What If You Were Related To An Infamous Killer?
Imagine if a slayer of the magnitude of Dennis Rader, Charles Manson, or the Green River Killer were your parent or grandparent.
Such is one stark fact of life for the following men and women, whose birth happened to land them in a family with one or more infamous dealers of death.
Photo By: Mug shot of Edward Wayne Edwards [FBI]
Photo By: Mug shot of Dennis Rader [El Dorado Police Department]
Photo By: Mug shot of Keith Jesperson [Riverside Sheriff's Office]
Photo By: Mug shot of Gary Ridgway [King County Sheriff's Office]
Photo By: Mug shots of Fred and Rosemary West [Devon Police; Cornwall Police]
Photo By: Jennifer "Jenn" Carson, daughter of convicted serial killer Michael Bear Carson, holding a 1975 photo of her with her father [AP Images/Rodrigo Pena]
Photo By: Mug shots of Richard Kuklinski [Bergen County Sheriff's Office]
Photo By: Mug shot of Levi Bellfield [Surrey Metropolitan Police]
Photo By: Mug shot of Charles Manson [Corcoran State Prison]
Photo By: The Supreme Court of New South Wales, Sydney [Wikimedia Commons]
Father: Edward Wayne Edwards
His Crimes: Serial killer with five known victims, although some experts claim Edwards may have killed more than 100.
Balascio's Reaction: Balascio investigated cold cases and turned her father in to the police. She's also recorded an acclaimed podcast called "The Clearing" about how she's processed her relationship to her notorious father and his crimes.
Following his arrest in 1962, Edwards wrote a book on criminal rehabilitation that led to him getting work as a motivational speaker. He also appeared on the TV show "To Tell the Truth" as an allegedly rehabilitated ex-con. Still, Edwards actually continued his life of crime — until his daughter, April Balascio, turned him in to police, People magazine reported.
Balascio reportedly said her family had moved frequently, and she noticed, "Someone was always murdered wherever we lived." After researching cold cases and suspecting her dad's connection to a 1980 double homicide, Balasci said she contacted authorities.
Edwards was convicted of five homicides, although authorities did investigate him in other unsolved killings. He died of natural causes behind bars in 2011.
However unlikely, former detective John A. Cameron suspects Edwards's involvement in the killings of high-profile victims Adam Walsh, JonBenét Ramsey, Laci Peterson, and Teresa Halbach, whose death inspired the documentary series, "Making a Murderer."
For the full story on Balascio and her deadly dad, watch the Investigation Discovery special, "People Magazine Investigates: My Father, The Serial Killer" on ID GO now!
Father: Dennis Rader (BTK)
His Crimes: Rader, the so-called BTK serial killer, confessed to killing 10 people between 1974 and 1991.
Rawson's Reaction: In 2019, Rawson authored the memoir, "A Serial Killer's Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Over Coming."
According to authorities, Dennis Rader violently killed ten women and children in the Wichita, Kansas area between 1974 and 1991. Throughout his run, Rader allegedly taunted police with messages in which he identified himself as "BTK" — a moniker short for "bind, torture, kill."
During that whole time, Kerri Rawson, Rader's daughter, said he acted as a loving dad who taught his family to be wary of strangers. "He was trying really hard to protect us," Rawson told CBC Radio, "but we realized he was also trying to protect us from somebody like him."
Rawson discovered her father's secret life when authorities arrested him in 2005. She reportedly credits her Christian faith with helping her cope with the trauma, which she said included forgiving him.
Rader is serving 10 consecutive life terms.
For the inside story of Rader with more insight from Rawson, watch the Investigation Discovery documentary "BTK: A Killer Among Us" on ID GO now!
Father: Keith Hunter Jesperson
His Crimes: The so-called "Happy Face Killer," Jesperson is believed to have raped and murdered at least eight victims between 1990 and 1995.
Moore's Reaction: In 2008, Moore wrote the book "Shattered Silence: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer's Daughter," and made numerous media appearances, including recording the podcast “Happy Face.” She has since become an advocate for the families of crime victims and a popular speaker on the subject of trauma and domestic violence.
In the course of killing eight women over five years, long-haul truck driver Keith Hunter Jesperson reportedly came by the nickname "Happy Face Killer" after he drew smiling faces on taunting messages sent to authorities and the media.
