In my last blog post, I presented the case of Scottsdale, Arizona, beautician Valerie Pape. In 2000, Pape murdered and dismembered her husband, leaving his torso in a dumpster. This week’s case is Christopher Wilder. Born in Australia, Wilder abducted and raped at least twelve women across the U.S., killing at least eight in 1984.
Christopher Wilder was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1945 to an American father, a naval officer, and an Australian mother. In 1963, at seventeen, he raped a thirteen-year-old girl in the company of two other youths. Both of his companions denied any part in the assault. Wilder got off with probation. Later, he claimed he received electroshock therapy, which some speculated might have led to his sexual violence. However, journalist Duncan McNab reported that he found no evidence Wilder ever had electroshock therapy. McNabb also said Wilder made up a story of nearly drowning in a swimming pool when he was two years old.
Wilder married in 1968, but the union was short-lived. His wife left him after only a week because of his sexual abuse and the lingerie and nude photos she found in his car. In 1969, Wilder emigrated to the United States, settling in Boynton Beach, Florida. His success in real estate allowed him to vacation in exotic locations like Hawaii and the Bahamas. He also became interested in photography, converting a bedroom in his upscale home into a darkroom.
Sex Crimes of Christopher Wilder
Despite an appearance of normalcy, Wilder faced several charges related to sexual misconduct between 1971 and 1975. In one case, he raped a woman he lured into his truck by promising to photograph her for a modeling contract. This established a pattern he used in later crimes. Despite several convictions during this period, he never served any prison time.
In 1977, a psychologist determined Wilder was dangerous except in a structured environment. The report noted Wilder’s desire to dominate women and to turn them into sex slaves for his pleasure.
During a visit to his parents in Australia in 1982, he was charged with forcing two fifteen-year-old girls to pose nude. His parents posted bail, and the Australian authorities allowed him to return to Florida to await trial. By the time his case came up, however, Wilder was dead.
Christopher Wilder on a Rape and Murder Spree
Christopher Wilder began his murder spree in Florida on February 26, 1984, when twenty-year-old Rosario Teresa Gonzalez went missing. Gonzalez, a model handing out aspirin samples at the Miami Grand Prix, was last seen leaving with a Caucasian man in his thirties.
Less than a month later, Wilder’s former girlfriend, Elizabeth Ann “Beth” Kenyon, vanished. Kenyon was a Miss Florida finalist and had competed against Rosario Gonzalez in that pageant. Authorities have never located either woman’s remains.
Wilder’s orgy rape and murder continued. Theresa Anne “Terry” Wait Ferguson, 21, and Linda Grover, 19 (Grover ultimately escaped) abducted in Florida. Terry Diane Graham Walden, 23, kidnapped in Texas. Suzanne Wendy Duchan Logan, 21, taken in Oklahoma and murdered in Kansas. Sheryl Lynn Bonaventura, 18, murdered in Utah. Michelle Lynn Korfman, 17, killed in California. Dawnette Sue Wilt, 16, abducted in New York State (she survived). Beth Elaine Spofford Dodge, 33, murdered in New York State.
Wilder is a suspect in at least ten more murders in the United States and Australia.
Death of Christopher Wilder
On April 13, 1984, Wilder stopped at a Colebrook, New Hampshire, service station to ask directions to Canada. By now, he was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. Two New Hampshire state troopers, Leo Jellison and Wayne Fortier, approached him. Wilder retreated to his car and retrieved a Cold Python .357 magnum. Jellison grabbed Wilder from behind, and the gun discharged twice as Wilder tried to die by suicide. The first shot hit Wilder and exited through his back into Jellison. The second bullet hit Wilder in the chest, killing him. Although seriously wounded, Jellison recovered and returned to full duty.
Unlike most serial killers, Wilder had money, leaving an estate worth about $7 million (more than $20.5 million in 2023). In June 1986, a court-appointed arbitrator ruled that the after-tax balance was to be divided among the families of his victims.
Wilder’s body was cremated in Florida.
You can read more about Christopher Wilder and his trail of destruction in Duncan McNab’s The Snapshot Killer.
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