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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Serial Killer Next Door

Aired June 27, 2005 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Tonight, a serial killer speaks, and what he says is terrifying. A special edition of 360 starts now.
Confessions of the BTK killer.


DENNIS RADER, CONFESSED BTK KILLER: And I came to the back door, cut the phone lines.


COOPER: In his own words, Dennis Rader reveals how he chose his victims, how he killed them, and why.


RADER: I went back and strangled her again. It finally killed her.


ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "BTK: The Serial Killer Next Door."

COOPER: Thanks for joining us this evening.

You and I, all of us, have seen a lot in this day and age. We've seen war and terrible crime, shocking brutality, but rarely do we get the chance to see evil up close, right in front of our faces, to hear evil with our own ears. Today we did, and tonight so will you. We're going to spend the next hour tonight watching, listening, and hopefully learning. Dennis Rader, the BTK killer, stood up in a nondescript Kansas courtroom today and confessed his crimes, beginning in 1974 -- crimes which for more than some 20 years gripped the Wichita area. Ten victims, 10 lives later, the killings finally stopped in 1991.

BTK stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill". We all know that. We all know a lot about the killings, about how he killed his victims. But today we learned and tonight we want you to hear this man speak, to hear how he evolved and changed, how he picked his victims, sometimes even at random, and how he talked to them before killing them.

Look, we've all seen serial killers in movies and TV, but this is real -- not a boogie man jumping out of the shadows. Take a look at this guy. Dennis Rader was your neighbor, a Boy Scout leader, a 60- year-old church-going family man who raised two kids while he was trolling and stalking and murdering his victims. In truth, what we've heard today perhaps for the first time is the verbal diary of a serial killer.

Now we want to warn you, what you're about to hear in this hour may be disturbing. Dennis Rader began today describing his first frenzied attack, four members of the Otero family in 1974.



RADER: No, that's -- no, that was part of my -- I guess my, what you call, fantasy. These people were selected.

WALLER: You were engaged in some kind of fantasy during this period of time?

RADER: Yes, sir.

WALLER: All right. Now, when you use the term fantasy, is this something you were doing for your personal pleasure?

RADER: Sexual fantasy, sir. Mr. Otero was strangled, a bag put over his head and strangled. Then I thought he was going down. And I went over and strangled Mrs. Otero, and I thought she was down. Then I strangled Josephine, thought she was down. And then I went over to Junior and put the bag on his head. After that, Mrs. Otero woke back up and, you know, she was pretty upset -- what was going on? So I came back, and at that point in time I strangled her with a death strangle at that time.

WALLER: With your hands or what?

RADER: No, with a cord. With a rope. No.

WALLER: You indicated this woman lived down the street from you. Did she know you?

RADER: Casually. We'd walk by and wave. She liked to work in her yard, as well as I like to work -- it's just a neighborly-type thing. It wasn't anything personal. I mean, just a neighbor.

WALLER: All right. So she was in her bed when you turned on the lights in the bathroom?

RADER: Yeah, bathroom. Yes, so I could get some light in there.

WALLER: All right. What did you do then?

RADER: Oh, I manually strangled her when she started to scream.

WALLER: So you used your hands? RADER: Yes, sir.

WALLER: And you strangled her. Did she die?


WALLER: All right. What did you do then?

RADER: After that, since I was in the sexual fantasy, I went ahead and stripped her and probably went ahead and -- I'm not sure if I tied her up at that point in time. But, anyway, she was nude and I put her on a blanket, went through her purse, some personal items in the house, figured out how I was going to get her out of there. Eventually moved her to the trunk of the car. Took the car over to Christ Lutheran Church, this was the older church, and I took some pictures of her.


COOPER: He took some pictures of her. Did you hear how he was saying he put them down? He didn't even say kill. He was an animal control officer, we point out. Of course that's the term used for killing animals.

He was talking about his eighth victim there, the last, one of his neighbors, Marine Hedge; 1985 is when he killed her. That's her picture.

There are a lot of questions to answer tonight. Why did he stop in 1991? Why did he recently re-contact the media and police?

Here is what we're going to do over the course of this hour. We're going to speak to a lot of criminal experts, people who have studied this case, and we're going to go through each murder and literally see this man's methods evolve. Court TV correspondent Jean Casarez was in the courtroom today. She joins us live from Wichita.

Jean, he seemed calm on television. What did he seem like in person?

JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV: Well, he was very calm in the courtroom -- really not having any emotion as he was speaking and talking, admitting all of this. However, his hands were at the back, clinched behind him, and his left hand kept moving and pulsating over and over and over as he was saying all of this. Even to the point where he took his right hand to go get a sip of water, the left hand kept throbbing in the back. Now, I can't tell you why. Either excitement or nervousness, I'm not sure, but obviously there was a reaction within him to admit all of this.

COOPER: I talked to one of the family members who was in the courtroom. We're going to play that interview a little bit later in our hour. But, I mean, there were a lot of them there. How did they react?

