Stephen King’s first screenplay since 1989 (Pet Sematary) is scheduled to be released in theaters next month.
A Good Marriage, adapted from King’s novella in his collection Full Dark, No Stars (2010), is said to be inspired by the infamous BTK killer, Dennis Rader.
Rader, 69, is currently serving ten consecutive life sentences at El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas. He was arrested in 2005 for the murders of ten people near Wichita, Kansas between 1974 and 1991. Rader was labeled as the BTK killer, or BTK strangler, because of his signature: Bind, Torture, Kill. During the time of the murders, Rader sent letters to the police and local news outlets describing the details of the killings.
In the upcoming film, Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace) plays Bob and Joan Allen (the Bourne films) plays his unsuspecting wife, Darcy.
“She never had a clue of what he was doing and this secret life that he had,” King said of Rader’s wife. “And so I started to think, I wonder how many of us are sleeping with strangers and what we really know about the people that we think we’re close to.”
However Kerri Rawson, the daughter of Rader, isn’t happy about the upcoming film, saying that King is “exploiting” her father’s victims and their families.
“He’s just going to give my father a big head, and he absolutely does not need that,” she said. “We consider ourselves the 11th victim family. Stephen King has the right to tell a story, but why bring us into it? Why couldn’t he just find inspiration for another good story, but leave out where it all came from?”
Rawson, a former Stephen King fan, said that she will never again read one of his books. She even goes so far to say that her father, also a huge fan, might have been influenced by King’s books based on what he did in some of his later murders.
Kelly Otis, a police detective on the BTK task force, agrees with Rawson.
“Dennis Rader got sexually aroused every time he relived what he did to those victims,” Otis said. “I can absolutely guarantee that that’s what he will do now that he’ll know that King is basing this story on him.”
King has not responded to Rawson’s comments but has written about his inspiration for the story on his website.
“This story came to my mind after reading an article about Dennis Rader, the infamous BTK (bind, torture, and kill) murderer who took the lives of ten people – mostly women, but two of his victims were children – over a period of roughly sixteen years.
“In many cases, he mailed pieces of his victims’ identification to the police. Paula Rader was married to this monster for thirty-four years, and many in the Wichita area, where Rader claimed his victims, refuse to believe that she could live with him and not know what he was doing.
“I did believe – I do believe – and I wrote this story to explore what might happen in such a case if the wife suddenly found out about her husband’s awful hobby.
“I also wrote it to explore the idea that it’s impossible to fully know anyone, even those we love the most.”
A Good Marriage also stars Kristen Connolly (House of Cards) and Stephen Lang (Avatar). It will hit theaters on October 3.