The BTK killer’s daughter is on the cover of People, are people interested in this?

Last year I tweeted this about People Magazine covering more true crime stories. It sums up how I feel about this, although I’m coming around.

In theory I get why People is doing this, because true crime stories sell and they’re interesting, but when I’m reading about celebrities I don’t want to see stories about babies dying or how the latest white man who killed his whole family is doing. It’s like when you go to the ice cream shop and they’re suddenly serving Mexican food. (Although I have been to a place like this and it was awesome so I should just stop talking. Maybe People knows what we want before we do.) I guess if People puts it on their cover readers know what they’re getting. This latest cover is about the BTK killer, a notorious serial killer who killed 10 people (that we know about) in Wichita, Kansas from 1974 to 1991. Dennis Lynn Rader earned the nickname the BTK killer for his practice of binding, torturing and killing people. It’s awful, he is now rotting in jail for the rest of his life because although capital punishment is legal in Kansas apparently they don’t practice it. (I’m not for capital punishment at all given false convictions. However from a victim and victim’s family perspective I understand why people would be for it.)

Anyway Rader’s daughter, Kerri Rawson, learned about her dad’s crimes in 2005 when she was 26. She’s since written a book about discovering the truth about her dad. It’s called A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming. People got an exclusive interview with her. Please note that in this interview she’s saying she assumed her mother was murdered when cops broke the news to her that her father was the suspect. Her mother is still alive. I was confused by that part.

“It took more than 10 years before I could even sit across from someone and even talk about this,” Rawson tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “Nobody wants to believe their father could be capable of such monstrous things.”

Memories of the morning her life was turned upside down still haunt Rawson, whose husband Darian was at work when the FBI agent appeared at the front door of their Detroit-area apartment.

Reluctantly, she let the agent inside and moments later he began to tell her why he’d come. “Have you heard of BTK?” he asked Rawson, who was unaware that her father had just been arrested by dozens of police officers after detectives had linked him to the killings through a floppy disk BTK had recently sent them, taunting them that he was about to kill again.

Rawson was confused by the question. “It seemed like such a weird thing to bring up,” she recalls. “Suddenly I was thinking, ‘My mom’s been murdered.’ My mind started making these illogical leaps because I was so scared and frightened.”

As her mind raced and she tried to make sense of his words, she heard the agent say something about her father being a murderer. In her panic and confusion, Rawson began thinking, “My God, my father murdered my mom. … I felt like I was going to pass out. I was falling apart, holding onto the wall above the stove and I told him, ‘I need to sit down.’”

Over the next few hours the terrible truth began to sink in — and years would pass before any semblance of normalcy would return to her life. Her father would ultimately plead guilty to the 10 murders and is now serving a 175-year sentence.

“I was just trying to stay alive and breathe,” Rawson recalls of the day she learned the horrible truth. “Trying to recover from the shock, telling myself over and over that I’d do anything not to be the daughter of a serial killer.”

[From People]

I found other interviews Rawson did, with her hometown paper The Wichita Eagle. In 2014 she was upset after Stephen King admitted using her dad’s story to inspire a short story and later a movie, A Good Marriage, about a wife who didn’t realize her husband was a serial killer. Rawson said at the time that King was “just going to give my father a big head” and that King was exploiting the victims along with her family. “We consider ourselves the 11th victim family. Stephen King has the right to tell a story, but why bring us into it? Why couldn’t he just find inspiration for another good story, but leave out where it all came from?

Rawson has two college degrees and her brother is in the Navy and was an Eagle scout. Their dad was a cub scout leader and president of the church council. She claims he didn’t abuse them at all and they couldn’t have known about his horrific crimes. It was a complete shock to Rawson and her brother, who loved and respected their dad. Their mother also initially refused to believe it and defended their dad.

I can’t imagine what this woman has gone through and the trauma and hardship she’s had to face. From what I can find, Rawson has understandably never visited her father in jail. She is on Instagram, where she posts photos of her adorable kids and cats.

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From my interview with ABC News & 20/20: ‪ In her new book, "A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming," Rawson describes struggling to reconcile the loving father she knew with the psychopathic murderer known as BTK.‬ . ‪”It's a very lonely — worst club you could ever imagine belonging to, being the daughter of a serial killer.” ‬ ‪“The problem is if you live such a quiet, private life, it sits inside you and eats at you because it's like something you have to hide or something you have to be ashamed of,” Rawson added.‬ . “[I’m] trying to say, ‘I've gone through hell. I'm still here. You, too, can overcome. Don't ever give up. No matter what you're going through, you can get through it,'” she said.‬ . #aserialkillersdaughter #nelsonbooks #thomasnelson #harpercollinscanada #harpercollins #btkkiller #btk #mustread #booksofinstagram #audible #kindlepaperwhite #ereader #nook

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Trouble X 3.

