Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The BTK Story

The BTK Tapes

By Rachael Bell

In August 2005, Sedgwick County prosecutors made a startling discovery, one that could have significant impact on serial killer Dennis Rader's sentencing hearing. They learned that Harvard neuropsychologist Dr. Robert Mendoza, who was hired by the defense team to evaluate Rader, taped the interview with the self-confessed killer at Sedgwick County Courthouse jail just days before he confessed to the murders in June. Prosecutors only learned about the tapes when NBC began advertising that they were going to publicly air portions of the tapes on August 12th during the television station's popular nighttime news program Dateline NBC.  According to Hurst Laviana of the Wichita Eagle, the network has been promoting the interview as "the first exclusive look inside the mind of the man."

Prosecutors have since filed a motion with the county court to be granted access to the tapes, if they could get them, in order to evaluate their content before Rader's sentencing hearing on August 17th. Attorneys for the defense suggested during court proceedings that they also were interested in evaluating the tapes that they supposedly never saw. No one seemed to know for certain exactly how NBC obtained copies of the tapes and the network was unwilling to reveal their source. What was certain was that the tapes held valuable information that could significantly influence Rader's sentencing.

Laviana stated that new information also surfaced concerning a "copy of a release signed by Rader on the day of the interview, which "allows Mendoza and his company to have full use of any materials obtained during the evaluation." The information has led some to question whether Mendoza and the company for which he works handed the tapes over to NBC and if they did, whether they profited financially from the transaction. Thus far, the rumors have been unsubstantiated and Mendoza has not come forward with any information concerning the tapes.


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