the open, alerted the officials to the possibility that he might have noticed all the surveillance at the train stations and changed his manner of procuring victims.

Elena Varga, victim
Elena Varga, victim
That was disturbing. Yet killing someone so near a road was also careless. That could be a hopeful sign. Even the most organized killer can disintegrate as need replaces caution.

Then he killed a   Hungarian student, Elena Varga, in August, in a wooded area that was far from any train or bus station. Her body had been violated like all the other female victims in the lesopolosa series.

Aleksei Khobotov, victim
Aleksei Khobotov, victim

In just over a week, the fourth victim, a 10-year-old boy, Aleksei Khobotov, went missing, and four months later, early in 1990, the sexually mutilated body of an 11-year-old boy turned up in a lesopolosa. Then another 10-year-old boy was killed, his sexual organs cut off, and his tongue missing. It appeared to have been bitten off.

Victor Petrov, victim
Victor Petrov, victim
Once more, the killer shifted his pattern and went for a female victim, and at the end of July in 1990, workmen found a 13-year-old boy, Victor Petrov, killed and mutilated in the Botanical Gardens.

They now had what they believed were 32 victims over the past eight years and the newspapers, now free to report this news after the loosening of government control, were putting pressure on the investigators. Those in the top positions threatened those on lower rungs with being fired. This killer had to be stopped. People were getting desperate.

Then on August 17 Ivan Fomin, 11, went swimming not far from his grandmother's cottage. In the tall reeds not far from numerous potential witnesses who should have heard if not seen him, the serial killer had stabbed him 42 times and castrated him. This was outrageous and the public was getting angry.

Burakov decided on a new plan. He would select the most likely stations and then make surveillance obvious in the others, so that only those with plainclothes officers would seem safe to the killer. In other words, they would try to force him into action in a particular place, and in those places, they would record the names of every man who came and went. They would also place people in the forests nearby, dressed as farmers. It was a major task, with over 350 people who had to be in place and do their jobs for who-knows-how-long, but it seemed viable.

It seemed that the train station in Donleskhoz station might be a good place to set up a post, for example, since two of the victims had been found near there. Mushroom pickers generally used it during the summer, but not many other people. Two other stations were selected as well.

But even before the plan was enacted, the killer chose a victim from the Donleskhoz station. He killed a 16-year-old retarded boy, stabbing him 27 times and mutilating him before discarding his clothes. Part of his tongue was missing, as were his testicles, and one eye had been stabbed. When his identity was established, officers learned that he spent most of his time on the electrichka, the slow-moving train, but no one had seen him exit with anyone.

Burokov was in despair. They had a good plan and had it been in place, they might have caught the guy.

Victor Tishcenko, victim
Victor Tishcenko, victim

Then another 16-year-old boy, Victor Tishchenko, was reported missing who had gone to the Shakhty railroad station to pick up tickets. Cullen writes that the handsome, athletic Tishcenko was larger than any other male victim thus far, weighing around 130 pounds. They found his body two miles south, in the woods and in the usual condition. It was where the mother and daughter had been found six years earlier. In the grove, there was evidence of a prolonged struggle.

Burakov got moving. The snare was set, with everyone in place, but the killer killed again, undetected. This time, his victim was a young woman. She was number 36, and she had been beaten and sliced open, and part of her tongue cut off. But no one had seen a thing.

Yet there were reports of men who had been at the train station nearby. One name stood out. In fact, they were chilled by it. They had seen this one before. To that point, according to Moira Martingale in Cannibal Killers, over half a million people had been investigated, but this one had been interrogated before and only released because his blood type had not matched the semen samples.

And they knew the lab work had been faulty. This was the killer. They were sure of it.


Andrei Chikatilo mugshot
Andrei Chikatilo mugshot

Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo, 54, had been at the Donleskhoz train station on November 6. He had been questioned and cleared in 1984. He had now been placed at the scene of a victim's disappearance. He was seen coming out of the woods and had washed his hands at a pump. He also had a red smear on his cheek and ear, a cut finger, and twigs on the back of his coat. The officer at the station had taken down his name.

