If You Were a Serial Killer, You’d Probably be BTK
Dennis Rader named his ‘Sparky’, while ‘Petey’ is what I named mine. And neither of us cared much for being interrupted by the damn telephone. Undoubtedly he was the healthiest psychologically of any prolific serial killer I’ve ever come across (if a well-adjusted personhood is considered some kind of ideal), again putting him within handshaking distance across the aisle from myself. He distinctly did not like body count on a project by project basis, preferring to concentrate on only one victim though he sometimes didn’t get what he wanted, and moreover the signs were there that his dark and light aspects were integrating while he was still on the loose. He was remembered as a nice guy during his most murderous period, and as a complete asshole only once his murders had all but stopped. Sports fans know that the earlier they start, the higher their peak will tend, and Rader was late onset, never in practice enough to ever get past being lovably bungling at killing (although he had his trumps) and virtually hung it up altogether on his own, much like Ted Kacyzinski.
Yes, he continued in his halfhearted way to elude the authorities to the end, but only after progressively stacking the game in the cops’ favor as he approached the point of feeling that he would get more out of the notoriety of being found out than he would out of killing more people anonymously, especially since the public wasn’t with-it enough to add his most recent kills to the legacy of BTK. Without his direct input no one would ever know that he had made it to double digits, not that anyone was counting.
Yes, Dennis Rader, you had to draw them a picture. And yes, you had to be persistent in calling people up and saying “Hi, I’m BTK”, as any telemarketer must after being hung up on, again.
(By the way, do you know what the ‘T’ for ‘torture’ meant to Mr. Bind them, Torture them, Kill them? There was nothing medieval about it. All it meant was allowing a breather while strangling, because strangling/killing’s hard work.)
Lieutenant Ken Landwehr didn’t play Cops and Robbers fair, either as a kid or adult. As a child he’d walk away whenever it was someone else’s turn to play the Good Guy for once; all of his playmates had to stay consigned to their Bad Guy boxes if they wanted to have any fun. Likewise, telling BTK that correspondence via floppy disk couldn’t be traced, when BTK had kindly asked Landwehr to be honest, was a case of unsportsmanlike conduct.
When I was an adolescent I had an imaginary friend name of Ronnie who killed three people while I sat in the getaway car, and who later negotiated a conditional surrender to a General Sanford, his nation’s top cop. Sanford was a gentleman:
The titans came together in the same room, no guards poised to take Ronnie by force. Sanford, always the sportsman, agreed it must be this way.
Ronnie surrendered on his own terms, the General got a benny in the process that he hadn’t dreamed of beforehand, the two of them went out for beers, and ultimately everyone lived happily ever after. I’m convinced nowadays that all of us essentially use the same playbook, and I’m not so sure it was cosmically wise to deviate from the script.
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