I have received a copy of A Serial Killer’s Daughter by Kerri Rawson, the daughter of BTK in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and keep in mind that this post contains affiliate links which means if you click a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small portion of the sale.
I have always been interested in hearing the latest crime stories play out on the news and reading all about them in books that were released on the subject. I have always found crime interesting, the mind of a murderer fascinates me. That doesn’t mean that I condone what they are doing or that I hope for more, I would love for everyone to get along and nothing bad to ever happen but we all know that isn’t possible. Until the day comes when people stop committing the crime, I will be interested in learning more about what they did and why, whenever I get a chance.
One of the most interesting cases I have ever read about was the BTK murders. I have watched all of the movies on it, interviews about it, and even read a few books on the subject so when I found out Kerri Rawson wrote a book about her life with her father, Dennis Radar aka the BTK killer, I couldn’t wait to read it.
I had a few gruesome incidents sprinkled throughout my life that may contribute to this fascination that is rather unsavory but I know I am not alone. There are so many shows like C.S.I. and Cold Case that are watched by millions of people who find murder as interesting as I do, just maybe not the real ones. Oddly enough, I don’t watch C.S.I. or any of those shows often because real cases are most interesting to me, I like to study the behavior of the murderers, try to figure out at what point they snapped.
When I was three, my family lived above a bar right on the corner of a dangerous intersection where a lot of car accidents occurred, right below my bedroom window. I remember looking out at the scene on more than one occasion, seeing the newly dead placed on stretchers with a sheet draped over their lifeless bodies. I was a kid, it scared the crap out of me but I still looked again, the next time it happened and the time after that.
I had what I would consider a fairly normal upbringing although we moved around a lot and at times had just enough of what we needed to get us by, relying on help from others at times. My grandfather was a policeman and often bought cars at a discount from the police auction. When I was five he bought my mom a fishbowl car, also known as an AMC Pacer, that the previous owner committed suicide in. There were stains and a rotten smell in the car the entire time my family owned it, I was told this was brain matter from the incident, all of the adults called it the death car, maybe the nickname made it seem more normal.
A close friend of my sisters was murdered on her way home from the local hangout, a roller skating rink that felt so much like home that it wasn’t uncommon for us to stay overnight, wearing our most presentable pajamas as we did laps on the shiny wooden floor. She was a nice girl who wouldn’t hurt a fly and just a month after her fourteenth birthday she was brutally murdered, on Valentine’s day, they left her bludgeoned body behind a bowling alley that we used to frequent due to the ever so convenient cigarette machine in the lobby.
In this same town, we lived next door to a guy who was the main suspect in the murder case of a family friend of ours, a woman my parents were friends with that took a special liking to me. As a kid who was always labeled as the black sheep, I loved when adults came into my life and appreciated me, we became close, one day we learned our neighbor, the guy I babysat for, was the last person seen with her before she was found in a vegetative state, eventually dying from whatever occurred that night. We never saw him again and as far as I know, he is still on the run for that crime.
At around fifteen years old, I watched my best friend kill herself, she legally died for a brief period of time after taking a couple of bottles of pills but she was thankfully resuscitated. I can remember a lot of things about that night in great detail but can not seem to remember why I allowed her to do this to herself. I must have known she had taken all of those pills because when she stumbled into the living room in the middle of the night, her grandmother found her and asked me what happened. I managed to give her an empty pill bottle that I found in the bed but I don’t remember why I didn’t alert earlier in the night or stop her from taking them altogether.
When I was seventeen, I met my husband and eventually moved to Illinois, where I met his father for the first time. He is a convicted murderer who shot a random patron in the bar he was at, only to sit back down on his barstool to finish his beer before being arrested and taken to prison. In the next few years after, I would learn about several friends killing themselves at different times, all for different reasons and using different methods. One was by hanging, another by shooting himself with his service revolver.
I would also learn about my mom’s sister taking her own life with a shotgun, then her daughter dying in a motorcycle accident a week later, my cousin, the girl who at times I felt closer to than my own sister, the one that used to tell me she wanted to be just like me when we were little. That was pretty traumatic although there were many years in between the good times and the bad ones that were able to cushion the events as they unfolded for me. After the good times, came the bad ones, the ones that most people don’t come back from. We watched this mother-daughter duo fake cancer in an attempt to swindle us for money, fake a murder for the same reason although that was easier to say no to, and get arrested many times before they finally met their demise just weeks apart from each other. Due to their lifestyle choices, their death wasn’t a surprise as much as the timing and method that I found to be the most traumatic.
Trauma can affect everyone differently, but it will have many different outcomes from PTSD to a more unique diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder. At the risk of sounding like Sigmund Freud, I very much believe that our childhood has a large impact on how we approach the world in adulthood. If your dad cheats on your mom repeatedly, you are definitely going to have a lack of trust for men as well as a lack of respect for women. Most psychologists would agree that the cause and effect make sense in that case and they would also agree that a child of a serial killer is surely a victim. Unfortunately, the average person doesn’t understand mental health and that is clearly a growing problem as well as a lack of empathy.
Imagine what it would be like to find out that your dad was the famous serial killer you have read about your entire life, the one who murdered your neighbor. Your dad, the one who was a boy scout volunteer, a church leader, the guy who broke down crying over his father’s body when he died, that prompted your mother to say “I don’t think your dad had ever sat beside someone who died before”.
That guy was BTK?
Kerri Rawson doesn’t have to imagine what that would be like because she can just recall the moment that she found out that her dad, Dennis Radar, was the BTK killer. It has time and time again looped in her mind, haunting her and reminding her of the traumas that she has experienced when she found out that her dad was the BTK killer, starting her battle with PTSD.
She also talks about times like when her dad took her to see movies like Se7en and watched Red Dragon with her which is loosely based on him. Or when her neighbor was murdered, the one they used to wave to as they passed by. Normally, watching a scary movie with your dad wouldn’t sound off any alarms and a neighbor going missing most certainly had nothing to do with your family, that is until you find out that it does.
Reading these events from the perspective of an outsider that didn’t know they were on the inside is quite unique. She has faced a lot of trauma in her life and since this story is an extremely interesting one, unfortunately, the struggles will continue. People will continue to google her dad, write books, make movies, and talk about it on occasion, it’s like the nightmare never ends. I am glad she has decided to write about it!
Kerri talks openly about how she has come to terms with being a trauma victim, how she manages the PTSD, where her relationship is with her dad, and even shares letters she has received from prison. A Serial Killer’s Daughter is Kerri Rawson’s story of faith, love, and overcoming, you can pick up your copy here and be sure to leave me a comment below after you have read it. Get your copy here.