Is Stephen King exploiting real life killings for A Good Marriage?

Last Updated on July 22, 2021

Dennis Rader BTK Stephen King A Good Marriage Kerri Rawson

As you likely know, Stephen King's novella A GOOD MARRIAGE, which can be found in the collection "Full Dark, No Stars" and has been made into a soon-to-be-released film starring Joan Allen, was inspired by the notorious case of the BTK Killer. BTK, which stood for "Bind, torture, kill," was actually family man Dennis Rader, who was arrested in 2005 and confessed to 10 killings in the Wichita area between 1974 and 1991. By all appearances, Rader was a normal, unexceptional man with a normal, unexceptional life. Only after his arrest did his loved ones learn who he really was and the horrible things he had done.

That's basically the plot of A GOOD MARRIAGE, the film adaptation of which is coming out this Friday. But at least one person is not at all happy to see the acclaimed story turned into a film: Rader's own daughter, Kerri Rawson, who has broken an eight year silence in order to criticize King.

In an open letter to the Wichita Eagle, Rawson had the following to say to King:

My family is done, we are tired. We are not news, we are not a story to be exploited & profited on, to be twisted & retold to your liking whenever you want. Leave us, the families & the community out of it.


My dad is not a monster, that's elevating him. He's just a man, who choose to do some of the most horrible things a person can do. Not a monster, a man. A man who took 10 precious lives & tried to destroy countless others. He's not worth the attention.


My mom is the strongest & bravest woman I know. She doesn't need her life re-spun in a story or on the big screen. Her life is a true testament of all that is good & right in this world.


My family has tried hard to fight the good fight, to stand on our faith & live out a peaceful life. So let us live that life & please, leave us out of it. Out of the noise & chaos & the ugly & the awful.

For his part, King is steadfast that the idea of a "monster" hiding in plain sight is worth exploring: "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."

What do you think? Does Rader's daughter have a valid complaint, or is King welcome to write about whatever he pleases, despite the feelings of others?

Dennis Rader BTK Stephen King A Good Marriage Kerri Rawson Joan Allen

Source: Wichita Eagle

About the Author

Eric Walkuski is a longtime writer, critic, and reporter for He's been a contributor for over 15 years, having written dozens of reviews and hundreds of news articles for the site. In addition, he's conducted almost 100 interviews as JoBlo's New York correspondent.