The Otero Murders
The First (4) Victims of Serial Killer BTK – Dennis Rader
Two Adults / Two Children
The First Murders
Dennis Rader had a thing for Hispanic women. He admired their natural beauty and dark hair. So, when he realized that a new Hispanic family had moved into a corner house on Edgemoor, he could not help but be aroused. Namely when he spotted 34 year old Julie Otero and her 11 year old daughter, Josephine in their front yard. The target was marked and a ‘plan’ began to form. Dennis Rader was about to become a serial killer whether he realized it or not. And the Otero Murders would mark his first four kills. On January 15, 1974, just after 8 a.m., Dennis Rader snuck around the Otero house and into their back yard. He cut the phone line. Then he stalled. For that split second, Dennis was unsure he could pull it all off. But that uncertainty lasted only moments. The deviant inside him was now in full control and would not be swayed. Four members of the Otero family were about to fall victim to the BTK Killer.
The Murders of Julie Otero (34), Joseph Otero Sr. (38) Joseph Otero Jr. (9) Josephine Otero (11) by the BTK Killer
– Described in his own words-
WICHITA, Kansas – Judge Gregory Waller: In regards to count one, please tell me in your own words what you did on the 15th day of January in 1974 here in Sedgwick County, Kansas that makes you believe you are guilty of murder in the first-degree.
Dennis Rader: On January 15th 1974, I maliciously, intentionally in premeditation, killed Joseph Otero. On Count two.
Judge: Alright Mr. Rader, I need to find out more information. On that particular day, the 15th day of January 1974, can you tell me where you went to kill Mr. Joseph Otero?
Rader: mmm.. I think it’s 1834 Edgemoore.
Judge: Alright, can you tell me approximately what time of day you went there?
Rader: Somewhere between 7:00 and 7:30.
Judge: At this particular location, did you know these people?
Rader: No, that’s was part of my uh, I guess my, what you’d call fantasy. These people were selected.
Judge: Alright, so you were engaged in some kind of fantasy during this period of time?
Rader: yes sir.
Judge: Alright, when you use the term ‘fantasy’, is this something you were doing for your personal pleasure?
Rader: It was a sexual fantasy sir.
Judge: So you went to this residence? And what occurred there?
Rader: Well uh, I had did some thinking about what I was going to do to either Mrs. Otero or Josephine. And I basically broke into the house, or I didn’t break into the house but when they came out of the house I came in and confronted the family and we went from there.
Judge: Had you planned this before hand?
Rader: To some degree yes. After I got into the house I lost control of it but in the back of my mind I had some idea of what I was going to do. I basically panicked that first day, so.
Judge: Before hand, did you know who was there in the house?
Rader: I thought Mrs. Otero and the two kids, the two younger kids from the house. I didn’t realize Mr. Otero was going to be there.
Judge: Alright, how did you get into the house?
Rader: I came through the back door. Cut the phone lines. Waited at the back door. Had reservations about even going or just walking away but pretty soon the door opened and I was in.
Judge: Alright so the door opened? Was it opened for you?
Rader: I think one of the kids. I think Junior, the younger, Joseph opened the door. He probably let the dog out. The dog was in the house at that time.
Judge: Alright, when you went into the house, what happened?
The Murder of The Otero Family
Rader: Well I confronted the family. I pulled a pistol. I confronted Mr. Otero and asked him to, that I was there, that basically I was wanted. I wanted to get the car — I was hungry, food, I was wanted — and asked them to lie down in the living room. At that time I realized that wouldn’t be a really good idea so I finally.. The dog was a real problem so I asked Mr. Otero to get the dog out so he had one of the kids put it out. And then I took them back into the bedroom.
Judge: You took who back to the bedroom?
Rader: The family. The bedroom. The four members.
Judge: Alright, what happened then?
Rader: I tied them up.
Judge: While still holding them at gunpoint?
Rader: Well, in between tying, I guess.
Judge: Alright, after you tied them up, what did you do?
Rader: Well, they started complaining about being tied. I re-loosened their bonds a couple of times. I tried to make Mr. Otero as comfortable as I could. Apparently he had a cracked rib from a car accident so I had him put a pillow down for his head. I think he had put a parka or a coat underneath him.
Um, they talked to me about giving me the car or money — I don’t think they had very much money. And there, I realized that, you know I didn’t have a mask on or anything, they’d already ID’d me. And I made the decision to go ahead to put ’em down, I guess. Strangle them.
Judge: Alright, what did you do to Joseph Otero?
Rader: Joseph Otero?
Judge: Joseph Otero Senior, Mr. Otero, the father.
Rader: I put a plastic bag over his head and then some cords and tightened it.
Judge: This was in the bedroom?
Rader: Yes sir.
Judge: Did he in fact suffocate and die as a result of this?
Rader: Not right away. No sir, he didn’t.
Judge: What happened?
Rader: Well, after that, I did Mrs. Otero. I had never strangled anyone before so I really didn’t know how much pressure you had to put on a person or how long it would take. But…
Judge: Was she also tied up there?
Rader: Yes, uh-huh. Both their hands and their feet were tied up.
Judge: Where were the children?
Rader: Well, Josephine was on the bed and junior was on the floor at this time.
Judge: So, we’re talking about first of all about Joseph Otero. So you put the bag over his head and tied it. And he did not die right away. Can you tell me what happened in regards to Joseph Otero.
