After 31 years, US serial killer faces punishment

The sentencing of a longtime serial killer this week will allow the families of his victims to confront him in court for the first time. But they also will hear in graphic terms the depravity of the crimes that terrorised this community for more than three decades.

In a June courtroom confession, Dennis Rader—known at the BTK killer, those initials standing for “Bind, Torture, Kill”—pleaded guilty and delivered a lecture-style narration of his killings.

But Wednesday’s sentencing is expected to be emotional as investigators disclose explicit details of the sexually motivated crimes. Later, relatives will tell the judge about their loss and pain.

Rader (60) will almost certainly die behind bars for the murders to which he confessed.
He told a local TV station that he was working on an emotional statement for his sentencing.

Judge Gregory Waller must rule on whether Rader will serve his 10 sentences consecutively or concurrently. Prosecutors want Rader, who began his killings in the 1970s, to get the longest possible sentence—a minimum of 175 years without a chance of parole.

To do that they plan to present 10 or fewer witnesses, along with a computer presentation showing photos of the crimes and other evidence, said Georgia Cole, spokesperson for the Sedgwick County district attorney’s office.

“Some of it will be graphic,” she said.

Defence attorneys did not return calls for comment.

Prosecutors want to make their case even though Rader’s lawyers are not opposing Kansas’s “hard-40” sentence, which calls for life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 40 years. That law applies only to the last killing, committed in 1991. State law at the time of the other slayings carried a maximum of life with eligibility for parole after 15 years.

The state had no death penalty when the crimes were committed.

In his confession, Rader said sexual fantasies drove him to kill 10 people in the Wichita area between 1974 and 1991, killings he referred to as his “projects”.

Rader, a former president of his church congregation, blamed the killings on a “demon” that got inside him at a young age.

“If he showed any kind of remorse, you could feel sorry for him, but he shows none,” said Sharon Bright, whose husband Kevin was the only survivor of a BTK attack.

“He even thinks he is a Christian.”

In a haunting prophetic message sent to the Kake television station in the 1970s, BTK wrote: “There is no help, no cure, except death or being caught and put away.”

It would take 31 years and the deaths of 10 people before prosecutors got that chance. Among those expected to fill the courtroom and a nearby overflow room to see justice done will be between 50 and 70 family members of victims. - Sapa-AP