After “BTK” serial killer Dennis Rader’s surprising confession to murdering , which introduced an finish to a decades-long thriller and reign of terror in Wichita, Kansas, his daughter needed to discover methods to deal with her new, shattered actuality. While one nightmare was ending for the city, for Kerri Rawson was simply starting.
“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 informed “20/20” in her first tv interview.
Watch the complete report “My Father BTK” THIS FRIDAY, Feb. 1 at 9 p.m. ET
Rader, now 73, was arrested in February 2005 and pleaded responsible on June 27, 2005, to 10 counts of first-degree homicide. He is at the moment serving 10 consecutive life sentences with out the potential of parole.
Rader’s killing spree started in January 1974, when he focused 4 members of the Otero household, killing Joseph and Julie Otero and two of their 5 youngsters. He killed 21-year-old Kathryn Bright later that yr and his subsequent two victims, Shirley Vian and Nancy Fox, in 1977.
Rawson was born the next yr.
In April 1985, Rader murdered his eighth sufferer and neighbor, Marine Hedge, who lived simply six doorways down. Vicki Wegerle grew to become Rader’s ninth sufferer in September 1986. Five years handed, after which in January 1991, Rader murdered his 10th sufferer, Dolores Davis.
While Rader was in jail awaiting sentencing, Rawson mentioned a pastor at their church inspired her to jot down to her father.
Rawson described a number of the letters she exchanged along with her father in her new e book, “A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming.”
According to her e book, within the months main as much as his plea, Rawson and her father exchanged letters about his court docket proceedings, studying the Bible and the way their household was doing. Rader typically wrote matter-of-factly about what his every day life was like behind bars. He additionally spoke longingly about wanting his household to jot down him and used the phrases “forgive me” a number of instances.
“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,” Rader wrote in a letter from July 2005, in line with her e book. “Life before the arrest was a good time and the dark side took me away.”
In one letter dated April 23, 2005, Rawson requested if one thing had occurred to her father in his childhood, looking for any clarification for his murders. Authorities mentioned Dennis Rader has all the time maintained that he didn’t expertise bodily or sexual abuse as a baby, a trademark attribute of serial killers. She additionally informed him in that letter to “take care” and “try to stay strong and healthy.”
“I wasn’t corresponding with BTK. I’m never corresponding with BTK,” Rawson informed “20/20.” “I’m talking to my father. I’m talking to the man that I lived with and loved for 26 years. … 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.”
Rawson couldn’t carry herself to attend her father’s court docket appearances, and after his plea and his sentencing in August 2005, “I shut down,” she mentioned.
“I was mad. I was done. I wiped my hands of him for two years,” Rawson mentioned.
Even although she didn’t write her father once more till 2007, Rader continued to jot down her after he was sentenced.
According to Rawson’s e book, in a letter dated Sept. 22, 2005, Rader once more requested Rawson how she, her husband and her brother had been doing. He wrote that he wished his spouse would write him – Rawson’s mom had been granted an emergency divorce in July 2005 — and he continued to explain his routines in jail.
In that letter, he warned his daughter and her husband to “be extra careful due to all my crimes.”
“I would wish no harm to you but some crazy individual might try something,” Rader wrote.
In one other letter Rawson consists of in her e book, dated Nov. 17, 2005, Rader described watching a Kansas sundown from his cell window.
“Have a west window, looks past home. Can watch bird at times and the seasons change,” Rader wrote. “Kerri, you were always like that, watched and appreciated nature to its fullest. So many people never slow down to enjoy like so simple, beautiful treasures.”
Rawson nonetheless didn’t reply.
“My hope is you will write me someday,” the letter continued. “My love as a Dad is still there… if betrayal is what is keeping you from writing, please forgive me.”
According to Rawson’s e book, the next month, Rader wrote in a letter to her dated Dec. 17, 2005, how grateful he was for his youngsters and acknowledged that that this “cannot be a very ‘Merry Christmas’ or a ‘Happy Holidays’ due to my and family circumstances.”
“Hope things are okay there. Snowing here today! Blessed and better 2006,” Rader wrote.
When she lastly wrote again in 2007, it was to let her father know she was pregnant along with her first little one — a daughter.
“You were a good Dad most of the time and raised us well, and we do not know what to believe – who you were to us, or who you were to others,” Rawson wrote her father in a letter dated Aug. 8, 2007.
But then Rawson mentioned she reduce off communication with him once more for 5 years afterward. She now additionally has a son along with her daughter. Rawson mentioned she started writing her father once more in 2012, and nonetheless does to at the present time, as a result of she has forgiven him.
“It was a very long journey,” Rawson mentioned. “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,” Rawson mentioned.
“I realized I was rotting within. I didn’t just forgive my father for him. I had to do it for myself.”