Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The BTK Story

Confession: Shirley Vian Relford

Shirley Vian Relford
Shirley Vian Relford

Dennis Rader claimed that the selection of Shirley Vian Relford on March 17, 1977 "was completely random. There was actually someone across from Dillons that was a potential target. It was called project Green, I think…That particular day I drove over to Dillons and parked in the parking lot and watched this particular residence and then got out of the car and walked over to it. I knocked and no one answered it."

Rader says he was "all keyed up" and so he walked around the neighborhood until he met a young boy, Shirley Relford's son, and asked him to identify some photos. Then Rader went to another address, knocked on the door, but nobody answered, so he went to the house where the boy went.

Judge Waller asked if Rader's so-called projects were sexual fantasies also.

Rader answered: "Potential hits. In my world, that is what I call them. Project — hits…I had a lot of them, so if one didn't work out, I just moved to another one.

When Relford or one of her children answered the door, Rader said he was a private detective. He showed the photograph that I had just showed the boy. Then with his pistol, he forced his way in the door.

He told Relford that he had a problem with sexual fantasies and was going to tie her up and maybe her kids too. She was extremely nervous. Rader then described what he did to her and the children: "I explained that I had done this before and at that point in time, I think she was sick. She had her night robe on. If I can remember right, she had been sick and I think she came out of the bedroom when I went in the house. So we went to back to her bedroom and I proceeded to tie the kids up. They started crying and got real upset. So I knew this was not going to work. So we moved them to the bathroom —she helped me — and I tied the doors shut. We put some toys and blankets, odds and ends, in there for the kids, make them as comfortable as we could. We tied one of the bathroom doors shut so they couldn't open it, and she went back and helped me shove the bed against the other bathroom door. I proceed to tie her up. She got sick, threw up. I got her a glass of water, comforted her a little bit and then went ahead and tied her up and put a bag over her head and strangled her…. I had tied her legs to the bedpost and worked my way up and what I had left over [rope] and I think I looped it over her neck.

Rader said the children were making a lot of noise and then the phone rang. The children had mentioned that a neighbor was going to look in on them, so Rader put his tape, cords and other items back in his briefcase, which he called his "hit kit," and went back to his car in the Dillons parking lot.


We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'