Dennis Rader is a thirsty boi. It’s October of 1974 and his dumb letter makes its way to the Witchita Eagle-Beacon claiming responsibility for the Otero murders. Understandably, the city FREAKS out because four members of a family were murdered in cold blood and the cops were shrugging their shoulders.
Three years pass before the next B.T.K. murder. Rader is in a neighborhood in Sedgwick County in March of 1977. He had his next victim lined up in what he later told Judge Waller was “Project Green,” a stupid name that probably gave him a boner. Something changes his mind last-minute, and instead, he finds a little boy on the street and asks the boy to ID a few photos as part of his ruse. He then watches to see what house the little boy disappears into and ultimately decides that this house will be his next target.
It’s Shirley Vian, mother of three. Rader locks the three kids in the bathroom, later describing the event to Judge Waller:
“We put some toys and blankets and odds and ends in there for the kids to make them as comfortable as we could. Tied one of the bathroom doors shut so they couldn’t open it then we shoved, she went back and helped me shove the bed against the other bathroom door. Then I proceeded to tie her up. She got sick, threw up. I got her a glass of water, comforted her a little, then I went ahead and tied her up and put a bag over her head and strangled her.”
(I mean, what? Was the court supposed to say “wow that’s super nice of you! Doin’ all that before you strangled her!” Whatadouche).
That little boy Rader spoke to about the photos earlier, locked in the bathroom, and murdered his mother is Steve Relford. Relford spoke to CNN about that day, describing what he remembers as “my mother laying face down with a plastic bag over her head, a rope tied around her neck, all the fingers in her hand broken, her hands taped behind her back. That’s what I remember.” Relford also appears in the Investigation Discovery documentary and makes me what to drop everything and give him a hug. I imagine that this man’s life would’ve gone much differently if Rader hadn’t fucked it all up.
In December of 1977, Rader kills again–Nancy Fox, a single lady living her best life, working two jobs and getting it done. Rader, desperate for the attention like a little boy tugging at his mom’s shirt, calls emergency dispatch and reports the crime. Cops now have his voice on record, but unfortunately, they couldn’t match it.
That wasn’t enough for Rader, though, because in January, he sends a poem mimicking a nursery rhyme to The Witchita-Eagle Beacon detailing the murder of Vian and was probably super obnoxious to read. In February, he sent another letter to good ole KAKE-TV, bragging about Vian, Fox, and an unnamed victim. “How many people do I have to kill before I get a name in the paper or some national attention?” He wrote, probably stomping his foot as he did.
Police Chief Richard LaMunyon gets on the horn and announces that a serial killer is at large. With a lack of leads, Witchita Police basically do one of these: \_(ツ)_/ except, you know, not as happy.
In 1979, Rader, AKA the sneakiest bitch in town, graduates from Witchita State University with an irony-soaked degree in Administration of Justice. He’s been working for ADT security (1974-88) and at this point, he has two kids (his daughter was born in 1978 and son was born in 1975). Like a psychopath, he’s also been squirreling away trophies from the scenes underneath the floorboards of the family home. How fun!
In 1979, Rader also finds himself waiting anxiously in the home of Anna Williams that April, a nice, 63-year-old lady who was having a great time with her friends and didn’t come home, and that really boiled Rader’s blood. He even sends her a letter telling her how goshdarn MAD he was. He was going to kill her and she stood him up…the audacity!
In August of that same year, police turn to the public’s help. They release the 1977 recording of Rader’s voice, and on the first day of doing so, they receive 110 tips. It isn’t until 1984 that a task force forms aptly called “The Ghostbusters”. On the team was Lt. Ken Landwehr, ultimate badass and one of six detectives who would spend the next three years on Rader’s trail. It was Lt. Landwehr who would play a pivotal role in finally catching the elusive B.T.K.
In April of 1985, Rader gets particularly gross and cocky–yes, he gets worse. He murders his neighbor Marine Hedge, but in an act of escalation, takes her body to Christ Luthern Church where he was president of church council, takes several photographs as God cries, and then disposes of the body in a ditch. Over the next few days, cops would recover Hedge’s car, her purse, and finally, her body. Later, in the ID documentary, Rader’s daughter, Kerri Rawson recounts how she remembered her father’s absence that particular night in April as she was awake because of a storm.
In September of 1986, Rader strangles 28-year-old Vicki Wegerle, but she didn’t go down without a fight–and also nabbing some much-needed DNA. At the time, her death remains a cold case, and it wouldn’t be until much later that the task force would be able to put this DNA to use.
In February of 1991, Dolores “Dee” Davis’ body was found beneath a bridge with a tasteless plastic lady-mask that for whatever reason, Rader wore in his stupid bondage selfies.
Her son, Jeff Davis, wins best insult trophy:
“For the last 5,236 days, I have wondered what it would be like to confront the walking cesspool that took my mother’s precious life,” Davis said in his statement. “I spent months working on that victim impact statement,” Davis recalled. “I stared at him the whole time. He didn’t have the guts to look at me.”
Correct, Jeff. Rader is a walking cesspool and I hope you framed that victim impact statement.
From the discovery of Dolores Davis in 1991 until 2004, the city of Witchita doesn’t hear from the B.T.K., that is until The Witchita Eagle-Beacon unknowingly prods their pesky neighborhood serial killer out of hiding with an article on the 30th anniversary of the Otero murders.