A Serial Killer's Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming

A Serial Killer's Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming

What is it like to learn that your ordinary, loving father is a serial killer?  In 2005, Kerri Rawson heard a knock on the door of her apartment. When she opened it, an FBI agent informed her that her father had been arrested for murdering ten people, including two children. It was then that she learned her father was the notorious serial killer known as BTK, a name...

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Title:A Serial Killer's Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming
Author:Kerri Rawson
Rating:
Edition Language:English

A Serial Killer's Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming Reviews

  • Valerity (Val)

    A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming

    I approached this book with my mind and feelings completely open and was really surprised how much I came away with from it. Kerri Rawson is fresh and likable as she tells her story of growing up in her family in Kansas. She describes it as just a totally normal, semi-dysfunctional family who works, goes to school, has vacations. Pretty typical family, it seems. She comes across very real as she shares her story and I

    A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming

    I approached this book with my mind and feelings completely open and was really surprised how much I came away with from it. Kerri Rawson is fresh and likable as she tells her story of growing up in her family in Kansas. She describes it as just a totally normal, semi-dysfunctional family who works, goes to school, has vacations. Pretty typical family, it seems. She comes across very real as she shares her story and I find it like reading something a friend could be relating about what a really awful period in their life was like. The situation is just so unimaginable, and I just felt horrible for Kerri and her family, and all of the families.

    It gets a little bit repetitive on a few things, the spiritual theme, and other items that come up repeatedly perhaps after a while, but if that helped her get through all of what she describes well, more power to her. What I didn’t expect were some of the stories of situations she ended up in growing up with her dad that turned harrowing that she shares. In hindsight, she, of course, sees them differently after she learns of his killing past. I found this book better than I expected and well laid out. I’m glad I purchased this very heartfelt book, as it told so much more than just the BTK aspect of the family. They became real people to me by the midst of the book, not just headlines, due to her writing.

    Also on my BookZone blog:

  • Michelle

    It is a serious and terrible sorrow when others must carry the burden and fall-out of someone else’s criminal acts. “The Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming” (2019) fortunately is a rare and highly articulate memoir written by Kerri Rawson. Rawson’s father, Dennis Radner, the self-identified BTK, ruthlessly murdered 10 people, (2 victims were children) in Wichita, KS. (1974-1991). Radner is serving 10 consecutive life sentences for these crimes in the Kansas El Dora

    It is a serious and terrible sorrow when others must carry the burden and fall-out of someone else’s criminal acts. “The Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming” (2019) fortunately is a rare and highly articulate memoir written by Kerri Rawson. Rawson’s father, Dennis Radner, the self-identified BTK, ruthlessly murdered 10 people, (2 victims were children) in Wichita, KS. (1974-1991). Radner is serving 10 consecutive life sentences for these crimes in the Kansas El Dorado Correctional Facility.

    In February 2005, Rawson called her husband Darian to let him know that a man was outside their Michigan apartment building clearly looking at their window, she was frightened, until the man identified himself at her door as an FBI agent. Unable to call her mother, or other family members, she learned the horrific truth that her father was apprehended for the notorious BTK crimes that for decades had terrorized residents of her Kansas home town. Her seemingly loving devoted father was a married family man, a military veteran, a dedicated church official and Boy Scout leader-- the BTK monster committed multiple heinous murders, he was believed to live in the community undetected for decades, leaving clues and taunting the authorities. Rawson’s life would never be the same after she learned her father’s vile and sickening truth: that he confessed to the BTK murderers. The shock and terror of her father’s crimes would haunt Rawson, her family, friends, associates, and community for years afterward. Rawson experienced symptoms of severe anxiety from trauma, depression, and PTSD.

    Although Rawson suffered from occasional night terrors as a child, her life had been normal and ordinary. Enjoying a close relationship with her parents; she did well in school, and went camping and hiking with her father and brother. In her teens, she turned to her Christian faith and spirituality to sustain her in grief after the death of her beloved cousin, Michelle (1996). Many parts of the book read like a novel, slowing the storyline down somewhat, yet there is no correct way to tell a story like this.

    Rawson was especially careful to tell only her story, there is little written about her mother Paula, who was granted a quick divorce from her husband (m.1971- 2005) without the customary waiting period. Unable to sell the family home, an unidentified buyer bought the property and the house was torn down. Several years would pass without Rawson writing to her father as she engaged the necessary services of a specialized trauma therapist. Rawson also wrote about avoiding the shadows of silence and shame, of further spirituality, forgiveness and mercy, as her courageous journey of healing moved forward. Rawson graduated from Kansas State University, she and her husband Darian live in Michigan with their two young children. ** With thanks and appreciation to Thomas Nelson Books via NetGalley for the DDC for the purpose of review

  • Mel

    4.5 stars.

    I will always forgive memoirs for things I would not forgive a novel for. The reasoning being: people who write memoirs are not authors. They are in the sense that they've published and written a book, but this isn't their job, this is them telling their story to the world. So while yes, I had some issues, I also didn't really let them affect my reading.

