On January 15, 1974: Joseph and Julie Otero were strangled in their home in Wichita, Kansas along with two of their children, Josephine and Joseph II. Within a few days, police released a sketch of a suspicious man seen near the Otero home the morning of the murders. These were the first in a series of killings attributed to the same killer, all of the slayings occurring in Wichita.
On April 4, 1974, Kathryn Bright was stabbed to death in her home. Kathryn's brother, Kevin, survived the attack despite being shot twice. In October 1974, The Wichita Eagle-Beacon newspaper received a letter from a person claiming to have killed the Oteros and included details of the crime scene that only the killer could have known. The author signed with these "code words": bind them, torture them, kill them: BTK. (Many details of BTK's letters have been withheld by police and reproductions are rarely seen.)
On March 17, 1977, Shirley Vian was found bound and strangled in her home. On December 8, 1977, Nancy Fox, 25, was found bound and strangled in her home. BTK's voice was captured on tape when he called a police dispatcher to report the homicide from a payphone.
On Jan. 31, 1978, A letter containing a poem written with a child's printing set on an index card arrived at the Wichita Eagle-Beacon. The poem, which was patterned after a "Curly Locks" nursery rhyme, referred to the Vian homicide. The writer also referred to a mysterious "factor x."
On Feb. 10, 1978, a letter from BTK arrived at Wichita's KAKE-TV station claiming responsibility for the deaths of Vian and Fox, as well as another unnamed victim. The letter included a poem titled "Oh! Death to Nancy." The poem adapted lines from a folk song called "Oh, Death." Police Chief Richard LaMunyon soon announced that a serial killer was at large and threatening to kill again.
On April 28, 1979, the killer waited inside the home of 63-year-old Anna Williams, but left before she returned. He later sent Williams a letter letting her know he had planned to kill her but had gotten tired of waiting for her to return home. Police believed the killer was targeting the woman's daughter.
On Aug. 15, 1979, Wichita residents listened to repeated radio and television broadcasts of the voice of the BTK strangler from the 1977 phone recording. Police received 110 tips during the first day the broadcasts aired.
In the Mid-1980s, a new BTK investigation was opened by a group known as "The Ghostbusters," which spent three years employing new techniques including DNA testing, computer database searches and psychological profiles.
On Sept. 16, 1986, Vicki Wegerle, 28, was strangled in her home. In January 1988: The wife of Wichita murder victim Phillip Fager received a letter from a man claiming to be BTK. The letter mentioned the killing of Fager and his two daughters but denied responsibility for the crimes. While the Fager murders were very similar to BTK's, experts disagree whether BTK was responsible. A local man named Bill Butterworth was tried in the Fager murders but was acquitted.
After this contact, the BTK killer disappeared for nearly 20 years. Police suspected that he was either dead or imprisoned on an unrelated charge. In 2004, the media began recounting the case due to it's 20-year anniversary.
On March 19, 2004, a letter arrived at the Wichita Eagle containing a photocopy of Vicki Wegerle's driver's license and three pictures of the crime scene that apparently were taken by her killer. The BTK case once again a full-scale investigation.
On April 7, 2004, an anonymous letter containing a photo of an unidentified baby was received by Wichita's KSN-TV station. Apparently believing it could be a clue from BTK, the station immediately publicized the photo in an attempt to identify the baby. Apparently it was unsuccessful.
On May 5, 2004, Wichita's KAKE-TV station received a multi-page letter from BTK, with the heading "The BTK Story" and a chapter titled "P.J.'s." The letter also included word puzzles and hints at his method of gaining access to the homes of his victims.
On June 17, 2004, the Wichita Police Dept. received a letter from BTK that apparently included more details of the Otero murders. On July 17, 2004, a suspicious letter was discovered at the main branch of the Wichita Public Library and turned over to the FBI. It was eventually determined to be an authentic communication from BTK, although the contents have not been revealed.
On Dec. 14, 2004, a package containing the driver's license of victim Nancy Fox was found in Wichita's Murdock Park by a nearby resident. Reports indicate that nearly a week earlier on Dec. 8, an unknown man called a local QuickTrip convenience store to draw attention to the package. The park was immediately searched by police, however nothing was found.
On Jan. 27, 2005, the Wichita Police Dept. recovered a suspicious cereal box that was apparently left by BTK. The box was found as a result of a letter received by KAKE-TV instructing them where to look. The letter also indicated that another communication could be found elsewhere, allegedly left a few weeks earlier. Wichita police were also able to locate that communication, although details have not been released.
On Feb. 25, 2005, Park City, Kan. resident Dennis Rader, 59, was arrested by Wichita police on 10 counts of suspicion of first-degree murder. He was identified by using a computer disk that he had used to send correspondence to the Wichita Police Department. A forensic computer analysis identified that the disk had been used on a computer at a local church assigned to a man named "Dennis". After checking with the church, it was learned that Dennis Rader was active in the church and had access to the computer. Dennis Rader plead guilty in a Wichita court to 10 counts of first-degree murder.
On Aug. 18, 2005, Sedgwick County District Judge Greg Waller sentenced Dennis Rader to the toughest possible punishment, 10 consecutive life sentences.