Paula Dietz is an American former bookkeeper who was once married to the serial killer Dennis Rader, who is better known by the moniker BTK or BTK Strangler. A native of Kansas, Dietz grew up in a religious household. In 1971, she married Rader, who was still a student at the time. In the 1970s, Rader was working while simultaneously pursuing his education. He was employed at the Wichita-based office of ADT Security Services from 1974 to 1988, which allowed him the opportunity to scout the neighbourhoods of his potential victims as a security-alarm installer. He was active as a serial killer from 1974 to 1991 and killed ten people, including four members of the Otero family. Dietz and Rader have two children together and led an outwardly normal life. The family maintains that none of them knew about the murders. During this period, their family was highly respected by their community. After Rader’s arrest in 2005, Dietz moved away from Kansas. Neither she nor her children came to see him in jail or were present at the court during his trial, but they did write him letters, imploring him to confess. In June, Rader entered a guilty plea to all ten murders. Dietz subsequently was granted an emergency divorce.
Childhood & Early Life
Dietz was born on May 5, 1948, in Park City, Kansas, USA. Little else is known about her family and upbringing.
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Marriage with Dennis Rader
Originally from Pittsburgh, Kansas, Rader served in the United States Air Force from 1966 to 1970 before relocating to Park City to work at the meat department of a Leekers IGA supermarket. During this period, he met Dietz and they exchanged wedding vows on May 22, 1971. They have two children together, daughter Kerri and son Brian. Dietz worked as a bookkeeper, while her husband served as an assembler at an outdoor supply company named Coleman Company. Between 1974 and 1988, he installed security alarms for the Wichita-based office of ADT Security Services, which gave him the opportunity to visit the houses of his potential victims.
Dietz and Rader were upstanding members of their community. He served as the president of the congregation of the local Lutheran church, while she performed in the choir. He was also a Cub Scout leader. By all accounts, he was a good husband to Dietz and a good father to their two children.
Rader came up with the moniker BTK (stands for Bind, Torture, Kill) himself. His first victims were the Otero family members: Joseph (38), Julie (33), Joseph Otero Jr. (9), and Josephine (11), whom he killed on January 15, 1974. In 1985, he murdered one of their neighbours, Marine Hedge (53). His other known victims were Kathryn Bright (21), Shirley Vian (24), Nancy Fox (25), Vicki Wegerle (28), and Dolores E. Davis (62). Like many other serial killers, Rader kept mementoes from the murders at his home. He also wrote down detailed plans of the next kill in small pieces of paper, like a business card, and hid them all over the house. He also wrote taunting letters to the police and media, giving details of how he had committed the murders.
Raders Arrest & Aftermath
The body of Rader’s final victim, Dolores E. Davis, was discovered in 1991. By 2004, the investigation regarding the BTK killer had been designated as a cold case. In March, Rader resumed his communication with the police and media. He began sending letters, packages, and photographs and other mementoes from the murders. In February 2005, he sent, among other things, a purple 1.44-Megabyte Memorex floppy disk to Fox TV affiliate KSAS-TV in Wichita. This turned out to be his undoing, as the police arrested him after analysing the disk’s metadata.
At the time, neither Kerri nor Brian was living with their parents. After their father was apprehended, the authorities contacted them. Dietz, who had been married to Rader for nearly 34 years, had never realised who her husband truly was. When he was in jail, Dietz and her children corresponded with him through letters, begging him to plead guilty and attempting to comprehend the monster that resided within him.
On 23 June, four days before he pleaded guilty to all ten murders, he made a phone call to a local television station and spoke about his family. He mentioned that while Dietz still sent him letters, his children apparently had become busy with their lives. On 18 August, he was given ten consecutive life sentences, with a minimum of 175 years. He is currently incarcerated at the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Prospect Township, Kansas.
After the arrest, Dietz left Kansas to avoid the media. She and her children never visited Rader in prison nor attended a court hearing. When he pleaded guilty, Dietz sought and was given an emergency divorce. At some point, she returned to Kansas and to her job as a bookkeeper.