Episode 202 of Netflix series Mindhunter looks deeper at the horror of the self-labeled “BTK Killer,” and also the Son of Sam.
Season 1 of Mindhunter only offered small glimpses into the creepy world of BTK. In fact, his character is called “ADT serviceman” (Sonny Valicenti). Episode 202 zeroes in on Park City and Wichita, Kansas, with glimpses into the twisted mind of the character. It opens with a subtle moment where his wife, Joanne (Katherine Banks), gives him a book on therapeutic methods for deviant sexual behavior. Why? She previously came home to find him self-bound in the bathroom and wearing a creepy mask! While she only has some insight into his behavior, FBI Special Agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) is about to learn a whole lot more (though without learning his identity).
Tench meets Detective Drowatzky (Jeb Kreager) to discuss the Otero family of 1974, where the killer even drove off in the family car afterward! Drowatzky says that, even 5 years later, women still check to make sure their phone works before entering their homes. The killer also stole souvenirs and was a risk-taker. Not only did he attack four people, but there was a man and a dog as opposed to a lone victim or two. The two discuss the morbid details of the crime, including the binding and torture element. Drowatzky mentions that cops even stayed in the Otero house in case the killer came back.
Meeting a victim
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In another dramatic Mindhunter scene, Tench meets with one of BTK’s victims, Kevin Bright (Andrew Yackel). Kevin tells Tench that the killer wore black gloves, a green golf jacket and looked clean. As a cover story to convince the victims of possible safety for complying, BTK said he was a wanted man. Oddly, Kevin said he was almost gentle in tying Kevin’s knots, and even that he put a pillow under his head. Tench asks the awkward question (in so many words) of whether the killer was sexually excited. Kevin can’t remember but understands why it’s being asked.
Kevin then says, after thrashing around for a bit, he broke free. When the killer returned they fought. He managed to wrest BTK’s gun but the safety was on! Kevin was overpowered and shot in the face and the side of his head. He initially played dead, then ran to get help rather than defend his sister (which he’s still ashamed of). He’s also still scared he’ll be killed. In this conversation, Tench mentions that the killer isn’t religious. However, technically BTK was at one point president of his church council!
When Agent Tench gets home later, he finds the back door to his home opens a crack. It understandably makes him nervous. Tench tells fellow agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) about his trip. They agree that BTK’s been studying serial killers and that the Son of Sam, or David Berkowitz (Oliver Cooper) “courted the press” much like BTK. They decide to head out to interview “the chubby behemoth” himself (though his actual letter misspells it as “Chubby Behemoth”). Behavioral Science Unit Psychologist Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) tells Tench to take the lead, as Holden may be a liability after suffering panic attacks. She also demands transparency in whatever happens.
Son of Sam
In Attica, New York, Ford and Tench seek to establish that serial killer David Berkowitz is less random than commonly believed. To butter him up, hey mention that he held the city in thrall (which was sort of true). They also mention BTK idolizing him. When they mention that BTK stands for “Bind, Torture, Kill,” Berkowtiz maintains that he’s “not a crazed sex killer” and was actually “serving a demon.” They go over a serious question: How do you know when you have a demon? Berkowitz says his neighbor’s dog demanded blood and that the “demons came for me, not from me.”
Then, in a surprisingly humorous Mindhunter moment, Agent Ford says, “It’s a crock, isn’t it?” Berkowitz gradually admits it was a cover story. He says he was a “sex-starved daydreamer,” but maintains he never wanted to rape, just to kill (As strange as it sounds, many serial killers find their public image important. They may even be sincere when drawing lines between their behaviors and those considered untoward).
Berkowtiz suggests he never had 100% clear standards for victim selection, but “knew her when he saw her” (which accounts for the seemingly random nature of his shootings, which regularly included male victims who accompanied their girlfriends — hinting at jealousy as a possible motive). Berkowitz says he went back to murder scenes, and even that he rolled around in the dirt where they died! While Berkowitz didn’t want to look like a pervert, this image is definitely bizarrely perverted. Wendy Carr refers to him simply as a “dumpy, awkward mailman” (he was a letter sorter for the U.S. Postal Service when arrested).
A few more things happen in this Mindhunter episode. Wendy Carr subtly hits on bartender Kay Manz (Lauren Glazier) again. Also, toward the very end, Detective Art Spencer (Nate Corddry) shows up to the Tench residence. He informs Nancy Tench (Stacey Roca) that a body was found in a garage in one of the homes she has for sale. To investigate, they need all the info she can offer, adding that they need to look at her shoes.
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