BTK killer thought probes ‘cooling off’ before new task force formed

EXCLUSIVE: BTK killer believed investigations into him were ‘cooling off’ – days before detectives launched a task force to connect him to unsolved cold cases

  • The notorious serial killer believes investigations into him are ‘cooling off’  
  • He remarked on the cases days before investigators launched a task force 
  • The convicted killer-of-10 is the ‘prime suspect’ in at least two unsolved slayings 

The aging ‘BTK killer’ mistakenly believed investigations into him were ‘cooling off’ days before a multi-agency task force was launched to connect him to decades-old cold cases.

Dennis Rader, 78, the infamous serial killer who gave himself the moniker ‘bind, torture, kill’ to publicly brag about his MO, revealed to from behind bars that he doesn’t see much in renewed efforts to link him to unsolved murders.

‘I think the news on me starting to cool of (sic),’ he said in a message from El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas. ‘Yet, you never know with the law.’ 

But the killer, convicted of 10 murders and now suspected of at least two more, is now the subject of a new task force that aims to tie him to a slate of grisly crimes. 

The 78-year-old’s daughter Kerri Rawson revealed to last month that she stunned her father in prison when she joined the law enforcement efforts to investigate his involvement in at least two unsolved murders. 

On Tuesday, detectives with the Osage County Sheriff’s Office ramped up their investigation into these cases by announcing the establishment of a national task force. 

Dennis Rader, also known as BTK, is the prime suspect in several unsolved murders and disappearances in the Midwest. He is pictured in August 2005 after his arrest

Last month, investigators combed through the site of the serial killer's former backyard property, where they recovered 'items of interest' including a ligature

A computer generated picture of what Shawna Garber would have looked like grown up

Pictured: Cynthia 'Cyndi' Dawn Kinney

Over two decades after Rader terrified Wichita, Kansas and led police on a nightmarish game of cat and mouse with taunting letters, Sheriff Eddie Virden said in a press release announcing the task force that investigators are taking a particular early focus on the 1976 disappearance of Cynthia Dawn Kinney, 16. 

While Oklahoma District Attorney Mike Fisher said Monday that he doesn’t have enough evidence to charge Rader, the serial killer remains the ‘prime suspect’ in the teen’s disappearance and in the death of 22-year-old Shawna Beth Garber, whose remains were found in December 1990. 

Fisher was not among the list of investigators Virden said he has drawn into the task force, which will include the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma and the Kansas Department of Corrections, where Rader is serving 10 life sentences.

Kinney first landed on cops’ radar as a potential victim of BTK after they looked into the now-78-year-old’s journey entries, where he delved into morbid detail about how he selected, targeted and killed his victims. 

In one diary entry, Rader noted that a ‘laundry mat (sic) were good place to watch victims and dream’, in a disturbing note titled ‘Bad Wash Day.’ While Rader denies any involvement, detectives believe he may have been talking about Kinney, who vanished from a laundromat on June 23, 1976. 

Rader was also a regional security alarm installer for ADT at the time when a bank across the street from the laundromat was having alarms placed, and he was involved in Boy Scouts in the area when Kinney disappeared. 

Alongside the two known cases, the new investigations have sparked widespread social media interest which has seen a slew of potential BTK victims floated – including some abroad – almost two decades after Rader was convicted of the murders of 10 people in 2005. 

Rader is pictured with his daughter, Kerri Rawson, who has volunteered to help crack a series of cold cases linked to her notorious father

Kerri Rawson, the daughter of Dennis Rader, told she has assisted in the investigations into her father

Investigators began poring over BTK’s grisly journals – which also included vivid drawings of his victims – in January. 

In an eerie echo of his message to, another diary entry saw him write that he would go ‘out of town until things cool down’ after an unidentified slaying. 

Before the task force renewed efforts into the killer’s past, authorities tore apart Rader’s backyard last month – where they recovered nightmarish ‘items of interest’ including a ligature, which matches BTK’s MO as he often chose to kill his victims by strangulation. 

While it has not been specifically noted as a reason for the task force, Oklahoma District Attorney Mike Fisher seemed to pour cold water on the investigations on Monday by admitting he doesn’t have enough evidence to charge Rader with Kinney’s murder. 

The day after Fisher said the evidence is currently not ‘substantiated’, the task force was launched to coordinate efforts – amid some apparent tension between the varying departments looking into the killer. 

‘The collaborative efforts between the multiple agencies involved are anticipated to yield significant progress in resolving not only the Cynthia Kinney case but also in addressing other cold cases that have been revealed during the course of the initial investigation,’ Sheriff Virden said in a press release. 

‘Initial findings strongly indicate potential links between Dennis Rader, also known as BTK, and additional missing and murdered persons.’ 

