BTK killer gets 175-year sentence

Kansas man shows pride, sheds tears over crimes

August 19, 2005|By Tina Susman | Tina Susman,NEWSDAY

WICHITA, Kan. - The courtroom was silent as one minute ticked by. Everyone was waiting for Delores Davis to die.

After the 60-second mark, Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston broke the long silence and reminded the room that it had actually taken Davis three times that long to die, as Dennis Rader strangled her with a pair of her own pantyhose in January 1991.

Rader, Wichita's self-proclaimed BTK - Bind, Torture, and Kill - murderer, was sentenced yesterday to 175 years in prison for the 10 slayings he committed between 1974 and 1991.

The sentencing came after prosecutors and victims' relatives were allowed to argue that his crimes were so heinous as to warrant the maximum possible time.

Judge Greg Waller, who couldn't sentence Rader to death because the crimes occurred when Kansas did not have capital punishment, agreed, guaranteeing that the 60-year-old former church and Cub Scout leader will die behind bars.

"This man needs to be thrown in a deep dark hole and left to rot," said Beverly Plapp, whose sister, Nancy Fox, was slain in 1977.

"This world would have been much better off had your mother aborted your demon soul," said Davis' son, Jeffrey.

Davis, 63, was Rader's last victim.

Rader has told police that, as with his other victims, he stalked Davis for weeks, then struck as she slept in her home in suburban Park City, about a mile and a half from the house where he lived with his wife.

In some of the most macabre details to emerge in the two-day sentencing hearing, police showed Polaroid pictures that Rader took of himself lying in a grave that he dug for Davis, wearing a mask that he had also placed on her corpse.

They were among thousands of pictures, obscene sketches and writings Rader compiled and kept in stashes in his home, his office and his camper, detailing his bondage fantasies and murders, and plotting future kills.

Rader has expressed pride in his stalking techniques and in his ability to elude capture for so long, but the hearing revealed him to be almost comically inept.

Once, while practicing a bondage fantasy on himself, he wrapped himself so tightly in plastic that he feared he would have to call someone to untie him.

Rader appeared to shed some tears as relative after relative stood up to berate him. He then stood up and delivered a rambling, 20-minute statement as illogical as his crimes.

He recited positive qualities he said he shared with some of his victims. He blew his nose and said he was sorry for his crimes.

He brightened up and, like an actor accepting an Oscar, thanked the police, his court-appointed lawyers, his pastor and virtually anyone it seemed he had encountered since his arrest. He even lectured the police a bit on minor inaccuracies he said he had noted in their statements.

Newsday is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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