Burakov had the man placed under surveillance. They soon learned that he had resigned from his post as a teacher due to reports that he had molested students. He had then worked for another enterprise, but was fired when he failed to return from business trips with the supplies he was sent to get. So what had he been doing with his time? During the time he had spent in jail in 1984, there had been no murders, and his travel records coincided with other murders—including the one in Moscow. He once had been a member in good standing with the Communist Party, but had been expelled due to his incarceration.

But all the evidence was circumstantial. Investigators would need to catch him in the act or get him to confess. Keeping him under surveillance, they saw an ordinary man doing nothing unusual. It was frustrating. Kostoyev, who had finally read the earlier report on this man, ordered his arrest.

On November 20, 1990, three officers dressed in street clothes brought Chikatilo in for interrogation, and they noticed that he did not have a mouth full of gold teeth as one witness had indicated. They learned that he was married and had two children, and that he was something of an intellectual with a university degree. In his satchel they found a folding pocketknife.

Knives found in Chikatilo's possession, trial evidence
Knives found in Chikatilo's possession, trial evidence
They placed Chikatilo in a cell with a gifted informant, who was expected to get him to admit to what he had done, but failed. A search of Chikatilo's home, which shamed his family, produced no evidence from victims, but did yield 23 knives. Two writers have claimed these weapons were used for the murders, but that was not proven.

The next day, Kostoyev decided to handle the interrogation, and he did so in the presence of Chikatilo's court-appointed lawyer. Richard Lourie based much of his book, Hunting the Devil, on the time that Kostoyev spent with Chikatilo. Contrary to other versions of this narrative that show him to be an angry and impatient interrogator, Lourie says that Kostoyev had decided to use compassion to get the suspect to talk.

He wanted the room to be spare, with only a safe inside that would hint to the prisoner of evidence against him. There was also a desk, a table, and two chairs. When Chikatilo was brought in, Kostoyev could see that he was a tall, older man with a long neck, sloping shoulders, oversized glasses, and gray hair. He used a shuffling gait, like a weary elderly person, but Kostoyev was not fooled. He believed Chikatilo was a calculating killer with plenty of energy when he needed it. Chikatilo looked easy to break, and Kostoyev had only failed to obtain a confession in three out of hundreds of interrogations. He would get inside the suspect's head, figure out his logic, and get him to talk. All guilty men eventually confessed. They had to. Besides, he had 10 days in which to succeed, and he had bait.

Chikatilo began with a statement that the police had made a mistake, just as they had in 1984 when he'd first been investigated. He denied that he had been at a train station on November 6 and did not know why it had been reported. Kostoyev knew he was lying, and he let Chikatilo know that. The next day, Chikatilo waived his right to legal counsel.

Then Chikatilo wrote a three-page document to which he confessed to "sexual weakness"—the words he had used before—and to years of humiliation. He hinted at "perverse sexual activity" but did not name it, and said that he was out of control. He admitted to nothing specific. But he wrote another, longer essay in which he said that he did move around in the train stations and saw how young people there were the victims of homeless beggars. He also admitted that he was impotent. It appeared to be an indirect confession, feeling guilt but fending it off by fingering other suspects and also hinting at how it was best that some of these beggars had died rather than reproduce. Nevertheless, he mentioned that he had thought of suicide.

Andrei Chikatilo (police file photo)
Andrei Chikatilo (police file photo)
Kostoyev told him that his only hope would be to confess everything in a way that would show he had mental problems, so that an examination could affirm that he was legally insane and he could be treated. Otherwise the evidence they had would surely convict him without a confession and he would have no hope to save himself. That was Kostoyev's bait, and he felt sure it would be effective.

Chikatilo asked for a few days to collect himself and said he would then submit to an interrogation. Everyone expected that he would confess, but when the day arrived, he insisted he was guilty of no crimes. For each crucial time period involving a murder, he claimed that he had been at home with his wife. Clearly he had used the extra two days alone in his cell to become more resolved.

The next day, he revised his statements somewhat. In fact, he had been involved in some criminal activity—but not the murders. In 1977, he had fondled some female students who had aroused him. He had difficulty controlling himself around children, but there were only two instances in which he had lost control.