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31 Responses to “The BTK killer’s daughter is on the cover of People, are people interested in this?”

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  1. Veronica S. says:

    Eh. Honestly, I’ll take this over Savannah Guthrie giving Catholic racists air time.

  2. Usedtobe says:

    People has always done true crime stories though. It’s nothing new.

  3. Moneypenny says:

    People has always done these kinds of stories going back to the 80s (when I was aware of the mag as a kid). I was a little surprised by this one as a cover story because it happened so long ago, but I assume (1) it is a slow week in celeb news, and (2) they were going to cover it anyway since the book just came out. People do love true crime.

  4. Other Renee says:

    What she meant was that when the cops told her that her father was a murderer, her brain jumped to “They must mean he killed Mom” because it would never have occurred to her that he could have killed anyone else. She assumed it was one of those situations where a man gets so angry at his wife that he kills her although even that would have seemed unfathomable to her.

    I know someone who was best friends with a guy he’d known forever. The friend went on to have two kids and run a very successful business. He began stalking (mostly Asian) women in my neighborhood, following them into their homes via their garages as they used remotes to shut the garage door. Then he either raped or molested them in some other way. He was finally caught when a would-be victim managed to ward him off then SHE (a runner) chased after him while screaming at people to stop him. He hung himself in jail. His family and friends could not believe this was the man they’d known all their lives. There had been no indication that he would turn out to be a monster.

    • Amy Too says:

      Right. I think when they asked her if she knew of the BTKmurderer she assumed they were asking her bc they were going to tell her her mom had been murdered by BTK. Then they said, “your dad is the murderer,” and she thought “oh, my dad killed my mom, similar to how there’s this BTK murderer out killing people.” She didn’t make the leap that her dad was the BTK murderer bc that was so far from her mind.

  5. Nan says:

    Why not make a cold case victim the cover and feature their story? I have no interest in this woman of her father’s life. Serial killers are not just angry, entitled pieces of trash. No mystery there.

    • sassy says:

      That’s a good idea, Nan! There are so many cases that go unsolved and can hold a reader’s interest. So many victim’s families would love that kind of coverage so they can get help.

      • lucy2 says:

        I always wondered why more media didn’t do that. People could absolutely have a regular cold case feature. And why don’t the morning shows or the news have a few seconds showing pictures of missing kids or something?

        I listen to a few cold case/true crime podcasts, and some of them have stirred up some new tips and leads. You never know, it just takes one person to make a connection that gives a family answers.

    • Sankay says:

      Man, exactly. I will never forgive Peole for putting Mark David Chapman on their cover.

    • Wilady says:

      I listened to the Happy Face podcast, about the daughter of the happy face killer and the mental struggles she had going through life because of her father’s horrible crimes. Knowing she was like her dad, the fear that she was like him in the worst ways, inability to form trusting relationships with men, the disintegration of her marriage, her experience as a parent herself. I think a lot of people can relate to the struggle of finding yourself when you grew up with trauma in some way.

      Cold cases are obviously important, but this woman has a story too, she has the right to tell it, and there’s room for everyone’s story.

      I highly recommend that podcast, btw.

  6. SlightlyAnonny says:

    This is the thing, and its going to sound horrible but here it is. Her father got away with so many murders because the cops were inept, bad, criminally horrible. This is not a case where his evil was so horrifying that it was interesting or that the crimes were so complex, it is literally a case of a stupid evil man and stupider cops.

    I am always interested in the narratives of victims or cases were the stupidity and negligence is mindboggling (seriously, check out the Teacher’s Pet podcast, it is horrifying in laissez faire acceptance of criminal behavior of all types by the police and law enforcement because the criminal was a celebrity athlete) but this ain’t it. I don’t find BTK interesting, he was fortunate to kill in an area where the cops were morons, and I don’t find his family interesting, they too were just unfortunate.

    • Cath says:

      You’re right – it does sound horrible. I’m sorry this particular serial killer wasn’t intellectually stimulating enough for you. Of course inept cops/law enforcement are a problem, but I don’t understand what this has to do with this young woman’s story. See, I’m not a lover of true crime, because all of the podcasts about it, just make people think they’re experts now. And only the most interesting cases get covered and end up being huge ‘hits’. But guess what? They all involve real people. Real victims. People who suffered gruesome deaths. Never mind the pain that was inflicted to their family and loved ones. And the daughter of a serial killer is also a victim. Have some empathy please. Forget about stupid police men and so called ‘uninteresting’ cases/serial killers. That’s what fiction is for. Real life is messy. Sherlock Holmes isn’t out there.

    • broodytrudy says:

      Ding, ding. Dennis Rader was an absolute moron who got away for so long on dumb luck alone. People like to act as though he was this serial killing genius when that’s not the case. If he were killing today he’d never get away with it, i think.

