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Crime News Snapped

The Eerie Moment From Dennis Rader's Childhood That Predicted His Future As The BTK Killer

A "quiet and unassuming" boy, Dennis Rader later fantasized about "trapped and helpless" women.

By Aly Vander Hayden

As a church leader, father of two and local compliance officer, no one would have suspected family man Dennis Rader was the person behind the 10 brutal BTK slayings that terrorized Wichita, Kansas, between 1974 and 1991. Even when he was a child, Rader appeared completely normal and was described as "quiet and unassuming" by criminologist Scott Brown in Oxygen's "Snapped: Notorious BTK Killer." Brown explained that Rader had a "very normal, benign family upbringing" and that his parents were well-respected by their community and church.

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On "Snapped: Notorious," Dr. Katherine Ramsland, a professor of forensic psychology who had extensive correspondence with Rader, said: "But Rader's father worked long hours. He didn't see him a lot. He said his mother liked to read or watch TV, so she didn't pay a lot of attention to the kids. And she did let the grandparents take over some of the child-rearing."

In a previous interview, Rader explained, "I got along real well with Dad, but Mom wasn't always so happy. I've always loved her. I still love her greatly. But I did have a little — a little bit of a grudge against Momma."

This "grudge" became apparent in an eerie way that would define Rader's future a serial killer. 

"When he was young, his mother's ring got caught on a couch spring, and she couldn't get her hand out. She apparently was terrified and told him to go get help. And he felt the first stirrings of arousal over this," explained Dr. Ramsland.

She continued, "It was exciting to him to see a woman helpless, and it was the beginning of his ideas about women that what he wanted from them was to keep them trapped and helpless and looking to him in terror. That became imprinted in his mind and became the image he was always after."

To learn more about how Dennis Rader turned into the BTK Killer, watch "Snapped: Notorious BTK Killer" on Oxygen.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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