Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The BTK Story

Piecing Together the Puzzle

The moment he found his parents murdered in their bed on January 15, 1974, Charlie Otero, then 15, had a sneaking suspicion that his father crossed paths with the murderer at some earlier point in time. In fact, he "suspected the killings had something to do with his father's military past," Tim Potter reported in an August 2004 Wichita Eagle article. Charlie's father, Joseph Otero, served 21 years in the Air Force (between 1952 and 1973) before retiring and finding work at Wichita's Rose Hill Airport as an airplane technician and flight instructor.

There is no telling if Joseph Otero and his killer ever served together. Yet, what is certain is that BTK suspect Dennis Rader also served in the Air Force. The two men's' careers actually overlapped during a four-year period, lasting between 1966 and 1970. However, there is no evidence that they were ever stationed at the same base together or even crossed paths, Potter suggested in a March 2005 Wichita Eagle article. According to the report, Otero spent most of his time stationed in Panama and Puerto Rico, whereas Rader was based in San Antonio, Texas, Mobile, Alabama and Okinawa, Japan.

Even though there is little evidence to support his theory, Charlie Otero continues to believe that the BTK killer and his father shared a military past because of a series of events that occurred days prior to the murders. A December 2004 Associated Press article quoted him saying that at "one time the power went out" and his father made the family hide in the closet. Moreover, Joseph tried to give him his ring in case something happened to him. The report further suggested that Charlie overheard a telephone conversation that led him to believe that his father's murder was directly connected to his military career.

Based on Charlie's account, it was clear that immediately prior to the murders, Joseph was terrified that something dreadful might happen and likely by someone he knew. To date, investigators are continuing to look for evidence that might link Rader to Otero during the overlapping period of time they served in the Air Force. At several police stations near where Rader was stationed, investigators are searching for murders that might resemble other BTK crimes. Investigators hope to obtain more insight into whether BTK's victims were chosen at random or deliberately targeted. Furthermore, they hope to determine whether BTK might have committed earlier murders in other locations prior to 1974.


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