CASAREZ: Oh, the family members, they were hearing some of this for the very first time because, remember, the only person that knows exactly what happened was Dennis Rader himself, and he did this alone, and the victims died. They were in the courtroom and they started to cry. They started to shake. There were other family members that had to put their arms around them so they wouldn't collapse. Finally they just lowered their heads. They couldn't even look at him anymore. But all listened and all learned something new, the final moments of their own family members before they died.

COOPER: Well, I sat listening to this thing and kept thinking about his wife and his two kids. I mean, he was married for 34 years. He has two grown children. Were any of them in the courtroom?

CASAREZ: We don't believe so. If they were, it was anonymous. They were -- we did not hear about them. We understand the children have visited him in jail. The wife has not. She's even contemplating divorce. He said that himself through a tape via the local television station last week.

COOPER: Jean Casarez with Court TV, appreciate you joining us. Thanks very much, Jean.

Dennis Rader's first killings were four members of the Otero family. The year was 1974. Rick Sanchez has been looking into the case. He's here with a preview of what we're going to hear after the break.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're going to see how exactly it began with the Otero's. And it's interesting because this is a working family -- a wife, a husband, two kids. And from the very beginning on that day, mistakes occurred that led to the evolution of a serial killer. It's really, you know, a bit of an incredible journey to see how he manifested with not only this killing but others as they came through. And you're going to hear all this, Anderson, as you've been saying throughout the show, in the serial killer's own words.


SANCHEZ: Which makes it so different.

COOPER: And also it's how he delivered those words. I mean, just unemotional. And it's like he's reading a laundry list. You don't realize that, of course, he's talking about murdering human beings.

SANCHEZ: Almost as if he's teaching a class.

COOPER: Yes, very strange. Rick will have that report in just a moment.

Also, still to come in this special edition of 360, a victim's child who was there when his mother was murdered. He saw it all happen. He sat in the courtroom today during the confession. We speak one-on-one with him. Plus, eerie compassion, then murder. How Dennis Rader's testimony today revealed some real clues about the mind of a serial killer. We'll talk to some experts about that.

We'll be right back.



RADER: Well, after that, I did Mrs. Otero. Had never strangled anyone before, so I really didn't know how much pressure you had to put on a person or how long it would take.


COOPER: Unbelievable to hear this man talk. We heard there, when he confessed to the killing of the Oteros earlier today, BTK killer Dennis Rader, he spoke about his first killings nearly 31 and a half years ago. He admitted a lack of experience, saying he didn't really know how to strangle someone. He didn't know how much pressure it would take. In reality, that means that his victims were strangled not once, but twice, prolonging the horror that finally ended their lives. Tonight, as we go case by case through the BTK killings and hear this man confess in his own words, CNN's Rick Sanchez reports on Rader's first gruesome murders.

And we warn you, the details are grisly.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Dennis Rader sounding as if he's reading a grocery list rather than describing a murder.

WALLER: Can you tell me where you went to kill Mr. Joseph Otero?

DENNIS RADER: I think it was 1834 Edgemoor.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): The Otero family, his first victim. As part of his plea deal with the court, the serial killer had to reveal every detail of his gruesome odyssey. Co-worker Julie Otero was chosen as his first target. But after getting in her home, he realized she wasn't alone. Julie's 38-year-old husband and two of her children, 11-year-old Josephine and nine-year- old Joseph Jr. were also there. Rader says he tied them up, making them believe they would only be robbed. Then, to cover his tracks, he killed each and every one of them.

RADER: There I realized that, you know, I was already -- I didn't have a mask on or anything, they already could ID me. I made a decision to go ahead and put them down.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Put them down -- language commonly used for disposing of an animal. In fact, Rader's municipal job description included animal control. Here is how he describes the Otero murders. Remember, the mother, Julie Otero, was the target. Her husband, son, and daughter just got in the way. RADER: First of all, Mr. Otero was strangled -- or a bag put over his head and strangled. And then I thought he was going down. Then I went over and strangled Mrs. Otero, and I thought she was down. Then I strangled Josephine. Thought she was down. And then I went over to Junior and put the bag on his head.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): However, Julie Otero, according to Rader, then suddenly woke back up.

RADER: She was pretty upset, what was going on. So I came back, and at that point in time, strangled her with a death strangle at that time.

WALLER: With your hands or what?

RADER: No, with a cord.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Only the killer himself could have known the next detail. Julie Otero had one request. She asked that her children be spared. Instead, Rader finished them off and reserved an especially gruesome act for the little girl. Eleven-year-old Josephine was dragged to the basement and hung off a sewer pipe.

WALLER: You hung her in the basement?

RADER: Yes, sir.

WALLER: Did you do anything else at that time?

RADER: Yes. I had some sexual fantasies, but that was after she was hung.

SANCHEZ (vice-over): After hearing what amounts to a confession from the BTK killer, we decided that we would make a comparison. We found this tape. It contains an interview with a family member -- in fact, the family member who was first to arrive at the scene.

