‘Law & Order: SVU’ Creator Dick Wolf Is Making a New Serial Killer Documentary

by Josh Lanier

Law & Order creator Dick Wolf recently produced a new documentary about an infamous Midwestern serial killer. BTK: Confession of a Serial Killer will focus on the life and crimes of Dennis Rader, better known as BTK. The two-night event airs January 8-9 on A&E.

The documentary promises a peek inside the mind of a monster convicted of killing 10 people. It will provide a new treasure trove of info thanks to the work of forensic psychiatrist Katherine Ramsland. BTK includes phone conversations Ramsland had with Rader, new information in the case, as well as a look inside his coded journal and drawings.

Ramsland began speaking to Rader more than a decade ago, and they still talk today. That gives her insight no other psychologists have into the killer’s motivations and methods.

“Through her deep and extraordinary work mapping some of the darkest corners of the human psyche, Dr. Ramsland has performed an invaluable service to law enforcement and the country at large,” Dick Wolf said in a release. “Her insights become tools with which we can identify other monsters like BTK earlier in their evolution, and I am pleased to further Dr. Ramsland’s mission through this important and gripping new series.”

Rader terrorized Kansas with a string of brutal killings that began in 1974. All of his murders share a cold precision, Biography notes. He would often stalk his victims for days before his attack and sneak into their homes when he knew they were alone. Then, he could take his time. His murders were brutal, often lasting hours before the victims would die. Sometimes he would make family members watch and wait their turn.

He earned the monicker “BTK” because he liked to bind, torture, and kill his victims. Like the Zodiac Killer, BTK taunted the police in letters. A letter he sent to Kansas authorities in 2004 led to his arrest after investigators determined it came from a computer at his church where he was a deacon.

Dick Wolf Has a Long History In Making Documentaries

Dick Wolf may be the most influential producer in television history. His series Law & Order, FBI, and Chicago One all have spin-offs and have launched the careers of countless actors and actresses. Wolf’s “ripped from the headlines” approach blends the fictional with real life. It lends authenticity to the police genre, and it gives the productions more avenues to explore, he’s said.

Part of that approach may come from his love of documentaries. He’s produced several on a wide array of topics. Dick Wolf told PBS in 2010 that he fell in love with the format when he saw he could tell more nuanced stories.

“We realized this is a genre that allows us as filmmakers to explore information and insights in a much more layered and in-depth process,” he said.