Paula Dietz: The untold story of Dennis Rader's ex-wife

Paula Dietz: The untold story of Dennis Rader's ex-wife

Many people are familiar with the BTK murderer, Dennis Rader. However, the story of his ex-wife Paula Dietz goes untold. Dennis Rader murdered ten people while living in the same house with his unsuspecting wife and children. Although the story has been the basis of several books and movies, Paula had to face the horror of living with a serial killer.

Paula Dietz
Dennis Rader, the admitted BTK serial killer, arrives in court on the first day of his sentencing at the Sedgwick County Courthouse on 17 August 2005 in Wichita, Kansas. Photo: Bo Rader
Source: Getty Images


When people get married, they hope they have chosen the right person to spend the rest of their lives with. However, what do you do when the love of your life turns out to be a stone-cold killer with absolutely no remorse. This is a tale that can only be told by those who have lived through it. Here is the untold story of Dennis Rader's wife.

Profile summary

Full namePaula Dietz Rader
Date of birth5 May 1948
Age75 years old (as of 2024)
Zodiac signTaurus
Place of birth Park City, Kansas, USA
Current residencePark City, Kansas, USA
Height5'5" (165 cm)
Weight143 pounds (65 kgs)
Body measurements36-28-42 inches (91-71-106 cm)
Hair colourBrown
Eye colourBlack
Relationship statusDivorced
Children 2
UniversityNational American University of Wichita

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Who is Paula Dietz?

Paula was a bookkeeper born in a religious home on 5 May 1948 in Park City, Kansas. Her father was an engineer, while her mother was a librarian.

How old is Paula Dietz?

As of 2024, Paula's age is 75 years old. Her zodiac sign is Taurus.


She graduated from high school in 1966 and enrolled at the National American University of Wichita, where she graduated in 1970 with a BA degree in Accounting.


dennis rader family
Dennis L. Rader (R), suspected of being the BTK serial killer, is escorted from the Sedgwick County courtroom after his arraignment in Wichita, Kansas. Photo: Bo Rader-Pool
Source: Getty Images

After graduating with her degree, Paula took up a job as a bookkeeper. A position which she maintained her entire working life. However, after her husband was caught and prosecuted for murder, she retired from her job and left Kansas. It was unbearable for her to work or live in her hometown.

How did Dennis Rader and Paula Dietz meet?

The couple met when Rader moved back to Kansas. He had completed his four years in the Air Force and worked at the meat department of a Leekers IGA supermarket.

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They had a whirlwind romance that saw them walking down the aisle on 22 May 1971. This was barely a year after they had met. They married and had two children, Kerri and Brian.

What did Paula Dietz's ex-husband do?

Paula Dietz's ex-husband, Dennis Rader, also known as the BTK Killer, was a serial killer who murdered ten people in Kansas between 1974 and 1991. He landed a job at Coleman Company Inc., where he installed alarm security systems in Wichita.

This job provided the BTK murderer with the perfect excuse to access his victims' homes. He would go on to murder ten people, with his family noticing. His victims mostly included single women who lived alone.

His first victims were four Otero family members, whom he murdered in cold blood in 1974. His next murderer was Shirleen, who he also killed in the same year. In 1977, he killed Shirley and Nancy and went off the radar for eight years.

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He resurfaced in 1985 and murdered Marine and later Vicki in 1986. His last victim was Dolores, killed in 1991.

Did Paula Dietz know Dennis Rader the BTK killer?

how did paula dietz rader die
Dennis Rader, the self-named "Bind, Torture, Kill" (BTK) serial killer, listens to testimony at his sentencing hearing on 18 August 2005 in Wichita, Kansas. Photo: Pool/AFP
Source: UGC

Paula was not aware of her husband’s secret double life. She once found a poem he had written entitled Shirley Locks. The poem read:

Thou shalt not screem… but lay on cushion and think of me and death.

During this period, Rader was enrolled in college courses, and when asked by his wife, he dismissed the poem as a mere draft for one of his class assignments. In truth, it concealed the details of his sixth victim, the 26-year-old Shirley Vian, and her tragic murder.

Dietz didn't pay much attention to the poem or when her husband added strange notes to newspaper articles about the BTK Killer. She also didn't think much of it when she saw his spelling as bad as the BTK Killer's letters in the news. She made a joke, saying:

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You spell just like BTK.

Was BTK killer caught by his wife?

No. Dennis was arrested on 25 February 2005 after letters he sent to the local media detailing his murders were traced to him. In his previous murders, he left the words "bind, torture, kill", which led to him being labelled the BTK murderer.

He pleaded guilty to all the murders. He is now serving life imprisonment after being sentenced to 175 years.

What happened to the BTK Killer's wife?

After Dennis was arrested, Paula immediately filed for an emergency divorce. The judge granted her the divorce that very same day. She did not wait the mandatory sixty days due to her circumstances.

BTK's wife did not go to any of her ex-husband's hearings and has never written to him or even visited him in prison. She moved out of Kansas to escape the media and has not given any public statement about her husband or his crimes.

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Paula's daughter stated that her dad was just a normal dad who took them on vacations and taught them how to fish. It never occurred to them that their dad secretly killed people. In other words, Dennis Rader's family lived a peaceful life and had no idea they were living with such a dangerous man.

Is Paula Dietz Rader still alive?

Details about Paula Dietz Rader's obituary are unavailable as no reports confirm whether she is dead.

Where is Paula Dietz Rader now?

Paula Dietz
Dennis Rader's daughter Kerri Rawson. Photo: Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle/Tribune News Service
Source: Getty Images

As reported by the Seattle Times, Paula Dietz auctioned off her family home for $90,000 and departed from the town. She completely withdrew from the public eye and lives a very private life. None of Paula Dietz's photos are available on the internet.

Her daughter, Kerri Rawson, published a memoir in 2019 entitled A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming. During an interview with Slate, she was asked how her mother's recovery process was, and this is what she said:

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She’s sort of dealt with my dad like he died on the day he was arrested. Her emotional way of dealing with it was, like, “He’s gone, he died.” Early on she did write him. After the plea, she didn’t; she never wrote him since then. She went into therapy around the same time I did. As far as I understand, she has PTSD from the events around his arrest.

Where is Dennis Rader today?

Dennis is currently serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison in Kansas. In 2005, he confessed to killing ten people over a span of three years.

Quick facts about Paula Dietz Rader

  • Dietz only discovered Rader’s true identity when he was caught.
  • She met Rader at church.
  • Her husband led their son’s Cub Scout troop.

Paula Dietz is the ex-wife of the BTK killer, Dennis Rader. The couple got married in 1971. After over three decades of marriage, Paula discovered that her husband was a serial killer who had murdered over ten people.

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