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BTK Strangler: Cloak of Darkness
Serial Killers and Mass Murderers: A Researched Approach


Sarah Smith

DR. Baird

English 1013

31 January 2004

Word count: 1464

Cloak of Darkness

                According to Lohr and Hurst, the BTK (Blind them, Torture them, Kill them) Strangler killed his first victims in 1974, in Wichita, Kansas. During the Stranglers killing spree he taunted the police with letters and phone calls. He left very little evidence behind at the crime scenes. Wichitas residents were terrified by the realization that they had a serial killer living among them. 5-years and 7 murders later he melted back into his cloak of darkness. There have been no confirmed Strangle murders since 1979, nor has he been captured (Lohr).

                On 15 January 1974, Charlie Otero, age fifteen, returned home from school to discovery his parents dead bodies. After recovering from the initial shock of the horrific scene, he went for help (Hurst).

                The police found the parents, Joseph and Julie, in their bedroom laying facedown with their hands and ankles tied. Joseph II, age nine, was found in his room. Joseph II had a plastic draped bag over his head; he was tied in the same way as his parents. Josephine, age eleven, was found with her pants removed,   hanging from a pipe in the basement. The Strangler had ejaculated on some of the Oteros. All four victims had all been strangled with a  Venetian blind cord. (Lohr ).

Fig. 1 Julie Otero



                 The police made a composite drawing from a previous report of a suspicious stranger filed by the Otters. They had it published immediately (Lohr). The police found a letter pertaining to the murders in an engineering textbook, at Wichita State University, almost a year later (Douglas 368).

Fig. 1 Kathryn Bright


                Within three months, on 15 April 1974, he killed his second victim, Kathryn Bright, age twenty-one. The Bright crime scene differed slightly from the Oteros. Bright remained fully dressed and had been stabbed several times.


The BTK Strangler did not kill in Witchita again for almost tree years. There are no confirmed murders by him for this time period (Lohr). That is not unusual behavior for a serial killer (Sycaminias). It is Known as a cooling off period  (Sycaninias).

                His next victim Shirley Vian, age twenty-six, was murder 17 March 1977. The armed Strangler entered her home; he locked her three children in the bathroom, and then killed her. She was murdered in the same way as Joseph Ottero the II. ( Lohr). 


Fig. 1 Shirley Vian





The Strangler called and gave the police his next victim address, on 17 December 1977. The police traced the called to a pay phone and got a description of him. Witnesses told police the man at the pay phone had blond hair and was around 6 foot tall.

The police found Nancy Joe Fox, age twenty-six, at the address given to them by the caller. Fox was murdered in the same way as the Oteros, Bright, and Vain except; she had been strangled with a nylon stocking. ( Lohr).

Fig. 1 Nancy Joe Fox




 On 31 January 1977 the  Wichita Eagle-Beacon received a letter allegedly from the Strangler containing a poem that was patterned after a nursery rhyme just published in a magazine ( Lohr ).

                 He was not heard from again until 10 February 1978. He sent a letter to the TV Media demanding recognition for his crimes. He enclosed a poem tiled Oh Death to Nancy, which was pattern from a poem in a textbook being used in a class at Wichita State University. The letter also contained the following communiqué:        Im sorry this happen to society. They are the ones who will suffer the most. Its hard for me to control myself. When this monster entered my brain, I will never know. Maybe you can stop him. I cant. He has already chosen his next victim (Lohr). He also stated that a demon and a mysterious factor X made him commit his crimes. He compares his crimes of  Jack the Ripper, the Hillside Strangler, and the Son of Sams crimes.  He also sent drawing depicting nude women being murdered in the same way he killed his victims (Douglas 368).   The letter had originally been copied on a WSU library Xerox machine. (Lohr).

                The last police confirmed Strangler activity was 28 April 1979. He waited for his next victim in her home, but the sixty-three old women did not return home that day. The Strangler sent her the scarf he had taken while he was in her home. A letter accompanied it with this message in it, Be glad you werent here, because I was. ( Lohr).


                Phillip Fager and his two daughters, Kelli, sixteen, and Sheri, ten, were murdered 31 December 1977. The two girls were tied at their wrist and ankles, and they were strangled. Kelli was naked. The police arrest the contractor who was working for the Fagers, and reported finding P. Fagers dead body. He claimed after finding P.Fager he heard noises and left the house. At trail a jury acquitted him. The police insist the contractor they had charged was guilty and have closed the case ( Lohr).

