Kerri Rawson was 26 years old when her father was apprehended by police and confessed to brutally murdering 10 people, including two children, between 1974 and 1991. Our Kerri Rawson wiki delves into the traumatic impact being the BTK killer’s daughter had on Rawson’s psyche and her life as well as how she’s learned to cope with the fact that her father is a serial killer.
Who Is the BTK Killer?
Arguably one of the most notorious, bloodthirsty, and narcissistic murderers of the 20th century, Dennis Rader, also known as the BTK (bind, torture, kill) killer, seemed like a perfectly normal family man.
|About Kerri Rawson|
|Known As||Kerri Rader|
|Spouse||Darian Rawson (2003-current)|
|Parents||Dennis Rader (BTK Killer), Paula Dietz|
He was married with two kids and enjoyed a respectable career working for ADT Security Services for a number of years. Also president of his church and a Boy Scout leader, Rader escaped his family’s suspicion until 2004, when he was getting ready to strike again and murder his 11th potential victim. Only then would BTK’s daughter find out his true identity.
Who Is BTK’s Daughter, Kerri Rawson?
By the time Kerri Rawson (nee Rader) was born in 1978, her father had already murdered seven people. This included four members of the Otero family—Julie Otero (the matriarch), Joseph Otero (the patriarch), 11-year-old Josephine Otero, and nine-year-old Joseph Otero Jr.
But by all accounts, it seemed as if Dennis Rader was a normal guy. Born in 1945, he married Paula Dietz in 1971 and they had two children together.
Their firstborn, son Brian Rader, was born in 1975, just one year after BTK’s first murder.
Reflecting on her childhood in Wichita, Kansas, Rawson says she was a tomboy who thought of herself as being “pretty strong and tough.” At least, that’s what her father raised her to be. Though she suffered from night terrors, she believed they were just an unpleasant part of childhood. Something she’d grow out of eventually.
She also recalls that her father was a “boring,” average person, in the sense that there was nothing remarkable to make him stand out.
He enjoyed teaching her and her brother Brian how to hunt and fish or garden. Rader would take his kids camping, too. He also liked just taking them out for long walks. All simple stuff an average dad might like to do.
He was also an incredibly active member of the community. In addition to being a Boy Scout leader, Rader was president of the local church council at the Christ Lutheran Church. He made certain that his daughter Kerri and the rest of the family attended every Sunday.
Her Father Wasn’t Who She Thought He Was
It wasn’t until many years later, when the police discovered the true identity of the BTK killer, that the wholesome and innocent family man facade was stripped away.
Even after receiving confirmation that her father was the murderer who had terrorized the state of Kansas all those years, Kerri Rawson still had a hard time reconciling that evil creature with the man she knew and loved.
“Nobody wants to believe that their father could be capable of such monstrous things,” she said during an interview.
Understandably, it took her a long time to accept that her father was responsible for murdering all those people.
There were a few times throughout the investigation that the case went cold and investigators were at a loss in terms of where the BTK killer was. After he murdered jewelry store worker Nancy Fox in 1977, he seemed to have disappeared from Wichita altogether and no one knew why.
During this time, Dennis Rader had moved his family to Park City, which is a much smaller suburb of Wichita. That’s where Kerri Rawson and Brian Rader grew up.
Rawson went to Kansas State University, where she met her future husband in 1998. Kerri was a junior in college and Darian Rawson was a freshman. They dated for three years and were married in 2003.
Dennis Rader helped the newlyweds move to their home in Detroit, Michigan, where Kerri immediately started working as a substitute teacher in the fall of 2004.
Dealing with the Aftermath of Her Father’s Arrest
One fateful day in 2004, an FBI agent knocked on Kerri Rawson’s door and changed the course of her and her husband’s life forever.
“I had a knock on my door and I barely opened the door because my dad had always taught me to be weary [sic] of strangers, be careful when, like, people try to come into your house,” Kerri said.
She continued to explain what happened that day. “He said, ‘Are you Kerri Rawson? Is your dad Dennis Rader? Are you from Wichita?’ And I was like ‘yes.’ And then he’s like, ‘your dad is BTK.’”
At that moment, Rawson said she went into complete and utter shock to the extent that she had a hard time understanding what was happening. It was like, in one fell swoop, everything she ever knew about her father and her entire life was just swept away from under her.
She described the whole ordeal by saying, “It was just very intense. Like you’re out of your body. You’re just in shock and you’re just confused. Nothing’s right and everything’s just crazy.”
Naturally, Kerri Rawson has received a great deal of public scrutiny for failing to recognize signs of her father’s dark secrets sooner. It’s important to remember, though, that she and Brian were just young kids when the majority of these murders took place.
Looking back, she recalls that perhaps there were a few characteristics that should have raised a few red flags, but she didn’t think twice about them as a kid because they seemed normal.
For instance, her father didn’t allow his children to go through his belongings and would get angry at them when they tried. This seems pretty normal; most parents probably wouldn’t like their children rummaging through their things.
Neither the Rader children nor Paula ever seemed to question this rule until after Dennis Rader’s dark secrets were brought to light. As it turned out, Dennis liked to keep mementos from his crimes and hide them around the house, some of them in plain sight.
Rawson also remembered the mysterious disappearance of their Park City neighbor, Marine Hedge, who lived six doors down. It was a tempestuous night in April 1985 and Kerri Rawson was just six years old.
Fifty-three-year-old Hedge had gone missing, and Kerri’s father wasn’t at home. “It was stormy, and I didn’t want to sleep by myself. My mom let me in her bed—that’s how I know he was gone.”
Hedge’s body was eventually discovered in a ditch. She was BTK’s eighth victim.
Kerri Rawson’s DNA Was Used to Arrest Her Father
In the mid-2000s, after 30 years of living a private life, Dennis Rader decided to reemerge from the shadows.
Rawson suspects empty nest syndrome was the catalyst.
“I think he was just bored and wanted to play games,” she said. “I was grown and out of the house; my brother was in the Navy. I think he felt like we were safe from whatever he was doing.”
Rader planted a Barbie doll that had been bound and gagged in very much the same way as Nancy Fox in a local park where it was found by a man walking his dog. The doll had a copy of Fox’s driver’s license tied around its legs. He also sent graphic Polaroid pictures of her deceased body after he’d strangled her and ejaculated on her in her own bed.
Even though DNA was ineffective in the 1970s and wouldn’t become a prominent form of crime scene investigation until the late 1980s, the detectives working the case at that time had meticulously stored the evidence they gathered.
Rader also went to a local Home Depot and left a cereal box with the letters “BTK” in the bed of a local employee’s pickup truck. The man thought it was just garbage someone threw in his truck, and discarded it. But after police started asking the public for help with the case again, one of the man’s coworkers realized it might have been evidence and turned it over to the police.
Fortunately, Rader was caught on the store’s surveillance footage. Although the footage was grainy and it was impossible to make out his face, they were able to tell that he was driving a black Jeep Cherokee.
Rader had started communicating with police again after decades of radio silence. As it turned out, the cereal box contained a letter asking if they’d be able to find out who he was if he sent them a floppy disk. He also instructed police to respond to his question using a newspaper ad with the code phrase, “Rex, it’ll be OK.” The police did as they were instructed.
Two weeks late