Rader: He moved over real quick like and, I think, tore a hole in the bag and I could tell he was having some problems there. But at that time the whole family just went, uh, they went panicked on me so I worked pretty quick.
Judge: You worked pretty quick. What did you do?
Rader: Well, I mean I strangled Mrs. Otero and she went out, or passed out. I thought she was dead. She passed out. Then I strangled Josephine. She passed out, or I thought she was dead. And then I went over and put a bag on Junior’s head. And then, if I remember right, Mrs. Otero came back. She came back and…
Judge: Let me ask you about Joseph Otero Senior. You indicated he had torn a hole in the bag. What did you do with him then?
Rader: I put another bag over it. Either that or, I recollect, I put a cloth or a t-shirt over it, over his head, then another bag.
Judge: Did he subsequently die?
Rader: Well, yes. I mean I was, I didn’t just stay there and watch him, I was moving around the room, but…
Judge: Alright, so you indicated you had strangled Mrs. Otero after you had did this. Is that correct?
Rader: Yeah I went back and strangled her again. And then that finally killed her at that time.
Judge: So this is in regards to Count Two. You had, first of all, put the bag over Joseph Otero’s head and he tore a hole in the bag. Then you went ahead, did you strangle Mrs. Otero then?
Rader: Okay, first of all Mr. Otero was strangled, or a bag put over his head and strangled. Then I thought he was going down. Then I went over and strangled Mrs. Otero and I thought she was down. Then I strangled Josephine. I thought she was down. And then I went over to Junior and put the bag on his head. After that, Mrs. Otero woke back up and, you know, she was pretty upset with what’s going on so I came back and, at that point in time, strangled her with a death strangle at that time.
Judge: With your hands?
Rader: No, with a cord. With a rope. And then, I think at that point in time, I redid Mr. Otero. I put the bag over his head, went over and took Junior… Oh, before that she asked me to save her son so I actually had taken the bag off, and then I was really upset at that point in time, so basically, when Mr. Otero was down, Mrs. Otero was down I went ahead and took Junior, put another bag over his head and took him to the other bedroom at that time.
Judge: What did you do then?
Rader: Put a bag over his head. I put a cloth over his head — a t-shirt and a bag so he couldn’t tear a hole in it — and he subsequently died from that. Then when I went back, Josephine had woke back up.
Judge: What did you do then?
Rader: I took her to the basement and eventually hung her.
Judge: You hung her in the basement?
Rader: Yes sir.
Judge: Did you do anything else at that time?
Rader: Yes, I had some sexual fantasies. That was after she was hung.
Judge: Alright. What did you do then?
Rader: I went through the house, kind of cleaned it up. It’s called the “right hand rule”, you go from room to room and pick everything up. I think I took Mr Otero’s watch. And I guess I took a radio. I had forgotten about that, but apparently I took a radio.
Judge: Why did you take those things?
Rader: I don’t know. I have no idea. Just a…
Judge: What happened then?
Rader: I got the keys to the car. In fact I had the keys, I think, earlier before that because I wanted to make sure that I had a way of getting out of the house. I cleaned the house a little bit, made sure everything was cleaned up and left through the front door. I went over to their car and then drove over to Dillon’s and left the car there. And eventually I walked back to my car.
Judge: Alright. Sir, from what you had just said, I take it that the facts you just told me, applied to all of counts 1, 2, 3, 4. Is that correct?
Rader: Yes sir.
BTK Crime Timeline
- Joseph Otero Sr. (38)
- Julia Otero (34)
- Joseph Otero Jr. (9)
- Josephine Otero (11)
- Kathryn Bright (21)
- Shirley Relford (24)
- Nancy Jo Fox (25)
- Marine Hedge (53)
- Vicki Wegerle (28)
- Dolores Davis (62)
Facts About the Otero Murders
- The Otero Murders took place at 8 in the morning.
- 11 year old Josephine was the prime desire and target.
- Both parents and the nine year boy where suffocated and strangled.
- Josephine was taken to the basement and hanged from a sewer pipe.
- Dennis left something behind after leaving the murder scene and went back after it.
- Dennis Rader was afraid he would be caught after the Otero Murders and was shocked when an arrest didn’t come.
- The BTK would not be arrested for the Otero Murders for 31 years.
‘My dad’s tongue was halfway bit off, ” Charlie recalls “He had a belt around his neck. My mom was beaten, her nails were busted up. They were cold. We tried to get the ligatures undone, the belt undone and then I realized this was for nothing.”
credit daily mail
Charlie Otero and his two younger siblings, Carmen and Danny, were spared death only because they had left early for school on a snowy January morning in 1974. The very morning the BTK killer would come to life and come calling at their door.
Charlie, just 15 years old at the time, along with Carmen and Danny, would discover the gruesome crime scene when they returned home from school that afternoon. They would see first hand the murdered bodies of their mother and father.
On August 18, Dennis Rader was sentenced to ten ‘consecutive’ life terms, four of which where for the Otero Murders, which requires a minimum of 175 years without the chance of parole. At the time, it was the maximum the law would allow.
On August 19, Dennis Rader was moved to the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas to begin serving his life sentences as inmate #0083707.
credits: murderpedia | Wikipedia | Biography.com | Daily Mail |
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