Known in his community as a happily married family man, a church goer and a cub scout leader, nobody had much reason to suspect that Dennis Rader had been brutally murdering people for over twenty years.
Unbeknownst to his wife and two children, this doting father figure also had a secret life as the infamous BTK (Bind ’em, Torture ’em, Kill ’em) murderer who terrorized Wichita Kansas, killing ten people and taunting the police with cryptic notes and staged reenactments of his crimes.
The photos below from the Rader family album are absolutely chilling because of the way they closely mirror our dog eared family snaps, all while making you realize evil can potentially fool all of us by wearing the most mundane of disguises.
Those who knew Dennis Rader at high school described a quiet and polite young man who preferred to keep to himself and had no interest in the music or fashions of the time.
Air Force Service
This blurry shot shows Rader in the US Air Force during his four years of service.
Dennis Rader pictured with his daughter Kerri who has been left severely traumatized by learning that the doting father figure who bought her up had an unfathomably evil secret life.
Building a Tree House
By the time these images had been taken of Rader doting on his own kids, he had already murdered two children in the neighborhood alongside their parents. Their bodies were found by their three older children who were at school at the time of the killings.
In an interview with The Wichita eagle, Kerri explained:
"I feel bad for the 30 years of shit my dad gave this town – 30 years of bad things because of one man, my dad. The terrible things he did to the victims. ... Women were scared – my own mother was scared to go home."
Ice Cream Sundae
Although Rader's family was plagued by guilt about the crimes that their husband and father committed, law enforcement never suspected that they knew anything about Dennis' chilling double life.
Rader covered his tracks by committing two of his last murders while he was a Scout leader, sneaking away in the night to claim his victims...
Hiding in Plain Sight
...Before returning home to his comfortable family life like nothing had happened.
Hints of Violence
Although Rader was a doting father most of the time, Kerri says she feels horrendous for not seeing what she sees in retrospect as warning signs. For example, once after the trauma of losing two family members, Rader lashed out at his son, Brian, for spoiling dinner. She explained:
"My dad was so angry at my brother, he put his hands around my brother’s neck and started to try to choke him. My mom and I stepped in right away and broke it off."
A Cover Story?
In the words of Detroit based therapist, Sue Parker who treated Kerri after her father's arrest:
"Maybe it [the stable family life] was all a cover story. But if it was, it was a cover story that actually worked."