BTK Serial Killer: Did Kerri Rawson Know Her Dad Was a Murderer?

Kids learning out their parents have secrets – even flaws –
is common. But discovering your dad is secretly a serial killer? That’s a whole
other level of astonishing.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to Kerri Rawson when the police were successful in catching the notorious BTK Killer. Dennis Rader, a husband, father, and respected community member, eluded police for more than three decades. Now Kerri Rawson is speaking out about what it was like growing up as the daughter of a serial killer. Her revelations are haunting – and undeniably sad.

Who was the BTK Killer?

The BTK Killer terrorized the Wichita, Kansas area beginning in 1974. The nickname, which he assigned to himself in a series of taunting letters he sent to police, stands for “Bind, Torture, Kill.” That’s how he disposed of his victims.

Dennis Rader eventually got caught when police traced a
letter he sent back to his church. But his arrest and subsequent trial meant the
nightmare was just beginning for his family. According to them, they had no
idea Rader was secretly murdering
people.

Did Kerri Rawson know her dad was a killer?

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Posted @withrepost • @abc2020 Kerri Rawson reacts to learning her DNA helped police catch her father as BTK serial killer: “It felt like an invasion of my privacy.” — Kerri's first TV interview airs tonight on a 2-hour #ABC2020 #MyFatherBTK at 9|8c on ABC. #aserialkillersdaughter #abcnews

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Kerri Rawson describes Rader as a protective, doting father.
After his arrest, she had to come to terms with the fact that the man she
looked up to was living a lie. “I had to learn how to grieve a man that was not
dead, somebody I loved very much that no one else loved anymore,” Rawson
told 20/20.

Rader began his killing spree when he murdered the Otero family in 1974. His daughter Kerri was born the next year, in 1975. She and her mother both maintain that they had no idea Rader was a killer and never would have helped him cover up any crimes. In total, the BTK Killer murdered 10 victims.

How did Kerri Rawson help her dad get convicted?

She may not have known it at the time, but Kerri Rawson was
instrumental in getting her father put away for life in conjunction with his
crimes. In order to build their case, prosecutors had to use DNA evidence to
link Rader to the crime scenes. For this task, they used Rawson’s DNA samples
without her permission.

“They found out I had had annual pap smears and they got a warrant for
my medical records,” Rawson explains during the 20/20 documentary. “It would have been nice if somebody had asked
me for my DNA. I would have willingly given it.”

Did Rawson stop talking to her father, the BTK Killer?

Rawson describes the moment that she discovered the true nature
of her father as “devastating.” But even in that moment, it was hard to separate
the man she thought she knew with the man he really was.

Rader was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 175 years
in prison. After he was incarcerated, he and Rawson began exchanging letters. During
the 20/20
interview she said, “I wasn’t corresponding with BTK. I’m never
corresponding with BTK. I’m talking to my father. I’m talking to the man that I
lived with and loved for 26 years.” She went on to explain, “I still love my
dad today. I love the man that I knew. I don’t know a psychopath… That’s not
the man I knew and loved.”

Rader had similar sentiments. In the
letters he sent to Rawson, he pled for forgiveness. In a letter from 2005 he wrote,
“You will always be my
baby girl I raised right-proud-independent and now is a grown adult with many
years of love to give. Life before the arrest was a good time and the dark side
took me away.”

What does Kerri Rawson think of her father now?

