In November, 1974 Dennis Rader finally found a steady job with ADT Security, a company specializing in the installation of alarm systems. He would stay with ADT for the next 14 years. He rose to the position of installation supervisor, which gave him some flexibility in terms of where he could be during the day.

In 1975 the Raders' first child was born, Brian. Dennis had a full schedule between ADT and night school at WSU. Even though he is not known to have committed a crime during 1975 and 1976, by his own description the trolling for more victims never did cease then or until his arrest 30 years later.

On March 17, 1977 Rader decided it was time for a murder one way or another. He had been trolling a particular neighborhood fairly heavily and had some women in mind there. He had met a woman named Cheryl in a bar and found her quite interesting. Cheryl was renting a house with another woman and often had parties there in those days. Rader found out where she lived and decided it would be "a go", meaning a definite hit. Fortunately for Cheryl and her friends, no one was home when Rader came around that day. Rader states he had also cased another home in the neighborhood, but that no one was there either.

Rader went trolling on foot down Hydraulic Street and encountered a five year old boy, Steve Relford. He pulled out a photo of his own wife and son and asked Steve if he knew who they were. Steve said he didn't and proceeded on home to complete the errand to the store his mother had sent him on. Rader soon knocked on the door, and Steve answered. He was posing as an official person, perhaps a detective, and gained entry into the home. There were three children in the home including Steve and an 8 year old brother and a 4 year old sister. Rader abruptly turned off the television and lowered the blinds. (Photo and a story about Steve Relford from CNN.com).
The mother emerged in a bathrobe, demanding to know what was going on. At gunpoint, Rader ordered all the children into the bathroom, where he blockaded the children in. He made his intentions clear to the mother, Shirley Vian, 24, that he was going to bind her up and have his way with her. However, it wasn't rape he was after as he led Shirley to believe. Rader claims he got her a glass of water after she threw up and allowed her to have a smoke to calm down. Shirley was ill that day and her common law husband Richard Vian wouldn't be home till later.

Rader tied her up as promised but then strangled her to death with a cord around her neck. He left semen on panties found next to the body. He was gone before the children could break out of the bathroom and summon help. Rader later stated that a ringing telephone unnerved him and caused him to leave before he could kill the children.

In December, 1977 Rader became fixated on Nancy Fox, 25, stalking her from her residence and workplace. On the evening of December 8 he broke into her modest duplex via a rear bedroom window after first cutting the phone line. He awaited her arrival from her evening job at a jewerly store. Nancy was the sole occupant of the duplex at that time and lived alone. The initial confrontation took place in the kitchen, presumably at gunpoint. Rader stated that he had a sexual issue and needed to tie her up to rape her. Other than making barbed comments, Nancy didn't fight back. She was ordered into the bedroom after being allowed to partly disrobe in the bathroom. Rader tied her to the bed and undressed himself. At that point he announced who he really was, making it clear he was the same person who had killed the Oteros, and proceeded to strangle her to death with a ligature. He left semen deposited on a nightgown found next to the body.

The following morning after reporting to work at ADT and leaving the office in a company van, Rader stopped at a phone booth just a couple blocks down the street. He dialed a police dispatcher and said, "Yes, you will find a home-acide at 843 South Pershing. Nancy Fox...That is correct", and left the receiver dangling. Police rushed to the residence and found the lifeless body still lying on the bed. A tape recording of that call was eventually played repeatedly over and over in the Wichita media, but no one including Rader's co-workers or family was able to recognize the voice.

In early 1978 Rader attempted to send a postcard with a sarcastic poem, "Shirley Locks", to the Wichita Eagle but no one recognized the significance of it until days later. It was followed by a letter that was taken quite seriously. In it the killer took full responsibility for the Otero, Shirley Vian and Nancy Fox murders plus an unnamed seventh victim later assumed to be Kathryn Bright. The writer suggested a number of names for himself, including B.T.K. It was written in the same style as the 1974 letter, and mentioned a mysterious "factor x" that the writer said was the reason for his need to kill people. See Letters from BTK for the full text of this letter. Also included was a bizarre poem, "Oh death to Nancy", mimicking an old folk song and poem called "Oh Death".

This letter forced the Wichita Police Department to make a decision. It was decided that it would be publicly announced that Wichita had an unknown serial killer on the loose, and citizens were urged to be extra careful about locking doors and looking out for each other. A whole generation of women grew up in Wichita that routinely checked their phones for a dial tone whenever re-entering their homes, to make sure the phone line had not been cut by an intruder.

In June, 1978 Paula gave birth to the Rader's second and final child, Kerri. She had been pregnant through all the events during and following Nancy Fox's murder.

In April, 1979 Rader broke into the home of Anna Williams, a 63 year old widow who had recently lost her husband. He waited fruitlessly for Anna to come home, but she didn't until later that evening. Rader pilfered a few small items and left, disappointed. In June of that year, just days before Rader's graduation ceremony at WSU, Anna received a package in the mail with a poem entitled "Oh Anna why didn't you appear", a drawing of what Rader had intended to do her and a few of the things he had stolen. The next day a similar package arrived at the studios of KAKE-TV in Wichita. Anna was terrified and quickly moved far away from Wichita. (See The Letters of Dennis Rader for the text of the poems.)

Next: The 1980s