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Rader details how he killed 10 people

Killer had 'sexual fantasies' while picking victims

Dennis Rader answers questions from the judge Monday about how he killed his victims.


Larry King Live: Sentencing gets underway for the man known as the notorious BTK killer. Now his only known survivor speaks. Tune in at 9 p.m. ET.



WICHITA, Kansas (CNN) -- Dennis Rader, the BTK serial killer who terrorized the Wichita area from the 1970s to the 1990s, pleaded guilty Monday and described in cool and dispassionate detail how he killed 10 people to satisfy his sexual fantasies.

Rader, 60, entered the plea on what was supposed to be the first day of his jury trial, saying a long and drawn out trial would only result in his guilt at the end.

He listened matter-of-factly as Sedgwick County District Judge Greg Waller read him each charge and asked if understood, even stopping Waller to correct him when the judge misread a date from the charge sheet.

At Waller's direction, Rader went down the list of charges, explaining in a calm, dispassionate voice how he carried out each of the killings.

Rader said he broke into the home of Joseph and Julie Otero and tied them up along with two of their children. He said he told them that he was wanted and just needed a car and some food. He put a pillow under Joseph Otero's head to make him more comfortable.

"I realized that, you know, I was already -- I didn't have a mask on or anything -- they already could I.D. me," Rader said. "I made a decision to go ahead and put 'em down, I guess, or strangle them."

Rader described how he killed each member of the Otero family, but he said they did not die right away.

"I had never strangled anyone before, so I really didn't know how much pressure you had to put on a person or how long it would take," he said.

"BTK" was the killer's self-named reference to his preference to "bind, torture and kill" his victims in the string of murders from 1974 to 1991.

Packed hit kit, Polaroid pictures

Rader explained how, in most of his cases, he chose and then stalked several people at a time -- referring to them as "projects" or "potential hits."

"If one didn't work out, I just moved to another one," Rader said.

Rader told the court he selected his victims as he played out fantasies. Asked what kinds of fantasies he was having, Rader said "sexual fantasies."

"If you've read much about serial killers, they go through what they call different phases. In the trolling stage, basically, you're looking for a victim at that time. You can be trolling for months or years, but once you lock in on a certain person, you become a stalker. There might be several of them, but you really hone in on one person. They basically become the ... victim. Or, at least that's what you want it to be," Rader said.

He told the judge he had prepared a "hit kit," equipment he used in the killings, as well as "hit clothes" that he wore and later got rid of.

Rader said he chose Shirley Vian, 26, at random and forced his way into her apartment with a .357-caliber Magnum handgun on March 17, 1977. Her children "got real upset," so Rader had her lock them in a bathroom before covering her head with a bag and strangling her.

In more than one case, Rader said he took Polaroid photos of his victims. After killing Marine Hedge in April 1985, Rader said, he stripped his victim, tied her up, took her to another location, then took photos depicting "different forms of bondage" before hiding her body in a ditch.

After hearing descriptions of each of the 10 killings, Waller found Rader guilty of all charges. Rader also waived his right to a jury trial on the sentencing.

Under Kansas law, Rader can be sentenced to life in prison for each charge, but could become eligible for parole.

Consecutive terms to be sought

Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston said she will ask the maximum sentence possible -- for each of those sentences to be served consecutively. "He should serve 175 years to life," said Foulston, who said she plans to present evidence on every killing at Rader's sentencing hearing.

The last BTK killing occurred in 1991 after Kansas stiffened its murder statutes, which means Rader could be sentenced to a minimum 40 years in prison without a chance of parole on that count.

Waller set August 17 as the sentencing date.

Rader cannot face the death penalty because Kansas did not reinstate the death penalty until 1994, three years after his last killing.

Rader's attorney, Steve Osburn, said all defenses were considered, including insanity, but after experts were called in it became apparent "there was no viable insanity defense."

Osburn said that based on evidence the prosecution had, including a confession and DNA evidence, it was apparent there was "a very solid case for the state."

Osburn said the detailed account that Waller asked for and got from Rader for each of the crimes was a complete surprise. He said he hoped that it provided closure to the families of the victims.

Killer a church president

Rader, who had been the president of his Lutheran church council, taunted authorities and the media with letters and packages he sent them over several years, some with before-and-after photos of the victims.

Christ Lutheran Church pastor Michael Clark said Rader, also a former Boy Scout leader, had been involved in church leadership for 30 years and was elected church council president just before his arrest.

Rader was arrested in what authorities said was a routine traffic stop. He worked for the Wichita suburb of Park City as a compliance supervisor in charge of animal control, nuisances, inoperable vehicles and general code compliance.

Authorities initially linked him to eight deaths, but added two more after his arrest.

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