Many serial killers “repent” and “accept Jesus” after they’re caught (see: Dahmer, Jeffrey), but one notorious murderer was a churchgoer (and leader) for his entire life — and remains a Christian today — even as he serves multiple life sentences.
Dennis Rader — who dubbed himself “BTK” (bind, torture, kill) — says in a new documentary that he believes a demon was responsible for his horrific murders of 10 people. By all accounts, he was a church-going family man up until he was finally arrested.
This isn’t a new revelation. He’s been saying the same thing for over a decade, but there will no doubt be renewed interest in his case given the popularity of the true crime genre.
He spoke about his so-called demon possession in a documentary that aired last night on Oxygen called Snapped: Notorious BTK Serial Killer:
The former code inspector and church president pleaded guilty in 2005 for the massacres, which spread fear across Wichita, Kan., beginning in the 1970s. At the time, Rader described how he “trolled” for victims and then shot, stabbed or strangled them. Rader added he killed to satisfy his sexual fantasies.
“How could a guy like me, church member, raised a family, go out and do those sort of things?” Rader revealed in the documentary. “I want the people of Sedgwick County, the United States and the world to know that I am a serial killer… It’s a dark side of me.”
Rader further says that he lived an incredibly normal life, and he went to church every Sunday.
He also talks about having a “grudge” against his mother and enjoying watching her “look at him in terror” as she struggled to free herself once when he was a kid (which could explain a number of his issues). But as is the case with most Christians, he looks for a more… supernatural answer.
In the documentary, Rader claimed it was “Factor X” that drove him to kill.
“I personally think, and I know it’s not very Christian, but I actually think it’s a demon that’s within me,” he said. “At some point and time, it entered me when I was young. And it basically controlled me.”
It’s impossible to know for sure whether Rader’s religion contributed to his behavior — did it force him to repress thoughts for which he otherwise would have sought help, for instance? — but since literal demons don’t exist outside religion, it suggests his religion is informing those beliefs and providing a cover (intentionally or not) for his actual motives. Was it mental illness or something else? Rader’s claim is that he acted outside of his own free will, as if he’s the real victim in all this.
(Screenshot via YouTube)