CHARLIE OTERO, FAMILY KILLED BY BTK: When I stepped inside the house, I just got this feeling, you know, probably -- I probably smelled the death before I realized what I was smelling.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Three of the children were spared. They were at school that day. Imagine, like any other day, what it was like for 15-year-old Charlie.

OTERO: I saw a horrible sight. It was like out of a -- some horror movie. My brother and my sister were there, holding my parents, crying. The room smelled of death and fear. And my parents were laying -- one was on the bed, the other was on the floor. They were tied up. My father's tongue was half bit off. His eyes were bulging. Man, it was -- it was rough.


SANCHEZ: Rough, indeed. In fact, it's amazing, as you listen, how he described himself and his actions as that of a vintage serial killer -- at one point actually turning to the court and saying the following. Listen to this.

If you've read much about serial killers, they go through what they call different phases, he says. In the trolling stage, basically, you're looking for a victim. At that time, you can be trolling for months, for years. But once you lock into a certain person, you become a stalker. There may be many of them, but you really hone in on one person, he says.

Now Mrs. Otero was the first stalking victim. It was with her family and in her case that he learned the example, as you had mentioned earlier, how to perfect the art of strangling.

COOPER: And he was frenzied, really, in that first one. And there was a lot of chaos. He did not know how to control it. But he did refine his methods, if you can use that term, over the years.

SANCHEZ: So much so that he eventually developed something called a hit kit that he would take with him to some of the other crimes. And the hit kit was what eventually would lead him to make sure that he was always covering his bases, so to speak. And we're going to get more into that. We're preparing a report on that as well for you.

COOPER: All right. We'll have that in a few minutes.

Rick Sanchez, thanks very much for that.

Two-and-a-half months after the Otero murder, the BTK killer struck again. Dennis Rader had more to do. We're going to talk about that and more coming up.

Now let's go to Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS with a look at the day's other top stories.

Hey, Erica.


We start off in Washington. The Supreme Court calling it a term, while none of the justices, though, is calling it quits. Despite much speculation, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who had thyroid cancer, made no mention today of leaving as the court issued its last rulings of this session. Those rulings included split decisions on displaying the Ten Commandments. The justices said a monument outside the Texas capitol was OK, but displays inside two Kentucky courthouses violated the separation between church and state.

Off the Florida Panhandle, another shark attack. A teenage boy is in stable condition tonight after being bitten by a shark in Cape San Blas. That's about 95 miles southeast of Miramar Beach where a teenage girl was killed in a shark attack on Saturday. In this latest attack, the boy was fishing on a sand bar. He was about 60 yards from shore.

In London, Iraq's prime minister says within two years his government will be able to establish security within its border. His comment came at a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. And finally to Nashville, Tennessee, where the winner is CMT. Next year, the Miss America Pageant will be broadcast on the country music cable channel. It plans to give the pageant a reality TV feel. ABC dropped the pageant last year due to low ratings.

So that's where you can tune in next year, Anderson.

COOPER: A reality TV feel? What does that mean? They're going to like eat bugs or something?

HILL: If you're lucky, maybe, yes.

COOPER: All right, Erica Hill, thanks very much. As long as they look good while doing that, that's all that matters -- with poise.


360 viewers, don't forget. For free you can watch video of some of the day's story on our website, Just click on the video link.

Still to come on this special edition of 360, the victim who survived. Dennis Rader gave him some toys and locked him in a bathroom before he went to kill his mother, and he saw it all happen. Today Steve Relford was in court to listen to Rader's testimony. His reaction coming up in my one-on-one interview.

Also tonight, what Rader took with him from murder to murder. You just heard Rick Sanchez talking about the hit kit. We're going to tell you about what was in it and how he used it a little bit later.


RADER: If you read much about serial killers, they go through what they call the different phases. That's one of the phases they go through, is a trolling stage. You're -- basically you're looking for a victim at that time. And that -- you could be trolling for months or years. But once you lock in on a certain person, you become a stalker. And that might be several of them, but you really hone in on that person. They basically become the -- that's the victim.


COOPER: An expert we talked to earlier today said you look at that sound bite and you see the -- that is a sociopath talking. He's talking like he's a college professor. He's talking about himself there, though. You'd never know it by the way he's talking. How a serial killer operates. We'll examine the mind of Dennis Rader ahead.



RADER: I really can't remember, Judge, whether I had her tied up or she tied him up. But, anyway, I moved -- basically I moved her to another bedroom and he was already secure there by the bed. I tied his feet to the bed post, one of the bed posts, so he couldn't run. I kind of tied her in the other bedroom, and then I came back to strangle him.


COOPER: Well, for one victim, no doubt, it was the most horrifying moment in his life. He survived. The other victim he's talking about did not. Yet today as Dennis Rader described these gruesome acts, he seemed numb. He didn't even remember key details. Tonight, we chronicle the BTK killing spree. He killed four people in his first attack, but two-and-a-half months later, this woman, victim number five, 21-year-old Kathryn Bright. His confession about Kathryn's murder would reveal so much about his method of selecting his victims and the problems in some of his plans.

