True Crime Artwork
The BTK sketches are a series of drawings associated with Dennis Rader, the serial killer known as the BTK Strangler, were made at various times during Rader’s murder spree from 1978 to 2005. Some were mailed to police, at least one was sent to an intended victims, however most were found during the police raid of his house.
These disturbing images depict some of BTK’s victims, also intended victims as well as sketches of the killers fantasies, all of which are heavily influenced by themes of domination, sadomasochism and bondage. All show helpless female victims, in various stages of undress and moments before their deaths.
The style of the drawings appear mostly crude, showing little artistic talent, but are of sufficient skill to convey the message that the artist is trying to express. That message was that the aptly named BTK, which stood for Bind, Torture, Kill, enjoyed binding and torturing his victims before snuffing out their lives.
BTK Sketches – Williams Sketch
On April 28, 1979, BTK waited inside the home of 63-year-old Anna Williams, who lived in the 600 block of South Pinecrest. When she failed to return, he grew impatient and left, taking with him several items, including her scarf and jewellery. When she returned home at 11:00pm, Anna Williams believed she had been the victim of a burglary.
When officers were dispatched they found an intruder had entered through a basement window and noticed the phone line had been cut. Later that same year on June 15, 1979, BTK sent Ms. Williams a letter which arrived at her home in an 8 and half by 11 inch manila envelope. It contained a 19-line poem, a sketch, clothing and jewellery which had been taken during the break-in.
This sketch depicts a naked woman hung by the neck from a doorway, her feet off the ground. On the left side are the words “She enter unaware… beware, beware, for he will get your underwear.” Below are several symbols the killer used as a variation on the BTK initials. One of these symbols is used across the victims torso, covering the breasts and extending down toward the pelvic area.
Previously in February 1978, BTK had sent a letter in which he decided on what name he wanted to be known as, finally settling on the BTK Strangler. Numerous words appear on the right side of the sketch, words such as gun, garrote and gag, that would feature in later BTK letters.
BTK Sketches – Fager Sketch
In December 1988, three members of the Fager family were murdered in their home. Philip Fager was shot dead, while his 16-year-old daughter Kelli was found nude and asphyxiated from strangulation. His other daughter, 10-year-old Sherri was found submerged in the family hot tub.
It was the manner of Sherri’s death, in that her hands and feet were bound with black electrical tape, and she had also been strangled, that caused some law enforcement to believe she had been killed by the BTK Strangler. A suspect was arrested, but claimed his innocence.
In January 1988, the BTK killer sent a communication to Mary Fager in the form of a letter, in which he did not claim responsibility for murdering the Fagers, however he did show his appreciation for the real killer, stating, “I did not kill them, but I admire who did”.
Along with the letter, BTK also sent a drawing of his imaginary fantasy of Sherri Fager, depicting her bound and cowering in fear. It was thought this letter might have been a fake, but it was revealed decades later the killer used a “secret symbol” he created to authenticate his letters from those making false claims to his crimes.
BTK Sketches – Wegerle Sketch
After vanishing for more than sixteen years, the BTK Strangler returned in March 2004, when the Wichita Eagle received a package with the return address as “Bill Thomas Killmann”. It was not immediately clear this was from the killer, but investigators soon confirmed it as genuine. Inside was a single sheet of paper with a photocopy of the driving license of Vicki Wegerle, along with two photographs of the crime scene, and a sketch.
Because Wegerle’s body had been removed before any crime scene photographs could be taken, Wichita detectives knew it could only have come from Wegerle’s killer. The sketch depicted Vicki Wegerle on what is believed to be the family master bed, her body face down and head resting on a pillow.
Her hands were tied behind her back, her feet were bound and she looked to be gagged with what appeared to be stockings. It was likely this sketch was either drawn from the crime scene photographs taken, or from memory of the killer’s fantasy.
BTK Sketches – Sex Bill Sketch
On June 9, 2004, a package was found taped to a stop sign at the corner of First and Kansas roads in Wichita. It was found to contain graphic descriptions of the Otero murders, the first murder attributed to the BTK Strangler, along with a sketch labeled “The Sexual Thrill Is My Bill”.
This sketch involved a graphic depiction of a fully naked woman, tied with rope, gagged, and suspended from a rope that was looped around her neck, causing strangulation. Next to the drawing were the words, “The Sexual Thrill Is My Bill,” underlined and in bold lettering.
In the bottom right had corner of the sketch, was a symbol that on first glance appears to be a woman’s breasts. This symbol was in fact one of BTK’s ‘secret’ symbols that he used when communicating with the authorities, in order to prove his letters were genuine and not the work of a copycat.
BTK Sketches – Davis Sketch
Dolores Davis was found murdered in February 1991, he body dumped under a bridge in Northern Sedgewick County after she had been missing since mid-January. Her hands and feet were found with pantyhose, and it was determined she had been strangled.
The murder of Davis was not connected to the BTK killings, despite the similarity in MO. This was mainly because BTK murdered his victims inside their homes, and never removed a victims body outside. Davis’ son Jeff spoke to reporters for the Wichita Eagle on December 7, 1991 and stated his belief his mother had been murdered by a serial killer.
When Dennis Rader was arrested for the BTK serial killings, his home was searched and a wealth of evidence was found by police. Among the material linking him to unsolved slayings, was a sketch that depicted a woman tied, looking up at her killer with the caption “PJ Dogside A Moment Before It Over”
The words were written with a stencil, with PJ Dogside referring to the project name given to Davis by Rader during the stalking phase of BTK’s surveillance of his victim. Other victims were also given codenames. This, along with physical evidence, connected Rader to the then unsolved murder of Dolores Davis.
BTK Sketches – Torture Chair Sketch
When Dennis Rader’s home in Park City, Wichita, was searched after his arrest on suspicion of being the serial killer known as BTK, investigators found numerous items that proved his guilt. They found several books and magazines on serial killers and serial murder, an assortment of bondage paraphernalia which included handcuffs, rope and tape. But most importantly they had the original BTK letters and trophies from his murders, including jewellery and clothing.
Equally important were the many drawings and sketches found of his bondage fantasies. One of these was a graphic illustration of what BTK termed his “torture chair”. The sketch shows a woman strapped into a chair, with her breasts exposed for what the killer called “tit torture,” with BDSM a primary feature of BTK’s Fantasies.
The chair allowed for the used of a wooden mouth gag to be inserted, presumably in order to keep the victim from screaming. It is unknown if Rader intended to construct this device, or if it was merely a fantasy he wished to enact upon his intended victims.