Neighbor: I Watched BTK Suspect Shoot Dog

ByABC News via logo
February 27, 2005, 10:46 AM

Feb. 27, 2005 — -- The arrest of a suspect in the BTK serial murders around Wichita, Kan., has sent waves of relief and shock throughout the community, especially the town of Park City, where former Cub Scout leader and church deacon, Dennis Rader, was arrested yesterday.

Now, people who knew Rader, 59, are talking about two different sides of the man. Some are calling him a friendly neighbor who helped the elderly, while others are painting a picture of a bully who sometimes took his job as a city ordinance enforcement officer and dog catcher too far.

Donna Barry, a neighbor of Rader's who has known him and his family since she was a child, told "Good Morning America" she was surprised about his arrest, but said she had seen a darker side of Rader as well.

Barry said that she once watched as Rader shot a neighbor's dog in front of the owners, Barry and her children.

"If he didn't like the way animals were being treated in the neighborhood, he was right there to push the law on making it go his way," Barry told "Good Morning America" in an exclusive interview.

Barry said she and her children were out on their front lawn one day, and a neighbor from across the street was outside with his dog. In his capacity as a dog catcher and ordinance officer, Barry said Rader approached the dog and allegedly tried to mace it.

But, according to Barry, the "wind blew the mace back in his face." She says Rader groped for his tranquilizer gun, but couldn't get to it. That's when he allegedly pulled out a gun and shot the dog.

Despite the incident with the dog, Barry said she never would have suspected Rader capable of the BTK murders. He had, after all, been her brothers' Cub Scout leader years ago.

"He was generally a really nice gentleman," said Barry. "I've known him since I was probably 4 or 5 years old. You know, he was the kind of neighbor that you could go down the road and he would stay up and talk to you and open the door for you and hold a conversation."

But Barry added that looking back now and talking to other neighbors, it seemed there was something odd about some of Rader's behavior.

"I'm finding a lot of the same repeat stories about him showing up at [people's] jobs with their dog's leash and collars and going through people's stuff on their property and just kind of stuff out of the unusual," said Barry.

The man who terrorized the Wichita area for more than three decades and is thought responsible for at least 10 murders seems to have had a streak of cruelty and narcissism, as he taunted the police by sending rambling letters to the media and dropping clues about his identity. In some of the notes, he referred to himself as not only BTK for "Bind, Torture, Kill," but also as the "Poetic Strangler" and the "Wichita Exterminator."