Again, we warn you, the following storing is disturbing. Once again, here's CNN's Rick Sanchez.


SANCHEZ: From the start, Dennis Rader was workman-like. He didn't have victims, he had projects.

RADER: And I had many -- what I called them projects. They were different people in the town that I followed, watched. Kathryn Bright was one of the next targets.

SANCHEZ: That was Rader's chilling description of how he made his choices.

RADER: Stalking and trolling. You go through the trolling stage, and then a stalking stage. She was in the stalking stage when this happened.

SANCHEZ: She was Rader's fifth victim, 21-year-old Kathryn Bright, a worker at the Coleman Camping Factory, the same factory Rader left just a year before the murder.

WALLER: How did you select her?

RADER: Just driving by one day and I saw her go in the house with somebody else and I thought, that's a possibility.

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: It is very typical that many serial killers start with a fantasy, then they take that fantasy and they start to act on it in minor ways by stalking, walking around, casing a joint, watching women through their windows, perhaps. And then it will actually proceed where the fantasy and the stalking is not enough.

SANCHEZ: Rader broke into Kathryn's home and waited hours until she returned. To his surprise, she did not return alone. RADER: She and Kevin Bright came in. I wasn't expecting him to be there.

SANCHEZ: Kevin was Kathryn's brother -- in Rader's mind, another witness. By now, he was prepared to put down, as he called it, anyone who got in his way. But his first attempt at killing Kevin Bright failed.

RADER: I went back to the other bedroom where Kevin was at and I tried to restrangle him at that time and he jumped up. I went back to finish the job on Kathryn, and she was fighting.

SANCHEZ: Though he was strangled and shot, somehow Kevin survived and escaped. And Dennis Rader learned a lesson -- he'd never again take on a project without his hit kit.

RADER: If I had brought my stuff and used my stuff, Kevin would probably be dead today. I'm not bragging on that, it's just a matter of fact. It's the bonds I tied him up with that he broke them.

SANCHEZ: The BTK hit kit? A briefcase containing ropes, plastic bags, and all the tools necessary to ply his deadly trade.

JORDAN: When Dennis Rader talks about his hit kits and his hit clothes, what he's trying to do, again, is convince you that he's extremely intelligent. It's really -- if you could just see the subtext of what he's really saying is, he's saying, look at how smart I am. Look at how well organized I am. Look at how successful I was. I thought this out and that's why I got away with it for a very long time.

SANCHEZ: Rick Sanchez, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, as Casey just said, we're watching really something extraordinary tonight, the evolution of a serial killer. In his own words, Dennis Rader describing how he moved and evolved, his methods of murder. It's a window into his mind that's really fascinating and chilling, of course. It's something my next guest knows much about.

Dr. Park Dietz is a forensic psychiatrist who analyzes serial killers. He's interviewed Jeffrey Dahmer and he joins us now from Irvine, California.

Dr. Dietz, thank you very much for being with us.

As you have heard his testimony, what have we learned so far about Rader's first stalkings and killings? Is this a typical evolution of a serial killer?

PARK DIETZ, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: Well, he's a little bungling at the beginning. He hasn't really planned well in these first attacks, how to make sure there isn't a man present. And we see this theme carry on later because it's very hard for him to take control of multiple victims, especially a male.

What's most notable about what he's been saying about his crimes is what he omits. He doesn't tell us much about the sex. That's the part he's ashamed of.

COOPER: And how much of this does involve sex? I mean, how much of this is out of a sexually perverted desire? DIETZ: The motivation for these crimes is purely out of a perverted desire, but that's the part that he doesn't want to say too much about. It's much easier for him to talk about killing and call it a hit kit than to admit that it's a rape kit and it's about a particular, very specific perverted form of rape.

COOPER: So why is that? I mean, why does the murder not embarrass him whereas -- I mean, is it a question of being embarrassed by the sexual act?

DIETZ: Well, it's shame. American men are allowed to be violent and they're not allowed to be perverted. And so for him, it's much easier to admit to putting people down than it is to wanting women screaming and helpless.

COOPER: It's fascinating, I hadn't thought of that, that you pointed out that he calls it a hit kit when really it is -- it's a rape kit is what it really boiled down to.

Dr. Dietz, I know you're going to continue to joining us throughout this hour. We're going to talk to you a lot ahead. I appreciate you joining us tonight. A fascinating perspective.

Also ahead tonight, the evolution of a sociopath, how Dennis Rader changed his methods, if not his madness.

Also ahead, there was one man in the courtroom today who remembers Dennis Rader all too well, this man. Rader killed his mother. He was just five years old when it happened. He witnessed it all. We're going to talk with him ahead. A BTK survivor.


COOPER: The "Serial Killer Next Door". We're talking about Dennis Rader and his extraordinary testimony today, confessing to 10 crimes over the course of 20 years.

