Paula Dietz apparently lived a peaceful and happy life in the family of her husband and two kids, until she suddenly found out that her husband was a murderer of 10 people. Even though the story looks more of a thriller movie, Paula Dietz faced the horror of living with a serial killer in her real life.
Early life and educational background
Paula Dietz was born 5 May 1948, in Park City, Kansas USA, holding American nationality. Her zodiac sign is Taurus. She was born into a very religious family – her mother was a librarian, while her father was a car engineer. She matriculated from her local high school in 1966, enrolling at the National American University of Wichita, from which she graduated in 1970 with a BA in Accounting.
After graduating, Paula worked as a bookkeeper during her entire life, being a respectful employee and honored by her employer. According to her daughter’s words, Paula is now retired, hiding from society’s attention, having left Kansas, not wanting to either live or work in her hometown, as it became unbearable for her.
Married to the BTK murderer
Paula met Dennis Rader in 1970 in the church which they both attended every Sunday. The young people fell in love and soon married in May 1971. The couple gave birth to two children, Kerri, their older daughter, and Brain, their son. Both, Paula and Dennis were active members of their Protestant community – Paula sang in the choir on Sundays, while Dennis was president of the congregation in their local Lutheran church.
Ex-husband Dennis Rader’s early life
Dennis Lynn Rader was born on 9 March 1945, in Pittsburg, Kansas USA. His mother was Dorothea Mae Cook Rader, ad his father William Elvin Rader. Dennis grew up with three siblings – Jeff, Paul and Bill. He later shared that he got little attention from his parents, as they had to work a lot, and didn’t spend much time with their kids, with him in particular, and even having three brothers by his side, he felt very lonely during all childhood and youth. From 1966 to 1970 Dennis served in the US Air Force, and after that relocated to Park City, Kansas, landing work in the Leekers IGA supermarket, serving in the meat department there.
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It was the year he met Paula. During this period of time Dennis attended Butler County Community College, located in El Dorado, where he earned a BA in electronics in 1973. Later he enrolled at Wichita State University, which he graduated in 1979, with a BA in Administration of Justice.
The double life of the BTK murderer
Dennis’ life looked full, and he seemed not to have any spare time even for any hobbies, but the truth shocked not only his family, but the whole world. As Dennis worked for Coleman Company Inc. in the position of an assembler, he was assigned to the office of ADT Security Services, located in Wichita, installing alarm security systems.
He used this work to follow his victims, and to have access to their houses. He started murdering in 1974, when the Otero family were killed in their own house on 15 January – parents Julie and Joseph, and their children Josephine (aged 11) and Joseph Jr. (aged 9). The only person who survived from the Otero family was their eldest son Charlie, who was at school, and eventually found the bodies of his family members when he came home.
The same year Dennis killed a woman named Kathryn Doreen Bright; she was 21 years old. In 1977 he killed two more people, Shirley Ruth Vian Relford aged 24, and Nancy Jo Fox, 25, enlarging the list of his single women victims, as he mostly focused on young women who lived alone.
However, later he killed 54 year-old Marine Wallace Hedge in 1985, after almost eight years of inactivity. In 1986 he killed another young woman of 28 years, Vicki Lynn Wegerle, ending his list of murders with Dolores Earline Johnson Davis, who was 62 when Dennis strangled her with her own pantyhose in 1991.
Arrest and the emergency divorce
Dennis Rader was caught and arrested on 25 February 2005, while he was heading to his church. Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams later announced that Dennis was the self-proclaimed BTK murderer, as after his murders he left those letters at the crime scene, which stood for “bind, torture, kill”.
Dennis confessed to all the murders, and Paula was given an emergency divorce the very day she filed the process, as Sedgwick County District Judge Eric Yost didn’t hesitate a minute to sign the papers, waving the regular 60-days pending period. Dennis is now serving life imprisonment in El Dorado Correctional Facility, sentenced to 175 years (or 10 consecutive life sentences).
The influence of the story on cinematography and literature
The story of the family who lived a peaceful life and didn’t even guess they were living with a “monster” inspired a lot of creative people to write or produce documentaries, stories, books and cinematography pieces based on the plot of the BTK murderer life details. Thus, the story written by Stephen King – “A Good Marriage” – was in fact based on what the author knew from the news and the police reports on the BTK killer story.
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The short prose was published in the collection entitled “Full Dark, No Stars” in 2010, and was adapted as the basis for the movie “A Good Marriage”, released in 2014 and directed by Peter Askin, featuring Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia as Paula and Dennis. Ulli Lommel made his own documentary on the story, launched in 2005, and in 2010 the documentary called “Feast of the Assumption: The Otero Family Murders” was produced and directed by Marc Levitz and Felicia Banks. In 2017 Netflix launched the series called “Mindhunter” having Charlize Theron and David Fincher among its executive producers, which also tells the story of the BTK murderer.
Daughter, Kerri Rawson
Born in 1978, Kerri Rader never suspected her life would be a lie. In her interview to the local newspaper Wichita Eagle, she shared: ‘He was everything. He was just a dad. He taught us about nature. How to fish. How to go camping. How to garden. He taught me a ton. He took us on good vacations. He was pretty Boy Scouty – no swearing.’ She had to believe that her father in fact killed 10 people, but thought that the movies and books based on his story give him ‘a big head’.
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Kerri accused Stephen King of using the story of her family for his story “A Good Marriage”; she claimed that the money from sales of the book and the box office of the eponymous movie should have gone to the victims of physical and sexual abuse, to the kids who suffered from violence, but not to King or other people who just used the story, as Kerri considers, ‘exploiting her father’s 10 victims and their families’.
Kerri graduated from Kansas State University with a BA in teaching. She is a former elementary school teacher. As of 2019, she is a writer, and in 2018 published her book “A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story Of Faith, Love and Overcoming”, in which she shared her own side of the story, living for most of her life in a house with a serial murderer.
Son, Brain Rader
When his father was arrested, Brain was serving on Navy submarines, from 2004 to 2009. In 2016 he enrolled at a local college in Wichita. His elder sister, Kerri, is worried about him. She has been married since 2003 to Darian Rawson, but her brother remains alone. ‘He doesn’t have the kids and the family that I have. And that’s really all I should say about him’, she shared in her interview with the Wichita Eagle. Kerri also shared that Oprah Winfrey and other TV authorities reached their family, asking them to comment on the situation around the family, but all of them remain silent. Brain is still keeps himself far away from any kind of interviews, and reporters.