    I'll start off with my minimal issues before I get into the things I really enjoyed.

    This was a bit too heavy

    4.5 stars.

    I will always forgive memoirs for things I would not forgive a novel for. The reasoning being: people who write memoirs are not authors. They are in the sense that they've published and written a book, but this isn't their job, this is them telling their story to the world. So while yes, I had some issues, I also didn't really let them affect my reading.

    I'll start off with my minimal issues before I get into the things I really enjoyed.

    This was a bit too heavy on the religion for my tastes. Kerri Rawson is a very devoted to religion, something I have no issues with, so this wasn't unexpected from the book. While I wasn't fond of it, I never found myself wishing I wasn't reading those parts, wanting to skip them, or being bored/irritated. I actually found it really interesting to read about her journey to recovery and what specific bible verses helped her.

    There was also a lot of repetition in this book. Again, it didn't really bother me and I was able to enjoy everything regardless, but I was aware of it at times.

    Now, the good.

    This was a really well done memoir. I felt her emotions, I felt her pain, I empathized and sympathized with her, which is something few authors manage to make me do. I kept picturing how I'd react to finding this out about someone I loved, and it just was unfathomable. I liked the acknowledgement that her family was also a victim, their family was also ruined by this crime. People tend to overlook these innocent family members, but they exist and they're hurt too. It really added a third element to crime that wasn't really something I ever thought about before.

    Kerri would also add some really hard hitting moments in this in really subtle ways. It is clear it was the effect she was going for, but she achieved them well. She would often talk about really good things that happened in her life at a given time, and then finish off that story with the point that her father murdered someone the next day. She would talk about the last time she ever hugged her dad, standing on the floorboard he kept his trophies under. Again, it really puts it into perspective how absolutely monumental of a life change you'd have to go through in order to move on.

    She was so candid and open about the book, honest in ways and about things that could have angry parents, etc, emailing her about, but I appreciated it.

    I won't lie, I went into this book because who doesn't want to read about what it's like to find out your dad is BTK, but I left this book feeling a deep connection to a woman I've never met, and wanting to cheer her on for everything she's overcome, all her struggles, and her perseverance.

    Lastly, a little note, I so appreciate her husband. He stuck with her, supported her, and loved her through everything she went through. I know we didn't get all the details, but there were so many small moments in this that I couldn't help but think "I am so glad she had a man like this."

  • Mariah Roze

    This was a great story. My heart goes out to Kerri and her family. I am so glad she wrote a book and was willing to share her story publicly.

    "In 2005, Kerri Rawson heard a knock on the door of her apartment. When she opened it, an FBI agent informed her that her father had been arrested for murdering ten people, including two children. It was then that she learned her father was the notorious serial killer known as BTK, a name he’d given himself that described the horrific way he com

    This was a great story. My heart goes out to Kerri and her family. I am so glad she wrote a book and was willing to share her story publicly.

    "In 2005, Kerri Rawson heard a knock on the door of her apartment. When she opened it, an FBI agent informed her that her father had been arrested for murdering ten people, including two children. It was then that she learned her father was the notorious serial killer known as BTK, a name he’d given himself that described the horrific way he committed his crimes: bind, torture, kill. As news of his capture spread, Wichita celebrated the end of a thirty-one-year nightmare.

    For Kerri Rawson, another was just beginning. She was plunged into a black hole of horror and disbelief. The same man who had been a loving father, a devoted husband, church president, Boy Scout leader, and a public servant had been using their family as a cover for his heinous crimes since before she was born. Everything she had believed about her life had been a lie."

  • Kristy K

    2.5 Stars

    I commend Kerri Rawson for having the strength to write this and carry on after finding out who her father was.

    I think this would have done better as an essay. The first third to half of the book was basically a normal girl with normal problems lives a normal life. I know it was there to show how we never know what may be hiding in the shadows, but it really dragged. Once Rawson got to the part where her dad was arrested, things picked up. It was sad to see how a

    2.5 Stars

    I commend Kerri Rawson for having the strength to write this and carry on after finding out who her father was.

    I think this would have done better as an essay. The first third to half of the book was basically a normal girl with normal problems lives a normal life. I know it was there to show how we never know what may be hiding in the shadows, but it really dragged. Once Rawson got to the part where her dad was arrested, things picked up. It was sad to see how affected she was by what her father did and I think it’s important to remember that the family of these killers are also victims.

    If you are a true crime fan I wouldn’t recommend this. But if you like memoirs about how faith can save you then definitely pick up this book.

  • ♥ Marlene♥

    Not sure if I can finish this because I am so bored by it it makes me fall asleep. She talks about her father a bit but she talks about her faith so much more.I should have known looking at the title. That being said her life is not anything special except for the disgusting cruel things her cowardly father did. This book would never have been published and certainly not purchased if not for her infamous father.

    -------

    Okay I finished it yesterday. The second half of the book was a bit more interesting but just a

    Not sure if I can finish this because I am so bored by it it makes me fall asleep. She talks about her father a bit but she talks about her faith so much more.I should have known looking at the title. That being said her life is not anything special except for the disgusting cruel things her cowardly father did. This book would never have been published and certainly not purchased if not for her infamous father.