He wrote again, but again revealed nothing, and nine days elapsed with Kostoyev getting no closer to his goal. He did not know what approach to take to pressure this man to finally open up.

A medical examination indicated that Chikatilo's blood type was A, but his semen supposedly had a weak B antibody, making it appear that his blood type was AB, though it wasn't. He was the "paradoxical" rare case—if such an analysis could be believed.

The informant in Chikatilo's cell, writes Cullen, eventually told Burakov that the interrogation techniques were not according to protocol and that they were rough and made Chikatilo defensive. It was unlikely they were going to work. Kostoyev brought in photographers to humiliate Chikatilo and pressure him to believe that they had witnesses to whom they were going to show these photographs. Still, he did not give any ground.

Nine days had elapsed. They were allowed only 10 before having to charge him with a specific crime, and thus far, they did not have enough proof of even one. It was looking very much like they might have to let him go. And that could be disastrous. Burakov, says Cullen, thought they should try another interrogator, and his candidate was Dr. Bukhanovsky. Cullen also says that Kostoyev initially resisted this idea, but finally had to admit he was getting nowhere. He agreed to let the psychiatrist see what he could do. Lourie, presenting things from Kostoyev's side, says that using the psychiatrist was one of Kostoyev's clever ploys. Lourie does not mention Burakov's role in the decision.

Whoever thought of it, this was clearly a wise move.


The Psychiatrist and the Murderer

Bukhanovsky agreed to question Chikatilo, but out of professional interest, not for the court. Burakov agreed to these conditions. Bukhanovsky was soon in a closed room alone with the best suspect in the lesopolosa murders.

Andrei Chikatilo mugshot
Andrei Chikatilo mugshot
The psychiatrist saw right away, writes Cullen, that this was the type of man that he had described in his 1987 profile. So many of the indicators were there—ordinary, solitary, non-threatening. He introduced himself with a show of humility and then showed Chikatilo the profile. He sensed that this man wanted to talk about his rage and his humiliation, so it was best to show sympathy and listen. He spent two hours doing that, and then began to discuss the crimes.

In the film, Citizen X, Bukhanovsky is shown asking Chikatilo to help him on some aspects of the profile that he was not quite certain about. He reads the relevant pages to him, and one sees Chikatilo listening intently, as if alert to the only person who seems ever to have understood him. Bukhanovsky's description goes into the nature of Chikatilo's mental illness and some reasons for it. As Chikatilo hears his secret life described so clearly, he begins to tremble. Finally he affirms what the psychiatrist is saying, breaks down and admits that it's all true. He has done those horrible things.

Bukhanovsky talked with him for hours and then went out and told police interrogators that the suspect was now ready to confess.

Kostoyev prepared a formal statement accusing Chikatilo of 36 murders. He was off by a long shot, but no one yet knew that.

Yelena Zakotnova, victim
Yelena Zakotnova, victim
Chikatilo read the statement of charges and admitted that he was guilty of the crimes listed. He wanted now to tell the truth about his life and what had led him into these crimes. Among his admissions was his first murder, which had occurred not when the police had first begun to keep track with Lyubov Biryuk but years early in 1978. He had killed a little girl, Yelena Zakotnova, age 9.

The Secret House crime scene
The Secret House crime scene
This was alarming, since a man had already been arrested, tried and executed for that murder. But Chikatilo said that he had moved to Shakhty that year to teach. Before his family arrived, his free time was spent watching children and feeling a strong desire to see them without their clothes on. To maintain his privacy, he purchased a hut on a dark, dirty street. When he went to it one day, he came upon the girl, was seized with urgent sexual desire, and took her to the hut to attack her.

When he could not achieve an erection, he had moved in imitation of the sexual act and used his knife as a substitute. During his frenzy of strangulation and stabbing, he blindfolded her. Once she was dead, he tossed her body into a nearby river. Lourie devotes a chapter to the fact that he was a suspect, seen by a witness, and that blood was found on his doorstep, but the other man had confessed under torture, so Chikatilo was free. Chikatilo was shocked to nearly have been caught.

