Some unusual items purportedly owned by BTK serial killer Dennis Rader are up for sale on a murder memorabilia website.
Andy Kahan, who coined the term ‘murderabilia,’ says that in 20 years of watching what he calls a gruesome, disgusting industry he’s never seen prison-issued clothing for sale.
But that’s exactly what Supernaught.com claims it is offering in a pair of gray sweatpants, a gray sweatshirt and a pair of white sneakers that bear Rader’s name or initials and inmate number.
And the site is asking a hefty price:
- $900 for a pair of RBK brand tennis shoes with one lace missing and Rader’s initials and inmate number handwritten on the heels. It comes with the original shipping box “hand signed, Dennis L. Rader,” the site says
- $2,200 for the sweatshirt owned by Rader with his last name and prison number printed on the back in bold, black letters
- $2,500 for the sweatpants also printed with Rader’s last name and inmate number on the legs. The site advertises that Rader “has tied the strings into a knot so you get an actual knot tied by the BTK serial killer”
The site is also selling two books for $275 and $350 that appear to be prison issued or controlled; they bear an “EL DORADO CORRECTIONAL FACILITY CENTRAL PROPERTY” stamp.
Scrawled handwriting fills in stamped-on spaces for the inmate’s name and number, date and the prison property officer.
The more expensive book, a copy of minister and ex-satanist William Schnoebelen’s “Lucifer Dethroned,” has what appears to be a handwritten, dated and signed note from Rader:
“To Who Read This Book next: Interesting, see Satanic Calendar + Symbols. A good book to read on Halloween Eve! Beware!”
On Monday — after The Eagle first published this story — a pair of gold dental crowns purportedly “removed from Rader’s mouth during his incarceration in prison and sent to a close friend” were up for sale for a whopping $6,000.
“I’ve been around a while. I’ve not seen this before,” Kahan said of the Rader items. “And I’ve seen a lot.”
Asked last week to verify whether the sweatpants and shoes were real pieces of prison-issued clothing, Kansas Department of Corrections spokeswoman Cheryl Cadue said the agency was not going to comment on those items.
She also would not comment about the legitimacy of the sweatshirt or the books — or how one of Kansas’ most infamous killers might have been allowed to mail clothing, shoes and other prison-issued items from his cell at El Dorado Correctional Facility.
Supernaught.com did not respond emails from The Eagle asking about the authenticity of the items and how exactly they were obtained.
Kahan, director of Victim Services and Advocacy at Crime Stoppers of Houston, thinks that if Rader is shipping out prison garb that later ends up for sale it should be “a big red flag” in what the corrections department allows.
“We’re not talking about an abundance of serial killers and killers that have that name recognition. So it should not be that difficult for prison officials to monitor the incoming and outgoing mail.”
Two years ago, when The Eagle wrote about Rader mailing a drawing of what appears to be a torture device from prison, the KDOC said that inmates are allowed to send and receive mail “as long as it’s not security or sexually related.”
Rader — who calls himself BTK for his preferred method of killing, Bind Torture Kill — murdered 10 people between 1974 and 1991. Many were bound and strangled. Two were children.
A married church leader, father and code enforcement officer who lived in Park City, Rader toyed with and terrorized the Wichita area until police caught him in 2005. His family had no clue he had stalked and killed.
Now 74, Rader is serving 10 life prison sentences at El Dorado Correctional Facility in El Dorado.
Kahan, who monitors listings nearly daily on so-called murderabilia sites, called The Eagle late last month after he noticed the items for sale.
Keeping tabs on what’s for sale has been a “pet peeve passion” since he first saw an ad peddling a murderer’s items in 1999.
He calls Supernaught.com the “longest-running dealer” of murder collectibles. He even has a tongue-in-cheek nickname — “The Czar of Murderabilia” — for the site’s media-shy owner, Tampa-based Ken Karnig.
Kahan says, based on his knowledge of the trade, the BTK items for sale on Supernaught.com are likely legitimate.
It’s a “cut-throat industry” with no love among competing dealers.
“They will rat you out in a heartbeat if you are selling a fraudulent item,” he said.
Supernaught.com removed listings for the sweatpants and sneakers, as well as a rope it claimed was taken from Rader’s property by a neighbor after his 2005 arrest, within hours of receiving a Sept. 27 inquiry from The Eagle asking whether the items were real.
Those listings, plus a new one for the sweatshirt, popped up again on the site Thursday.
Kahan said he suspects Rader shipped the items via U.S. mail to a third-party — maybe a friend or pen pal — who has reached out to a murderabilia dealer after realizing there’s a market for gruesome collectibles.
“It’s dumbfounding to me that in this day and age we still allow criminals to profit from their criminal conduct,” Kahan said.
Kerri Rawson, Rader’s daughter who drew international attention with the January release of her book “A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love and Overcoming,” told The Eagle that the clothing “definitely looks like something he would have” and that the shoes appeared to the size he wears.
But, she said, she can’t be completely sure they’re his because she has never visited her father in prison. She’s only communicated with him by postal mail since his 2005 arrest and hasn’t answered his letters in two years because “I just can’t believe anything he says.”
Rawson said she’s been convinced for years that her dad is running a racket from his prison cell, where he’s sending drawings and poetry to pen pals and possibly a distant relative to sell.
But she didn’t know about the clothing until The Eagle contacted her in late September. Her dad has only two disciplinary reports on his prison record — one from 2006 for an attempt to mail a letter that asked the recipient to send a second letter to another person. (Inmates can only mail directly to recipients.)
His second disciplinary report, for a violation of published orders, came three days after The Eagle first questioned KDOC about how Rader’s clothing came to be for sale on Supernaught.com.
Cadue, the KDOC spokeswoman, declined to say whether The Eagle’s inquiry led to the Sept. 30 disciplinary report or what Rader did to receive it.
Rawson suspects people are depositing money into his prison account in exchange for the items.
And it infuriates her.
“It makes me mad. He shouldn’t be doing it. It’s against the law,” she said, adding that she would “love to see that shut down.”
Selling clothing “seems to be on a whole other level. That would have to be put in a package. Why isn’t that being checked in the mail room?”
Kahan thinks renewed interest in Rader and his crimes following the release of Netflix’s crime series “Mindhunter” is part of the reason the clothing has shown up for sale at a high price.
The show, based on the FBI’s development of criminal profiling, is fictional but has actors playing real killers, including BTK.
“He obviously loves the attention and is getting more attention now because, like it or not, true crime is in vogue,” Kahan said.
“Rader, I’m sure, recognizes that and realizes that it’s the one way he can keep his name relevant and out there. It feeds into his narcissistic ego. It’s a perfect match.”