Dennis Rader, the 59-year-old Wichita, Kan., man suspected of terrorizing his community with at least 10 murders over the past three decades, seems to be cut from the same cloth as John Wayne Gacy, Chicago's 1970s serial killer who raped, tortured and murdered more than 30 young men.
Neither Rader nor Gacy look like monsters. Gacy was a successful businessman who blended into his neighborhood as an ordinary family man. He was about the last man on the block anyone would consider to be a sick, evil sadist who reveled in murder and torture.
The same can be said of Rader, arrested Saturday in connection with 10 killings. He also blended into his community as a family man, municipal employee, Scout leader and, at one time, the president of his church.
Yet if the charges against Rader are true, he also led a double life, as ordinary citizen and serial killer - a serial killer who really enjoyed his "work." From 1974 to 1978 he taunted the police, christening himself "BTK" for bind, torture, kill - mostly of women. Then he fell silent for decades until last March when he sent a letter to a Wichita newspaper, rekindling the terror he initiated in the 1970s.
As usual with the arrest of serial killers who seemingly live ordinary lives, Rader's neighbors and friends were stunned to learn such a monster may have been living in their midst.
That's what is so scary about these guys. They're not monsters who leap out at you from the dark. They could be your next door neighbor. At some level, serial killers want to be caught; eventually they do something to give themselves away. Re-establishing contact with the Wichita media apparently led to Rader's downfall.
Remarkably, he was given a bond, $10 million that he probably won't be able to raise. But it's reckless to even give him the opportunity to get out again. Does anyone doubt that if he's guilty, he wouldn't kill again? After all, that's what BTK does.
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