Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Exclusive: Artwork from BTK

For several years, I have been occasionally corresponding with Dennis Rader, better known as the Wichita serial murderer “BTK” for “Bind, Torture, Kill.”

In his letters to me, Rader often includes little drawings within the midst of the letters. The drawings might be, but are not always, relevant to something we have corresponded about. For example, I sent him poems I had written about cats. The opening of a letter to me featured a drawing of a black cat. The cat appears to be looking the opposite to the viewer as as the back of its head, rather than its face, is drawn.

I once sent him a poem I had written about bats. A letter to me included a drawing of a bat in flight. Unlike the drawing of the cat, this one shows the creature coming toward the viewer. The bat is black but orange is placed around the eyes as well as in the space around the figure of the bat.

In another letter to me, he drew a much larger and more detailed cat. That feline is a front view. The cat appears a bit overweight and is drawn in black pencil with green around the eyes and pink above the lips.

Rader frequently opens or signs off his letters to me as “The Kansas Cave Man.” This is a fairly appropriate title for him as a prison cell could be seen as somewhat similar to a cave. When he signs off, he also often draws a little figure that might be seen as representing either a cave or a man living in a cave. Around Christmastime, he opened part of an epistle with a drawing of a little red bird on a branch over a half-circle that read “The Cave.” In another letter, he signed off with a drawing of a small caveman with a comically oversized nose – the nose appears to be over half of the face – gazing up at a club with spikes drawn on it.

The little doodad pictured here is drawn on a piece of paper that is taped around a piece of cardboard. He suggested I might want to attach a magnet to this artwork and put it on my refrigerator.

That might be a good idea but right now, it is just leaning against some other items. I think it is rather cute.

Oh, what a terrible contrast to the horrors of his crimes!

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