Rader lookalike hopes for a role

A day after Wichita police announced that they had made an arrest in the BTK serial murder case, Robert Fawcett's phone began to ring.

The calls were prompted by his uncanny resemblance to Dennis Rader, the man who has since confessed to being the serial killer who murdered 10 people from 1974 through 1991.

"People kept telling me he looks just like me," Fawcett said.

"When they had his picture in the paper, two of my grandchildren called and said, 'Grandpa's picture's in the paper," said Fawcett's wife, Paula.

It was that visual connection to Rader that prompted the Fawcetts to come to the Wichita Community Theater on Saturday to see if they could get parts in a BTK documentary that will air early next summer on the Discovery Channel.

Among others trying out for a part was Mary Otero, a Wichita nurse who shares the last name of BTK's first victims — four members of the Joseph Otero family.

Mary Otero, who said she is not related to the victims, said she got a little nervous when BTK resurfaced in March 2004 by sending a letter to The Wichita Eagle after 25 years of silence.

She said she did some acting while attending high school in Garden City and was seeking any part in the documentary.

"It's just something I felt I had to do," she said.

Andy Webb, a British director who is making the documentary, said he would announce the cast of the show's extras in a week or two. The crew that will shoot the documentary is scheduled to arrive in Wichita on Jan. 9 and spend two weeks interviewing people involved in the case.

The unpaid extras were told they probably wouldn't have speaking parts in the hourlong documentary.

"It's actually 46 minutes when you take out the commercials," Webb said. "Of that 46 minutes, 90-plus percent is interviews and TV reels. Five-plus percent will be re-enactment material.

"At some point, in order to tell the story, you need some brief re-enactments."

Webb said the Discovery Channel was looking for a tasteful but serious story about the BTK case.

"They like education; they like science," he said. "We're particularly interested in forensics. You can almost tell the history of forensic science through this case — with the computer databases, the DNA, all of that.

"It's not a sensationalistic treatment of the subject matter."

Webb, a former journalist, said he understood the widespread interest in the case.

"It's a worldwide news story," he said. "But I'm absolutely aware of the fact that people have died here. We are absolutely not forgetting that this community had a very, very sensitive thing happen to it."

After interviewing Fawcett, Webb was impressed with his ability to handle the ribbing about his uncanny resemblance to Rader.

Fawcett said his connection to Rader goes beyond the men's physical appearance.

"Dennis' wife is named Paula," he said. "My wife is named Paula."

Before Rader was arrested, he said, both families attended Lutheran churches. It turned out that Fawcett and Rader had the same barber. Paula Fawcett said she even has relatives in Missouri named Rader, though they are no relation to Dennis Rader.

Robert Fawcett, a 53-year-old facilities maintenance worker at Spirit AeroSystems, said that if he gets the part, he probably won't do any speaking.

He said he was told he might be asked to cut up cereal boxes in the way that Rader sometimes did while sending taunting communications to police.

"It's more a visual thing," Fawcett said. "I have no previous acting experience at all."

Paula Fawcett, an English teacher at Jardine Magnet Middle School, said her reaction to seeing Rader's picture was the same as everyone else's.

"I was flabbergasted," she said, adding that her husband is nothing like Rader, who has been described by neighbors as arrogant and rude.

"He's a totally different person," she said. "I'd rather he looked like Kevin Costner, but hey."