Was The Real BTK Killer Married?

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
True crime enthusiasts and recent binge-watchers of Mindhunter season 2 will be familiar with the gruesome details of Dennis Rader’s crimes under the moniker BTK Killer. In season 2 of Mindhunter, we are introduced to his wife — but was the BTK Killer married in real life?
The real Rader led two lives. He was a president at Christ Lutheran Church in Wichita, KS, the father of two children, and involved in his local community. That was the man Paula Dietz believed she was married to for 34 years before he was finally caught. When he was arrested in 2005, Dietz found out about the shocking details of his crimes with the rest of the world.
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What Dietz didn’t know was that Rader began killing three years into their marriage and writing brazen letters taunting law enforcement while he evaded capture. In these letters, Rader referred to himself as “the monster.” It was his deep need for attention and recognition that led law enforcement to him. Of the 19 letters he sent in total, 10 of them were sent the year he was caught.
Driven by a compulsion to “bind, torture, and kill,” the meaning behind his self-proclaimed name, Rader murdered 10 people between 1974and 1991 using those methods. His first victims were the Otero family. He broke into their home killing husband and wife, Joseph and Julie Otero along with two of their children, Josephine and Joseph Jr. One month later, Rader sent a letter to the Wichita Eagle describing in detail how he did it. He would often wait years between murders. All the while, he was married and raising two children of his own with his wife.
When Rader was finally arrested, Dietz was granted an emergency divorce, which allowed the paperwork to go through the same day it was filed rather than the required 60-day waiting period. Rader signed the papers without contention. Neither Dietz nor their two children attended any of his court hearings or visited him in jail. According to ABC News, his daughter, Kerri Rawson, has sporadically been in touch with Rader over the years via letters. Dietz reportedly moved out of state following the divorce. She has never spoken publicly about Rader, his crimes, or how it affected her and her kids.
Rawson spoke out after nine years and eventually wrote a book, A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story Of Faith, Love and Overcoming. In an interview with the Wichita Eagle, Rawson claimed that she believes her mother could never have known about the murders. “No way could she have known,” Rawson said to the publication. “She wouldn’t have raised us with him.”
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