The BTK serial killer says he planned to kill an 11th victim in 2004, hanging her upside down in her north Wichita home. It’s a story police heard from Dennis Rader himself in 2005, and decided until now to suppress.
Wichita police detectives who helped capture Rader in 2005 are disgusted by how Rader tells the story now, in a new book due out this month. They are incensed with the pride they say he exhibits as he goes into detail about the tortures he planned to inflict on the woman.
“For him to reveal this information now is cruel,” said Tim Relph, a former BTK task force investigator who still works as a homicide unit detective. “But Rader is still as stuck on himself as he was in 1974, when he thought he was entitled to kill those four people in that (Otero family) house. He has no sorrow or sympathy for anyone.”
The book allows BTK to carry out one more act of horror, Relph and former BTK task force investigator Kelly Otis say.
The book, “Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer,” goes on sale Aug. 30.
Author Katherine Ramsland spent five years talking with Rader by phone and studying more than 100 letters he wrote about the 10 murders he committed between 1974 and 1991.
Ramsland wanted Rader to tell his life story in his own words. He recounts his murders in detail, including how, just before he hanged 11-year-old Josie Otero, he told her he was going to send her to heaven with her just-murdered parents.
He wrote 3 1/2 pages of the book about his plans for his last kill. He doesn’t name the woman but gives a detailed description of where she lived.
“This was supposed to be my opus, my grand finale, and to make it different, I would set the house on fire using propane canisters,” Rader wrote. “I had tools that I had brought along to rig up a hoist in the door frame of her bedroom. At the bottom I was going to screw in an eye bolt for a rope attachment. Once she was secure, upside down, I would place a plastic bag over her head …”
He came within minutes of killing her, he wrote. He had stalked her for years, followed her driving from work to home, watched her house at times.
He says he got into her backyard and stepped onto her porch, carrying rope and a hoist to hang her.
On Oct. 22, 2004, he knocked on her door – and aborted his murder only because a city street crew showed up unexpectedly to work outside her house. Rader drove away, and said in the book that he planned to come back to kill her in the spring. He was captured in February.
A ‘somber day’
The problem with anything Rader says is that most of it is fantasy, including in this book, Otis said.
“Did he actually get on her porch? Maybe,” Otis said. “He did provide enough details that we could check out, and some of those details were true. He had her name. And we checked city records, and there was a street crew that showed up outside her house on Oct. 22, 2004.”
“Rader had even made a partial drawing of this victim’s house, and a map of her neighborhood, which by the way is confusing and inaccurate, like so much of the other crap he does,” Relph said.
Police suppressed most of the details of the near-murder for the past 11 years because they feared what the shock of a public revelation might do to the woman, Relph and Otis said.
“It would take a court order for us to ever divulge her name,” Relph said.
“Reading some of the crap he spews out in that book makes me nauseous,” said Otis, now the chief investigator for the Sedgwick County District Attorney. He has read much of an advance copy of Ramsland’s book.
Police first heard that Rader planned an 11th murder from Rader himself, in the 33 hours they interrogated him after his capture in February 2005.
They decided almost immediately to not make public the specifics. “We sat on that information,” Otis said. “And then we learned that the defense (attorneys for Rader) had hired a couple of private investigators. And of course they had the same access to the interviews with Rader that we had done. They had the recordings.”
And then Lt. Ken Landwehr, who commanded the BTK task force, became concerned that the defense attorneys could contact her.
Landwehr and Relph went to see the woman.
“She’s a pretty tough lady, but this shook her up quite a bit,” Relph said.
“It was a somber day for all of us, dealing with an array of emotion,” Relph said. “If you’re that person, you realize you were in the sights of a killer. So we told her that he was never going to get out. We assured her of that. We told her we were confident that we had the right person and that he operated alone.
“She was very thankful by the time we left,” Relph said. “She was not an emotional mess.
“But she was facing a realization of what could have been – kind of a bullet-that-missed mentality.”
Some quotes in this story were excerpted from “Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer” by Katherine Ramsland, published by ForeEdge, an imprint of University Press of New England.