Mary Fager received a letter supposedly was from the BTK Strangler denying responsibility for the Fagers deaths, but praising the killers handy work. The FBI will not deny nor confirm this letter as authentic. Although a case detective believes it is from the Strangler ( Lohr).

 Shannon Olsons body was found 31 October 1987. She was tied at her hands and ankles, and was partially nude. The police never credited her dead to the Strangler. Although some residents thought it was one of his murders. (Lohr).

                The detectives obtained and tested DNA from 195 of the desired two hundred male suspects, but to no avail. DNAis defined as deoxyribonucleic acid by the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The Strangler semen type is found in less than 6% of all males.  The detectives working on this case believe that if caught the DNA will help convict him. They also believe the souvenirs taken from his victims will someday be found, which include Joseph Oteros watch and Foxs drivers license.  A case detective thinks he has stayed a resident of Wichita ( Lohr).

                 The psychical description the BTK Strangler is Six feet or more, lean, and blond hair. His age at the time of the murders would have been twenty-eight to thirty ( Lohr).

                 The BTK Stranglers profile said the following: He is a single white male, intelligent, modest, quiet, self-centered, a loner, immature, has neat appearance, wears dark clothes, and is an extreme psychopath. He drives a dark car, but prefers to walk. Walking allows him to observe his victims. He would have a huge collection of books, both fiction and fact, and they would be kept though his home. ( Lohr).


                                To be classed as a serial killer you must have committed three separate murders with an interval between them, and have a distinct method murdering  (Sycaminias). For every serial killer caught there may be as many as three manifest (Norris, 74). Serial killers are thought to be responsible for approximately 25% of all murders and their victims are strangers to these psychopathic killers (Norris 76, 77). These killers do not tell anyone about their criminal activity, which hinders their apprehension by law enforcement (Guillen).  Furthermore, the police do not automatically enter criminal information into their database, National Crime Information Center (NCIC) (Stark).


Norris specifies habitual lying, abuse of drugs/alcohol, amoral behavior, suicidal inclinations, and cruelty to animals as early propensities of a developing serial killer (Norris 220, 221,223). The U.S. Surgeon General C. E. Koop proclaims serial killers as a public health issue, an infectious disease, and preventable with early intervention.   Koop cites social and medical professionals to be vigilant for these predisposition indicators of serial killers (Norris 44, 45).

Norris and  Koop ideology that serial killer syndrome is a infection disease, is a plausible one, and is based partly on a cycle of violent pasted from generation to generation.  (Norris 44, 45, 219). Disease has no social median and being of a new type there are no known cures for full-blown serial killer syndrome (Norris 219). As with most infections, it may have already began to mutate i.e. the Strangler.








Works Cited

Douglas, John and Olshaker, Mark. Mind Hunder. New York: Scribner, 1995.

Guillen, Evan.  Serial Killer Communiqués: Helpful Or Hurtful. 2002. Journal of criminal Justice and Popular culture, 9(2)(2002)55-68. 23 Jan. 2004. <http://www.albany.edu/scj/jcjpc/vol9is2/guillen.htlm. >

Hurst, Laviana. BTK case unsolved, 30 years later. Wichita Eagle. 17 Jan. 2004. 23 Jan. 2004. <http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/2004/01/17/new/7732738.htm?template=contentModule>

Lohr, ?David. BTK. Courtroom Television Net LLC. 13, 30 Jan. 2004<http://www.crimelibrary.com/serialkiller/unsolved/btk/index1.htl?sect=4. >

Lohr, David. Pictures of BTK victims. BTK. Wichita Eagle. Courtroom Television Network LLC<2004.

                <http://www.crimelibrary.com/seralkiller/unsolved/btk/index1.htl?sect=4. >

Stark, David. Personal interview. 30 Jan. 2004

Sycaminias,Evan. Evaluating a psychological profile of serial killer (update}. 23 Jan. 2004. <http://www.

Uplink.com/lawlibrary/Documents/Docs/Doc5.html. >

Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 6 Feb. 2004. http://www.webster.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?bool=dictionary&va-=modus+operandi&x=21&y