Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, The BTK Killer by Dr. Katherine Ramsland

Author: Dr. Katherine Ramsland
Publisher: University of New England Press/ ForeEdge
Date of publication: October 2016

In 1974, Dennis Lynn Rader stalked and murdered a family of four in Wichita, Kansas. Since adolescence, he had read about serial killers and imagined becoming one. Soon after killing the family, he murdered a young woman and then another, until he had ten victims. He named himself B.T.K. (bind, torture, kill) and wrote notes that terrorized the city. He remained on the loose for thirty years. No one who knew him guessed his dark secret. He nearly got away with his crimes, but in 2004, he began to play risky games with the police. He made a mistake. When he was arrested, Rader s family, friends, and coworkers were shocked to discover that B.T.K. had been among them, going to work, raising his children, and acting normal. 

This case stands out both for the brutal treatment of victims and for the ordinary public face that Rader, a church council president, had shown to the outside world. Through jailhouse visits, telephone calls, and written correspondence, Katherine Ramsland worked with Rader himself to analyze the layers of his psyche. Using his drawings, letters, interviews, and Rader s unique codes, she presents in meticulous detail the childhood roots and development of one man s motivation to stalk, torture, and kill. She reveals aspects of the dark motivations of this most famous of living serial killers that have never before been revealed. 

In this book Katherine Ramsland presents an intelligent, original, and rare glimpse into the making of a serial killer and the potential darkness that lives next door."

Everyone has heard of the BTK Killer who eluded authorities for decades.  When I saw this book, I was intrigued right off of the bat.  I used to read true crime novels all the time and could never understand what motivated a person to torture and kill another human being. 

I found this book hard to read in one sitting.  The rationale and reasons for his attacks were hard to stomach at times.  The story is told through the author's analysis and observations as well as from the killer himself.  Rader is pretty twisted. Some of his passages were a bit slow and I did find myself skimming them at times.  What I did find the most disturbing was the way his descriptions of the murders and attacks came across as cold and matter of fact.  I never felt emotion coming from him and that gave me chills.

I think true crime readers will enjoy this one.  I will admit that I found the Introduction to be a bt confusing.  I'm not sure I really understood the "code" that Rader used to communicate with the author.  But in reality, I'm not sure you really need that section to understand the rest of the book.

About the author:

Dr. Katherine Ramsland is director of the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Program at DeSales University, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on forensic psychology and extreme offenders. An in-demand expert who has appeared on hundreds of television and radio programs including 20/20, The TODAY Show, NPR, and Coast to Coast AM, Dr. Ramsland writes a regular blog for Psychology Today, has published over 1,000 articles, stories, and reviews, and written 59 books, including The Mind of a Murdererand Psychopath. Dr. Ramsland regularly presents workshops to law enforcement, psychologists, coroners, judges, and attorneys, and has consulted for several television series, including CSI and Bones. In addition to Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, The BTK Killer this year, she published The Ripper Letter in July 2016, a supernatural murder mystery based on Jack the Ripper lore.

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