Who is Paula Dietz? The Truth About Dennis Rader’s Unsuspecting Ex-wife

Paula Dietz is the former wife of Dennis Rader. While she is a bookkeeper, her former husband is the notorious serial killer who killed more than 10 people and gained infamy as the BTK Killer. Paula Dietz was married to Dennis Rader for 34 years, during which Dennis was a great husband and caring father to their kids, so Paula never suspected a dangerous side to him.

Paula was born on 5 May 1948 and is now 76 years old. Her marriage to her former husband lasted from 1971 to 2005, producing a child, Kerri Rawson. All through those years, her life seemed uneventful, but in 2005, when her husband was arrested in connection to some of the heinous murders that had been going on for many years, all about her life changed.

Summary of Paula Dietz’s Bio

  • Full name: Paula Dietz
  • Gender: Female
  • Date of birth: 5 May 1948
  • Paula Dietz’s Age: 76 years old
  • Ethnicity: White
  • Nationality: American
  • Zodiac Sign: Taurus
  • Sexual Orientation: Straight
  • Religion: Christianity
  • Marital Status: Divorced
  • Paula Dietz’s Husband: Dennis Rader (ex-husband)
  • Paula Dietz’s Children: Brian Rader (son), Kerri Rawson (daughter)
  • Famous for: Being the ex-wife of American dreaded serial killer Dennis Rader

Paula Dietz was Raised in a Religious Home

Paula Dietz began her life on May 5, 1948, when she was born in Park City, Kansas. The 76 year-old is of American nationality and white ethnicity. She was brought up by a father who was an engineer and a mother who was a librarian in a highly religious and disciplined home.

With so much more about her coming to light only after her then-husband was caught, details regarding her childhood and the names of her parents and other family members are all not available in the public domain.

Dietz got her early education in local elementary and high schools, and after she was through, she proceeded to obtain a degree in accounting from the National American University of Wichita. She graduated from the institution in 1970.

Paula and Her Serial Killer Former Husband Met in a Church

1970 was a great year for Paula as it was the year that she obtained her bachelor’s degree and also the year that she met the man she later got married to, Dennis Rader. The pair’s paths first crossed in a church, and they almost instantly fell in love.

At the time, they were both not only members of the Lutheran church but were devoted to their beliefs. This and other things made them fall in even more, and they soon began dating. They did not date for long before they got married, only a few months later, in May 1971.  She was 23, while Dennis was 26 when they walked down the aisle.

Who is Paula Dietz’s Former Husband, Dennis Rader?

When they got married, Paula believed her husband was nothing more than a veteran Air Force personnel and a dedicated Christian, not knowing there was more to him. Dennis Rader was born Dennis Lynn Rader on March 9, 1945, in Kansas, United States.

He was brought up alongside three siblings by his parents, William Elvin Rader and Dorothea Mae Rader. While growing up, he spent most of his time without his very busy parents, who had to put in long hours in their work. Because of that, he felt ignored and grew up angry and a sadist. Nonetheless, these were things he hid away from people.

He got his education from Butler County Community College, where he studied electronics, and then he went on to get a bachelor’s degree in administrative justice from Wichita State University. He joined the US Air Force, where he served from 1966 to 1970, when he was discharged. He seemed to have a stable life to many as after he left the military, he took a job with an IGA supermarket, where he joined the meat department of the store.

Paula Dietz was Dennis Rader’s Wife For 34 Years

The marriage between Paula Dietz and Dennis Rader lasted for 34 years before it came to an end in 2005. Their divorce was speedily approved, taking away the usual 60-day waiting period because of the reason behind the end of the marriage, which was the discovery that Rader was a serial killer.

The divorce between the pair was a long time coming as only three years after they got married, he began killing people. Until he was caught in 2005, the marriage was great. They had a happy home, and Paula saw her husband as a great husband and responsible father who was also a good Christian.

However, as soon as he confessed to the crimes after he was arrested, Dietz could no longer stand him, and she filed for a divorce which was granted on the same day. She filed on the grounds of emotional stress. Dennis did not contest the divorce.

Her Former Husband was a Dreaded Serial Killer Who Terrorized Many From the 1970s to the 1990s

Dennis grew up loving to kill little animals and pets. His murderous activities began in 1974, and his first victims were 4 members of a family; Joseph Otero Jr. (9), Josephine Otero (11), Julie Otero (33), and Joseph Otero (38). His next murders came in 1977 when he killed Kathryn Bright in April, Shirley Vian Relford in March, and Nancy Fox in December.

By this time, he seemed to be enjoying what he was doing and was leaving notes to the effect. He sent a note to a TV station in Wichita, KAKE, taking responsibility for the crime, and he suggested various names for himself, but ended up with “Bind, Torture, Kill”, hence taking the name of the BTK Killer or BTK Strangler.

Dennis Rader was said to have grown up with sadistic sexual fantasies and was drawn to torturing and killing women. He made other attempts, but the women escaped. One was a 63-year-old woman, Anna Williams, who only escaped being killed because she delayed returning home on the day the BTK killer laid ambush for her.