Kostoyev asked him to explain the blindfold, and just as they had suspected, Chikatilo admitted that he had heard that the image of a killer remains in the eyes of a victim. It was a superstition, but he had believed it. That was why he had wounded so many others in the eyes. Then he had decided it was not true, so he stopped doing that (explaining the change in pattern).   Later he admitted that he just had not liked his victims looking at him as he attacked them.

Lourie describes how Chikatilo hated to see how vagrants at train stations went off into the woods for sexual encounters that he could never emulate. His fantasies became more violent. In 1981, he repeated his manner of attack on a vagrant girl looking for money, but he also used his teeth on her to bite off a nipple and swallow it. "At the moment of cutting her and seeing the body cut open," he said, "I involuntarily ejaculated." He covered her with newspaper and took her sexual organs away with him, only to cast them aside in the woods.

Chikatilo re-enacts crime, evidence
Chikatilo re-enacts crime, evidence

He remembered the details of each of the 36 lesopolosa murders and went through them, one by one. Sometimes he acted as a predator, learning someone's routes and habits and finding a way to get that person alone. Others were victims of opportunity who happened along at the wrong time. The stabbing almost always was a substitute for sexual intercourse that could not be performed. He had learned how to squat beside them in such a way as to avoid getting their blood on his clothing (which he demonstrated with a mannequin). At any rate, he worked in a shipping firm, so there was always an excuse for a scrape or cut. It seemed that his impotence generally triggered the rage, especially if the women made demands or ridiculed him. He soon understood that he could not get aroused without violence. "I had to see blood and wound the victims."

With the boys, it was different, although they bled just as easily as women and that's what he needed most. Chikatilo would fantasize that these boys were his captives and that he was a hero for torturing and doing them in. He could not give a reason for cutting off their tongues and penises, although at one point he said he was taking revenge against life on the genitals of his victims. Lourie says, based on the psychiatric reports, that Chikatilo would place his semen inside a uterus that he had just removed and as he walked along, he would chew on it—"the truffle of sexual murder." He never admitted to actually consuming these organs, but searches never turned up any discarded remains.

"But the whole thing," Chikatilo said, "—the cries, the blood, the agony—gave me relaxation and a certain pleasure." He liked the taste of their blood and would even tear at their mouths with his teeth. He said it gave him an "animal satisfaction" to chew or swallow nipples or testicles.

To corroborate what he was saying, he drew sketches of the crime scenes, and what he said fit the known facts. Then he confirmed what everyone had feared—he added more victims to the list. Many more.

One boy he had killed in a cemetery and placed in a shallow grave—a hole, he said, that he had dug for himself when he had contemplated suicide. He took the interrogators there and they recovered the body. Another was killed in a field, and she was located. On and on it went, murders here and there, and the bodies were always left right where they were killed, except for one. Chikatilo described a murder in an empty apartment and to get the body out, he had to dismember it and dump the parts down a sewer. The police had wondered whether this one was part of the series and had decided that there were too many dissimilarities to include it.

Andrei Chikatilo mugshot, profile
Andrei Chikatilo mugshot, profile

In the end, he confessed to 56 murders (Lourie counts it as 55), although there was corroboration for only 53: 31 females and 22 males. Burakov, says Cullen, believed that there might actually be more.

They now had sufficient evidence to take this man to court. In the meantime, they discovered more about him.

The Roots of Perversity

He was born in 1936 into a small Ukrainian village and his head was misshapen from water on the brain. He had a sister seven years younger. His father was a POW in WWII and then was sent to a prison camp in Russia, so his mother raised him mostly on her own.

In the HBO documentary, "Cannibal" and in Moira Martingale's book Cannibal Killers, some of Chikatilo's background is described in a chilling context as a way to try to understand what drove him into such a bestial frenzy. In fact, Martingale sees a direct connection between those times and Chikatilo's sexual fantasies. He was like a werewolf, changing into a ravaging animal when triggered in just the right way. Much of this information came from the confession, the assessments done later, and from investigative research.

During the early part of the twentieth century, the former Soviet Union was often subjected to famines, especially in the Ukraine after Stalin crushed out private agriculture and sent many citizens to the Siberian Gulag. Some six million people died of starvation, according to Cullen, and desperate people might remove meat from corpses to survive. Sometimes they went to a cemetery, where corpses were stacked, and sometimes (legend has it) they grabbed someone on the street. Human flesh was bought and sold, or just hoarded.

