Rader's killing spree began in January 1974, when he targeted four members of the Otero family, killing Joseph and Julie Otero and two of their five children. From the moment the FBI agent broke the news to her, Rawson said it felt like her "whole life was a lie.". “I'll never forget that day,” said former Wichita Police Det. Kerri Rawson is seen here with her father Dennis Rader in this 2002 family photo. It was a close match. They took her annual pap smears to get samples of her DNA for testing. It's a very lonely -- worst club you could ever imagine belonging to, being the daughter of a serial killer. Pretty easy if … As she started to learn more, Rawson said she assumed the killer “was a loner,” some guy who had been in trouble with the law in the past. ", “I would wake up screaming, sitting up in bed, and my mom was always the one that would come comfort [me],” she continued. Kelly Otis. ... And we knew he was leaving work. But after that, Rader, the BTK killer, went silent. “There was a lot of hard work in me, with faith. In early 2005, police retrieved DNA from Kerri Rawson, the married daughter of Dennis Rader. Rawson said she first read about the serial killer in Wichita in an article on ABCNews.com. She now also has a son in addition to her daughter. Kerri Rawson told "20/20" that, on Feb. 25, 2005, the FBI arrived at her home to tell her that her father Dennis Rader had been arrested and identified as the BTK serial killer. They secretly obtained a DNA sample from Rader's daughter, then in college, and compared it to semen left at some of BTK's crime scenes. The two-hour 20/20 documentary airs tonight at 9pm ET on ABC. They needed to be safe about it. I had therapy. It was in April 1985 that Rader murdered his eighth victim and neighbor, Marine Hedge, who lived just six doors down. She never suspected the man she was reading about online would turn out to be her father. I had my husband. Kerri Rawson is seen here fishing with her father Dennis Rader in this 1982 family photo. And then ... he said he was the FBI. "It was a normal day. "I was gripping the wall next to my stove, [the room] was spinning, [I was] saying, 'I think I'm going to pass out,'" she said. Dennis Rader is pictured in a photo released, Feb. 27, 2005, in Sedgwick County, Kansas. And, you know, she was, kind of, like, "Well, where's the other grandfather?” Rawson said. Police released the recording of his telephone call to police but this brought about few leads. A man who was nearly 60 by that point, balding and wore glasses. “We were living our normal life. The first nights, Kerri and her husband, Darian, slept as if one of them needed to … Five years passed, and in January 1991, Rader murdered his 10th victim, Dolores Davis. The law enforcement had strong circumstantial evidence pointing him out as the BTK killer but needed something concrete like DNA proof. Take the Quiz: BTK-- Not as easy as ABC. • Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? When the murders began in the 1970s, DNA technology had yet to be developed. Kerri Rawson, the daughter of Wichita, Kansas, BTK killer Dennis Rader, is attacking Stephen King for using her father as the inspiration for his new film. And we were going to catch him right before he got to his house.”. BTK por fin había cumplido su sueño: hacerse famoso. 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 psychopathic murderer known as BTK. The Rader family, his wife and two children, refused any media requests for years, naturally. Rawson couldn’t bring herself to attend her father’s court appearances, where he recounted how he tried to make one of his victims comfortable offering him a pillow as he was killing him. Before they could arrest Rader, however, police needed to match DNA evidence to the scenes of the murders. She said she wrote her dad in 2007 to let him know she was pregnant with her first child -- a daughter -- but then said she cut off communication with him again for five years afterward. If you have researched the BTK killer, then you have also heard about his daughter, Kerri Rawson. “I wasn't corresponding with BTK. I just watched the 20/20 episode about BTK. You'll get the latest updates on this topic in your browser notifications. We looked like a normal American family because we were a normal family. “It was a very long journey,” Rawson said. In 2003, Rader walked his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. ...… At the time, it felt like an invasion of my privacy.”. The abbreviation "BTK" stands for “Bind, Torture, Kill,” a moniker Rader had given himself years earlier indicating what he had done to his victims. It's a very lonely -- worst club you could ever imagine belonging to, being the daughter of a serial killer.”. By the time Kerri Rawson (nee Rader) was born in 1978, her father had already murdered seven people. “He says, ‘Let me know ... in the classified ads of the Wichita Eagle, that it's OK. In a separate instance, Rader went to a Home Depot and dropped another cereal box containing a communication in the bed of an employee’s pickup truck, asking authorities if he could send them a floppy disk without its being traced, telling law enforcement to “be honest.”