The next victim of Paula Dietz’s former husband was a 53-year-old woman, Marine Hedge, whom he killed in April 1985, although it was until May that her body was found. In 1988, there was a murder of three family members in Wichita, which was first believed to be by the serial killer. However, he wrote to the media, stating that he had nothing to do with the killing. In the letter, which was signed by the BTK Killer, the author admired the work of whoever did the killing.

The last known victim of Rader was a woman known as Dolores E. Davis. He murdered her on January 19, but it was until February that her body was discovered. Apart from the women he killed, the BTK killer also stalked some women in the 1980s and mid-1990s. One of the women was forced to get a restraining order against him, while the other was forced to change her address to get rid of him.

How Dennis Rader Was Finally Caught

Dietz’s former husband evaded the law for a very long time, but 15 years after his last killing, he was still fascinated by his deeds so much that he could not keep the details to himself. He continued his former habit of sending letters to local media. He sent the notes together with more details about his sick acts as well as photographs of his victims.

He continued to drop more notes and evidence of his crime which finally led to his arrest after he got sloppy by sending his writings on a floppy disk which the police traced to his house. Soon, police obtained a warrant to test the DNA on a pap smear that was taken from the killer’s daughter, and it was at this point that it was clear who the killer was. He was arrested on February 25, 2005, and when his house was searched, evidence linking him to the crime was collected. He was soon charged with ten counts of first-degree murder.

He was found guilty of at least ten murders and was slammed with ten consecutive life sentences. He is believed to have only escaped the death penalty because the state had no death penalty at the time of the crime. Nonetheless, he would have to spend a minimum of 175 years behind bars before standing a chance of becoming a free man.

He is considered one of the worst serial killers in American history, in the line of men such as Ted Bundy and Cary Anthony Stayner.

She Never Suspected That Her Husband Was The BTK Killer

Just as no one in the outside world suspected Dennis Rader, his wife did not suspect him of the crime, even with all the years they spent together. In fact, after his arrest, she did not believe that he was involved in the crime, insisting that he was a good man who would never hurt anyone.

More so, even though she found out that he had a strong interest in the BTK Killer case at a point and was even making writings about him, she had no reason to suspect her husband of many years could also be the killer, after all, he was a church leader and the president of the Christ Lutheran Church, a Boy Scout leader, as well as a compliance supervisor.

There were reports that at some point, she made a joke that his writings were poorly done, like that of the serial killer, but still, that was not enough for her to suspect him. In fact, after his arrest, she still corresponded with him, believing he was innocent, but as soon as it became clear he was the killer, and he confessed to it, she cut off all communications.

Paula Dietz and Dennis Rader Had 2 Children 

The marriage between Paula Dietz and Dennis Rader produced two kids – Brian Rader and Kerri Rawson. The two had a very normal and happy childhood, and they had a great relationship with their father and mother.

The first child of the duo is Brian Rader, who was born on Nov. 30, 1973, making him 50 years old. Brian was only a few weeks old when his father carried out his first murder. At the time of his father’s arrest in 2005, Brian was already over 30 years old, and he was no longer with his parents. Just like his mother, Brian had never suspected his father.

While he maintains a very private lifestyle, it is public knowledge that he once served in the U. S. Navy for some time. He is believed to be married, but all details about that are not available to the media. Brian has also joined his mother to cut off all communication with Dennis Rader.

On her part, Dietz’s younger child, Kerri Rawson, is the more vocal member of the family. She was born in 1978, which makes her 46 years old. While growing up, her dad was her best friend.

When her father was arrested, Keri was already 26 years old, and she was also not with her parents. She once worked as an elementary school teacher and has always addressed issues relating to her father’s crimes and the difficulty it has put her family through.

Kerri was previously married to a man known as Darian, but it seems as though the marriage has since ended. This is because she describes herself as single on her Instagram bio. She is a mother of two kids and two cats.

Like her other family members, she was also not aware of what her father was doing and although there were some red flags in the life of her father while she was growing up, she did not link him to any of his crimes. She revealed that her father could be verbally and emotionally abusive as well as controlling, but he was still considered generally good.

After his conviction, she has since cut off all communications with the serial killer. However, she has shared her life story in her best-selling book, A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming. She also has another book, Breaking Free. Kerri is now into advocacy, and she works with people who have been abused and traumatized. Her social media is filled with posts linked to crimes and trying to help find missing people.

In 2020, Kerri made headlines when she revealed that she had endured harassment from her convicted serial killer father and his supporters after she shunned and cut off ties with him.

Where is Paula Dietz now?

Since the arrest and conviction of her former husband, Paula retired to a very quiet and private life. As soon as her husband was arrested and linked to the crime, she reportedly auctioned their home and left town to stay away from the negative publicity that came with her ex-husband’s notoriety. She was said to have let go of their home for $90,000.

She ensured to stay away from all that had to do with her former husband, who is now cooling his heels at the El Dorado Correctional Facility, which is a maximum security prison. According to her daughter, Paula has since adjusted to treating her husband as though he had died the day he was arrested, even though his arrest came while he was on his way to have lunch with her.

Although many still believe she was clearly blindsided by her husband, who also fooled the police and everyone else for more than 30 years, her daughters revealed that Paula still struggles with PTSD from the events around the arrest of her former husband.

It has been claimed that Paula Dietz has returned to her old town to live, but there is nothing to support this as she has not been seen in public since the arrest and conviction of the BTK Killer.


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