"Just Trying To Stay Alive And Breathe": Daughter Of The BTK Killer On Surviving Her Father's Crimes

Date February 19, 2019 11:54

What happens when you find out that your loving, protective father who seems boring to your friends and is always nice to the neighbors turns out to be a serial killer?

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Justice, finally

For years, Dennis Rader who named himself the BTK Strangler quietly terrorized residents of Wichita, Kansas, with his disturbing and explicit crimes.

"Just Trying To Stay Alive And Breathe": Daughter Of The BTK Killer On Surviving Her Father's CrimesGetty Images / Ideal Image

Rader derived pleasure from his killings and sent taunting letters to the police and newspapers describing the details of his crimes between 1974 and 1991. And then for 10 years, he went silent. But his end finally came after he resumed again, in 2004. He was arrested the following year.

His daughter finally speaks out

For the families of his victims, his sentencing – a minimum of 175 years without a chance of parole – may have brought some comfort. But his daughter, Kerri Rawson, will never forget the morning the FBI showed up at their home and her simple life was turned upside down. 


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She learned that her doting, protective father, whom she went on fishing trips with, was, in fact, a savage serial killer.

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Now, 14 years later, she remembers the moment in the exclusive People magazine interview.


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She opens up about being raised by Rader and the difficult years of accepting the truth about a man she had loved dearly. Rawson says:

It took more than 10 years before I could even sit across from someone and even talk about this. Nobody wants to believe their father could be capable of such monstrous things.

Now, she has written a book about the years she has spent coming to terms with her father’s crimes.

Rawson says she'd do anything to turn back the hands of time and erase her reality.

I was just trying to stay alive and breathe. 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.

She's still paying the price

But it’s a fact she cannot escape even now that she is married with children of her own. And she has had to pay the price dearly.


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Rawson says she lives with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, and she continues to seek therapy to get better.

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