'BTK: Chasing a Serial Killer': Release date, plot, cast, trailer and all you need to know about the ID documentary

The three-hour special season finale explores the psyche of the notorious serial killer, Dennis Rader, aka, the 'BTK' killer

                            'BTK: Chasing a Serial Killer': Release date, plot, cast, trailer and all you need to know about the ID documentary
Dennis Rader (Getty Images)

Many of us have an insatiable appetite for serial killer stories and documentaries. We get hooked onto watching such content with morbid curiosity and fascination to understand how a murderer's mind works. Suffice to say, we like being scared safely. Investigation Discovery is rolling out its week-long special comprising two hours worth of serial killer content, and 'BTK: Chasing a Serial Killer' is one among the listed documentaries bound to send chills down our spine. Here is everything you need to know about it. 

Release date

'BTK: Chasing a Serial Killer' premieres Friday, September 4 at 9/8c only on Investigation Discovery (ID).


The three-hour special season finale explores the psyche of the notorious serial killer, Dennis Rader, aka, the 'BTK' killer. He gave himself the name for his modus operandi, where he would 'bind, torture and kill' his victims. Rader wreaked havoc across Kansas for nearly three decades before he was finally captured and incarcerated. However, his name still strikes a chord among the people of Wichita, where he brutally killed 10 victims. They are familiar with the general story of how he killed and how he was caught, but only a few realize how deep his depravity ran, know of the influences that shaped his mind and incited his murderous intent, or understand how his crimes affected his family. In 'BTK: Chasing a Serial Killer', Rader's daughter, Kerri Rawson, gives a candid account of her experience, focusing on how she had no idea that “the man who raised her was a monster in disguise.” It also includes detailed accounts of the investigations through a montage of news bites and interviews with those involved in the process. 


Dennis Rader

Confessed serial killer Dennis Rader, known as BTK, listens to testimony in the sentencing phase of his trial in Sedgwick County Court August 17, 2005, in Wichita, Kansas (Getty Images)

Dennis Rader murdered 10 people in Wichita, Kansas between 1974 and 1991, often leaving taunting clues for the authorities on his trail. After going 13 years without any more activity, he resurfaced in 2004 and was eventually caught and imprisoned for life, due to his penchant for leaving clues. Rader led a double life, as a devoted family man and honest employee by day and a prolific serial killer by night. He named himself 'BTK', an abbreviation for 'Bind, Torture, Kill' for the manner in which he handled his victims. A college dropout, he served in the US Air Force in the mid-1960s and upon returning worked for an outdoor supply company, and ADT Security Services. 

In January 1974, Rader strangled four members of the Otero family to death in their home, parents Joseph and Julie, and two of their children, before hightailing it out of there with a watch and radio. Strangulation and souvenir-taking would become part of his MO. Later he would also go on to say that he derived sexual pleasure from the killings. He struck again a few months later, where he waited in the apartment of a young woman, Kathryn Bright. He stabbed and strangled her, upon her return. Later that year he placed a confessional letter in a public library book, which ended up with a local newspaper. 

In the letter, Rader wrote: "It's hard to control myself. You probably call me 'psychotic with sexual perversion hang-up.'" He also said that he would strike again and determined the code-words bind, torture, kill (BTK) which in the long-term stuck and became the referral for the murderer. In 1977, Rader tied up and strangled Shirley Vian after locking her children in the bathroom, and later also killed Nancy Fox in her home, even going as far as to call the police and report the homicide. Weeks later he sent another confessional letter to a local television station claiming responsibility for the deaths of Vian Fox and another unknown victim.

Dennis L. Rader (L), the man admitting to be the BTK serial killer, is escorted into the El Dorado Correctional Facility on August 19, 2005, in El Dorado, Kansas (Getty Images)

Several years after his last crime, in 1985, Rader killed his neighbor Marie Hedge and her body was found on the side of a road, days later. The following year he killed Vicki Wegerle in her home. His final victim was Dolores Davis, who was taken from her home in 1991. Over the next decade, BTK had dropped off the radar, and Rader had gone back to being a family man. After news stories marking the 30th anniversary of the death of the Otero appeared, BTK resurfaced in 2004 and began sending authorities as well as local media outlets solid clues of his existence.

This eventually led to his arrest in 2005 and he was later charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder. Rader had committed his crime before the 1994 reinstatement of the death penalty, so his sentence was life imprisonment at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.


Investigation Discovery will host a chilling week-long series highlighting the most prolific and elusive serial killers in American history in a segment called 'Serial Killer Week', beginning August 30.


MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) will update this space with the official trailer for 'BTK: Chasing a Serial Killer' soon.

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