How The Cops Caught BTK

Dennis Rader, aka BTK

Playing to a Serial Killer's Ego Helped Crack the Case

Dennis Rader, otherwise known as the BTK killer, thought he had some sort of understanding with Wichita, Kan., police Lt. Ken Landwehr, head of the multiagency task force that was trying to catch him.

In the weeks before his arrest, Rader had asked police whether he could communicate with them via a floppy disk without being traced to a particular computer.

Police responded by taking out an ad in the classified section of the local newspaper, as Rader had instructed, saying “Rex, it will be OK” to communicate via floppy disk.

A few weeks later, such a disk from BTK was sent to a local television station. The disk was quickly traced to Rader through a computer at his church. DNA testing soon confirmed that Rader was BTK, a name he took for himself that stands for bind, torture and kill.

Within days, the serial killer who had terrorized the Wichita area beginning in the 1970s was in custody. BTK had killed a total of 10 people before seemingly vanishing into thin air in 1991. He resurfaced two years before his arrest, communicating with the police and the media, after a news report speculated he was dead or in prison.

Many, many more details here from the ABA Journal.