The confession and evolution of the BTK serial killer is what we're focusing on in this hour. Today, we're going to share with you the verbal diary, if you will, of a monster. But we want to warn you, what you're about to hear is gruesome.

This morning, this man, Dennis Rader, calmly and in horrific detail, told a Kansas court how he murdered 10 people, including two kids. For over two decades, the former Boy Scout troop leader terrorized the Wichita, Kansas, area.

When you look at it, he was a Boy Scout leader, he was a church leader, he had a wife, he had two grown children. None of them knew. He showed little emotion in the courtroom today. He's 60 years old, and he recounted his grisly crimes as if he was reading off a laundry list.

He talked about how he would stalk his victims, he said also go trolling for them, and then murder them.


RADER: Just before -- Vian was -- actually, on that one, she was completely random. There was actually someone across from Dillon's was a potential target. It was called Project Green, I think. I had project numbers assigned to it.

And that particular day, I drove to Dillon's park, parked in the parking lot, watched this particular residence, and then got out of the car and walked over to -- it's probably in the police report, the address. I don't know the address now. Knocked, nobody -- nobody answered it.

So I was all keyed up, so I just started going through the neighborhood. I'd been to the neighborhood before. I kind of knew a little of the layout of the neighborhood. I'd been through the back alleys, knew where certain people lived.


COOPER: Well, he was talking about his sixth victim, Shirley Vian. First, he killed, remember, four members of the Otero family, then Kathryn Bright. Victim number six was Shirley Vian.

I want to show you her picture. If you can, put it up there.

Today, Rader said, as you just heard, that he was wasn't stalking her. It was completely random. He went to someone else's house, they weren't there. He saw one of her kids enter the house and followed the kid in.

We can only imagine what Shirley Vian was thinking when she suddenly -- she was home, sick. Suddenly this guy shows up in her house, and this is what Rader said to her.


RADER: I told Mrs. -- Ms. Vian that I had a problem with sexual fantasies, that I was going to tie her up, and that I might have to tie the kids up, and if she would cooperate with us -- cooperate with me at that time. We went back. She was extremely nervous. I think she even smoked a cigarette. And we went back to one of the back areas of the porch, explained to her that I had done this before.


COOPER: You notice a lot in this next half hour, he allows them to smoke cigarettes. He tries to calm them, and then all of a sudden he kills them. After tying Shirley Vian up, Rader strangled her, and he did it while her kids were screaming in a locked bathroom.

Today, one of those kids, Steve Relford, was in court to hear the confession, and he says he's certain Rader looked right into his eyes. Steve Relford joined me earlier from Wichita.


COOPER: Do you remember him coming into your house? What happened?

STEVE RELFORD, SHIRLEY VIAN'S SON: I remember him stopping me on the street. Asking me, did I know who the picture was? I told him, no. He went to my next door neighbor's. Saw where I went. He knocked on the door. Nobody answered. About five, 10 minutes later, he comes to my house. Knocked on the door. Me and my brother rushed to the door. I answered the door. Asked me, were my parents home? I told him, yeah, my mom, she's sick in bed. So he proceeded to come on in. Started pulling down blinds and turned off the TV, and pulled out a gun. About that time, my mom came to the bedroom door.

COOPER: He says -- today he said it was a Magnum, a .357 Magnum. He said he told your mom that he had problems with sexual fantasies, and then he told you all to go back into the bedroom. I want to just play a portion of what he said today. Let's play that.


RADER: We went back to the -- her bedroom, and I proceeded to tie the kids up. They started crying and got real upset. So I said, no, this is not going to work. So we moved them to the bathroom. She helped me. And then I tied the door shut. We put some toys and blankets and odds and ends in there for the kids, to make them as comfortable as we could. We tied one of the bathroom doors shut so they couldn't open it, and then we shut -- she went back and helped me shove the bed up against the other bathroom door.


COOPER: You were locked in the bathroom. Could you see what was happening?

RELFORD: Yeah. I looked over the door, in the crack. Seen my momma being stripped, taped, plastic bag over her head, rope tied around her neck.

COOPER: But you know there was nothing you could have done, right? I mean, you know, he had a gun, you were a little kid.

RELFORD: I don't care. I could have opened the door.

COOPER: You mean you still -- you still feel guilty about it?

RELFORD: Every day of my life.

COOPER: You were just a kid, Steve.

RELFORD: I don't care. I'd opened the door.

COOPER: One of the most disturbing moments of the testimony today was the way that this man described treating your mom. At one point, he sounded kind almost, and then the next second, completely evil. I just want to play this one last bite. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RADER: I proceeded to tie her up. She got sick, threw up. I got her a glass of water, comforted her a little bit, and then I went ahead and tied her up, and then put a bag over her head and strangled her.


COOPER: You know, a lot of people use that word "closure." I think it's a pretty stupid word. I don't believe in closure. I think there's some pain that you never get over, and that time maybe changes it, but it's still there. Did you learn anything by hearing this killer confess today? Was it helpful to you in any way?