    -------

    Okay I finished it yesterday. The second half of the book was a bit more interesting but just a bit.

    That being said, she has forgiven him. hallelujah

  • ❤️

    So, I'm feeling

    like an asshole giving this only one star, but hear me out.

    Kerri Rawson, who, of course, is the daughter of Dennis Rader aka the BTK serial killer, starts off her book well enough, offering a concise history of her family and her parents' relationship up til when Kerri and her brother are born. She then begins to recount her childhood, spending chapters upon chapters narrating her vivid memories of camping and hiking trips with her family/father.

    It quickl

    So, I'm feeling

    like an asshole giving this only one star, but hear me out.

    Kerri Rawson, who, of course, is the daughter of Dennis Rader aka the BTK serial killer, starts off her book well enough, offering a concise history of her family and her parents' relationship up til when Kerri and her brother are born. She then begins to recount her childhood, spending chapters upon chapters narrating her vivid memories of camping and hiking trips with her family/father.

    It quickly became less a memoir centered on a daughter of a notorious serial killer contrasting the memories she had of the father she thought she knew and the horrendous secret life he had behind everyone's back, and more of a long-winded chronicle of her teenage angst and journey to finding god. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this book is basically a christian memoir.

    I'm not going to knock her for her faith, especially if it helped her find peace after her father was revealed to be BTK. I just have a personal aversion to christianity, and the overabundance of religious talk throughout the book didn't sit well with me - especially in terms of expecting this to be more centered on life with her father, and also because it felt like I was witnessing someone's testimony, which is not something I would voluntarily do.

    Additionally, her tone in regards to a few things was a bit questionable, to say the least. One thing that particularly stood out to me was how she'd write entire passages describing random bits of her childhood or teenage years (often with barely a mention of her father) and then ended the chapter(s) with a sentence that went along the lines of 'and in whatever-year or whatever-month, my dad killed this person'. It seemed very flippant to me the way she talked about her father's victims, and I ended up with the impression that Kerri viewed herself almost like more of a victim than them. That's a harsh thing to say, I know, but that feeling was cemented for me toward the end of the book when she -finally on topic- recounts her father's sentencing hearing. She writes about being upset that the prosecution didn't get permission from her family to present a detailed account of her father's crimes to the public in order to aid in his sentencing, and rather, only asked for the approval of the families of the victims. I'll quote her directly...

    this

    She then goes on to ask the reader,

    How incredibly selfish.

    Unfortunately, Kerri Rawson doesn't have a lot of insight to offer about her father's life and having grown up as his daughter, and that's not because she doesn't

    have any, she just chooses to focus on other things, such as her religious journey and the camping trips that led her to finding god. This is hardly a book about what it is like to be a serial killer's daughter and it's very far away from being the book it's advertised as.

    For true crime books that are written by family members of the perpetrators of famous crimes, that are both more insightful and dignified, I'd highly recommend

    by Lionel Dahmer (Jeffrey Dahmer's father) as well as

    by Sue Klebold, the mother of Dylan Klebold.

  • Ashley Rayford

    I’ve always been fascinated by true crime and serial killers. I remember when they found out BTK was Dennis Rader. When I heard his daughter was writing a book I was very intrigued. I can’t imagine finding out someone you love so dearly has done such unimaginable evil. That said, I did not enjoy this book. It is poorly written and it’s basically Kerri being very long winded about how much she suffered. I understand there is going to be an element of that in this situation, as I said I can’t imag

    I’ve always been fascinated by true crime and serial killers. I remember when they found out BTK was Dennis Rader. When I heard his daughter was writing a book I was very intrigued. I can’t imagine finding out someone you love so dearly has done such unimaginable evil. That said, I did not enjoy this book. It is poorly written and it’s basically Kerri being very long winded about how much she suffered. I understand there is going to be an element of that in this situation, as I said I can’t imagine how they dealt with it, but it was just too much. Seemed to be little regard for the people he murdered and their families. The book combined with the 20/20 interview left me feeling as though it was all a money making endeavour. In the end I couldn’t read more than 60% of the book and that was generous. I hope Kerri and her family are able to find peace and keep it, but unfortunately I don’t recommend this book.

  • melinda

    should’ve been filed as some religious memoir

  • Lisa Elizabeth

    This was really boring. I kept losing interest. I didn’t need to know the minute details of a summer camping trip in the early 90s to understand that BTK masqueraded as a good father for decades. I wanted to hear about the process of reconciling the father and the serial killer. That’s why I wanted to read this book. However, I don’t need the author’s entire life story to get there.

    —-

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not paid f

    This was really boring. I kept losing interest. I didn’t need to know the minute details of a summer camping trip in the early 90s to understand that BTK masqueraded as a good father for decades. I wanted to hear about the process of reconciling the father and the serial killer. That’s why I wanted to read this book. However, I don’t need the author’s entire life story to get there.

    —-

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not paid for this review.

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