Hi, this is Stacie Frobenius from Kansas City with a BookByte about the book Bind, Torture, Kill - The Inside Story of the Serial Killer Next Door by Roy Wenzl, Tim Potter, L. Kelly, and Hurst Laviana. I have with me Dani Stone, author, friend and fellow True Crime fan.
Dani Stone - Hi. Thanks for inviting me. I’m excited to be here.
Stacie Frobenius - First let me ask you if you have read any other books about BTK.
Dani Stone - No. This is my first. I was compelled to read it after befriending one of the authors several years ago on social media.
Dani Stone - In case our readers are not familiar with BTK, the acronym stands for Bind Torture Kill, which was his calling card. From 1974 to 1991, BTK (whose real name is Dennis Rader) was responsible for the torture and murder of 10 people. He eluded the police for nearly 30 years and remains Wichita’s most infamous serial killer.
Stacie Frobenius - The book was written by four reporters from The Wichita Eagle. There are three distinct plot lines that happen in the book. It discusses the homicides from the perspective of Dennis Rader. Then it talks about the investigation and how the police department comes up with theories and threw resources at this case. Then it brings in the media’s involvement and how they had to navigate the balance between informing the public but not so much that it jeopardized the case.
Stacie Frobenius - Because I experience this in my job as a Crime Scene Investigator, there isn’t much that phases me - I guess I am just built to handle it with a certain level of disconnect but still be a “normal” person. The book touched on what it was like to live in the community when he was actively killing. You’ve lived in Wichita all your life, and without giving away your age, it’s safe to assume you remember what it was like during that time.
Dani Stone - Yes, absolutely. The thing I remember most was looking at my parents and feeling their very real fear about this man who was doing horrific things to people, even children. My mother was a single mother for most of my life and I can’t imagine what she went through in the 1970s when the sun went down each night. She must have been terrified.
Stacie Frobenius - Another thing I want to highlight in this book is the emphasis on the lead investigator Lt. Landwehr. I spent two years working Crime Scene Investigations with Wichita Police Department and had the great honor of working with him. This was after BTK had been caught and before Lt. Landwehr retired from the department. So I didn’t know this, but in the book, it mentions that Lt. Landwehr spent time overseeing Crime Scene Investigations in its early days. He was a detective with good instinct that had a lot of respect for applying science when working cases. One of the things I wish the book included was of course, what Crime Scene Investigators worked the scenes.
Stacie Frobenius -Overall I loved this book, it had me on the edge of my seat even though I already knew the ending.
Dani Stone - I agree. Even though it was filled with behind-the-scenes facts, it was still highly suspenseful. What still amazes me all these years later, is how Dennis Rader was able to maintain such normal-guy boring lifestyle. He was a loving husband and father, responsible employee, church congregation president, and longtime Boy Scout troop leader. In fact, in the book’s epilogue, it discusses the parallel between Dennis Rader and Lt. Ken Landwehr in regard to both being Boy Scouts.
Let me read it, “So why did he do it? Why is it that one Boy Scout grows up to be a serial killer, while other Boy Scouts like Ken Landwehr grow up to become the investigator who huts him down and puts him in a cage? Landwehr says it boils down to this: We all make choices. Rader made his and 10 people died.”
Stacie Frobenius - I loved that part of the book too. Dani, thank you for talking to me.
Dani Stone - Thank you!
Joining Stacie on her discussion of Bind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of BTK, the Serial Killer Next Door is Dani Stone, a three-time published author from the great flat state of Kansas. As a longtime freelance writer, her work has appeared on a variety of websites and anthologies including Shape Magazine and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her romantic comedy, Next Left, is available on Amazon.
Dani is also a three-time cast member in the live storytelling series, Listen to Your Mother. By day, she's a digital hype woman (i.e., marketing director for a large bus, truck equipment, and mobility provider. She's also a wife, mother of two hilarious teenagers, wedding officiant, and voracious reader. Her favorite literary characters include Ceecee Honeycutt, Jennifer Johnson, and Scarlett O'Hara because they embody Dani's favorite personality traits: bravery, quirkiness, and the drama of a life well lived.