Relative hopes BTK serial killer will 'burn in hell'

As the BTK serial killer, Dennis Rader thrived on having the last word during a 17-year slaying spree that claimed 10 lives.

But as family members of the victims took their turn at the microphone on Thursday to confront the killer during his sentencing hearing, Rader could do nothing but listen as they vented their anger.

“I can think of nothing but savouring the bittersweet taste of revenge as justice is served upon this social sewage here before us today,” said Jeff Davis, whose mother was strangled by Rader.

Beverly Plapp, sister of victim Nancy Fox, said Rader should “never, ever see the light of day ... On the day he dies, Nancy and all of his victims will be waiting with God and watching him as he burns in hell.”

A former church congregation president and Boy Scout leader, Rader is to arrive on Friday at the El Dorado prison to begin serving a minimum of 175 years without a chance of parole. The sentence was the longest that Judge Gregory Waller could order him to serve; Kansas had no death penalty at the time of the murders.

Although the two-day sentencing hearing was a formality—the man who called himself BTK for “bind, torture and kill” was virtually guaranteed a life sentence—it allowed family members to confront Rader for the first time in court.
It also included a rambling, sometimes-tearful statement from the killer, who apologised to his victims.

“A dark side is there, but now I think light is beginning to shine,” Rader said, his voice choking at times. “Hopefully someday God will accept me.”

Rader (60) went through the list of his 10 victims one by one, drawing comparisons between him and them. He talked about victims who liked dogs when they were kids—just like him. He talked about how one of his child victims reminded him of his kids. He talked about how one victim went to his high school, albeit at a different time.

“I know the victims’ families will never be able to forgive me. I hope somewhere deep down, eventually that will happen,” he said.

Some family members walked out of court during Rader’s half-hour of testimony. Jeff Davis called his speech a “pathetic, rambling diatribe”.

“It’s beyond comprehension. It was that pathetic,” he said at a news conference with other family members. “He just nauseates me. I just want them to put the cockroach away.”

Rader’s taunting killing spree started in 1974 and ended in 1991. BTK resurfaced in 2004 after years of silence with a letter to The Wichita Eagle that included photos of a 1986 strangling victim and a photocopy of her missing driver’s licence.

That letter was followed by several other cryptic messages and packages. The break in the case came earlier this year after a computer diskette the killer had sent was traced to Rader’s church, where he once served as president.

The sentencing hearing included graphic testimony from detectives who outlined Rader’s crimes in grisly detail.

Captain Sam Houston of the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office testified about Rader’s last known killing—the strangulation of 63-year-old Dolores Davis in 1991. Rader, who handcuffed Davis and tied her with pantyhose, told police it took two or three minutes for her to die, and that fuelled his torturous fantasies for years.

“It was this moment that victim was tied and bound,” Rader wrote in a journal, according to testimony on Thursday by Houston. “He could live in that moment for years.”

Investigators also testified that Rader kept hundreds of pictures from magazines and circulars mounted on index cards, with details of the warped sexual fantasies he dreamed of carrying out.

Yet to be determined is how Rader will spend his remaining years behind bars.

Prosecutors asked the judge at sentencing to recommend Rader be barred from seeing or listening to news reports regarding his murders, prohibited from possessing anything with which he could draw or write about his sexual fantasies, and disallowed from making audio or visual recordings other than for law enforcement purposes.

The prosecution request surprised defence attorneys, who said they had not had time to research the issue.

Waller plans a hearing in about a month to decide the issue. - Sapa-AP

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