The Motivation Behind The BTK Killer’s Murders

Bind. Torture. Kill. That was the goal of Dennis Rader, who gave himself the nickname “BTK” during the years he tortured and killed 10 women, children (including an entire family) between 1974 to 1991, according to The Wichita Eagle. But if Rader got sexual satisfaction by making others suffer, he said his real motivation came from something he called Factor X. 

Harvard neuropsychologist, Dr. Robert Mendoza interviewed Rader, and during a 2005 episode of NBC’sDateline, parts of the jailhouse interview were shown. In them, Rader said, “Factor X is probably something I’ll never know. I actually think I may be possessed with demons. Uh, I was dropped on my head when I was a kid … I can’t stop it … it controls me, you know, it’s like in the driver’s seat. That’s probably the reason we’re sitting here. You know, if I could just say, ‘No, I don’t want to do this, and go crawl into a hole.’ But it’s driving me.”

But Factor X wasn’t always in the driver’s seat. All the while Rader was acting out his twisted sexual fantasies on innocent people, he was raising two children with his wife in Kansas, being a church and Boy Scout leader, and holding down steady employment, the Wichita Eagle reported. 

The BTK Killer was able to live this double life, according to Rolling Stone, because he was excellent at compartmentalizing his life. He referred to the part of him that liked to bind, torture, and kill people as “The Minotaur.”

Factor X is a bad combination of urges, fantasies, and delusions

Professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University, Dr. Katherine Ramsland, interviewed Dennis Rader at length via phone calls and letters for six years following his 2005 conviction for 10 murders, and wrote the book, “Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer.” According to Rolling Stone’s reporting on the book, Rader wanted Ramsland to help him get to the bottom of what the Factor X was and why it plagued him. He felt strongly it had to be demonic possession. 

Rader, a religious man, told Mendoza (via Dateline on YouTube) that he’d “talked to some theological Christian people and some of those people are really strong. They actually think — well the Bible says that too — that there’s demons within you or that can come into you. That’s the only thing I can figure out. Something drove me to do this. Normal people don’t do this.”

But according to Rolling Stone, Ramsland said it wasn’t really much of a mystery. She wrote, “He wants it to be this intense, deep mystery that no one will ever quite access … I call it the trajectory toward violence. It’s the combination of his unique sexual impulses, desire for fame, and delusions of a spy-like double life, she says, intersecting with his fantasy life and, most practically, the opportunity to commit the murders…”

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