Anger, Relief Over BTK Confessions

Dennis Rader, suspected BTK serial killer CBS

A former church and scout leader's matter-of-fact confession that he is the serial killer who haunted Wichita for decades may have brought closure to some — but not to Charlie Otero.

Otero, whose two siblings and parents were Dennis Rader's first victims in 1974, said the guilty plea can do nothing to repair the lives of survivors of the 10 people Rader so chillingly acknowledged Monday that he killed.

"It's a release that he's admitted it, but as far as closure goes, it's far from it," said Otero, now 47 and living in Albuquerque, N.M. "It turned my life around 180 degrees and left me no hope for a future I had seen before the murders. My life went from idyllic and wonderful to dark and dank."

Nor was it closure for the BTK killer's 10th victim's son, Jeff Davis, who now lives in Memphis. He told CBS affiliate WREG that listening to the murderer's chilling description in court Monday was like adding salt to his already open wound.

"It's always been an open sore, and always will be," Davis said. "But at least now I've got the name, the person, and the satisfaction of knowing that he's going to get part of what's coming to him."

Rader — husband, father of two — will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars for crimes that gained him the moniker "BTK" for his preferred killing method, "Bind, Torture, Kill."

In pleading guilty, Rader was unfailingly emotionless and courteous, answering questions with "Yes, sir" and "Yes, your honor," and at one point launching into an almost scholarly discourse on habits of a serial killer.

"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," he said. "You can be trolling for months or years, but once you lock in on a certain person, you become a stalker."

"There was an emotionally devoid humanoid with a monster living inside it just coldly reciting facts," said Davis.

The judge pressed Rader for details on his crimes, and the killer obliged.

He talked about how he hung Otero's 11-year-old sister from a sewer pipe after murdering her parents and brother. He described strangling a 62-year-old woman — Jeff Davis' mother — with pantyhose and dumping her body under a bridge. He told of comforting another victim and giving her a glass of water before putting a bag over her head and strangling her.

Even Rader's attorney, Steve Osburn, admitted he was shaken by the coldness of Rader's testimony.

"I've never had this experience, and I hope to never have it again," Osburn told CBS News Correspondent Erin Moriarty.

"Even though you know the facts of the case, it was chilling, horrifying, really," prosecutor Kevin O'Connor said Tuesday on CBS News' The Early Show. "To hear the murders described in such a matter of fact manner, no matter how much you know about the case, it's still something that's hard to accept."

Those who watched Rader, 60, walk into the courtroom saw a man who looked eerily normal for the crimes he was about to confess — a balding man with a jacket and tie and close-cropped hair and beard. Once he began to speak, though, observers heard the killer calmly describe murders he said were fulfillments of the sexual fantasies he harbored.

"He was so cold about it," said 19-year-old Jared Noble of Wichita, who listened to the court proceedings in his car. "The way he described the details — heartless — with no emotion at all."

  • Dan Collins

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