Children saw disfigured corpses and heard terrible tales of hardship. Chikatilo had grown up during several of these famines and one story that his mother told was how he once had had an older brother, Stepan, who had been killed. In a prison interview, he said, "Many people went crazy, attacked people, ate people. So they caught my brother, who was 10, and ate him." He might simply have died and been consumed, if he even existed (which could not be corroborated in any records), but Chikatilo's mother would warn him to stay in the yard or he might get eaten as well. It was a scary idea, but titillating.

He also saw the results of Nazi occupation and of German bombing, with bodies blown up in the streets. He said that they frightened and excited him.

Most of his childhood was spent alone, living in his fantasies. Other children mocked him for his awkwardness and sensitivity. He began to develop anger at this age, even rage. To entertain and empower himself, he devised images of torture, and these remained a fixed part of his killings later in life.

He had his first sexual experience as an adolescent when he struggled with a 10-year-old friend of his sister's and ejaculated. That impressed itself on him, especially as he went along in life unable to get an erection but able to ejaculate. The struggle became as fixed in his mind as the images of torture.

He went into the army but when he came home and tried to have a girlfriend, he found he was still unable to perform the sexual act. The girl spread this around, humiliating him, and he dreamed about catching her and tearing her to pieces. His life, as far as he could see, was now a disaster.

He became a schoolteacher and did get married (which was arranged by his sister), but could only conceive children, according to the HBO documentary, by ejaculating outside his wife and pushing his semen inside by hand. Much like his mother, his wife was critical, which only made Chikatilo withdraw even further into his fantasy world. His mother died in 1973 when he was 37, and it wasn't long before he found himself attracted to young girls and began to molest them. It made him feel powerful, and when incidents were reported, they were met with cover-up and denial instead of prosecution, allowing a pervert to become a killer.

For true satisfaction, he needed to get violent, and by 1978, he killed his first victim. Since he was on the road quite often as a parts supply liaison, it became easy to find vulnerable strangers, dominate them and murder them. He didn't have to go looking for them, he said. They were always right there and they were usually willing to follow him. He had read the newspaper reports about the murders when the press was allowed to print them and had known it was only a matter of time before it would all end. Being arrested, he admitted, was a relief.

Chikatilo believed he suffered from an illness that provoked his uncontrollable transgressions. He wanted to see some specialists in sexual deviance, and said that he would answer all questions. (Lourie says this was part of Kostoyev's plan.)

He was sent to Moscow's Serbsky Institute for two months for psychiatric and neurological assessment, and it was determined that he had brain damage from birth. It had affected his ability to control his bladder and his seminal emissions. His mother criticized him for it repeatedly, and was often cruel. He had deviant fantasies. However, after all the reports, he was found to be sane. He knew what he was doing and he could have controlled it. That was good enough for the prosecutor.

The Beast in the Cage

They brought him into the Rostov courtroom on April 14, 1992, and put him into a large iron cage painted off-white, where he could either stand or sit. The judge sat on a dais and two citizens on either side acted as jurors. There were 225 volumes of information collected about him and against him.

Chikatilo in court, caged
Chikatilo in court, caged, police file

The press wrote about "the Maniac" and spread the word about his upcoming trial, so the courtroom, which seated 250, was filled with the family of many of his alleged victims. When he entered, they began to scream at him. Bald and without his glasses, he looked slightly crazy, especially when he drooled and rolled his eyes later in the trial.

Throughout, Chikatilo appeared to be bored, except when he'd show a flash of anger and yell back at the crowd. On two separate occasions, he opened his trousers and pulled them down to expose his penis, insisting he was not a homosexual. They removed him from the courtroom.

That he would be found guilty of murder was a foregone conclusion, but there was a chance that his psychological problems could save him from execution. However, his lawyer, Marat Khabibulin, did not have the right to call psychiatric experts, only to cross-examine those that the prosecution brought in, and since he had not been appointed until after Chikatilo had fully confessed, he was at a real disadvantage.