After being questioned and released in the death of his girlfriend in 1995, Jesperson reportedly contacted the police and confessed to killing a woman in Arizona. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, police say Jesperson confessed to involvement in eight killings. He is serving three consecutive life sentences.
For more on the story of Melissa Moore and her father, watch the "Put on a Happy Face" episode of Investigation Discovery's "Evil Lives Here" on ID GO now!
Father: Gary Ridgway
His Crimes: As the so-called "Green River Killer," Gary Ridgway is serving life without parole in connection with the deaths of 49 women in the 1980s and '90s.
Matthew's Reaction: Matthew Ridgway knew his father had been a suspect, but initially said he could not believe his dad could be guilty.
As the nightmarishly prolific "Green River Killer," Gary Ridgway killed 49 women in the Pacific Northwest over two decades. Some experts believe Ridgway's total number of victims could be significantly higher.
Matthew Ridgway, the convicted killer's son, told the Tacoma News Tribune his dad raised him with love and kindness, always showing up for soccer games and school events.
Following his father's arrest in 2001, however, Matthew discovered both his father's terrible secrets and reportedly learned he had been close to some of the murders.
Ridgway reportedly used his son's photograph to put some of his victims at ease. His son, according to the Tacoma News Tribune, claims he remembers his father taking a woman into the woods in 1982, then saying she walked home when, in fact, his dad killed her. Ridgway also allegedly committed an act of necrophilia once while his son napped in a truck about 30 feet away.
Also, Matthew said when he was in grade school, his mom told him if the media asked about his father being a murder suspect to simply respond, "No comment."
For more on Gary Ridgway and his family life, watch the “Married to a Monster” episode of Investigation Discovery’s “Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?” on ID GO now!
Parents: Fred and Rosemary West
Their Crimes: Rosemary murdered at least 10 women and girls, and Fred allegedly helped her and also raped the women, including their own daughter.
Mae's Reaction: Authored the 2018 autobiography "Love as Always, Mum xxx: The True and Terrible Story of Surviving a Childhood with Fred and Rosemary West".
The crimes attributed to British couple Fred and Rosemary West included allegations of rape and the killing and disposing of multiple female victims in what became known as their "house of horrors." The couple also allegedly abused their children, one of whom was found buried on their property and had reportedly been killed by Rosemary.
Daughter Mae West published a book in 2018 about her upbringing. Among the miseries she alleged in the book was booking clients for her prostitute mother and knowing her tyrannical father would sexually assault her sisters.
Still, Mae contends she and her siblings had no idea of the extent of their parents’ crimes until police excavated the garden and discovered the body of her missing sister, Heather.
Fred West hung himself in prison on January 1, 1994. He was never brought to trial. Rose was found guilty of 10 murders. She is still behind bars, serving a life sentence.
In a 2016 interview with The Daily Mail, Mae said she and her siblings have coped by remaining close. “They say that families are broken up by these things, but we've stuck together," she said, adding, "Actually, we're very lucky."
For more on the Wests, watch the “Lethal Lovers” episode of Investigation Discovery’s “Deadly Women” on ID GO now!
Father: Michael Carson
His Crimes: Carson and his wife, Suzan, gained infamy as the so-called "San Francisco Witch Killers" for their roles in the deaths of three people, two of whom she allegedly claimed were witches.
Jenn's Reaction: Jenn is a counselor and an advocate for children of prisoners, families of violent offenders, and victims of violent crime.
After allegedly delving deep into drug use, mystical beliefs, and revolutionary political ideas in the l970s, Michael and Suzan Carson killed three people between 1980 and 1983, at least two of whom she reportedly accused of being witches. The press then dubbed the pair "The San Francisco Witch Killers."
Before the couple met, Michael Carson's first wife reportedly left him and took their daughter Jenn with her, eventually severing all ties. Jenn reportedly didn't see her father again until reports of his arrest and trial, during which he and Suzan reportedly claimed they’d acted in self-defense against "psychic attacks."
In a story for HuffPost, Jenn wrote about assisting others, especially children, who deal with similar trauma. "I worked with high-needs kids for nearly two decades in public schools as a teacher and counselor," she wrote. "Using my expertise and experience, I then became an advocate for the 1 in 40 kids who have a parent incarcerated in America."
