- The Washington Times - Monday, June 27, 2005

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — BTK suspect Dennis Rader pleaded guilty yesterday to 10 counts of first-degree murder, admitting in a chillingly matter-of-fact voice to a series of slayings that terrorized the city beginning in the 1970s.

Rader, 60, of Park City, entered the guilty pleas as his trial was to begin.

Referring to his victims as “projects,” Rader laid out for the court how he would “troll” for victims on his off-time and then stalk and kill them.

“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 told the court in describing his first killings in 1974, a couple and two of their children.

Most of the victims’ relatives who were in the courtroom sat silent and stared at Rader; one woman wiped away tears.

Prosecutors had said before the hearing that no plea deal had been made. Rader was arrested Feb. 25.

Saying he was motivated by sexual fantasies, the one-time president of the church council at Christ Lutheran Church and Boy Scout leader, Rader admitted killing 10 persons in the Wichita area from 1974 to 1991. The serial killer known as BTK — a self-coined nickname that stands for “bind, torture, kill” — taunted the press and police with cryptic messages.

“Today in court, for the first time, our community and the nation has now heard Dennis Rader reveal that he has committed those homicides,” District Attorney Nola Foulston said. “Today, we have some resolution.”

Sentencing was set for Aug. 17. Rader will not face execution because the state had no death penalty at the time of the crimes. But it’s likely he will never leave prison because each count carries a possible life sentence.

Rader, wearing a beige coat and dark tie, told District Judge Gregory Waller that he understood the charges and that he was waiving his right to a jury trial.

“The defense worked with me real well,” Rader said. “We went over it. I feel like I’m pretty happy with them.”

Asked by Judge Waller whether he was pleading because he was guilty, Rader answered, “Yes, sir.”

The earliest crimes linked to the BTK strangler date to Jan. 15, 1974, when Joseph Otero, 38, and his 34-year-old wife, Julie, and their children Josephine, 11, and Joseph II, 9, were found dead in their home.

“The whole family just panicked on me. I worked pretty quick,” he said. “I strangled Mrs. Otero. She passed out. I thought she was dead. I strangled Josephine. She passed out. I thought she was dead. Then I went over and put a bag on Junior’s head.”

When questioned by the judge about the motivation for the Otero slayings, Rader said: “That was part of what you call my fantasy.”

Pressed further, Rader said, “Sexual fantasy, sir.”

After years of silence, the killer resurfaced last year with a letter to the Wichita Eagle that included photos of the 1986 strangulation of Vicki Wegerle and a photocopy of her missing driver’s license.

That letter was followed by several other cryptic messages and packages. The break in the case came after a computer diskette sent by the killer was traced to Rader’s church.

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