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BTK took body to church, says investigator

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BTK killer Dennis Rader listens to the statements of his victims' families on Thursday.



BTK Serial Killer
Crime, Law and Justice

WICHITA, Kansas (CNN) -- BTK murderer Dennis Rader took the body of one of his victims to church, a sheriff investigator said Wednesday.

Sgt. Tom Lee testified Rader told him that after strangling his 53-year-old neighbor, Marine Hedge, in her home on April 27, 1985, he took her body to his church where he took photographs of her in bondage positions.

Rader dumped the body in a remote ditch. Lee said Rader told investigators he took the body to the church to "have his way with her" -- to fulfill his sexual fantasies.

Rader had left black plastic sheets and other material at the church in anticipation of the killing.

"He advised to me that she was going to the church alive or dead -- either way," Lee said.

Rader seemed particularly proud of the killing because Hedge lived just a few houses from him.

He had dubbed his plan "Project Cookie."

"He stated to me that if he could really pull it off, right by his house, it would really be a biggie," Lee said.

"He told me it was really bad for a guy to knock one of the neighbors off -- it's not good for a serial killer because you don't want to kill in your own habitat."

At the time of his arrest last February 25, Rader, a father of two grown children, was the president of his Lutheran church.

Investigators said Rader told them he would use a squeeze ball as exercise to build up his hand strength in preparation for stranglings, that he typically masturbated after killings, and that he took underwear from female victims and wore them.

He also had "after-life" plans for his female victims, including one who was to be his mistress and another who would act as his bondage servant.

Some of the victims would regain consciousness after being choked and Rader would whisper in their ears that he was "BTK."

"That was his form of torture," said Tim Relph, a Wichita police detective. "He certainly wanted them to know that you were being killed by BTK."

Wichita Police detective Dana Gouge said even after detailing the killings to investigators, Rader told them he could be mean at times, but, "On the other hand, I'm a nice guy, I'm a nice guy."

Gouge said Rader told him that the 1977 killing of Shirley Vian, who was sick at home with her three children, did not go as planned.

He had hoped to kill the children, but he had to leave the scene before that happened.

Gouge said that when Rader recounted that the children survived, the killer angrily shouted, "Christ!"

Wichita Police detective Clint Snyder said Rader expressed disappointment that he reverted to stabbing Kathryn Bright -- instead of strangling her -- in April 1974, just months after his first killings.

"She fought like a hellcat," Snyder quoted Rader as saying. "There was no way I was ever going to do what I wanted to do, and I had to put her down."

Rader, he said, added that stabbing or shooting somebody was not his "forte." Rader rushed that killing because Bright's brother, Kevin, was also home.

Rader had tied the brother up in a bedroom and tried to strangle him, but Kevin Bright fought off his attacker, Snyder said.

Rader said he shot the brother twice, including one shot in which he did "one of those John Wayne things," Snyder said.

Rader thought the brother was dead and went to finish off his sister, but Kevin Bright ran from the home.

Rader stabbed Kathryn Bright 11 times, Snyder said. Rader appeared proud as he recounted the killing: "He commented to me at one point, 'I'm sorry, I know this is a human being, but I'm a monster,'" Snyder said.

Kevin Bright recovered from his wounds.

Rader's killing spree began on January 15, 1974, when he entered the home of Joseph and Julie Otero -- a home he selected because he had targeted their 11-year-old daughter, Josephine, for sex and a killing, Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents testified.

Rader first killed the girl's parents in their bedroom as she and her 9-year-old brother, Joseph Jr., watched. He then dragged the boy to his room, wrapped two T-shirts around his head and covered it with a plastic bag; Rader pulled up a chair and watched as the boy struggled on his bed and rolled onto the floor, where he died, said Larry Thomas, a KBI special agent.

Thomas said Rader told authorities he then prepared for his "encore" -- killing Josephine. Rader escorted the girl to the basement of the family home, removing her clothing along the way and rubbing her. He had already prepared a noose around a basement sewer pipe.

"As he walked her over toward that position, he first asked for a camera because he wanted to take a picture. She responded that she did not have a camera. She then asked, 'What's going to happen to me?'

"And he told her that she would soon be in heaven with the others."

A gag was placed in her mouth and he hoisted her with the noose. As she writhed, Rader masturbated, Thomas said. "He said it was a sexual release for him."

KBI special agent Ray Lundin said Rader had picked the Otero family because he was attracted to "Hispanic-looking people."

"I guess Hispanic people just turn me on," Lundin said Rader told authorities.

Rader said he was particularly fascinated by the 11-year-old. "Josephine would really be his primary target because he was attracted to 'younger women,' I think is what he called it," Lundin said. "I don't know how you call an 11-year-old a woman, but he said 'younger women.'"

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