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.
The following is my comment to another blogpost. I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of these in the future, because I find it easier to play off of what others have on their minds, within the heading of serial murder, rather than trying to pull my subject matter out of whole cloth. A bit of a case, also, of giving the people what they claim to want.
I experienced the graphic novel online, years ago it seems, possibly in its entirety, and to me it’s rather old news to just now be talking about it in 2012. Whatever the author/illustrator’s intentions, I think that Dahmer came off as extremely sympathetic. Of course, I know too well how books can so often be Rorschachs into a reviewer’s psyche, such that the review will tend to say more about the reviewer than the book itself.
It was very much a work that encouraged the viewer to draw their own conclusions. If you were predisposed toward sympathy, there was no attempt to beat you over the head with another point of view. The illustrations showed what it looked like at the time, the dialogue showed what was said.
I would say that the book is a must for anyone who wants to get as complete a picture as possible into the development of a deviant mind. I have always been frustrated at how *little* attention is typically paid to a killer’s growing-up years. For lack of a better source, one typically turns to True Crime, where practically every criminal who ever lived was a murderer, serial way out of proportion, and where you’re generally treated to maybe a few broad strokes with regard to the formative years before it’s on to the “good” stuff.
Particularly lacking has been any coverage of the hot house societal years of junior and high school days, the specific area where My Friend Dahmer shines. This is the area where the card-carrying Member of Society in good standing has his big chance to convict himself as co-conspirator in a murderer’s crimes rather than flippantly put it on Mommy and Daddy if not squarely on the murderer’s shoulders, and unsurprisingly there are very few authors who are up to this task– but I found that Dahmer’s friend was. Cartoonist John Backderf was a player in the drama as much as anyone in Jeffrey’s orbit, and at the risk of interpreting another inkspot, I would suggest that Backderf may have been the less sympathetic of the story’s Big Two.
But that’s alright– all is forgiven. Because he manned up and told the truth.
Off the record, I’ve read a bit of Backderf talking about his book, and he doesn’t exactly man up to having manned up, but reading between the two covers, I was distinctly under the impression that he did.
- The Spirit of Dennis Rader
- My Friend Dahmer
- Not Much to Say
- Only the Shadow Knows
- Jagged Breathing and All
- Talking Cows
- Colin Flaherty of ‘White Girl Bleed a Lot’
- What the Heck to Call This Thing, and
- I Can See Two Starbucks at the Same Time
- I Love Trolls
- I Ended Up Reading the Book Twice
- Coming Up With a Title– The MONSTROUS by WALKER Show