The daughter of the BTK serial killer has criticized Stephen King for writing a screenplay partly inspired by the Wichita, Kansas, case in the first public comments from a member of Dennis Rader's family since his 2005 conviction.
"He's exploiting my father's 10 victims and their families," Kerri Rawson told the Wichita Eagle for a story published Friday.
Rawson said that King's upcoming movie, "A Good Marriage," prompted her to break a self-imposed nine-year silence. She sent letters to King and local media outlets, saying that her family also feels exploited and that King should not profit from the grief her father caused.
King has said in media interviews that the movie — adapted from one of his short stories about a wife who suddenly discovers her husband is a serial killer — was inspired by Rader and his family. "A Good Marriage" is a story in the collection "Full Dark, No Stars," which was published in 2010.
King said Friday in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that he doesn't think Rader's daughter has to worry about her father being flattered by his portrayal in the film as a "banal little man." He said that and none of the murders are shown and that the independently financed film is not expected to bring huge returns.
The story isn't really about the killer husband, he added, but about the man's brave and determined wife.
"I maintain that the theme of both the novella and the movie — how some men are able to keep secrets from even their closest loved ones — is valid and deserves exploration," he said.
Rader was arrested in February 2005 and confessed to 10 killings in the Wichita area between 1974 and 1991. He called himself BTK, which stood for "bind, torture, kill."
Wichita police homicide unit commander Ken Landwehr devised the strategy to capture Rader after he resurfaced with taunting messages sent to police and the media in 2004. Landwehr and then-police detective Kelly Otis helped the family get through it, Rawson said, adding that she was saddened to hear of Landwehr's death earlier this year.
Rawson told the newspaper that her family didn't know that her father was BTK until the Federal Bureau of Investigation told her in February 2005, shortly after his arrest. Her mother wouldn't have raised her and her brother with Rader had she known, she said.
Rawson said she has occasionally written to her father but has never visited him in prison. Rader, now 69, is imprisoned for life at the El Dorado Correctional Facility outside of Wichita.
"I haven't been brave enough for that yet," she said.
She said she and her mother have sought counseling and said she would never have made it without the strength of her husband, her mother and her Christian faith, she said.
"You just decide this is what life gave you," Rawson said. "And you decide to go on."