If you’ve been watching Netflix’s Mindhunter, you’re probably wondering what the heck is going on in those pre-credit intro scenes in which we watch a mild-mannered ADT technician from Kansas going through relatively mundane activities. The ADT man (Sonny Valicenti) tells a co-worker about his policy regarding tape refills, speaks to a customer about an order, and mails a letter. What kind of opening is this for a show about serial killers? Let us explain.
People who know about some of the most famous serial killers of all time caught on to the identity of the ADT man relatively quickly: the BTK killer, otherwise known as Dennis Rader. His appearances on Mindhunter are very likely a setup for the second season of the series, as well as tension-building in the way it reveals the depth of what Holden Ford and Bill Tench are investigating. While these men are going about their research, Rader is developing his skill set as one of the most terrifying people to ever walk the planet. And it’s telling that the book that inspired Mindhunter was written by John Douglas, who chased Rader for decades (as captured in his book, Inside the Mind of BTK). Clearly, Rader is going to be a part of the future of Mindhunter, as he was a major part of its protagonist’s life.
Rader would eventually become known as the BTK killer, which stands for “Bind, Torture, Kill,” defining his particular brand of homicidal sadism. He killed the Otero family in 1974, including two children, and murdered at least six women from 1974 to 1991. He also taunted the police along the way, leaving a detailed account of the Otero murders in the Wichita Public Library, and sending a letter to a police station in 1978 in which he took credit for multiple murders and dubbed himself BTK.
Long after the murders he committed had gone cold, Rader/BTK was still taunting authorities and television stations, and it was a series of letters he wrote to media and authorities in 2004 that eventually led to his capture, reportedly as he was planning his first murder in over a decade. Will Mindhunter follow Rader from the ’70s all the way to his arrest in the ’00s? Only time will tell.