WICHITA, Kan. – Dennis Rader's (search) matter-of-fact admission Monday that he is the BTK killer (search) brought a wave of relief from the community he haunted for so long — and disgust from a riveted public who heard him recount his crimes in grisly detail.
Those who watched 60-year-old Rader walk into the courtroom saw a man who looked eerily normal for the crimes he was about to confess, with his tie and jacket, neatly trimmed goatee and wire-rimmed glasses.
Once he began to speak, though, listeners heard the killer describe with an utter lack of emotion 10 murders, carried out to fulfill his sexual fantasies.
"He was so cold about it," said 19-year-old Jared Noble of Wichita (search), who listened to the court proceedings in his car. "The way he described the details — heartless — with no emotion at all."
It was Rader's demeanor that struck many here — how he described his killings as "projects" and his victims as "targets," how he "trolled" for victims, how he carried supplies such as rope and tape in a "hit kit," how he spoke of his first four victims almost as animals, saying he decided to "put them down."
For some in this community that has watched this case unfold for decades, the news brought relief that an end was finally in sight. Some were simply happy taxpayer money could be saved by not having a trial. For others, Rader's words were almost too much to handle.
"I felt sick," said Pat Morriss, a 54-year-old administrator at Wichita State University, where Rader earned a degree in criminal justice, and where he said he parked his car during several of the killings.
Marsha Hills got the news from her daughter, who lives in Florida. She said it brought back memories of how frightened she was each time she heard of a case linked to BTK.
"I'm just glad it's all over," the 58-year-old office administrator said, carrying copies of The Wichita Eagle's extra edition with its huge "GUILTY" headline.
Deanna Nelson, a retired 65-year-old secretary in Independence, Mo., said: "He's so normal. That what makes it scary."
Nelson and others transfixed by the case must wait until Aug. 17 to hear Rader's fate, though he almost certainly will never leave prison because each count carries a possible life sentence. The state had no death penalty when the crimes were committed.
Richard LaMunyon, a former Wichita police chief who ran the department during most of the BTK killings, said Rader's confession brought back the horror of his crimes.
"He just referred to these people like rag dolls, like they didn't exist," he said. "Each and every one of those people comes to your mind and you can see them and the agony and the pure terror that they went through. All this comes rushing back."