Chris Wilder was born March 13, 1945. At two years old he nearly drowned in a swimming pool, at three he suffered convulsions and had to be resuscitated. His criminal history began in his teen years. At 17, Wilder and a group of friends were charged with gang-raping a girl on the beach in Australia. He was sentenced two years probation and mandatory counseling after pleading guilty. The program included group therapy and electroshock treatments.
In November 1969, he used nude photographs to extort sex from an Australian student nurse. In March 1971, at Pompano Beach, Wilder was picked up on a charge of soliciting women to pose for nude photos; he entered a plea of guilty to disturbing the peace and escaped with a small fine. Six years later, in October 1977, he coerced a female high school student into oral sex, threatening to beat her if she refused, and he was jailed a second time. Wilder admitted the crime to his therapist, but confidential interviews are inadmissible in court, and he was later acquitted. On June 21, 1980, he lured a teenaged girl into his car with promises of a modeling job, then drove her to a rural area where she was raped. A guilty plea to charges of attempted sexual battery earned him five years probation, with further therapy ordered by the court. Wilder was accused of kidnapping two 15-year-old girls from a beach in New South Wales on December 28, 1982, forcing them to pose for pornographic snapshots. Traced through the license number of his rented car, Wilder was arrested on December 29, charged with kidnapping and indecent assault. Wilder was scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on April 3, 1984. He never made it.
On February 6, Rosario Gonzalez, 20, disappeared from her job at the Miami Grand Prix. Chris Wilder was driving as a contestant that day, and witnesses recall her leaving with a man who fit Wilder’s description. Her body has never been found. On March 4, 23-year-old Elizabeth Kenyon vanished after work from the school where she taught in Coral Gables. She was seen that afternoon, with Wilder, at a local gas station, and his name was found in her address book. Kenyon’s parents remembered her speaking of Wilder as “a real gentleman,” unlike the various photographers who asked if she would model in the nude. . On March 19, Terry Ferguson, 21, disappeared from a local shopping mall where witnesses remembered seeing Wilder. Her body was recovered four days later, from a Polk County canal. On March 20, Wilder abducted a university co-ed from a shopping mall in Tallahassee, driving her across the state line to Bainbridge, Georgia. There, in a cheap motel, she was raped repeatedly and tortured with electric shocks, her eyelids smeared with super glue. Terry Walden, 24, informed her husband on March 21 that a bearded man had approached her between classes at the local university, soliciting her for a modeling job. She thanked him and declined the offer, but the conversation struck a chord of memory when Terry disappeared March 23. Her body, torn by multiple stab wounds, was recovered from a canal three days later. On March 25, 21-year-old Suzanne Logan disappeared from a shopping mall in Oklahoma City. Her body was found the next day, floating in Milford Reservoir, near Manhattan, Kansas. Raped and stabbed, the victim had apparently been tortured prior to death. Sheryl Bonaventura was the next to die, abducted from a shopping mall in Grand Junction, Colorado, on March 29. On April 1, 17-year-old Michelle Korfman vanished from a fashion show at the Meadows Mall, in Las Vegas, Nevada. April 4, 1984 he abducted 16-year-old Tina Marie Risico in Torrance, California, raping her that night and through successive evenings as they stayed in various motels, working their way eastward. Subjected to threats and abuse, living continually in the shadow of death, Risico agreed to help Wilder find other victims as he continued his long flight to nowhere. On April 10, Dawnette Wilt was lured away from a shopping mall in Merrillville, Indiana, raped and tortured through the course of that day and the next. Wilder tried to murder her on April 12, stabbing Dawnette and leaving her for dead outside Rochester, New York, but she managed to survive and staggered to the nearest highway, where a passing motorist discovered her and drove her to a hospital. Wilder’s final victim was Beth Dodge, abducted near Victor, New York, on April 12 and shot to death in a nearby gravel pit. Following the murder, Wilder drove his teenage captive to Boston’s Logan Airport, purchasing a one-way ticket to Los Angeles and seeing her off at the gate.
Spotted by the police at a local gas station, Jellison leaped on the fugitive’s back, struggling for the .357 magnum, and two shots rang out. The first passed through Wilder and pierced Jellison’s chest, lodging in his liver; the second snuffed out Wilder’s life, resulting in what a coroner termed “cardiac obliteration.” case. Sheryl Bonaventura’s body was recovered in Utah, on May 3, the victim of a point-blank gunshot wound. Michelle Korfman was found in the Angeles National Forest on May 11, but another month would pass before she was identified, her family’s fears confirmed. A pair of girls, aged ten and twelve, identified his mug shot as the likeness of a man who snatched them from a park in Boynton Beach, in June of 1983, and forced them to fellate him in the nearby woods. His name was likewise linked with other deaths and disappearances across two decades, in Australia and America. In 1965, Marianne Schmidt and Christine Sharrock accompanied a young man matching Wilder’s description into the beachfront dunes near Sydney; strangled, raped and stabbed, their bodies were discovered in a shallow grave, but no one has been charged to date. In 1981, teenagers Mary Hare and Mary Optiz were abducted from a mall in Lee County, Florida; Hare was later found, stabbed to death, while Optiz remains among the missing. During 1982, the skeletal remains of unidentified women were unearthed on two separate occasions near property owned by Wilder, in Loxahatchee; one victim had been dead for several years, the other for a period of months. Tammi Leppert, teenaged model, kidnapped from her job at a convenience store on Merritt Island, July 6, 1983. Melody Gay, 19, abducted on the graveyard shift of an all-night store in Collier County, Florida, on March 7, 1984, her body pulled from a rural canal three days later. Colleen Osborne, 15, missing from the bedroom of her home in Daytona Beach, March 15, 1984. Chris Wilder was seen in Daytona that day, propositioning “models.”
Chris Wilder has been linked to at least: five kidnappings, three rapes (where the women were able to escape, 14 murders, and one attempted murder. He had no apparent MO but most of the women were found in canals.
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