    • lucy2 says:

      The police in the Teacher’s Pet story were infuriating, though I suspect there was also a lot of boys’ club, athlete worshipping happening there in addition to just being inept.

      I don’t know much about BTK, but I get the impression her book and the coverage of it are more about how a person survives a family member being a killer, rather than the sensationalism of the case itself?

      • SlightlyAnonny says:

        I don’t know if this makes me feel better or worse. That the cops might have known that he’d killed his wife but let him go because, you know, Rugby! Ugh. But they all definitely turned a blind eye on the statutory rape.

  7. Lorelei says:

    I am! I actually pre-ordered her book a while ago. I’m a true crime geek (the new Netflix series about Ted Bundy that came out today is in my queue!) and stories like this interest me — especially this one, since we often hear from crime victims, but not very much from the perpetrator’s loved ones.

    I feel nothing but sympathy for this poor girl and think it will be fascinating to read what it was like to live through something so horrific.

    I’m glad to see she’s doing so well. I remember when her father was captured and I can’t imagine the shock that poor family was in.

  8. C says:

    Ew….she looks just like him. Poor woman.

    • Olive says:

      came here to say the same thing. wonder if it’s tough for her to look in the mirror and see BTK staring back.

  9. Mina says:

    Dennis Rader is likely going to be prominent in the second season of Manhunter, premiering at some time this year, so I think people will start to talk about him again. He’s likely one of the scariest serial killers out there because of his sadism and how many years he managed to avoid being caught, and at the same time he’s probably one of the dullest and dumbest criminals that’s ever existed.

    • Steff says:

      Rader’s motivation was to be the most famous, scariest serial killer and it’s best for everyone to treat him as a lame/dull/dumb nobody.

  10. TheOtherOne says:

    It kind of makes sense. I don’t know the exact statistics, but People’s target demographic are the same women (myself included) who watched endless hours of Investigation Discovery, Snapped, Killer Couples, etc…

  11. TyrantDestroyed says:

    I read Stephen King’s story, the book containing the story is very good. I really liked Stephen’s King take on it.

  12. Jamie says:

    I understand she’s had a difficult time learning the truth about her father. But the criticism she has for Stephen King applies to her. She’s making money off the pain and anguish of the victims.

    My sympathies are reserved for the daughters (and sons) of Rader’s victims. She may never see her father again, but that’s her choice. The children of his victims had that choice taken away from them.

    Where is their book deal? Where is their People Magazine cover?

    • SlightlyAnonny says:

      Exactly! Her perspective has the least interest/value out of anyone involved and she is the one who is getting paid? When he was first caught, I watched a documentary about it and it was the perspective from one of his victims kids, now a fully grown adult, because Rader was allowed to kill for so long. The devastation on this man’s face when talking about his mother, and her death that was never taken seriously by the incompetent cops, and growing up without a mother still gets to me. But the dumb killer’s daughter gets paid for a book no one wanted? Yeah, no.

    • lucy2 says:

      I kind of agree, and imagine the families of his victims are not pleased with this. I wonder if she reached out to any of them before writing this book.
      I do have sympathy for her though, it’s a different kind of trauma, but still a trauma.

    • elimaeby says:

      SO. MUCH. THIS ^ If she wants a payday from her father’s terrible crimes, who is she to criticize others doing the same when they were in no way victimized? Yes, finding out a parent is a monster is awful, but her making a profit off of it while re-victimizing the bereaved? I have a ladder she can borrow to get off that high horse.

      • Catfoodjunkie says:

        Wow. A shocking lack of empathy here. Let’s see who profits from the book sales before we assume she’s a bad person, eh?

    • Jag says:

      Agree that if she doesn’t donate the money or something, she’s profiting just like the ones she’s calling out.

      The thing that bothers me also is that she didn’t have to write this book about herself. She could’ve quietly tried to raise funds for the families of the victims – or written a book to help them. It’s all about her. Similar to the Smiley Face killer’s daughter, if memory serves me, who came across just as narcissistic as her killer father.

      I’m trying hard not to judge her on saying that she’s been through hell and is the 11th victim. There is a huge difference between being tortured to death versus finding out that her loving father who didn’t abuse her isn’t who she thought he was. Honestly, I’d almost trade places with her; I wonder what kind of book she would write had she been forced to grow up abused by both parents, teachers, and bullies the way that I did, and deal with everything that I have in my 50 years?

    • A.Key says:

      Completely agreed. She’s making money off of what her father did. Disgusting.

  13. Littlefishmom says:

    BTK killer is the WORST name ever. I can’t even stand the sound of his voice. His killer name reminds me of Burger King.

  14. Mash says:

    i remember hearing about what he did to the little girl…they found her hung in the basement of the house he broke into covered in &*&(&(* i was just like HE IS SATAN….

    like i cried hearing that