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A Serial Killer's Daughter

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Author, A Serial Killer’s Daughter, Thomas Nelson 2019

Advocate for victims of abuse, crime and trauma

Married to Darian

2 children

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In 2005, Kerri was 26 years old when the FBI came to her door to ask about her father.  They informed her he had been arrested on murder charges and that he was confessing to the police that he was the BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) serial killer.  From 1974 until his arrest, the BTK terrorized Kerri’s hometown of Wichita, Kansas and murdered 8 adults and 2 children. As Wichita celebrated the BTK’s capture and the end of their 31-year nightmare, her family’s horror was just beginning.  Her dad was a devoted husband and father, served as the church president, was a Boy Scout leader and all-around public servant. As the weeks went by, Kerri discovered that her father had committed 7 murders before she was born and 3 after.  “I struggled to comprehend that the first 26 years of my life had been a lie,” says Carrie.  “My father was not the man I’d known him to be.” Immediately after the arrest the family was bombarded by the media.  “Everything I had ever known, loved, believed was falling down around me.  My whole like was a lie, from before I was born,” says Kerri.

After the arrest, Kerri, who had struggled with depression as a teen, says her night terrors came back with a vengeance.  She started counseling and discovered she was full of guilt and shame over what he had done and was also grieving.  During these awful months, Kerri leaned on the promises of God.  “I had begun to teach myself not only to repeat them silently in my head but to utter them quietly under my breath when I was afraid,” says Kerri.  “Especially in the dark.”  The scriptures brought her strength, determination and the will to continue.  “In the worst moments of my life, I was turning toward my faith in God, without even realizing it at first.” As the weeks and months went by, the world learned the truth about her father.  “Unlike the rest of the world, who were following a story, I was also following my life.  I struggled to match what I was finding out with what I knew,” says Kerri.  

Once when Kerri was 18, her dad took her, cousin A.D. and her brother Brian on a hiking trip in the Grand Canyon. The first morning, Brian got hit with a stomach bug, so Kerri and her dad headed off on the trail without him. While Kerri trusted her dad, he miscalculated the distance and the intensity of the heat and they also ran out of water. Her brother headed out on the trail later and was supposed to catch up with them. The hot sun was hitting them hard by midmorning. Her dad even became discouraged.  On the third night, Kerri looked up at the stars.  She had walked away from her faith after her cousin Michelle died in an accident in 1996.  That night in the canyon, Kerri made a deal with God: if He could get them out of there, she would come back to her faith. The next morning as they set out on the trail, they heard a cry for help.  It was Brian! They headed to the camp and as soon as she set her foot on the man-made walkway, a knock from heaven hit Kerri in the head.  Hey, we had a deal. I have held up my end. Now it’s your turn!  A month out of the canyon, Kerri felt the Lord tug on her spirit.  She reached for her Bible and flipped it open to Job.  In spite of everyone and everything he lost, he remained faithful.  Kerri started going to Bible study.  “I was trying to walk the walk, but often fell flat on my face,” she says. “I reckoned God likely got the raw end of the deal we made in the canyon, but I was also sure there were no take-backs. I was His daughter, whether I wanted to be or not.”

Kerri has written her father while he has been serving his multiple life sentences.  She has been in counseling for her trauma.  “My father left me – he had forsaken me,” she says.  “But God had taught me in the canyon and told me repeatedly since, I will never leave you or forsake you. Kerri has been through hard times.  “But God did and is seeing me through.” She says her dad wrote to her that he asked God for forgiveness.  So even though people look at her skeptically, she believes she will see her father in heaven.  “My father will be in heaven someday if he has accepted Jesus – who died on the cross for everyone, including him.”  The worst of Kerri’s PTSD has been conquered.  One day Kerri felt a white cleansing light overwhelm her soul.  For the first time in 5 years, she wrote to her father.  Her letter was filled with love and forgiveness.  As she began to heal from forgiving her dad, Kerri started to share her life story.  “What’s in my past can’t be changed. Yet on the days when I’m not wrestling with hard, terrible truths, I will tell you: I love my dad – the one I mainly knew.  I miss him.”

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