. Instead of taking a chance of extracting DNA from Rader himself, the detectives attempted to confirm the sample on the victims with a sample from his daughter. "I'm talking to my father. I was like, 'You mean the person that's wanted for murders back in Kansas?' DNA Taken From BTK Killer's Unwitting Daughter Led to His Arrest: 'They Needed to Catch My Dad' More Kerri Rawson grew up worshipping her doting, protective father, Dennis Rader . “I was mad. So she's like, ‘Well, what is jail?’ And I was like, ‘Well, it's like a really long timeout.’”. “So law enforcement put an ad in the paper that said ‘Rex, it’ll be OK,’” said Tim Relph, a Wichita Police detective. I was working on my relationship with God, working on my own heart.”. “I had no idea,” Rawson said. I love the man that I knew. "And then he says, 'Your dad has been arrested as BTK.'". Find out what your cat is trying to tell you with a new cat app, Princess Diana died when Harry was just 12 years old, Mitchell Tenpenny Reflects on the Grief of 2020 — and the Blessings He Sees Ahead of Him in 2021, Mom of 4 Wakes from COVID-Related Coma One Day Before Family Planned to Take Her Off Ventilator, Engineer Creates App To Translate Your Cat, The Sweetest Photos of Princes Harry with Diana, Sean Connery's Cause of Death Revealed Weeks After He Dies at Age 90. “I’m not forgiving him for what he did to those other families,” says Rawson. BTK serial killer Dennis Rader listens to testimony in the sentencing phase of his trial Wednesday in Sedgwick County Court in Wichita, Kan. Rader is waiting to be sentenced on 10 counts of murder, Aug. 17, 2005. I'm never corresponding with BTK," Rawson contined. "But it is the truth.”. DNA Taken From BTK Killer's Unwitting Daughter Led to His Arrest: 'They Needed to Catch My Dad' Kerri Rawson grew up worshipping her doting, protective father, Dennis Rader. I'm suffering from PTSD,” she said. Kerri Rawson, daughter of the BTK killer You, too, can overcome things. “So I said, ‘You know, I have a father, but he's in jail.’ And she's just this little thing. Rawson continued. On February 25, 2005, Dennis Rader was arrested and charged with … I had my family. “Cereal boxes because serial killer,” said Dr. Katherine Ramsland, a forensic psychologist and author of "Confession of a Serial Killer, the Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer.". “It would have been nice if somebody had asked me for my DNA. Kerri, who studied in Kansas State University, had submitted her medical records there, which also included pap smear. Rader’s wife Paula was granted an emergency divorce while Dennis was in jail, and his children had no desire to recount their lives. Between 2004 and 2005, Rader sent a series of various communications to the Wichita Eagle and to ABC’s Wichita affiliate KAKE-TV -- a postcard, a letter -- and in one instance, describing the location of a cereal box left on a county road. Dennis Rader had killed 10 people by the time this family photo was taken in 1998. In an effort to avoid tipping Rader off, authorities obtained a search warrant to access Rawson’s medical records from her college’s health center. It has taken Rawson nearly 14 years to be able to finally talk about her father’s secret double life and his arrest — which devastated her family and nearly destroyed her. I had my husband. "And you know ... the father you know is not capable of any of this.". WICHITA, Kansas (CNN) -- The daughter of the man whom Wichita authorities arrested in the notorious BTK serial killings approached police with her … In 1974, Rader killed four members of the Otero family, including Joseph and Julie Otero and two of their five children. “No longer Kerri — she’s gone.” Initially, Rawson, her mother and brother kept in touch with Rader, writing him letters in jail. For years, there were no killings, no phone calls to police, no letters left around town or sent to journalists. I'm still here. “But I am forgiving him for what he did to our family.”. ", "He asked, 'Do you know who BTK is?' Take this quiz and find out. I thought, well, that’s a corner house. Turn on desktop notifications for breaking stories about interest? This is where Rader's daughter Kerri came into play. Kerri Rawson is seen here with her father, Dennis Rader, when she graduated from college in 2003. Less than two years later, in September 1986, Vicki Wegerle became Rader’s ninth victim. “He taught me right from wrong.” BTK serial killer's daughter: 'We were living our normal life. The daughter of Wichita’s notorious serial killer breaks her silence in an exclusive local interview with Susan Peters. They needed to do it quick. Then, the Wichita Eagle newspaper ran a story in 2004 about the 30th anniversary of the unsolved Otero family murders. I wiped my hands of him for two years.”