The daughter of the BTK serial killer plans to publish a book next year about the trauma of discovering that her father had killed and terrorized people for 31 years.
Kerri Rawson grew up with her brother and her parents, Dennis and Paula Rader, in Park City. She hopes the book will help people come to terms with betrayal, post traumatic stress, anxiety and depression – afflictions she says she knows well. She’s undergone months of therapy off and on since her father was arrested by Wichita police and the FBI in 2005.
The book’s tentative title is “Someday My Heart Will Mend: Holding on to Faith, Surviving the Trauma of My Dad, the BTK Serial Killer.” It will be published by Thomas Nelson publishers, which accepted a book proposal she wrote over the last 18 months, Rawson said.
“Nelson specializes in publishing books for the Christian marketplace,” said Rawson’s agent, Doug Grad. “So there was an immediate connection from Nelson with Kerri’s spirituality and her ability to overcome the tremendous obstacles placed in her path.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
“I’m hoping it’s going to help a lot of people,” Rawson said Saturday, from her home in the Detroit area. “It’s helping me to work on it, to face what my dad did, and to deal with it.”
Dennis Rader, her father, pleaded guilty in 2005 to torturing and killing 10 people, starting with two children and their parents, the Otero family, in Wichita in 1974.
The detectives who captured Rader in 2005 said that Rawson, her brother, Brian, and their mother, Paula, were crime victims as well.
Lt. Ken Landwehr, the commander of the Wichita Police Department’s homicide unit at the time, said he and detectives who spent 11 months investigating the case in 2004 and 2005 were convinced that the family knew nothing of Dennis Rader’s murders or secret life.
Most of her father’s murders took place before Rawson was born; she later learned, to her horror, that her father had strangled victim Nancy Fox while Paula Rader was pregnant with Kerri.
“I was a crime victim before I was born,” Rawson said.
Grad predicts the book will appeal to many, because it’s an unusual story and because many people suffer from emotional traumas. Rawson navigated one of the worst, he said.
“There is really no guidebook for getting through what she endured, because … how many people do we know who have had a serial killer for a father?” Grad said. “But it’s not just a fascinating story; it’s a story where readers can take away something for themselves, and apply it to their own lives.
“She was an innocent victim, just an average person trying to live her life, and suddenly had to deal with this horror,” Grad said. “So she comes here to help people with real world experience; she’s been through this fire, and is now also well-read in dealing with trauma.” (Editor’s note: Grad previously worked for HarperCollins and was the book editor for The Eagle’s “Bind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of BTK, the Serial Killer Next Door,” published in 2007.)
Rawson refused all interviews for nearly 10 years, including with the biggest newspapers, magazines and television news shows in the country. “I was living a quiet life for nine years, trying to recover and heal,” she said Saturday. “I always wanted my life to be quiet.”
But she came forward in late 2014 to talk to The Wichita Eagle because she was irritated by watching author Stephen King on television, talking about “A Good Marriage,” a novella he wrote based on what he thought might have happened in the Rader family as they discovered they had a murderer in their home.
She vented her frustrations about King to The Eagle, and then talked for several stories in 2014 and 2015 about how she’d struggled through depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress syndrome. In all those stories, she expressed horror at what her father’s victims and their families suffered.
“After I talked for the story, a lot of people were reaching out to me, and told me my story was helping them,” Rawson said.
“I realized there was more I could do to help people, that I could funnel my energy into things that will help people.”