Daughter of serial killer BTK helping cold cases
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Kerri Rawson will never forget getting a knock on her apartment door more than 18 years ago.
It was on that day, Feb. 25, 2005, when everything changed.
On the other side of the door was a man who said he was with the FBI. He asked her if she knew who BTK was – a strange question, considering they were in Michigan, but she said “Yes.” As a child, she grew up afraid of the man who terrorized Kansas for decades – after all, he took the lives of ten people, including one of her neighbors. Yet, little did Kerri know that the person whom she was so afraid of was also the man who raised her.
Her father, Dennis Rader, was arrested as BTK, the FBI agent told her he had admitted to the crimes.
The news was purely overwhelming. As she mourned the loss of the ten people who died, she also mourned the loss of everything she knew. Rader mislead her, her mom and brother. The man who was a Boy Scout troop leader, Air Force veteran and president of his church had a deep, dark secret. He haunted the Wichita community for more than 30 years. The abbreviation "BTK" stands for “Bind, Torture, Kill,” a moniker Rader had given himself years earlier indicating what he had done to his victims.
When Kerri learned about her father’s identity, she was 26 years old. She was married but felt very isolated. She’s since moved to another state and has embraced the tragedies before her. She tries to shine light in the dark, helping spread awareness to cold case investigations and being an advocate for families and survivors of crime.
A NEW INVESTIGATION
Most recently, a sheriff from Osage County, Oklahoma, started diving into the cold case of Cindi Kinney, who vanished from a laundromat in Pawhuska on June 23, 1976. Rader had been installing security systems at a bank across the street from where Cindi was last seen. In a journal entry, also around that time, Rader wrote about looking for targets. He has a "project," which is what he calls his victims, called “Bad Wash Day.” In the entry, he wrote, “Brunette was the target. I would watch the near by Laundry Mat for possible victim.”
Rader had already started his violent path by then. Just two years before, in January 1974, he ambushed the Otero family in Wichita. He killed Joseph and Julie Otero and two of their five children. He continued to kill until the 1990’s.
The Osage County Sheriff Eddie Virden firmly believes Rader is responsible for Kinney’s disappearance and that of other cold cases in the Midwest. Virden recruited Kerri to help with the investigations. She’s gone to speak to her dad at the El Dorado Correctional Facility – something she’s never done before. Though Rader has not admitted to any other crimes, Kerri continues to visit him to see if he has information he’s hiding. She’s passionate to find the truth for any cold case, whether her father is responsible or not, because it’s the right thing.
“Osage did a massive gift and gave me really my life back by letting me come in and notify me of everything. Notify me of these massive like, personal components,” she said. “And it was like all of a sudden that PTSD started getting calmer and then my anxiety started getting calmer and it was like my core was stitching back up. And so like when I went to see my dad like it was like everything got integrated for the first time it was like, Dad and BTK and Kerri and BTK’s daughter and we were like what like together and now we're just like, just dad and Kerri.”
As someone who has lived through her father’s wrongdoings, she wants to keep advocating for others – a path that is fulfilling her life.