RELFORD: It's the start of a new beginning. There's a long road ahead.

COOPER: What do you want people to know about your mom, about this man, Dennis Rader? What do you want people to know, Steve?

RELFORD: I want people to know that she was a good Christian woman, went to church every Sunday, sung in the choir. She was a good woman.

COOPER: Well, Steve, you said yourself, you have a long road ahead, and I wish you luck. I wish you the best of luck, Steve.

RELFORD: Thank you.


COOPER: A man whose life has been forever changed by what happened some almost 30 years ago. Steve Relford.

Coming up next on 360, it didn't end with the killings. Rader said he also used his victims to fulfill his sexual fantasies, but did those drive him to kill? We're going to examine that question ahead.

Also, before he killed them, Dennis Rader showed his victims a bit of bizarre tenderness. We talked about that a little bit. What made him act that way? Why did he do it? We're going to go inside the mind of a serial killer.


COOPER: Dennis Rader truly was the serial killer living next door. He had a wife, he had two kids. No one knew. For some 34 years he was married, all the while he had this secret life.

As we listened to his testimony today, there was -- there were a couple of things that really got us, but in particular how he apparently showed some really bizarre tenderness, trying to make his victims feel more comfortable right before he killed them. In one case, a woman threw up. He got her some water, he calmed her down, and then he strangled her.

That was also the case with his seventh victim, 25-year-old Nancy Fox. I just want to show you her picture. A young woman, 25 years old. Had no idea. She'd only been in her house about a year. As he describes it, she apparently had no idea what was about to happen, even after he'd came into the house. I want to warn you, what you're about to hear is his own testimony, in his own words, and it's graphic.


RADER: I confronted her, told her that I was -- I had a problem, a sexual problem, that I would have to tie her up and have sex with her. She was a little upset. We talked for a while. She smoked a cigarette. While we smoked a cigarette, I went through her purse, identifying some stuff and she finally said, well let's get this over with, so I can go call the police. And I said, OK. And she said, can I go to the bathroom? I said yes. She went to the bathroom and I told her when she came out to make sure that she was undressed and when she came out, I handcuffed her and now, really...

WALLER: You handcuffed her?


WALLER: You handcuffed her? You had a pair of handcuffs?

RADER: Yes, sir.

WALLER: What happened then?

RADER: Well, I handcuffed her, had her lay on the bed and then, I tied her feet and then, I -- I was also undressed, to a certain degree and then I got on top of her and then I reached over took -- either her feet were tied or not tied, but anyway, I think I had a belt. I took the belt and then strangled her with a belt, at that time.


COOPER: Well, as I said, Nancy Fox, just 25 years old. She was a secretary. You're listening to his confessions.

Tonight, with us, psychologist Howard Brodsky in Wichita, Kansas; and in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Dirk Gibson, author of "Clues from Killers: Serial Murder and Crime-Scene Messages."

Gentlemen, I appreciate both of you joining us.

Doctor Brodsky, with many of his victims, Rader seemed to display, I don't know, compassion probably isn't the right word, but a calming influence on them. How does such a bizarre behavior exist in someone who's a murder?

HOWARD BRODSKY, PSYCHOLOGIST: Right. Well, it would seem as though he does have his way of taking control of these scenes. And perhaps, through his reassuring the victim, he was able to have his way and to get her to cooperate. So, this guy really has some well- practiced routines.

COOPER: Dirk, I want to play you something he did with another of his victims, Shirley Vian. Let's listen...


RADER: I proceeded to tie her up. She got sick, threw up. I got her a glass of water. I comforted her a little bit and then I went ahead and tied her up and then put a bag over -- a bag over her head and strangled her.


COOPER: I mean, does this guy just seem like a sociopath to you? Does he have any feelings?

DIRK GIBSON, AUTHOR: Well, I think he has feelings, but I think what he was doing was engaging in very simple compliance-gaining behavior. As Dr. Brodsky said, I think he was trying to put her at ease so he could kill her more easily.

COOPER: Doctor Brodsky, is he a sociopath?

BRODSKY: Well, he certainly sounded that way today. Until we heard him say this in his own words, we were really kind of reluctant to call this examples of being a sociopath, but as we heard him today, it began to sound more and more like that.

COOPER: What does that mean, sociopath?

BRODSKY: Well, this is a guy who likes to hurt people, it's a long-standing pattern with him and he shows no remorse. And in this particular guy's case, this gaming people and stalking of them seems to build him up all the more.

COOPER: We're going to have a lot more with you gentleman, in a moment. We're going to take a short break and be right back.

Coming up next, more inside of the mind of a serial killer.

Dennis Rader linked the murders to a sexual fantasy. We'll talk to a forensic psychiatrist also about that.

Also, when you look at the BTK timeline, you notice an eight-year gap between murders. What set him off on the second wave of killings?

