The man who will for ever be known to criminal history as the BTK Killer pleaded guilty to 10 counts of murder yesterday, outlining in a calm and disturbing manner the way in which he selected and killed his victims.
In an tone that suggested a mundane, everyday topic of conversation, Dennis Rader, a 60-year-old father-of-two, detailed the attacks that had terrorised his home city since the 1970s. In doing so he provided an extraordinary insight into the mind of a serial killer.
"I had never strangled anyone before, so I really didn't know how much pressure you had to put on a person or how long it would take," he told the court in Wichita, Kansas, describing how he killed his first victims - Joseph and Julie Otero and two of their children - in 1974.
"The whole family just panicked on me. I worked pretty quick. I strangled Mrs Otero. She passed out. I thought she was dead.
"I strangled Josephine. She passed out. I thought she was dead. Then I went over and put a bag on Junior's head."
Rader, who will be sentenced on 17 August, will not face the death penalty because the crimes were committed between 1974 and 1991, before the state adopted a new capital punishment law. It is all but certain he will spend the rest of his life in prison.
From the time of his first killing, the Scout leader and church official coined his own nickname based on what he did to his victims - bind, torture and kill. In a series of cryptic messages to police and local media in the 1970s, he repeatedly taunted officials and provided possible clues - something that led some observers and experts to believe that part of him wanted to be caught.
After a lengthy hiatus, the killer resurfaced last year with a letter to The Wichita Eagle newspaper that included photographs of the strangling of a young woman, Vicki Wegerle, in 1986 and a photocopy of her missing driver's licence. Her case had not been linked to BTK until then.
That letter was followed by several other messages. The break in the case came after a computer disk on which Rader had written a message was traced to the church he attended.
In court yesterday, Rader referred to his victims as "projects" and explained how he would "troll" for people he felt were suitable.
"If you've read much about serial killers, they go through what they call different phases," he said. "In the trolling stage, you're looking for a victim. You can be trolling for months or years, but once you lock in on a certain person, you become a stalker. They become the victim." He added: "I had project numbers. If one didn't work, I'd move on to another."
Rader, an enforcement officer for the local authority, admitted in court that there was a strong sexual element to his killings.
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