Although the prosecutors were Anatoly Zadorozhny and N. F. Gerasimenko, Judge Leonid Akubzhanov became Chikatilo's chief enemy, asking sharp questions of the witnesses and throwing demeaning comments at the prisoner, who often did not respond. After several months, however, Chikatilo challenged the judge, claiming that he was the one in charge. "This is my funeral," the defendant said.

At one time, he spontaneously denied doing six of the murders and at another, he added four new ones. He claimed to be a victim of the former Soviet system and called himself a "mad beast." According to Krivich and Ol'gin, he also claimed that there should be 70 "incidents" attributed to him, not 53. At one point, they write, when he was asked whether he had kept track as he killed his victims, Chikatilo said, "I considered them to be enemy aircraft I had shot down."

No one adequately addressed the fact that there was a discrepancy between the blood type in the semen samples and Chikatilo's blood type. The forensic analyst explained her discovery of the rare phenomenon of a man having one blood type but secreting another, but this hypothesis was later ridiculed around the world. Yet with no forensic experts hired for the defense, there was little the defense attorney could do. The judge, with his clear bias against the defendant, accepted the unusual analysis.

The court accepted the psychiatric diagnosis of sanity. One psychiatrist examined him yet again and said that he was still of the same opinion. It was Chikatilo's predatory behavior and ability to shift to safer locales that showed his degree of control, as well as the fact that he had stopped for over a year at one point (a year in which he said he had celebrated his 50th birthday and was in a good mood).

The trial went into August. The defense summed up its side by saying that the evidence and psychiatric analyses were flawed and the confessions had been coerced. He asked for a verdict of not guilty.

The next day, Chikatilo broke into song from his cage and then talked a string of nonsense, with accusations that he was being "radiated." He was taken out before the prosecutor began his final argument. He reiterated what sadism meant, repeated each of the crimes, and asked for the death penalty.

Chikatilo was brought in and given a final opportunity to speak for himself. He remained mute.

The judge took two months to reach a verdict, and on October 14, six months after the trial begun, he pronounced Andrei Chikatilo guilty of five counts of molestation and 52 counts of murder. Then Chikatilo cried out incoherently, shouting "Swindlers," spitting, throwing his bench, and demanding to see the corpses. The judge sentenced him to be executed. The people shouted for Chikatilo to be turned over to them to be torn to pieces as he had done to their loved ones. But instead he was taken back to his cell to await the results of an appeal. His lawyer claimed through official channels that the psychiatric assessment had not been objective and he wanted further analysis.

A rumor circulated that the Japanese wanted to pay $1 million for the Maniac's brain, Lourie writes, but there was no substance to it. Yet many professionals did believe that his behavior was so aberrant that he should be studied alive.

This man with a university degree in Russian literature, a wife and children, and no apparent background of child abuse, clearly had a savage heart. As he said of himself, he was apparently "a mistake of nature." It's unfortunate that a better biopsychological analysis was never performed.

On February 15, 1994, when his appeal was turned down, he was taken to a special soundproof room and shot behind the right ear, ending his life.


Chikatilo has become one of the world's most renowned serial killers, cited in books and articles such as Dr. Louis Schlesinger's Serial Offenders, as a man with truly perverse tastes and killing habits. Thanks to him, Russian specialists can now engage in better study of serial killers and consult with professionals like the FBI in other countries. The same can be said for Bukhanovsky.

Newsweek published a story in 1999 about the area around Rostov-on-Don to the effect that it was now a hotbed of serial crimes. "Twenty-nine multiple murderers and rapists have been caught in the area over the past ten years," writes Owen Matthews. He claims that such a statistic makes Rostov the serial killer capital of the world. Not only that, but Dr. Bukhanovsky has become such an expert via his private clinic for sexual disorders that he claims he can now cure violent psychopaths. To prove it, he worked with an active killer still at large—a controversial decision. He feels that he cannot break a confidence and that his study will help science determine the roots of aggression. A child rapist who was caught said that Bukhanovsky had a way of getting people to tell him things they would ordinarily keep secret. That appears to have been his talent with Chikatilo.



I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".
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