BTK's ten victims: (L-R) January 15, 1974: #1 Julie Otero (aged 33) Strangled with a rope; #2 Joseph Otero (aged 38) Suffocated with a plastic bag; #3 Josephine Otero (aged 11) Hanged with a rope; #4 Joseph Otero, Jr. (aged 9) Suffocated with a plastic bag; April 4, 1974: #5 Kathryn Bright (aged 21) Stabbed 3 times in abdomen with a knife

(L-R) March 17, 1977: #6 Shirley Vian (aged 24) Strangled with a rope; December 8, 1977: #7 Nancy Fox (aged 25) Strangled with a belt; April 27, 1985: #8 Marine Hedge (aged 53) Strangled with hands; September 16, 1986: #9 Vicki Wegerle (aged 28) Strangled with Nylon stocking; January 19, 1991: #10 Dolores E. Davis (aged 62) Strangled with pantyhose

One of the sketches from BTK's journal shows a young blonde female in pigtails wearing a green top, with her arms and legs bound and sitting on what looks like a stack of hay. Officials noted the black piping in the picture that may be the walls of a barn

A second drawing shows a young dark-haired girl in a red top sitting on her knees as she is bound and gagged with a rope looped around her neck. The image shows brown horizontal lines in the background

Fisher’s concession that he couldn’t charge Rader seemingly came from a point of frustration with the sheriff’s department, as he said he had seen things that gave him ‘pause and concern’.

He particularly noted the dig of Rader’s former property last month, saying: ‘I’m not trying to create a conflict with the sheriff of Osage County… but there are certain ways to investigate a case, and I’m concerned that those proper investigative techniques have not been used.’

Virden fired back in an interview with Tulsa World that Rader volunteered in a prison interview that one of his fantasies was to kidnap a girl from a laundromat, which at the least warranted further investigation. 

Kerri Rawson, who has assisted the investigations into her father’s potential crimes – including attempting to interrogate him in prison interviews – also defended the sheriff’s office investigations. 

After the dueling law enforcement agencies seemed to butt heads, Rawson told the sheriff’s department ‘is doing a fantastic job working these cold cases.’ 

‘(Officials are) trying to get justice for the Cindy Dawn Kinney family and all the other families awaiting answers for decades, in multiple Midwest states.’ 

Rader has repeatedly denied involvement in any more murders that he is being linked with, and while he is known to relish in his infamy, BTK also has a reputation for enjoying frustrating police. 

When his daughter volunteered to help in April, it was hoped his daughter could help break him down and reveal further details of his gruesome crimes.

‘I hadn’t had contact with him for 18 years, besides letters,’ she told last month. ‘To sit across from him was quite staggering.’

After cops zeroed in on the site of the serial killer’s old backyard, Rawson said investigators targeted the scene because he was known to collect ‘trophies’ from his victims. 

‘He was known to hide things in our house,’ she revealed. ‘He built a false bottom in our hallway where he hid evidence like driver’s licenses before… We also had two dogs die, and he buried one of them in the backyard in the 90s. I’ve always theorized that he might have buried stuff in there too.’ 

 After arresting Dennis Rader, police found photos where he dressed up like his victims

Rader’s first known murders were in January 1974, when he shot to infamy after the gruesome killings of four members of the Otero family in Wichita, Kansas.

Months later in April, Rader, then 28, murdered Kathryn Bright, 21, in her home and shot her brother Kevin in the head. He began sending taunting letters to journalists and the police, leading investigators on wild goose chases across Wichita.

After a suspect allegedly confessed to the Otero murders alongside two friends in October, Rader called an editor at The Wichita Eagle directing him to the Wichita Public Library.

He instructed him to open a book on mechanical engineering, and after enlisting police they found a letter which read: ‘Those three dude you have in custody are just talking to get publicity… The code words for me will be… Bind them, torture them, kill them, B.T.K., you see he at it again. They will be on the next victim.’

Rader’s letters were marked with his bizarre BTK logo and spelling mistakes, and he would mock police with crude jokes about enjoying what he did to his victims.

His terrifying letters also extended to a near-victim, Anna Williams, 63, in April 1979. After waiting in her home for hours for her to return home, he gave up, and she only discovered how close she came to the serial killer when he mailed some of her belongings back to her alongside a poem titled: ‘Oh Anna, Why Didn’t You Appear?’

The body of Shirley Vian is pictured being carried from her house in Wichita in 1977 after she was murdered by Dennis Rader

Rader terrified residents of Wichita, Kansas for decades, continuing the BTK murders and ridiculing letters for years until he stopped in 1991.

Like many serial killers such as John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy, Rader was able to remain above suspicion for the notorious killings by holding down a façade as a family man with an everyday job.

From 1974 to 1988, Rader worked a humdrum job for ADT Security installing home security alarms. The role gave him eerie access to people’s homes and an intricate understanding of personal security, which he would use in his crimes such as cutting the phone lines before creeping inside.

He worked at the company from 1974 to 1988 as panic swept the Wichita, Kansas area, and he often installed alarms for homeowners terrified of the infamous BTK killer.

After remaining on the run until he seemingly got bored of his mundane life, with some positing he grew frustrated that he never received ‘credit’ for the infamous slayings, BTK began sending letters again in 2005.

He was snared within months of his reemergence, and Rawson said he now seemingly ‘enjoys’ his infamy behind bars.


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