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Yesterday was a rather extra nutty day in a rather extra nutty life. I woke up knowing I had 175 books with my dad’s mugshot on them sitting in my living room. I also knew I had a pile of, “It’s Friday & your book is publishing in less than 3 weeks tasks & emails” waiting for me. What I didn’t know was that I was going to wake up to the NY Post sharing about my story, book & dear ol’ dad. I knew media was coming, but wasn’t expecting it quite yet. Then the international press picked it up & I very poorly attempted to cut/paste/translate a headline & lead-in in Dutch & yes, it’s been a lot. Last night I finally opened one of the many boxes in my living room. Seeing years of hard, tooth and nail scraping work finally in my hands brought me to tears. I fought many, many years to still be here on earth, let alone to learn how to use my voice, to write, to breathe, & eventually live again. Nothing, no matter what today holds, or the rest of my life may contain, nothing, can take this away from me. To purchase, see link in profile. #aserialkillersdaughter #audible #ebooks #kindlepaperwhite #bookstagram #ptsd #thomasnelson #nelsonbooks #harpercollins #harpercollinscanada #hope #faith #love #overcoming #overcomingdepression #overcominganxiety #suicideprevention #trauma #btkkiller #btk #mustread #amwriting #writersofinstagram #publishedauthor

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View this post on Instagram

Yesterday was a rather extra nutty day in a rather extra nutty life. I woke up knowing I had 175 books with my dad’s mugshot on them sitting in my living room. I also knew I had a pile of, “It’s Friday & your book is publishing in less than 3 weeks tasks & emails” waiting for me. What I didn’t know was that I was going to wake up to the NY Post sharing about my story, book & dear ol’ dad. I knew media was coming, but wasn’t expecting it quite yet. Then the international press picked it up & I very poorly attempted to cut/paste/translate a headline & lead-in in Dutch & yes, it’s been a lot. Last night I finally opened one of the many boxes in my living room. Seeing years of hard, tooth and nail scraping work finally in my hands brought me to tears. I fought many, many years to still be here on earth, let alone to learn how to use my voice, to write, to breathe, & eventually live again. Nothing, no matter what today holds, or the rest of my life may contain, nothing, can take this away from me. To purchase, see link in profile. #aserialkillersdaughter #audible #ebooks #kindlepaperwhite #bookstagram #ptsd #thomasnelson #nelsonbooks #harpercollins #harpercollinscanada #hope #faith #love #overcoming #overcomingdepression #overcominganxiety #suicideprevention #trauma #btkkiller #btk #mustread #amwriting #writersofinstagram #publishedauthor

A post shared by Kerri Rawson (@kerrirawson) on

View this post on Instagram

Yesterday was a rather extra nutty day in a rather extra nutty life. I woke up knowing I had 175 books with my dad’s mugshot on them sitting in my living room. I also knew I had a pile of, “It’s Friday & your book is publishing in less than 3 weeks tasks & emails” waiting for me. What I didn’t know was that I was going to wake up to the NY Post sharing about my story, book & dear ol’ dad. I knew media was coming, but wasn’t expecting it quite yet. Then the international press picked it up & I very poorly attempted to cut/paste/translate a headline & lead-in in Dutch & yes, it’s been a lot. Last night I finally opened one of the many boxes in my living room. Seeing years of hard, tooth and nail scraping work finally in my hands brought me to tears. I fought many, many years to still be here on earth, let alone to learn how to use my voice, to write, to breathe, & eventually live again. Nothing, no matter what today holds, or the rest of my life may contain, nothing, can take this away from me. To purchase, see link in profile. #aserialkillersdaughter #audible #ebooks #kindlepaperwhite #bookstagram #ptsd #thomasnelson #nelsonbooks #harpercollins #harpercollinscanada #hope #faith #love #overcoming #overcomingdepression #overcominganxiety #suicideprevention #trauma #btkkiller #btk #mustread #amwriting #writersofinstagram #publishedauthor

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Although she’s horrified by what he did, Kerri Rawson
eventually began down a path of forgiveness
for her own well-being. “I realized I was
rotting within. I didn’t just forgive my father for him. I had to do it for
myself,” she explained.

“It was a very
long journey,” Rawson said. “There was a lot of hard work in me, with
faith. I had gone back to church. I was working on my relationship with God,
working on my own heart.”

However, that forgiveness didn’t extend to everything. She still
can’t get over the lives he ruined. “I’m not forgiving him for what he did to those other families,” says Rawson.
“But I am forgiving him for what he did to our family.”

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