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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Inside the Mind of BTK. John Douglas & Johnny Dodd. Josssey-Bass (2008)


Between 1974 and 1991 Dennis Rader killed ten people in Wichita, Kansas and created public terror and fear as the serial killer knows as BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill). He was arrested in 2005 following a superbly executed police effort to finally trap him.
John Douglas, who was an agent with the FBI and ran the criminal profiling section, first encountered BTK in 1979 when he created a profile for the Wichita police.
Dennis Rader got overwhelming gratification from having power over other people,tying them up and killing them was the sole meaningful actions in his life. Everything else that he did was a shallow facade designed to ensure he could continue to follow his desires in safety.
There is no specific event in Dennis Rader's life that appears to have pushed him in the direction of becoming a serial killer. He had a compulsive desire to tie himself up and a turbulent desire to have power over someone else and to inflict extremes of pain and terror on them before killing them. John Douglas & Johnny Dodd, using Rader's own extensive notes and diaries, trace the development of his murderous desires.The emergence of BTK followed Rader's desire to be credited in full for his crimes, he wrote to the newspapers and identified himself as BTK with enough detail about his first murder to be credible. From there he maintained a efforts to maintain his profile and relished the fear and panic he was causing. It was vanity that eventually lead to his arrest, he started to issue public communications again after reading a an article that a journalist was writing a book about BTK, who had been dormant for years at this point.
In this book Rader emerges as a man so narrowly focused on himself that other people were just props to his desires, shallow and a coward. John Douglas never imagines Rader as other than he is, a dangerous, deeply unattractive predator. The story of his crimes is deeply sad, the victims are treated with care and respect. The investigation that finally trapped Rader is simply astonishing. This is a gripping, thoughtful, angry and very well written book.

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