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tv   Nightline  ABC  February 2, 2019 12:37am-1:07am PST

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this is "nightline." >> the most infamous unsolved serial killing spree in wichita history. >> he is one of america's most notorious serial killers. >> he calls himself the btk strangler and promises to kill again. >> btk stood for "bind, torture, kill." that was his m.o. >> as dennis rader serves a 175-year prison sentence for 10 murders, his daughter's opening up for the first time in television interview about being raised by a hidden monster who was living in plain sight. kerry rossen opening up to abc's deborah roberts about the moment she found out who her father really was. >> you realize, my god, my
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father's a psychopath. >> how she unwittingly helped investigators unlock the decades-old mystery by providing the missing keel. plus her stunning admission. >> i still love my dad today. >> "nightline" will be right back. sleep number 360 smart bed. it senses your movement and automatically adjusts to keep you both comfortable. save 50% on the sleep number 360 limited edition smart bed. plus, 24-month financing on all smart beds. only for a limited time. what'with coverage havinthroughout your home?
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i found out my father was arrested, this place became not my home. and no one ever slept in my house again. >> he calls himself the btk strangler and promises to kill again. >> btk's brutal crimes shocked wichita. >> the most infamous unsolved serial killing spree in wichita history. >> btk stood for "bind, torture, kill." and that was his m.o. >> reporter: three letters which can touch off memories for anyone who lived in wichita during the 1970s. >> btk emerged in 1974. >> when btk came forward, everybody's life changed. he would see a woman walking, and he would say, she's next. >> one minute loving father. the next minute he's a serial killer. i mean, come on. the child of a serial killer actually talking about it? that's something you almost
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never hear. kerri rawson was 26 years old the day she learned her father was the cold-blooded killer known as btk, the man responsible for killing 10 people and terrorizing wichita, kansas, for decades. what do you remember about that day? >> there was a knock on my door. he said he was the fbi. then he says, your dad has been arrested as btk. and i was like, i think i'm going to pass out. >> wichita was a wonderful city back in the 1970s. just a nice midwestern city where people could raise their family without any fear. >> never in a million years did wichitans think a serial killer would come from here. >> my dad and mom met in the fall of 1970. he had just got back from the air force. they started dating, they got married nine months later in may of '71. >> reporter: while rader appeared to be just a happily married man, his monstrous behavior would emerge one winter
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night. >> this odyssey starts january 15th, 1974, the home of joseph otero. >> he says he spotted mrs. otero and one of his daughters when he was driving my mom to work then stalked their family. >> reporter: he went to the house and cut the phone line. then killed both parent s along with their two youngest children. >> when the older children came back from school they discovered their parents. >> i ran down the hall. went in their bedroom. and saw my mother on the bed, my father on the floor. my heart just got ripped out of my chest. my life changed instantly. >> 11-year-old josephine otero bound with rope hanging just off the floor. >> leaves his dna dree men for the otero murders, which angered rader. >> killers like dennis rader, they're called power control
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ra killers. they want the power, they love the control, they want attention. what's the natural way to get attention without identifying yourself? is to interact, call the media. >> rader calling the local newspaper, claiming to be btk, and directing them to proof. >> this guy tells them to look in the civic library, tells them a specific place, go to the engineering section, tells them the shelf and the book to look for. >> the police find the book and there is a letter that describes the otero murders in detail. in the letter he suggests the moniker "btk," which would stand for bind, torture, kill. >> reporter: in 1975, rader became a father and by day led the life of a normal family man with a job at a security company. but -- >> from 1974 to 1977, he will kill three more women. a college student named katherine bright, a mother of three named shirley vyan, a
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25-year-old named nancy fox. >> he called in the murder of nancy fox. >> dispatcher? >> yes. >> you will find a homicide 43 south pershing -- >> the caller said, reporting a homicide, police went to that address and found nancy fox dead, bound, and strangled on her bed. >> you will find a homicide -- >> so when you heard this, did it sound like your father? >> you can hear like that clip. the way my father could talk. >> how would you describe your childhood with your father? >> pretty much had the american dream. the three-bedroom ranch with the big backyard and the springer spaniel dog. and then when i was 4 he built a massive tree house for my brother and i. it was extreme ly characteristics must have father to be extremely abusive.
