Skip to main content
U.S. Edition

BTK sentenced to 10 life terms

Victims' families confront confessed serial murderer

Editor's Note: The following report includes graphic content that some readers may find disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.

Carmen Otero Montoya lost four relatives to Rader. She said the killer was "such a coward."



Should BTK killer Dennis Rader be protected from other inmates?
or View Results


BTK Serial Killer
Crime, Law and Justice

WICHITA, Kansas (CNN) -- Self-described BTK serial killer Dennis Rader Thursday was sentenced to 10 consecutive life terms after the court heard emotional statements from his victims' families and listened to Rader himself express remorse.

With a minimum sentence of 175 years, Rader, 60, will spend the rest of his life at the maximum-security El Dorado Correctional Facility near Wichita.

The state's department of corrections will decide whether he will spend his time in a 23-hour lockdown cell or in the general prison population.

"I'd vote for general population," prosecutor Nola Foulston told CNN. (CNN Access)

She noted that pedophiles "don't usually fare well" in prison and added, "I think he ought to, you know, kind of hack it out with the rest of the guys there."

The sentencing was in many ways a formality, with the only issue before Sedgwick County District Judge Gregory Waller being whether Rader would serve his life sentences consecutively or concurrently.

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

Families speak out

The sentencing came after the state rested its case and after family members of victims spoke out in court.

The sister of victim Nancy Fox said Rader "does not deserve to live."

"This man needs to be thrown in a deep, dark hole and left to rot," said Beverly Plapp.

She predicted that, after his death, "Nancy and all of his victims will be waiting with God and watching him as he burns in hell."

Charlie Otero, who lost four relatives to Rader in 1974, said he "caused irreparable damage to the very fabric of my blood family."

Otero's sister, Carmen Otero Montoya, called Rader "such a coward."

Jeff Davis, whose mother, Delores Davis, was killed in 1991, called Rader "a walking cesspool" and "social sewage."

"There can be no justice harsh enough or revenge bitter enough," and said it would have been better had Rader's mother "aborted your demon soul."

Steve Relford fought back tears as he approached the podium. He was 6 years old when he let Rader into his home and watched him murder his mother, Shirley Vian, in 1977.

"I'd just like for him to suffer for the rest of his life," Relford said, struggling for words before walking off.

Rader, who had shown little emotion during previous court appearances, cried during the statements.

Killer apologizes

Prior to the sentencing, Rader -- dressed in a blue suit -- apologized to the victims' families in a rambling statement and wiped tears from his eyes.

He described himself as "a sexual predator" and "self-centered," and added, "I seem to crave the attention of the media."

Rader then went on to discuss each of his victims, drawing parallels between his life and theirs.

Now, he said, it is time "to rebuild."

"People will say that I'm not a Christian, but I believe I am."

He said, "I know the victims' families won't ever be able to forgive me. I hope, somewhere deep down, eventually, that will happen."

Rader proceeded to offer "corrections" to the district attorney over details in her presentation.

The former dog catcher complimented the police, and said he felt a camaraderie with them, "although I wore a black hat instead of a white hat."

About his long-term plans, he said, "I expect to heal and have light and then, hopefully, someday, God will accept me."

About his deeds, he said, "I apologize to the victims' families. There is no way that I can ever repay them."

Prosecutor: Rader 'pathetic'

Foulston was not mollified, later calling Rader's comments "pathetic." She said in court that he talked "very proudly" about his acts in a recent TV interview.

The prosecutor said Rader had "hid under the umbrella" of being a husband, a Boy Scout leader and church official "to get away with what he was doing."

She also urged the court to keep Rader from being able to look at pictures that he might use to feed his sexual fantasies.

Rader's lawyer objected to a request that Rader not be allowed to have writing materials, calling it a First Amendment issue that the defense had not had time to study.

Waller said he would decide the terms of Rader's confinement at a future date.

New details

Prosecutors spent a day-and-a-half presenting detailed accounts of each of the murders during the hearing, describing how Rader confessed to the killings.

The testimony revealed new details of BTK's reign of terror in Wichita, which ran from 1974 to 1991. (Full story)

During morning testimony Thursday, detectives described the killer as a man who lived two separate lives.

They said he kept meticulous records of his fantasies and crimes in what he called his "mother lode" collection of pornography, but managed to keep that part of his life secret from his wife and two children, the church he served as congregation president and the Boy Scout troop he helped lead.

Rader, who called himself BTK for "bind, torture and kill," pleaded guilty in June to 10 murders committed from 1974 to 1991. The killer taunted authorities as well as the media through letters and packages he sent over several years.

Rader was arrested in February after investigators discovered his identity from a computer disk he had sent police.

In his killings, he took "trophies" from victims, including jewelry and clothing. He also snapped hundreds of Polaroid photographs of his victims and chronicled the community's reaction to his killings by collecting newspaper articles.

In the office of his 900-square-foot home, he created folders and binders that documented his crimes.

He also collected hundreds of index cards on which he glued or taped pictures he had cut from newspapers and magazines showing models -- some boys, but most of them girls and young women, said Wichita police Lt. Ken Landwehr.

He would make notations on the back of each card, indicating his sexual and criminal fantasy, Landwehr said.

In a shed on his property, police found soiled lingerie and a number of sexually oriented books and magazines, carefully protected in plastic.

Rader would sometimes set up his tripod and Polaroid in hotel rooms and take pictures of himself in various stages of bondage, Landwehr said.

"He was a practitioner of auto-erotic activity," Landwehr said, adding that Rader at times would cut his own supply of oxygen in search of "a heightened feeling of euphoria" during sexual release.

Story Tools
Click Here to try 4 Free Trial Issues of Time! cover
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.

CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNNAvantGo Ad Info About Us Preferences
© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines