Our society has inundated us with news stories, movies and even TV shows that depict different monsters that are in our society. Usually when watching a TV show you know within the first few minutes who the monster in the story is or at least have a good idea of who they might be. Many times the monsters in movies are depicted as wearing masks or some type of disguise so they can be easily detected by the audience almost as if they are wearing a sign. Just think of the Friday the thirteen movies and Jason with his goalie mask, or Nightmare on Elm street and Freddy Krueger with his red and black shirt and long iron nails and disfigured face. It’s like when we think of a monster, we associate their characteristics to real life events. The lines between fiction and reality become blurred. What is good becomes bad and what is bad becomes good. Because a real life monster doesn’t fit the mould given to us by our local news or Hollywood that somehow that person couldn’t possibly be a monster.  When we think of a monster the image we get is this:




The depiction we see in movies and on TV and even in the news have really dulled our understanding of what real monsters look like and act like. Real monsters don’t wear masks or disguises. They don’t have super human strength or possess super human intelligence. The reality is, these monsters are actually a lot like everyday people. They are your next door neighbours, your co-worker…etc… They are the person you least expect. When you actually break it down and look a some of the real monsters we’ve been exposed to over the years, they are nothing like the monsters in the movies.

Denis Rader is a great example of how the general public has no idea how to identify a monster. Rader worked for the United States air-force between 1966-1970. Once discharged, he worked in the meat department of a local supermarket where his mother was a bookkeeper.  In 1973 he earned an electrical degree and in 1979 he earned bachelor’s in administration of justice. He then married and had two children. Rader worked for the Coleman company as an assembler and later worked for ADT Security Services where he would install home security alarm systems. He later worked as a dogcatcher and compliance officer in Park City. Rader was also a member of Christ Lutheran Church and was even elected president of the church council. Rader was even a club scouts leader. Here’s a picture of Rader:



By all accounts, he seemed like he had it all together, but he had been hiding a secret from everyone including his own family and the people who knew him best. Meet Denis Rader or also know as BTK (Bind Torture Kill). In 1974 Rader killed an entire family, the Otero family (Joseph, Juile, Joseph Jr and Josephine). This sadistic serial killer hid this from everyone. Later that same year, he killed 21 year old Kathryn Bright by stabbing her once in the back and once in the lower abdomen. His other victims included Shirley Vian (24, F), Nancy Fox (25, F), Marine Hedge (53, F), Vicki Wegerle (28, F) and Dolores E. Davis (62, F).

Rader began taunting the police and this is what lead to his downfall. He authored many communications to the police and to the local newspapers from 1974-1979. He also suggested many names for himself, but BTK was the one that stuck. He would always seek attention and would send several letters to demand attention. He was proud of what he had done, and enjoyed playing mind games with local police and local medias. By 2004 the BTK case had grown cold. Then Rader began communications with local medias which lead to his arrest in 2005. In 2004, the Wichita Eagle received a letter from someone using a return address name Bill Thomas Killman. The writer claimed to have murdered Vicki Wegerle on September 16, 1986 and enclosed pictures of the crime scene and a picture of her stolen driver’s license. They had no prior knowledge that Wegerle was a victim of BTK. They took samples from her fingernails and tested for DNA however were unable to get a match and the DNA was destroyed by court order.

In May 2004, a letter with chapter headings for the “BTK Story”, fake IDs and a word puzzle were received by television station KAKE, Wichita, Kansas. On June 9, 2004, a package was found taped to a stop sign at the corner of First and Kansas in Wichita. It had graphic descriptions of the Otero murders and a sketch labeled “The Sexual Thrill Is My Bill”. Also enclosed was a chapter list for a proposed book titled The BTK Story, which mimicked a story written in 1999 by Court TV crime writer David Lohr. Chapter One was titled “A Serial Killer Is Born”. In July, a package was dropped into the return slot at the downtown public library containing more bizarre material, including the claim that he was responsible for the death of 19-year-old Jake Allen in Argonia, Kansas earlier that month. This claim was false and the death was ruled a suicide. In October 2004, a manila envelope was dropped into a UPS box in Wichita. It had many cards with images of terror and bondage of children pasted on them, a poem threatening the life of lead investigator Lt. Ken Landwehr and a false autobiography with many details about Rader’s life. These details were later released to the public.

Later he sent another letter to police, this time Rader asked if his writings, if put on a floppy disk, could be traced or not. The police answered his question in a newspaper ad posted in the Wichita Eagle saying it would be safe to use the disk. On February 16, 2005, Rader sent a purple 1.44-Megabyte Memorex floppy disk to Fox TV affiliate KSAS-TV in Wichita. Also enclosed were a letter, a gold-coloured necklace with a large medallion, and a photocopy of the cover of a 1989 novel about a serial killer (Rules of Prey). Police found metadata embedded in a deleted Microsoft Word document that was, unbeknown to Rader, on the floppy disk. The metadata contained “Christ Lutheran Church”, and the document was marked as last modified by “Dennis”. An internet search determined that a “Dennis Rader” was president of the church council. From the Home Depot incident, the police also knew BTK owned a black Jeep Cherokee. When investigators drove by Rader’s house, they noticed a black Jeep Cherokee parked outside.

The police had strong circumstantial evidence against Rader, but they needed more direct evidence to detain him. They obtained a warrant to test the DNA of a pap smear Rader’s daughter had taken at the Kansas State University medical clinic when she was a student. The DNA of the pap smear was processed by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation at their lab in Topeka and demonstrated a familial match to the DNA of the sample taken from victim Vicki Wegerle’s fingernails. This indicated that the killer was closely related to Rader’s daughter, and was the evidence the police needed to make an arrest.

The entire reason for this post is to show how someone could seem completely normal on the outside and to others, but inside they are a monster. We live in a society where we judge a book by it’s cover, but you can’t do that when it comes to a criminal investigation. If you misjudge the cover, then you’re potentially enabling a killer and a monster. These peole don’t wear mask and they don’t visit you on certain dates or visit you in your sleep. They don’t have a creepy voice or laugh like a crazy person. They adapt to our society so to not draw attention to themselves. They are chameleons and are able to fool those around them. Many of them have high IQ’s or have a certain skill set that they use to mask who they truly are. These monsters are not just on the news, on TV or in Movies, they are your next door neighbour and your church president. They are the person installing your home security system or leading your child’s boy scout troop. This a wake up call and I hope everyone takes it as such. I normally don’t write about this kind of stuff, but I think it needs to be said. I would love to hear your feedback!


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