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>> reporter: his murderous intent never went away. >> april 27th, it's 1985. and marine hedge, who just happened to be his neighbor, about six doors down, becomes victim number eight. >> the body was nude and police say badly decomposed. a pair of knotted panty hose were found lying in the ditch beside it. >> over the next five years, he kills two more women. vicki legerly in september 1986 and dolores davis. >> after he murdered dolores davis, went silent for a very long time. >> reporter: after the last killing in 1991, life went on for the rader family. kerri going off to college and meeting her future husband. >> he just seemed like another regular wichita dad, to me. >> then in 2003, my dad walked me down the aisle at our
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wedding. >> reporter: in 2004, a local paper writes an article about the 30th anniversary of the first btk killings. >> and we included in there that nobody remembered him. which invoked his ire. >> this morning we have more information on the letter sent to the "wichita eagle" by the btk killer. >> btk started sending packages with mementos from his crimes. >> reporter: one of those boxes contained a floppy disk. >> we got into the meta data and it showed that it had been typed on by a computer at a church in park city. the name of the computer was registered to the name of dennis. >> reporter: investigators found the church president was dennis rader. they also had an old dna sample from the first 1974 crime scene. >> overnight we called 200 policemen. we had helicopters, we had resources, we had a tank.e pull
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he can hardly get a word in get him out of the car, put him down. he looks at the detective that handcuffed him and said, would you let my wife know i won't be home for lunch? i assume you know where i live. i got chilled. >> btk is arrested. >> police say this man, 59-year-old dennis rader, is the btk strangler. >> you were at this point still convinced they had the wrong man? >> i think reality was starting to creep in. i felt my stomach just twist, realizing it could be true. >> reporter: his confession recorded during police interrogation. >> i guess you guys got me. what else can i say? >> it took awhile for dennis raid tore start talking, but once he did, he told police more than they bargained for. >> the belt that i used was the belt that i was wearing. i had to come back and i whispered in her ear a little bit. i told her i was btk, i was a bad guy, and she really
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squirmed. >> he spoke for over 30 hours. >> and josephine, she says what's going to happen to me? i said, well, honey, you're going to -- >> he showed no remorse. no reyet. the only regret he showed during this was there weren't more victims. he told us we would discover what he termed his mother love. >> there were journals and drawings. he had material from he collected from each of his victims. clothing, car keys. >> he had compartments everywhere. he had false bottoms in the closet, he had stuff in the crawl space, he had stuff in a tree house he had made for his kids. >> one minute you had a man in your life who you thought was a loving father. the next minute he's a serial killer. >> right. i had to learn how to grieve the loss of somebody i loved very much, that no one loved anymore. >> reporter: next, how kerri unwittingly played a part in her
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father's capture. >> it felt like an invasion of my privacy. >> reporter: how she found it in her heart to forgive her dad even after he admitted to the notorious murder spree. >> the kids were really banging on the door, hollering and screaming. (announcer) people with type 2 diabetes are excited about the potential of once-weekly ozempic®. in a study with ozempic®, a majority of adults lowered their blood sugar and reached an a1c of less than seven and maintained it. oh! under seven? and you may lose weight. in the same one-year study, adults lost on average up to 12 pounds. oh! up to 12 pounds? a two-year study showed that ozempic® does not increase the risk of major cardiovascular events like heart attack, stroke, or death. oh! no increased risk? ♪ oh, oh, oh, ozempic®! ♪ ozempic® should not be the first medicine for treating diabetes, or for people with type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis. do not share needles or pens. don't reuse needles. do not take ozempic® if you have a personal or family history
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"nightline" continues. here again, deborah roberts. >> btk is arrested. >> reporter: police say this man, 59-year-old dennis rader, is the btk strangler. >> reporter: after 30 years the btk kill history terrorized the city of wichita, kansas, was finally in custody. >> we have learned rader has been charged with 10 counts of
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first degree ty in shock. dennis rader was a serial killer in plain sight. >> dennis rader is literally the least likely suspect. he is a pillar of the community. he's the president of the his lutheran church congregation. he is a compliance officer. he wore a badge. >> reporter: it was his daughter, kerri, who unwittingly provided the evidence to make the arrest. >> they got a warrant for my medical records at the college health center. >> and you had no idea? >> i had no idea. they found out i had had like annual pap smears. they got a sample of my dna. >> in some ways your dna sealed your dad's fate? >> it did. but nobody told me this. it would have been nice if someone had asked me for my dna. i would have willingly given it. it felt like an invasion of my privacy. >> he didn't think that they had kept the biological specimens from the crimes that he had committed all these years. and then they brought up the dna.
