The Dennis Rader Computer Forensics Case
Back in January 1974 police turned up at a family home to find a horrific scene all four members of the same family has been brutally murdered. This included Joseph and Julie Otero and the two children 11 year old daughter and the 9 year old son. This was the start of the now infamous serial killers campaign of terror with his self-styled insignia “BTK”. His murderous rampage continued on for 17 years when he committed his last confirmed murder. The Otero family was a little outside the normal victims of the BTK which generally fell within the female gender with a wide age range, he was also known to label his victims as projects.
Dennis Rader the BTK killer would contact and communicate with the police and local media on a regular basis he would use newspaper columns and leave clues and cryptic type messages. This is how he became known as the BTK “Bind Torture Kill” this was his own insignia used to sign off with correspondents. He even went as far as to send a so called self-portrait into the police, however the police where very sceptical that the likeness would be a true reflection, when he was finally arrested the police where vindicated in there scepticism.
The communications from BTK stopped in 1979 and police and press speculated that the killer had died or they had been sent to jail, based on the frequent communications up till that time. Then again in 2004 he communicated with the Wichita Eagle a local new paper after staying silent for 25 years. He broke his silence to claim responsibility for a murder which has not previously been linked to him in 1986. This new communication started a cold case review involving DNA samples being taken from lots of suspects including all the resent prison releases, this angle of the investigation bore no fruit.
Leading up to the arrest of BTK he was leaving messages and symbols around the Wichita area, in one of his communications he asked the police if he sent a floppy disc in would they be able to use it to trace him. The police’s response to this question was it would be safe for him to communicate with them in this way. Upon this answer Dennis Rader the BTK murderer sent in a padded envelope to a TV station in Wichita that contained a purple 1.44mb Memorex floppy disc.
When the floppy disc arrived at the police station the computer data retrieval or the forensics department checked the computer disc drive for deleted documents and found a Microsoft word document that BTK thought had been removed for good. The Microsoft word document was examined for metadata and was found to point to computers held at Christ Lutheran Church which had the name Dennis as the last editor of the computer document. The police the checked the churce’s website and in a search found Dennis Rader as a president of the congregation council.
With this discovery Dennis Rader was put under surveillance and the police managed to get hold of Dennis Rader’s daughter’s DNA which was examined and found to be a good familial match.
BTK Dennis Rader was stopped driving near his home on February 25th 2005 putting an end to his reign of terror and committing him to a life in the prison system.