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Crime News

What Happened To The BTK Killer’s Kids?

Dennis Rader had two children — a son and a daughter — before his arrest and kept up the facade of a normal family. 

By Gina Tron
Serial Killers that Charmed Their Victims

Dennis Rader was not only the BTK (short for bind, torture, kill) killer, the notorious serial killer who killed 10 people and tortured Kansas for decades. He was also a family man, the president of the local Christ Lutheran Church and a boy scout troop leader. He was able to trick his community into thinking he was a friendly neighbor, loving husband and father. We know all the grisly details of how he bound, tortured and killed his victims but what about his children? How have they coped with the revelation that their own dad was the town monster?

Dennis Rader’s Daughter

Kerri Rawson is Rader’s daughter. She broke the family’s nine-year silence in 2016 when she did a media interview, prompted by a Stephen King film inspired by her father’s attacks. King’s movie “A Good Marriage” is an adaptation of a short story penned by King. In one interview, he revealed that the characters -- a serial killer husband and his unsuspecting wife -- is based on the Rader family. Rawson didn’t appreciate the story’s inspiration.

“He’s exploiting my father’s 10 victims and their families,” Rawson told the Wichita Eagle. In that interview she 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.”

Rawson went on to explain that additional attention from King was only fueling her father’s ego.

“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.”

The daughter, then 36, said she hadn’t visited Rader in prison, where he had been for the last decade.

“I haven’t been brave enough for that yet,” she told the Wichita Eagle.

She went to Kansas State University where she obtained two degrees, one of which was in education. As of that 2016 interview, Rawson reportedly lives in Michigan with her husband and their children. A former school teacher, Rawson was a stay-at-home mom in 2016, taking care of her young kids. She told the Wichita Eagle that she never sent her dad photos of his grandchildren.

She said her mother was completely fooled by Rader.

“No way could she have known,” Rawson told the publication. “She wouldn’t have raised us with him.”

Even though she does not want to visit her dad, 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.”

Rawson wrote about the struggles she endured coming to terms with who her father is in a book entitled, “A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story Of Faith, Love and Overcoming.” In the book she explains that she went from being daddy's little girl to at 26, learning the dark facts about her dad.

“Part of the reason I wrote this book is to say 'Look, we’re not catching these guys quick enough because they look normal, because they are normal,'” she said during an appearance on Dr. Phil. “They can be loving and caring, but they are also psychopathic and we’re not catching them quick enough because we’re only looking for the psychopath. We’re not looking for the guy that never even got a speeding ticket.”

Dennis Rader’s Son

Rader also had a son named Brian. Although he himself has not spoken publicly, Rawson called him bright. According to the Wichita Eagle, Brian was an Eagle Scout when his dad was arrested. During his father’s 2005 arrest, Brian was reportedly stationed at a sub base in Connecticut. From 2004 to 2009, Brian served on Navy submarines. As of 2016, he was enrolled in college.

Despite his obvious accomplishments, Rawson expressed worry about her brother.

“He doesn’t have the kids and the family that I have,” she told the paper. “And that’s really all I should say about him.”

Rawson said, despite it the killings, Rader was a good father. Rader did once allegedly put his hands around Brian’s neck when he was a child, choking him after he "spoiled dinner."

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