What Happened To The BTK Killer's Children?

Throughout life, we're continually told to "move on," "embrace change," "forgive and forget," "practice acceptance," etc ... any number of platitudes that embody the notions of interpersonal reconciliation and healing. It's an important thing to be able to grow from difficult experiences and build relationships off of them, but is there such a thing as something you can never really move on from? For children of serial killers, the stakes are definitely a little bit higher. 

The two adult children of Dennis Rader, Kansas' infamous BTK Killer (bind, torture, kill), were struck with the jarring and incomprehensible news in 2005 that their father was a deviant serial murderer during the years they were growing up (via Esquire). Nothing could have prepared them for such a serrated, unmerciful reality. Their own dad, with whom they spend their days fishing and attending church, was in fact a cold-blooded dealer of atrocious death. How does one learn to accept such a dismal truth and furthermore lead a normal life after the fact?

Crimes of the BTK Killer

According to Britannica, Dennis Rader murdered 10 people between 1974 and 1991 within the greater Wichita, Kansas area. It was Rader's custom to bind and strangle his victims in a manner that satisfied his sexual compulsions and fetishistic predilections, and throughout the course of his revolting saga of heinous exploits, he managed to maintain a double-life. All the while, he kept his reputation as a family man and respectable samaritan within his community, but the facade eventually collapsed in on itself.

For years, Dennis Rader routinely sent anonymous letters and packages to reporters and police. It was a daring and audacious way to mock those who were trying to exhume his identity and bring him to justice, but one such insolent gesture inadvertently led to his arrest. Authorities managed to trace a floppy disk that Rader had sent them back to his location at a church in Kansas, and after coupling his DNA with semen found at one of his crime scenes, he was arrested and placed before a jury. Dennis Rader, the notorious BTK Killer, had finally been caught. He pled guilty at the trial and was sentenced to life behind bars without any chance of parole (per Britannica). 

Kerri Rawson, Dennis Rader's daughter

Kerri Rawson, the only daughter of Dennis Rader, has been very open about her experience as the child of a serial killer and the cold revelation's significant effect on her life. In 2019, she released a personal memoir, "A Serial Killer's Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming," in which she chronicles everything that followed learning the truth about her dad. "I still love my father and I wish he had never done any of this, that I just had my dad. I worry about him being alone in prison at times, but at other times, I just can't, for my own sanity," Rawson told Esquire following the book's release. 

As a wife and a mother, Kerri Rawson has done her best to lead a quiet, wholesome life and has actually tried to maintain a cordial correspondence with her father. However, in 2021, she declared publicly that she had eradicated any and all attempts to maintain a relationship with Rader. According to Oxygen, Dennis Rader managed to rally a large sect of his admirers to "cyberstalk" and harass her. While he has no access to the internet and is not permitted to speak with the press, he's able to send letters from his cell. After a slew of scathing social media posts and "screenshots" of her online activities being proliferated by Rader's fans, she filed a no-contact order against him. 

Brian Rader, Dennis Rader's son

While Kerri Rawson has been exceptionally transparent about her experience as the child of the BTK Killer, Dennis Rader's only son has opted to maintain his privacy. Little is known of Brian Rader or his day-to-day life. However, in the past, Rawson has described her brother as "bright." According to The Wichita Eagle (via Oxygen), Brian Rader spent time in the armed forces as a young man, enlisting in the U.S. Navy and serving between 2004 and 2009. A year after joining the military, Brian's father was charged with the crimes of the BTK Killer. 

"He doesn't have the kids and the family that I have," Kerri Rawson told The Witchita Eagle (via Oxygen) in an interview while discussing her brother. "And that's really all I should say about him." Otherwise, Rawson and her mother have chosen to respect Brian Rader's wishes to be left alone by the press and to process the reality of his father's malicious atrocities on his own terms. He keeps the watchful eye of the public diverted away from his life to the best of his abilities.