A Family Torn Apart
This was the Otero home -- site of BTK's first known attack on January 15, 1974.
Time is supposed to heal all wounds, but for Charlie Otero, the passing years have done little to lessen the pain that police say was wrought by the BTK serial killer. On January 15, 1974, Otero, then 15, came home from school to find his parents and two siblings had been gruesomely murdered.
Now, thirty years later, Charlie Otero is telling his incredible story to America's Most Wanted and Wichita authorities in an attempt to finally take down the BTK killer.
Charlie refers to that day as the day his life ended. After arriving home to find the house his mother had always kept so clean in shambles, Otero says he knew something was wrong. From upstairs, he says he heard his brother desperately calling for him, shouting that their parents were playing a cruel trick on them. There, in his parents' room, was a sight no child should have to see-- Joseph and Julie Otero were laying side by side on their bed, bound by cords. They were dead.
But the nightmare wasn't over yet. Charlie had left for school early that morning to study for some upcoming tests. He didnt realize his youngest sister and brother had never left the house-- so the shock was even greater when police found 9-year-old Joseph dead in another bedroom, and 11-year-old Josephine hanging from a pipe in the basement. Police say all four members of Charlie's family had been strangled with the kind of cords found on venetian blinds.
So great was the fear for the three surviving Otero children that Charlie was not even able to attend his parents' funeral in Puerto Rico.
Never A Moment's Peace
Charlie came home to find this living room, normally spotless, in shambles the day he found his parents murdered.
Initially, authorities weren't sure why the Oteros had been targeted-- they explored drug connections and Joseph Otero's Air Force career as possible reasons for retaliation. Charlie and his siblings were placed in protective custody-- so great was the fear for the three surviving Otero children that Charlie was not even able to attend his parents' funeral in Puerto Rico. Instead, he was shuffled from safe house to safe house.
Charlie and his surviving brother and sister had lost everything but each other, but soon the pain grew more than he could bear. Unable to even speak with his relatives without having an emotional breakdown, Charlie parted ways with his family.
He spent the next 20 years looking over his shoulder, fearing his family's killer was hunting him down to finish off the job. Ironically, just nine months after the Otero murders, Wichita police received confirmation from BTK himself that he'd done the crime. But word never made it to Charlie, and it wasn't until the mid-90s that Charlie discovered his family's murders were linked to the BTK killer.
Estranged from his family, Charlie got married--but his past continued to haunt him, and things got rough for the former straight-A student and altar boy. Charlie was convicted on charges of domestic violence and placed in prison. It was there that the full extent of BTKs reign of terror hit home for Charlie.
Charlie found his parents in this bedroom-- his father was on the floor, bound with venetian blind cords. His mother's body lay on the bed, also tied up.
Dennis Rader »
One Saturday night, a fellow inmate called Charlie over to the television. They were watching America's Most Wanted-- and it turns out the Oteros were the stars of the show. Seeing photos of his family brought memories flooding back to Charlie, and he decided to do whatever he could to bring the BTK killer to justice. He could stop looking over his shoulder, but now he had new unanswered questions. Who is BTK? Why had he targeted the Oteros? Charlie believes telling police and AMW any information he can, no matter how painful, will help answer these lingering questions.
The warden says Charlie has been a model inmate, and is scheduled to be released on good behavior in December 2004.