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and they could nail him. >> you know we've got the dna? >> you can't have dna unless you have a blood transfer. >> reporter: while he was in custody the story of the btk killer became an international sensation. >> everybody wanted to talk to dennis. i wrote him a number of letters and i included my phone number. then on one saturday morning i get a call. the operator says, will you accept a collect call from the cedric county detention facility? i have btk on the phone. >> i have a recorder going if that's all right with you. >> okay, sure. >> can you pinpoint when you knew that there was a problem coming? >> well, i would say probably even when i was in probably grade school, i started having problems. >> what kind of problems were those? >> oh, sexual. sexual fantasies. mine were probably just a little bit weirder than other people. >> he talked about the hunt.
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>> the hunt for the object. it was more of a high, i guess, than it was actually them. >> he told me he got a high from it. finding the woman then killing her. that was what turned him on. >> do you have any remorse over the killings? >> remorse? yes, i do. i feel sorry. >> dennis rader told me that he felt sorry for the victims. well, no one believes that. >> it was more like he was sorry that he got captured. >> bottom line is i want the people of sedgwick county and the united states and the world to know that i am a serial killer. i'm going to pay for it. life sentence. >> after i hung up the phone, i remember thinking, i've just talked to a man who has no soul. >> reporter: facing overwhelming evidence of his crimes, rader pleaded guilty. >> those plea hearings are usually 10, 12 minutes. this one turned into about an hour and a half.
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>> reporter: with the courtroom transfixed in horror, rader recounted the agonizing details of every murder. >> i did mrs. otero. i had never strangled anyone before. so i really didn't know how much pressure you had to put on a person or how long it would take. mrs. vian, i tied her up and put a bag over her head and strangled her -- >> here is this man standing up in court in what i imagine was his church suit, recounting the murders of his neighbors one by one by one. >> he makes himself sound like he's mr. good guy. he says, i got mr. otero a pillow. before i strangled mr. otero. >> tried to make mr. otero as comfortable as i could. apparently he had a cracked rib from a car accident, so i had him put a pillow down for his head -- >> i was kind to him before i killed him? >> that's right. that massive disconnect comes in. and you realize, my god, my
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father's a psychopath. >> reporter: later at his sentencing, the killer confronted by his victims' family members. >> the last 5,326 days i have wondered what it would be like to confront the walking cesspool that took my mother's precious life. >> reporter: then he was allowed to address the court. >> thanks. i can't believe the people got me on this. you have to appreciate the police department. they've done a lot of work. i hope i pronounce these people's last names right. if i leave somebody else, i apologize for that -- >> the families got up. turned around and walked out the door. >> he's thanking the police. he basically said my family were pawns in his game in social context. >> reporter: the judge condemning rader to ten life sentences, the harshest punishment possible at that time. >> do you think your mom had any clue that your dad was doing anything criminal? >> no, mom and i both said if we had had an inkling that my
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father had harmed anyone, let alone murdered anyone, let alone 10, we would have gone screaming out that door to the police station. we looked like a normal american family because we were a normal family. then everything upended on us. >> your book is called "a serial killer's daughter." is that how you see yourself? >> it's taken me a long time to even be able to say that out loud. but that's the truth. >> reporter: kerri rawson has managed to forgive her father and is now in touch with him. >> you will always be my baby girl i raised right proud, independent. hopefully someday your heart will mend and you can forgive me. life before the arrest was a good time, and the dark side took me away. >> how could you even correspond with him? i mean, people would wonder, why wouldn't you just cut him off? >> i wasn't corresponding with btk, i'm never corresponding with btk.
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i'm talking to my father. i'm talking with the man i lived with and loved for 26 years. i still love my dad today. >> you still love him today? >> because i love the man that i knew. that i lived my whole life with. that's the man i love. lobsterfest is on at red lobster. with the most lobster dishes of the year, what'll you choose? how 'bout lobster lover's dream? more like a lobster dream come true. a butter-poached maine tail, roasted rock tail and creamy lobster linguine. or try new lobster in paradise. it's a crispy coconutty, vacation on a plate. new ultimate lobsterfest surf & turf is here, too. 'cause what's better than steak and lobster? steak and lots of lobster. so hurry in and see how you're going to lobsterfest. ♪ when you have nausea, ♪ heartburn, ♪ indigestion, ♪ upset stomach, ♪ diarrhea...
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finally tonight, with super bowl tickets now approaching $3,000 just for the cheap seats, a couple of football fans are especially grateful. the new england patriots arranged this surprise for 13-year-old deja ronno, starting quarterback for her middle school's varsity team in exeter, new hampshire. her favored player julian edelman presenting her with tickets after finding she'd been bullied for playing basketball. brandin cooks had a surprise for alfon alfonso, the rams' locker room janitor. >> it's a dream come true, oh my god. >> absolutely. thank you.
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>> oh my god. s t tak >> a warm way to end a cold friday night. , america. have a good weekend.
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