For more on Jenn Carson's parents, watch the "The Two Bears" episode of Investigation Discovery's "Wicked Attraction" on ID GO now!
Father: Richard Kuklinski
His Crimes: The Iceman, as Kulinksi became known in the media, worked as an organized crime assassin convicted of six murders. Some analysts believe he may have killed more than 100 victims.
Merrick's Reaction: Merrick talked about her experiences.
Richard "The Iceman" Kuklinski reportedly lived a life of crime and became best known as a prolific hitman for the Gambino crime family. Kuklinski also allegedly worked as a freelance killer-for-hire.
Authorities captured him in December 1986 and obtained murder convictions in six cases. Kuklinski reportedly claimed in media interviews that he killed more than 100 people.
In an interview with Go magazine, Merrick Kuklinski, one of his two daughters, said her father was always full of rage, and had confided in her about some of the murders.
She also reportedly experienced a revelation during the interview, saying: "In this very moment, saying these things out loud for the first time in my life, I just realized my dad was the one who didn't love me enough. He was the adult, and I was the child. He put this on me and knew how it hurt me and how hard I tried to obey and please him. I loved him blindly, unconditionally, but he didn't do the same. That realization has made me sadder but also maybe a little lighter."
For more on The Iceman, watch the “Wave to Daddy” episode of Investigation Discovery’s “American Monster” on ID GO now!
Father: Levi Bellfield
His Crimes: Levi allegedly prowled bus stops looking for victims and was convicted for killing two women and a girl, earning him the nickname "Bus Stop Killer."
Bobbie-Louise's Reaction: Bobbie-Louise has shared her story with the public and said she hopes her father "rots in hell."
After being arrested for two murders and later convicted for a third, UK resident Levi Bellfield became known as the "Bus Stop Killer," due to his hunting grounds where he picked up his victims, who ranged in age from 13 to 22.
Bellfield also reportedly had 11 children. In 2011, Bobbie-Louise Bellfield told the BBC she and her siblings grew up watching Levi beat and rape their mother. She also said she fears he may have taken her to the scene where he allegedly killed his youngest victim.
After expressing sympathy for those her father killed, Bobbie-Louise said, "I hope he rots in hell. I know it sounds harsh, but I really do. I don't ever want to see him again."
Grandfather: Charles Manson
His Crimes: As the leader of the Manson Family cult, Manson received convictions for his role in overseeing the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders. He died in 2017.
Freeman's Reaction: Fighting for control of Manson's corpse and estate.
In August 1969, Charles Manson's followers terrorized Los Angeles during two consecutive nights of brutal murders, when members of his so-called "Manson Family" cult invaded the homes of Hollywood actress Sharon Tate and middle-aged couple Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.
Manson continued to terrify much of the world with bug-eyed outbursts from behind bars until he died at age 83.
The facts regarding Charles Manson's possible offspring, including three sons and one daughter, remain spotty. During Manson's decline toward death, however, California resident Jason Freeman made headlines by claiming to be the cult leader's grandson.
Freeman reportedly claimed his father was Charles Manson, Jr., who changed his name to Jay White and committed suicide. A 2018 battle over Manson's estate reportedly ended with a judge awarding control to Freeman, who staged a funeral for his supposed grandfather that March.
For more on Charles Manson, watch the “Manson Family Murders” episode of Investigation Discovery’s “People Magazine Investigates: Cults” on ID GO now!
Father: Lindsey Robert Rose
His Crimes: In 1998, Lindsey Robert Rose reportedly pled guilty to five murders, for which he received five life sentences, making him one of Australia's most notorious serial killers.
Elisha's Reaction: Elisha became a member of the New South Wales Supreme Court and a foster mother, saying she works to "atone" for her father's crimes.
According to authorities, Lindsey Robert Rose shot two people dead after a fight in 1984, fatally stabbed a man 30 times with a screwdriver in 1987, then killed his ex-girlfriend and another woman in 1990, after which he set fire to the massage parlor where they'd been.
Elisha Rose, his daughter, told ABC News Australia her father's crimes motivated her to "right his wrongs" by becoming a lawyer and eventually a member of the New South Wales Supreme Court. She also reportedly said her childhood in the shadow of her father's crimes prompted her to become a foster mother, a role she cherishes.