How to Tell Your Children and Friends That Your Father Is a Serial Killer

After we watched Django Unchained, we had a short discussion about sociopaths or anti-social personalities. In a change of perspective, here’s an article about Kerri Rawson, who found out her father was the infamous BTK (blind, torture, kill) serial killer, Dennis Rader. Rawson has criticized Stephen King for writing a novella and a screenplay for the movie A Good Marriage based on her father in which the killer’s wife discovers her husband has killed 10 people. I can understand Rawson’s argument that King may be exploiting what is an awful situation for her family. However, writers often take a seed from something that happened in real life and grow a fictional story from it. In fact, I would encourage you to do that, and especially to write from the perspective of another character other than the killer, one who is affected, but who doesn’t have all the information. As long as it really is fiction, you can take a story like that anywhere you want to go.


Recently, Roy Wenzl profiled a woman named Kerri Rawson for The Wichita Eagle. Rawson’s life was upended a decade ago, when an FBI agent knocked on her door and informed her that the man she’d always known as a loving father was in fact the BTK serial killer. Wenzl’s piece is a compelling and meticulous portrait of a woman slowly coming to terms with the impossible. Below is an excerpt:

When friends questioned whether it was wise for them to have children, Kerri ignored them. She never worried about her kids inheriting a serial killer gene.

When Emilie, at 5, understood what “grandfather” meant, she asked where her grandfather was.

“In a long time-out,” Kerri replied.

Couldn’t Kerri go see him? Emilie asked.

“It’s a really long time-out,” Kerri replied.

Kerri asked friends: “Don’t tag our children” on Facebook. When friends asked why, she didn’t know how to answer them…

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