But first, lets meet Thomas Amo, my dear author friend who is always willing to do these Q&A's with me:
Thomas is into crime, just like me, not committing it, but fascinated by it. He is currently busy writing his second installment on his novel series, and you should look out for his first, An Apple for Zoë.
He's also a really nice guy, so check him out on Goodreads: Goodreads Profile: Thomas Amo
But back to business, and our Q&A of BTK:
The BTK has long interested me, because if you had seen him in the street you would never think he could do any harm, yet he was a killer...
Thomas: Hello again Niecole, so today we are covering Dennis Rader : The BTK Killer. aka The BTK Strangler.
Niecole: Explain to us what BTK stands for?
Thomas: Bind, Torture, Kill
Right from the outset this killer wants everyone to know exactly what he is all about. He revels in what he is about to bring to the table of serial killers before him.
This is interesting as he begins killing in 1974 at exactly the same time as Ted Bundy.
Niecole: How long did his killing sprees go on for?
Thomas: The actual killing timeline went from 1974 to 1991. But it would be another 13 years before it ended 100 %. This is absolutely amazing, as a man as calculating as BTK, he has an ego that he managed to stop killing and go back to his normal everyday life as if nothing had ever happened. And over the next decade he doesn't even troll for a victim. There are a couple of factors as to why this may have been.
1. He's passed the age of 35. Most serial killers loom around the age span of 21 to 35. These can be known in men as the aggressive years. A time when men feel invincible. Also it's a time when they seem to have the most rage. It's also a time when men are most sexually active, as the sex drives wanes the rage subsides as well. Most men stay sexually interested very late in life, but the degree of desire isn't as veracious at 65 as 30.
2. After the killings stopped in 1991 he's in his late 40's moving into his 50's. Physically he isn't the same man he was in 1974. While he may still be threatening in some ways, he may be thinking if he gets into a situation where a boyfriend or husband comes home he may not be able to control the situation.
Niecole: Why do you think he used these methods of murder?
Thomas: This goes back to Bundy for me. It's something that turned him on sexually. He actually took Polaroid photos of himself bound in ways he wanted to do to the women he killed. The question goes back to why did he use these methods? BTK each one gave him sexual satisfaction. They were also about instilling fear not only in the victims but the community at large.
How excited do you think it was for him to be in a grocery store line and hear people talking about how scared they are of the BTK killer? He gets to see the results of his killer persona first hand.
The thought of knowing he has an entire town in fear of him...yes Dennis Rader...but more importantly The BTK Killer the monster he created with his ego.
Niecole: The BTK was such an ordinary looking man, why do you think he had such a great secret? Why do some murderers appear so normal? Do you have any theories on it?
Thomas: Once again, like Bundy, he is able to stay in the blind spot of the community. In fact he becomes involved in the community in many ways. Where he is unlike Bundy, Rader was confrontational. He wasn't always very well-liked by people who worked with him. His neighbours didn't complain about him, as who wants to draw attention to themselves when they have a storage room full of things he took from victims. Because as I stated earlier what sets him apart, his ego really makes him dangerous. Yet he's very cautious about every move he makes. Sometimes
having a great secret makes you feel superior to others. "I know something you don't know!" the though I'm smarter than you, you're all so stupid I'm BTK and you don't even know it! The fact that he does appear normal and no one suspects him, makes him feel even more special. He enters into the "God complex" as BTK decides who lives and dies. Like the Zodiac, Rader wrote letters to the police and to a local TV station. He enjoyed the media attention. For the most part, he got away with it. The police could never find him, couldn't link him via letters or through the clues at the crime scenes. He must have thought by 2004, wow I was the BTK killer and no one ever knew.
I murdered 10 people right under their very noses. And while everyone suspected he was either dead, in jail for something else or simply moved away...he was right there all along. This must have given him tremendous satisfaction.
Niecole: He had a family right? Do you think that they ever suspected?
Thomas: This is a really good question. Not only a wife but children as well. I've never seen any details on his family, but your initial thoughts are his family must be completely stupid to not have known. But consider this...if he could fool an entire town, of course he could keep the secret at home. There comes the question if his wife did suspect, she may have been the kind of woman who knows her husband cheats on her. She's aware of it, but if she doesn't confront it, she doesn't have to deal with it.
But let's talk about his final undoing, as this is worth mentioning. After more than 25 years and 10 murders later, it seemed the story of BTK was going to be like Zodiac...the police were no closer today than they were in 1974. Rader, even telephoned the police (like Zodiac) after a murder and told them where to find the victim. One of the most chilling things he did was, he lay in wait one night for a woman he had been planning to kill for some time … and coincidental she didn't come home that night. A few days later she got a letter from BTK asking why she wasn't home. Imagine her terror in knowing that by simply not coming home that night, she was still alive. But even more chilling, he's sent her a letter telling her about it...this means he could have come back for her. But it's scarier letting her wonder and worry if he ever will. Again this goes back to his love of instilling fear. 2004 TV station KAKE decides on a whim to run the BTK story on the anniversary of the first murders. Wondering what became of the BTK....well whatever was in Rader that had lay dormant for those 13 years came alive. That ego was stroked and he had to let them know he was still there among them. A day or so later KAKE TV receives a letter printed from a computer with an item from one of the victims to prove it is him. The letter states he never left. One again BTK has everyone scared! Those old feelings have come back… he's actually thinking about killing again. His ego thinks he's gotten away this long; no reason to think anything should change. But once again he contacts police and this time it's via a computer disk. In the letter he wants to know if there is anyway of tracing a computer disk...the police of course telling him no... and blindly he believes them...he is caught! The police trace the disk to a computer used at a local church where Rader is the church president. After all is said and done, he is indignant with police that they lied about the computer disk. His ego once again made him feel that there was an understanding between himself and the police.
Today he sits in prison life without possibility of parole. Should he get death? My initial instinct is to say yes....However living the rest of his years in punishment of what he did should only serve to remind him...all he did was kill innocent people....his career as a serial killer...will at best only be a footnote, as in all these types of cases, when we find out who these monsters are… we learn for the most part, they are pathetic men who lead unremarkable lives.
A very scary man, with a very scary secret... beware of your neighbours friends...