I wrote two letters to Dennis Rader, infamous as the Wichita, Kansas serial strangler who gave himself the nickname “BTK” for “bind, torture, kill.”
In the first letter he wrote to me, he apologized for taking so long to write back but also noted that he often did not write back at all to people who wrote to him and that his letter writing priorities are his family members and close friends.
He observed in that initial letter that neither of my two letters had not asked him about “dark issues” but noted certain interests that he and I share – poetry and drawing – and an interest that he shares with a member of my family who enjoys gardening.
As I disclosed in a previous article about writing to prisoners, I often try to establish a connection based on a “normal” interest rather than immediately dive into talking about the inmate’s crimes.
Rader said he does not want me, or anyone else, to sell or publish his letters during his lifetime. However, in a later letter, he said I seemed “honest and sincere” so he was willing to give me permission to publish poems he sent me.
However, ensuring the poems I submitted to this website were those he wrote was a cumbersome process. He apparently does not have access to a typewriter or word processor and his handwriting is often hard to read. Thus, I typed up what I thought the words in the poems were and mailed my typed versions to him. He corrected some of the words and mailed them back as approved.
So there they are. Five poems by Dennis Rader. “A stone won’t notice.”