. But she also unwittingly gave police the final piece of the puzzle they’d spent 30 years searching for — and unmasked her father as the brutal “BTK” serial killer who had terrorized her hometown of Wichita, Kans., for decades. Get push notifications with news, features and more. “Somehow I knew -- at 6 -- that her body had been found and that she had been murdered and she had been strangled,” Rawson said of her neighbor. WICHITA, Kansas (CNN) -- The daughter of the man whom Wichita authorities arrested in the notorious BTK serial killings approached police with her … Rader killed ten people between 1974 and 1991 while taunting police to catch him — and giving himself the nickname BTK, which stands for “bind, torture and kill” — before the killings stopped. "I was substitute teaching and I took the day off. Idle hands, what is it?”Th… Kerri Rawson will never forget getting the knock on her door on Feb. 25, 2005, that changed her life forever. “At times, he could be very firm or have flashes of anger or outbursts that you weren't expecting.”. She said they obtained DNA through tissue from a pap smear she had done. She stated that she wished they had asked her permission beforehand, saying that she would have willingly gave her DNA. A man who was the president of his church, a Boy Scout troop leader and an Air Force veteran. For the first 26 years of her life, Rawson knew her father, Dennis Rader, as a family man who could be a gruff at times, but who loved her. Larry W. Smith/EPA/REX/Shutterstock, | The FBI guy had asked Kerri for a cheek swab so he could double-check her DNA. Kerri Rawson is seen here during an interview with "20/20. Kerri Rawson, the daughter of the notorious serial killer Dennis Rader, reveals how her life changed forever when she discovered who her father really was. I don't know a psychopath. I would've willingly given it. '", "You don't want to believe it’s true," Rawson continued. Rader later told authorities he snuck away from the event that night to commit the murder and returned to the campsite in the morning. He was finally arrested in 2005 after resurfacing to announce that he was preparing to kill again. Julian Dufort. Rawson went to Kansas State University, where she met her husband, Darian. The test proved she was the daughter of the man investigators were looking for. “And we included in [the piece] that nobody remembered him, which invoked his ire,” said Michael Roehrman, executive editor of the Wichita Eagle. So they used Rader's daughter's DNA … “It scared me. But detectives traced a computer disc he sent them — with Rader’s name embedded in the disc’s metadata — to a local Lutheran church where he volunteered. Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter. Kerri Rawson's father Dennis Rader walked her down the aisle at her wedding in 2003. We had a tank. A young Kerri Rawson is seen here with her father, Dennis Rader, opening a Christmas present in 1981. After her father’s confession, Rawson tried to find ways to cope with what had happened. Credit: That’s a possibility. On February 25, 2005 Dennis Rader was arrested. And then he says, 'Your dad has been arrested as BTK. He is currently serving 10 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. He was known for taunting the Wichita community, local media and police with letters, sometimes phone calls, seeking recognition and detailing his horrific crimes. I understand why nobody approached me. For more than 30 years, the BTK killer haunted the community in and around Wichita, Kansas, torturing and murdering 10 people, including two children. “I had to learn how to grieve a man that was not dead, somebody I loved very much that no one else loved anymore,” she said. Rawson said her mother was granted an emergency divorce in July 2005. Rawson said she began writing her father again in 2012, and still does to this day, because she has forgiven him. “I’m BTK’s daughter,” she writes. “They found out I had had annual pap smears and they got a warrant for my medical records,” Rawson says in an ABC 20/20 documentary on that airs tonight at 9 p.m. Some multiple choice and a couple true or false. It was in 2005, after DNA testing became a possibility and 'BTK' had resurfaced, that Rader was finally identified and arrested. Kevin Bright was a BTK survivor and described her killer as “an average-sized guy, bushy moustache, ‘psychotic’ eyes”. Rader was finally caught in 2005 after cops secretly obtained his daughter's DNA and matched it to the BTK killer. “If we had had an inkling that my father had harmed anyone, let anyone murdered anyone, let alone 10, we would've gone screaming out that door to the police station,” she said. I started having night terrors around that time. The reports of BTK’s return were explosive. What do you know about BTK? ET. DNA Taken From BTK Killer's Unwitting Daughter Led to His Arrest: 'They Needed to Catch My Dad' Kerri Rawson, the daughter of BTK Killer Dennis Rader, did not know her DNA … Rader tells Dateline of happening upon Mrs. Otero, “She came out of the house and took the kids to school, so I followed them to school. "It's taken me a long time to even be able to say that out loud," she said, referring to her book title. Some people with XLA have large DNA deletions that remove one end of the BTK gene and all of a neighboring gene known as TIMM8A. "I was born in '78," Rawson said. Coyote Ugly Turns 20: Where Is the Cast Now? “Most of the time, [my father] was even-keeled and kind and warm,” Rawson continued. Then began the task of linking Rader to the BTK crime spree. “When my daughter was around 5, she started noticing, she only had one grandfather. “I live with depression and anxiety. Kerri Rawson, the daughter of BTK serial killer Dennis Rader, released her memoir on Tuesday. There is a lot of talk here about DNA and genetic sites. Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images. I had therapy. “They were just doing their job and they were heroes,” she told PEOPLE in last week’s cover story. I was like, 'You mean the person that's wanted for murders back in Kansas?'" ", he was being named among the most notorious serial killers, (MORE: The 'BTK' Case: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer), targeted four members of the Otero family, (MORE: FBI 'unraveling true extent' of convicted killer's crimes after he confesses to 90 murders), (MORE: 'Possible serial killer' nabbed in Texas slayings charged with capital murder; police vow to 'up our game' with parolees), (MORE: Cops to suspected serial killer: 'We know it's you. As time has passed, Rawson said she tried for nearly 10 years to avoid telling people she was Rader’s daughter. Mom was pregnant with her in 1977 when BTK murdered Nancy Fox. They interviewed his daughter. Dennis Rader is seen here building a treehouse in the family's backyard in 1983. I'll look for that ad and if I see it, give me a couple weeks to send you something,’” Otis said. Rawson decided to come forward to talk about her story now, after all this time, she said, because she wants to start taking control of her story. Courtesy Kerri Rawson, | Further a DNA sample from a pap smear Rader's daughter had previously was subpoenaed and compared to DNA gathered from one of BTK's murders. By 1991, when Rawson was 12 years old, her father got a job as a compliance officer in the Wichita suburb of Park City, Kansas. Strong circumstantial evidence wasn’t enough, so investigators obtained a warrant to test the DNA of a close relative: Rader’s daughter, who’d had a pap smear done at Kansas State University’s medical clinic. “It felt,” she says, “like an invasion of my privacy.”. "My dad murdered a young woman when my mom was three months pregnant with me.". Athletic and nearly 5 … “We had helicopters. If we had had an inkling that my father had harmed anyone, let anyone murdered anyone, let alone 10, we would've gone screaming out that door to the police station. “They needed to catch my dad. If you would like to opt out of browser push notifications, please refer to the following instructions specific to your device and browser: DNA Taken From BTK Killer's Unwitting Daughter Led to His Arrest: 'They Needed to Catch My Dad'. Credit: So Rader decided to send a letter to the Wichita Eagle under the name “Bill Thomas Killman,” or “BTK” as the return address. Now, they were certain that Dennis Rader was BTK and they had DNA to prove it. “He has said himself that he just got busy raising kids and having a family,” Rawson said. When Rawson reached her mother on the phone the day she found out, "You could just hear her [my mother] break ... just utter grief and loss," she said. On Feb. 25, 2005, police arrested Rader, who had been on his way home to have lunch with his wife. I was like, 'My father is a good guy. He killed 21-year-old Kathryn Bright later that year and his next two victims, Shirley Vian and Nancy Fox, in 1977. And that’s where Rawson — whose new memoir, A Serial Killer’s Daughter (released on Jan. 29), chronicles how her horror and anger were tempered by the love she felt for her father — came in. When the BTK — which stands for “Bind, Torture, Kill” — was finally caught in 2005, Dennis Rader’s wife and his daughter Kerri even refused to believe it. In her first television interview, Kerri Rawson spoke with "20/20" about her father, Dennis Rader. “She would sit there and I would say, ‘There's a bad man in my house,’ and she's like, ‘No, there's no bad man in your house.’”. To Rawson, her childhood seemed normal. The investigation at the time of the killings had very few leads, there was DNA evidence but after extensive testing a match had not been found. “It would've been nice if someone had asked me for my DNA. No matter what you're going through, you can get through it,'” she said. “[I’m] trying to say, ‘I've gone through hell. After pleading guilty to ten murders, Rader is now serving a 175-year sentence. Kerri Rawson grew up worshipping her doting, protective father, Dennis Rader. When investigators got into the disk’s metadata, Relph said it showed that the disk had been in a computer registered to Christ Lutheran Church and a user named Dennis. And then everything upended on us.”. Investigators started Googling the church and found the website for Christ Lutheran Church in Park City, whose president was named Dennis Rader. this link is to an external site that may or may not meet accessibility guidelines. Rawson is emphatic that neither she, nor her mother or her brother knew anything about their father’s killings prior to his arrest. They needed to be safe about it and needed to do it quickly.”, Rawson, now a 40-year-old married mother of two, was initially angry when she learned that police had taken her medical records. Don't ever give up. But she eventually understood that they had no choice. This included four members of the Otero family—Julie Otero (the matriarch), Joseph Otero (the patriarch), 11-year-old … Ramsland corresponded and met with Rader over the course of five years after he was incarcerated. Credit: "[The agent] was asking me questions about my dad, about dates and things, and I was ... trying to almost alibi my father. Dennis Rader Rader's mugshot at the El Dorado Correctional Facility Born Dennis Lynn Rader (1945-03-09) March 9, 1945 (age 75) Pittsburg, Kansas, U.S. Other names They wanted DNA. “We opened it up and it was pictures of Vicki Wegerle, who was killed in 1986 in her home.”