Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The BTK Story

Those Who Remain

It was the day they waited for ever since their loved ones were brutally torn from them years earlier by the hands of a ruthless serial killer. The arrest of BTK suspect Dennis Rader finally allowed the victims' families to put a face on their source of anger and pain but has done little to alleviate the loss that they all feel on a daily basis. The victims' families have experienced a mixture of anguish and joy, although most have cautiously suspended their relief and continue to hold out for justice, which still has yet to be served.

For Deloris Davis' son, Jeff, relief and justice are emotions he won't ascribe to Rader's capture. He was quoted by Eyewitnesses News in Memphis, Tennessee saying, "I don't use the word relief because it's not…I don't use the word justice because it's neither until he (Rader) rots in hell." His chief emotion is anger, quickly followed by a thirst for revenge. He was further quoted saying, "I'm going to enjoy every step of the road that he takes before they crucify him." Many of the victims' family members share Jeff's feelings of outrage and hostility.

Most of the victims' surviving children have had difficulty moving past the trauma that abruptly altered their lives forever despite Rader's capture. Steve Relford, the son of Shirley Vian, suggested that he's only somewhat relieved by the arrest of his mother's alleged murderer because he still has yet to be brought to justice, CNN reported. According to the article on March 17, 1977, Steve, then 5 years old unknowingly let the killer into the family home. He watched in horror from the bathroom where he and his two siblings were held prisoner as his mother was tied up and strangled to death. "Nearly 28 years later he is still haunted by what happened" but since Rader's arrest Steve has been able to finally visit the home where his mother was murdered for the first time. It's at least one step forward in a lengthy healing process.

Charlie Otero and his sister, Carmen, were overjoyed at Rader's arrest more than 30 years after their brother, sister and parents' vicious murder. Wichita television station KSNW quoted Carmen saying, "Thirty years is a long time. I'm pretty relieved—a lot of mixed emotions." Charlie said Rader's capture was "a bittersweet victory" for the family that has been long overdue, it was reported.

Even though some the emotional scars are just beginning to heal, the physical scars still remain with Kevin Bright. In 1974, he and his sister Kathryn came home to find BTK waiting for them. A man who resembled Rader bound Kathryn, 21, with cord, stabbed then strangled her to death and then shot Kevin, then 19, twice. Miraculously, Kevin survived but he continues to suffer from nerve damage, CNN reported.

Moreover, he feels anguish and is not relieved by Rader's arrest because he's never claimed responsibility for her murder. The Kansas City Star quoted Kevin as saying, "I don't have closure. I won't unless he's (Rader) admitted to the police, unless he said he killed my sister." Yet then again, even if he did admit to hers or other murders it will never bring them back.

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