Growing up is hard enough. Imagine if your father is a notorious serial killer. Here's what four children had to say about their dads in their own words.
1. “Happy Face Killer’s” Daughter
Melissa Moore is the daughter of serial killer Keith Jesperson, who killed eight people in the 1990s. He received the nickname “Happy Face Killer” because of the smiley face he doodled onto letters he wrote. Those letters detailed his crimes, which he bragged about.
Moore has taken a different route than her father. Instead of hurting people, she has become an advocate for other children of killers. She has been in touch with more than 100 relatives of murderers and helps them share their stories. She is a crime correspondent and the host/executive producer of LMN’s show “Monster in My Family."
As for her father, she doesn’t have kind words.
“I’m ashamed that he’s my dad,” Moore told a relative of one of her dad’s victims in 2015 on “20/20. “I’m ashamed that he has no remorse. I’m ashamed of how he treated your sister and what he did to your sister.”
She explained that she often questions if she even has the right to be happy.
“Being the daughter of a serial killer puts everything into question, ‘Am I worthy? Do I have a right to exist?’ When he took so much away from other people,” Moore said on "20/20." “If I’m happy is that a slap in the face to the victim’s families? I don’t want it to be.”
2. BTK Killer’s daughter
Dennis Rader gave himself the moniker BTK (short for bind, torture, kill) while taunting Kansas media over his decades-long killing spree. In all, he killed 10 people. His daughter Kerri Rawson broke the family’s nine-year silence in 2016 after it was announced that Stephen King film was inspired by her father’s attacks. She revealed that she pretty much thinks her dad is a narcissist.
“He’s just going to give my father a big head, and he absolutely does not need that. Great – now Stephen King is giving my father a big head. Thanks for that. That’s the last thing my dad should get. Rawson told the Wichita Eagle. In that interview, she also revealed how she felt about her father.
“He has said he is sorry, but that means nothing,” she said. “He is not worth all the books and the news stories and all the attention.”
She said she doesn’t want to visit her dad in jail but despite that, she has forgiven him and even wrote him a letter telling him so: “I have come to terms with what happened with you and laid it to rest. I am never going to understand it but I forgive you. I don’t know if I will ever be able to make it for a visit but know that I love you and hope to see you in heaven someday.”
According to Rawson’s Twitter page, she is working on her own book about her family’s trauma. It is to be published by Nelson Books.
3. Green River Killer’s son
Gary Ridgway, known as the Green River Killer, is thought to be America’s most prolific serial killer. He murdered at least 49 women and has claimed to have killed over 70. Ridgway targeted sex workers and he confessed that often he’d show a photograph of his son to his victims to make them think he was a good person. Ridgway even once picked up a victim with his son in the car. While the child sat in his vehicle, Ridgway murdered that woman in a nearby wooded area. Her body, like so many of his victims, was heartlessly dumped near or in the Green River.
That same son, Matthew, remembered his serial killer parent as a great soccer dad.
"Even when I was in fourth grade, when I was with soccer, he'd always, you know, be there for me," Matthew told police a day after his dad was arrested for murder, according to the News Tribune.
Matthew doesn’t remember any women getting into his dad’s car.
In 2001, after his dad’s arrest, Matthew said that his dad still tried to make him laugh "like I'm a kid again."
4. “Witch Killer’s” daughter
Suzan Barnes and James Carson were known as the “San Francisco Witch Killers,” a pair who was convicted of three murders. The couple had determined that their victims were “witches,” something they claimed they wanted to rid the world of. They claimed God told them to kill not only witches but also abortionists and people who are gay.
James’ daugther, Jenn Carson said of her dad, “If he had fallen in love with a televangelist, he would become one. If she had joined ISIS, he would have. He was that much of a follower. He was drawn to extremists, people he found really exciting.”
She grew up to become an advocate for children of prisoners. Jenn has also advocated for her father and Suzan Barnes to remain behind bars. She even created a Change.org petition, which demands that Barnes not be let out on parole.
Jenn actually met up with Melissa Moore for an interview CrimeWatchDaily. She told Moore that she grew up feeling alone because she didn’t have anyone to relate to. She didn't know any other children of serial killers. Jenn admitted that growing up she thought she was the devil, because of who her dad was.
“The likelihood of having a parent as a serial killer is less likely than being struck by lightning,” she told the Daily Beast. “There’s moments where it’s like: Is this a Lifetime movie? But this is real.”
[Photos: Getty Images]