Murder

The Mind of a Killer

UPDATED 07/11/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/11/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT

For about an hour last Monday, Dennis Rader described in harrowing detail his career as the BTK Strangler. He explained how he trolled for victims and prepared a 'hit kit' of items he would need. In a matter-of-fact monotone, he relived each killing, starting with the Otero family in 1974: "I strangled Mrs. Otero...then I strangled Josephine...and then I went over and put a bag on Junior's head." Rader, 60, even gave a reason for his 17-year killing spree around Wichita to District Judge Gregory Waller: "It was a sexual fantasy, sir." His confessions, though, gave no solace to the survivors. Rader is facing 175 years when he is sentenced Aug. 17 (Kansas had no death penalty at the time of the murders), and Charlie Otero, 47, says he will be there to stare down the man who killed four members of his family. "I plan to let him feel the hate I have for him," says Otero. Rader's own family, who had no idea of his double life, is similarly devastated. His wife of 34 years, Paula, 57, has returned to work and is selling their house. "She's still trying to get her life back together," says her pastor Michael Clark. "She's got a long journey."

"I really couldn't figure out how to get in [her house], so I finally just selected a concrete block and threw it through the glass plate window. [After strangling Davis and putting her in the trunk of her car] I realized I had lost one of my guns...I went back into the house...and I found it right there, so that solved that problem."

Rader confesses killing DOLORES DAVIS

I didn't have a mask on or anything. They'd already ID'd me. And I made the decision to go ahead and put them down, I guess, or strangle them...I had never strangled anyone before, so I really don't know how much pressure you had to put on a person or how long it would take."

Rader's murder of the OTERO FAMILY

I dropped by once to check the mailbox to see what her name was. I found out where she worked. [After knocking] nobody answered the door, so I went around to the back of the house, cut the phone lines...I broke in and waited for her to come home in the kitchen."

Rader confesses to the murder of NANCY FOX

I used a ruse as a telephone repairman to get into her house...I drew a pistol at her and asked her if she would go back to the bedroom with me...she was very upset...we fought quite a bit, back and forth...I finally gained on her and put her down."

Rader murders VICKI WEGERLE

Since she lived down the street from me, I could watch [her] coming and going quite easily...we walked by and waved. She liked to work...it was just a neighborly thing...I manually strangled her when she started to scream."

Rader kills neighbor MARINE HEDGE

Bob Meadows. Lauren Comander in Wichita and Darla Atlas in Fort Worth

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