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


RADER: Kind of like the others, she was chosen. I went through the different phases, the stalking phase and since she lived down the street from me, I could watch the coming and going quite easily.


COOPER: Well, we've been calling this chilling hour the "Serial Killer Next Door," and that is exactly why what he just said there -- this wasn't some loner, he -- this is a guy who went to church, he had a family, he was a Boy Scout leader and he occasionally killed his neighbors and complete strangers.

We've already walked you through the seven murders he first completed -- seven lives that were snuffed out, literally, in the 1970s. Then, there was this long pause -- eight years -- before, all of a sudden, a second wave of deaths, starting in 1985. It started with Vicki Wegerle, 28 years old, Dolores Davis, 62 years old, and Marine Hedge 54 years old.

Now, today Dennis Rader talked grimly about how he killed her. Again, we to want warn you, this is graphic testimony.


RADER: Casually, we would walk by and wave. She liked to work in her yard, as well as I liked to work -- it's just a neighborly type thing. It wasn't anything personal. Just a neighbor.

WALLER: All right. So, she was in her bed when you turned on the lights in the bathroom?

RADER: Yes, the bathroom, so I could get some light in there.

WALLER: All right. What did you do then?

RADER: Well, I manually strangled her, when she started to scream.

WALLER: So, you used your hands?

RADER: Yes, sir.

WALLER: And you strangled her. Did she die?


WALLER: All right. What did you do then?

RADER: After that, since I was in the sexual fantasy, I went ahead and stripped her and probably went ahead and -- I'm not sure if I tied her up at that point in time, but anyway, she was nude and I put her on a blanket, went through her purse, some personal items in the house. I figured out how I was going to get her out of there. Eventually, I moved her to the trunk of the car. I took the car over to Christ Lutheran Church, this was with the older church and I took some pictures of her.


COOPER: Took pictures of her in the church.

We're joined now, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, by the author of the book "Clues from Killers: Serial Murder and Crime-Scene Messages", Dirk C. Gibson; and in Wichita, Kansas, tonight, psychologist Howard Brodsky. Dr. Brodsky, why pictures? Is that so he can relive it later on?

BRODSKY: Yes. Apparently he does that. He likes to take trophies from sites and pictures and that's probably the process. And he was able to maintain them in a secret place for many, many years.

COOPER: Dirk, what do you make of this pause, this eight-year pause until 1985, when he began killing again?

GIBSON: OK. If you look at the entire gamut of killings, pauses weren't unusual. There were a couple of killings in 1974, a couple of killings in 1977, then an attempted killing or a killing in '79. Then, we had activity in the mid-'80s. So if you look at the crime periods, it wasn't unusual for him to have some interval between the murder.

COOPER: Dr. Brodsky, does his method change and evolve significantly? I mean, it seems to -- he seemed sort of frenzied in the first one with the Otero's and then afterwards, you know, kind of views himself as a hit man.

BRODSKY: Yes, they do have that kind of a pattern. And hit man is, I think, a very good description. You know, it seems to me though, the last ones where he took the bodies out of the house, that there's more of a desperate feel to some of that and he did keep changing his pattern and he seems to be just trying out different kinds of styles of behaving. It's very, very eccentric.

COOPER: Dirk, what surprised you most from today's testimony?

GIBSON: Well, I think the fact that he admitted in the matter-of- fact, very casual way, what he had done. I think that this demonstrates the kind of person we're dealing with. And in my study of 500 serial killers, that's not unusual demeanor for a killer to have.

COOPER: It's fascinating, so chilling listening to this. I know you guys do it all the time, but for me it was a revelation.

Dirk Gibson, appreciate you joining us and Dr. Howard Brodsky, thank you very much, as well; appreciate it.

BRODSKY: Thank you.

COOPER: I want to find out what's coming up at the top of the hour on PAULA ZAHN NOW.

Hey, Paula.


In addition to also covering the BTK killer story, at the top of the hour, a summertime hazard that is downright deadly, even though the odds against it or odds of it happening to you are against it. Over the space of just a few days, there have been two shark attacks along the Gulf Coast. Tonight, we're going to meet an attack survivor as well as a rescuer and get some advice on keeping safe in the water. That's at the top of the hour, I guess for starters, Anderson. Maybe a swimming pool sounds pretty good tonight.

COOPER: Yes, especially. Paula, thanks very much. We'll see you in about eight minutes from now.

COOPER: Coming up next though, on the special edition of 360, the sick mind of a serial killer: Rader's sexual fantasies. Are they really what drove him? We're going to talk to a forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Park Dietz, who knows an awful lot about serial killers. He interviewed Jeffrey Dahmer and many others.

We'll be right back.



RADER: That was it. She went through -- I tied -- she was already dead, so I took pictures of her in different forms of bondage and that's probably what got me in trouble, was the bondage thing. So, anyway, that's probably the main thing.


COOPER: Just shocking to hear.

