The BTK serial killer, who planned the deaths of 10 victims, is planning for his own death now.
Dennis Rader, 72, had a recent cancer scare.
“I had two relatives died of colon cancer and I was sure it had found me,” Rader wrote The Wichita Eagle last week, from the El Dorado Correctional Facility. He’s serving time there for 10 counts of first-degree murder. The Kansas Department of Corrections lists his earliest possible release date as the year 2180 – 163 years from now.
Doctors cleared up the health problems in recent months and found no cancer, he wrote.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
“Back to normal now,” he wrote. But it prompted him to renew plans for “a kick-the-bucket scenario” for himself, he said. His word choice here is telling: “Scenario” is a word he used in describing plans for some of his 10 victims.
He plans to write a will. He worries about what will happen with his remains and belongings, including his art, poetry, his considerable writings. He doesn’t want them destroyed. He wants to “downsize” and clean out his “cave,” as he calls his prison cell.
He worries that his estranged wife, daughter and son won’t claim his body.
“The family knows I want to be cremated and where to scatter the ashes, assuming they claim my body,” he wrote last week. “If not, the (prison) facility will have it done, and I think the ashes (will be) place in a ‘niche’ at Hutchinson, KS. Which will greatly disappoint my soul or ghost!”
“I did write Kerri (Rawson, his daughter) and ask her and the family if they would like my left-over art, poetry, papers, log books, journal, etc.,” Rader wrote. “I gave them a couple of months to decide. I thought perhaps Kerri might like to work with someone to ‘chap book’ or a bio on me.”
All this prompted a groan from Rawson on Friday.
“That’s the normal BS from him,” she said, from her home in Michigan. Her mother, Paula Rader, disowned and divorced Rader immediately after his 2005 arrest for murdering 10 people. Rawson rarely communicates with her father, and only by letter.
“But we told him, as early as 12 years ago, that we’ll do what he wants us to do when the time comes,” Rawson said. “I don’t understand why he keeps bringing it up. Except I think my dad is just trying to get attention. He’s a controller, and what he still has left is boxes of stuff he wrote, so he’s trying to control that.
“I don’t know of anyone who has a father like mine.”
She said the family will carry out his wishes as best they can. The one thing they don’t want is for his belongings to be sold or used in any way that would do more harm to victims.
Rader has physically deteriorated considerably since his arrest by Wichita police and FBI agents in Park City 12 years ago. Tim Relph, still a Wichita homicide detective, was one of the task force detectives who helped lure Rader into making mistakes that got him arrested for the murders. He went to El Dorado last year to question Rader in an unrelated criminal case and said Rader looks thin, elderly and frail.
“He’d lost a lot of weight – I swear he has shrunk to a shell of what he was,” Relph said in an interview several months ago. “He moves much more in that older person’s careful deliberation of movement, planting one foot in front of the other.
“Prison takes a piece out of you,” Relph said. “It’s taken a piece out of him.”
It took a lot out of his family, too.
“He’s talking about his own death,” Rawson said. “But he’s been dead to my mom for 12 years.”
Contributing: Tim Potter of The Eagle