. When the murders began in the 1970s, DNA technology had yet to be developed. Text us for exclusive photos and videos, royal news, and way more. Who Is BTK’s Daughter, Kerri Rawson? I had slept in," she told "20/20" her first television interview. But you're, sort of, alone. When law enforcement matched Rawson’s DNA to the DNA found at the crime scenes, “we knew we had our guy,” Otis said. I'm already ... uptight, thinking, 'Who is this person in my apartment building?' “My dad was the one who taught me my morals,” his daughter would later say. Then suddenly, in a matter of minutes, he was being named among the most notorious serial killers by the FBI agent standing in Rawson's new Michigan apartment. Can you please tell us why? They needed to catch my dad. Rader eventually confessed. BTK Killer's Daughter Kerri Rawson: 'I'd Give Anything Not To Be a Serial Killer's Daughter' this link is to an external site that may or may not meet accessibility guidelines. His office was down the hall from the Park City Police Department. Introducing ... PEOPLE's Products Worth the Hype. “I had my family. And I was in between work. But biological specimens left behind at his crime scenes had been carefully preserved, allowing authorities by 2005 to confirm the killer’s identity through DNA analysis. He went on to kill 21-year-old Kathryn Bright, Shirley Vian, and Nancy Fox. In this family photo, Dennis Rader lifts his daughter Kerri Rawson up to place the star on top of the family Christmas tree, Dec. 1984. “He thought this is a great joke. I would have willingly given it.”, RELATED: The Shattering Moment I Learned My Dad Was the Notorious BTK Serial Killer. Kerri Rawson and her father, Dennis Rader, are seen here in this August 1995 family photo. She said a pastor at their church encouraged her to write to him as he was in jail, which she did. The case was reopened due to the letters BTK sent to local media in 2… Gracias a las pistas que Rader les fue enviando, pudieron saber que el archivo de Word que se incluía en un CD pertenecía a un tal Dennis. Rader, now 73, pleaded guilty on June 27, 2005, to 10 counts of first-degree murder. After the media showed up demanding to talk to BTK’s daughter, Darian watched his wife change. After all, it was his daughter, who was the key that leads to his capture. Kerri Rawson, the daughter of BTK Killer Dennis Rader, did not know her DNA was being used by investigators. “Overnight we called 200 policemen,” Relph said. I had gone back to church. Police in Wichita, Kan., could not ask Dennis Rader, shown here in 2005, for a DNA sample in order to confirm he was a murderer known as BTK. “They were trying to save the community [in Wichita] and prevent him from committing any more murders.”, RELATED: Why I Still Love My Serial Killer Dad: ‘The Man I Knew Could Be Good and Decent’. ... That's not the man I knew and loved.”. I was done. “Eventually the disk arrives, and it is taken directly to a forensics software detective.”. I still love my dad today. Daughter’s DNA Led To BTK’s Arrest Kevin February 28, 2005 Justice 8 Comments Wichita news station KWCH reports that sources close to the investigation of the BTK serial killer confirm that a crucial mistake led to the arrest of Dennis Rader. She said the family lived in a three-bedroom ranch house with a dog, and a treehouse her father built for her and her older brother in the backyard. As a result of the lack of evidence, the case was considered a cold case in 2004. She believed her father was away on a Cub Scout camping trip with her older brother. “I understand why nobody approached me,” she says in the documentary. Most in Wichita believed he just disappeared. “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. He asked, 'Do you know who BTK is?' '), (MORE: Why former FBI agent thinks 'Golden State Killer' suspect fits the serial killer profile). Looking back, Rawson said she was 6 years old at the time of Hedge’s death. What do you tell your children about their grandfather when he's a serial killer? WICHITA, Kansas (CNN) -- The suspect in the BTK serial killings is awaiting his first court appearance, and there are conflicting reports on the role his daughter's DNA … But you're, sort of, alone. In the years after his last killing, the Rader family continued to live their everyday lives. I'm talking to the man that I lived with and loved for 26 years. “After my father's plea and sentencing in August of 2005, I shut down,” Rawson said. He got these dolls dressed them to look like his victims, put them into the boxes with ... some of the victims' items,” she added.