It is hard to believe, Dennis Rader describing what he did to his eighth victim, Marine Hedge, taking pictures of her body in bondage. It was part of a sexual fantasy. And today he talked a lot about those fantasies, although not as much as he did about the killings.

The question is, are they what drove him to kill?

Joining us, once again from Irvine, California, forensic psychiatrist and serial killer expert, Dr. Park Dietz. Doctor Dietz, thank you for being on the program.

As you mentioned earlier, he seems as ease talking about the nature of the killings, not really forthcoming about the sexual acts. So, there is a level of shame there?

DIETZ: Right. What he tells us about sex in his testimony today is that he masturbated in the presence of a hanged juvenile female, that he took multiple bondage photos in different positions of a woman already killed and that bondage is what got him into trouble. Those are clues that, when pieced together, make plain what's actually going on, but he never said it.

COOPER: Well, what is -- I mean, without -- I don't want to going into gory detail or anything, but if you can, what is -- what's going on in his head? I mean, you know, that's the question. You keep hearing this thing over and over and you keep saying to yourself, why did he do this? And he kind of says, well, it's because of sexual fantasy. But that doesn't really answer the question.

DIETZ: People who have the desire for sexual bondage with unconsenting partners, universally suffer from something called sexual sadism. The core desire is to enjoy and be sexually excited by the suffering of another. Now, dead bodies do not suffer. And so sexual sadists want their victims to be tortured while alive so that they can feel sexual excitement from the suffering. He's not saying a word today about his sexual excitement from the suffering of his victims, but you can be sure that that's what he had in mind when he went there.

COOPER: And that's the overriding -- I mean, other people are collateral damage. I mean, it's the woman who is his focus, you know. Other people just get in the way, the kids, anyone else, is that correct?

DIETZ: Well, certainly the males are just in the way for him. But his sexual use of a juvenile female corpse, tells us that it doesn't have to be an adult woman to be of interest to him.

COOPER: There's so many things to talk about. There was also a random nature to his crimes. Does that surprise you at all? I mean, he talked about, you know, following somebody, stalking them, trolling for victims, but then he would be willing to change and just go to someone else's house, if no one was home at the first one.

DIETZ: Well, I'd call that flexibility, not randomness. He's got specific interests that he's following and he's looking for opportunities. If the victim is appealing enough, then he'll go out of his way to construct an opportunity. If the opportunity is good enough, he won't care as much about the attractiveness of the victim.

COOPER: Does it surprise you that this man could have a family, that he could have grown kids? I mean, he was married for 34 years. Apparently his wife didn't know anything about it; that he could live in a neighborhood and kill his neighbors.

DIETZ: No, that's not surprising. And the reason it's not surprising is that there's nothing about his sexual desires that is necessarily known to anyone else. Now, some of these men will share pieces of their desire with consenting partners. For example, asking their wives to pretend to be tied up and to do various other things with them. Others keep it a secret because they know their wives will reject the idea. COOPER: Was there a particular type of victim, you think, that he continually was searching for or trolling for, to use his term?

DIETZ: Well, whatever was attractive to him. It doesn't typically end up being people who look exactly the same, but there tend to be characteristics, like for any man, that he would find more attractive than others. You can see his search for victims very much like the early phase of any kind of courtship. Of course, this is a particularly mal-adaptive way to court a partner. And he doesn't care whether she has any interest because he's going to use force, and he knows in advance he's going to kill them because he makes no effort to disguise himself.

COOPER: The thing which, I guess, freaked me out the most, in listening to the testimony today, was there were moments when he would try to calm them. And you know, in one case a woman threw up and he offered her a glass of water and tried to soothe her and then, seconds later put a bind around her neck and strangled her to death.

DIETZ: Yes. I don't think that, that's particularly unusual either for serial rapists or serial killers. And it doesn't really reflect any great chivalry on his part, obviously. This is simply a way to put them at ease and let him get back to his core task.

COOPER: How does he compare -- I mean, based on what you heard today, you interviewed Jeffrey Dahmer, you talked to a lot of these people, did anything surprise you today or did it just confirm what you'd thought?

DIETZ: No. No surprise at all. Half the people I examine who have killed are very much like this.

COOPER: How do you do this? I mean, I'm just -- I mean, I was really stunned listening to his testimony today. To you -- you've heard it a lot before -- how do you do this job?

DIETZ: Well, you know, like any other branch of medicine, one has to distance oneself from the material. A surgeon otherwise, couldn't cut. So., that's not particularly a problem. But what is an observation that I can't help but make is that the public is always surprised at how normal people like this seem, that it would be so much easier if people like this were so different, we could see them coming, but they're not.

COOPER: And that's what makes it, I think, so scary for me -- and I think, for a lot of people watching tonight.

Dr. Park Dietz, I've long-admired your career. It's a pleasure to have you on the program. Thank you very much.

DIETZ: Thank you.

COOPER: Thanks for watching this special edition of 360. I'm Anderson Cooper.

Our primetime coverage continues now with Paula Zahn. Hey, Paula.