The Beauty Queen Killer
Christopher Wilder was rich. His friends described him as charming and gallant. He lived a playboy life in South Florida, living well and racing sports cars. He was particularly fond of beautiful young women. In the nineteen eighties he was still in his thirties and living in Boynton Beach in Florida.
Cross-country road trips often conjure images of the wind in your hair as you drive a classic Mustang with the music blaring. Add to this rape, torture and murder and you’d come close to describing Christopher Wilder’s 1984 killing spree across the United States. Also known as The Beauty Queen Killer, Wilder was born in 1945 in Sydney, Australia. Having lived through a rather traumatic childhood where Wilder came close to death not once, but twice, he showed signs of sexual deviance at a young age.
By aged seventeen somewhat innocent window peeking had developed into gang rape. Having plead guilty to this crime, during his year of probation, he received the controversial electroconvulsive therapy. This treatment, thought to correct unwanted mental conditions, involves small electric shocks being passed through the brain to trigger a seizure. Although it was meant to help, this treatment seemed to further fuel Wilder’s disturbing fantasies – especially those about having complete power over a woman.
That apparently stimulated his fantasies, for unlike before this treatment, he now imagined shocking girls while having sex with them. Therapists noted his need to dominate women and his desire to turn them into slaves for his pleasure. He wanted to hold a woman captive against her will.
Born March 13, 1945, Christopher Wilder was the product of an international marriage, between an American naval officer and his Australian wife. A sickly child from the beginning, Wilder was given last rites as an infant. Two years later, he nearly drowned in a swimming pool; at age three, he suffered convulsions while riding with his parents in the family car, and had to be resuscitated.
People who have had a near death experience can be affected in a number of ways. A common outcome is that these people lose any basic cautions, taking what they want from life and feeling the need to live life according to their own wants and needs. In this case, Wilder clearly ignored any social rules and instead acted according to his needs and desires with no fear of the consequences. A sense of immortality can also ensue, especially if light-hearted comments along these lines come from those around the individual who had the near death experience. Since Wilder also nearly died at birth such comments from family are a possibility.
By his teens, the boy had problems of a different sort. At seventeen, in Sydney, Wilder and a group of friends were charged with the crime of gang-raping a girl on the beach. He pled guilty to carnal knowledge and received one year’s probation, with a provision for mandatory counselling. The program included group therapy and electroshock treatments, but it seemed to have little or no effect.
Electric shock therapy is a psychiatric procedure that involves the brain being briefly subjected to 75 to 470 volts. The aim is to induce a grand mal seizure, which some believe can repair a ‘damaged’ mind. The trauma to the body caused by this procedure is so severe that patients have to be given muscle relaxants to avoid breaking their bones during the procedure. While some people with depression have been helped by electroshock therapy, there are also a huge number of horror stories regarding the long-term impact of this type of therapy, including permanent brain damage. Whether this was the case with Wilder we may never know. However, the terrifying nature of such treatment would be enough to anger anyone, even more so those intrinsically capable of the monstrosities Wilder would go on to commit. Indeed, in one case he uses a blow dryer and cooper wires to send electric currents through one of his victims. This is a harrowing re-enactment of his own experience with electric shock therapy.
Wilder married at age twenty-three, but the union lasted only a few days. His bride complained of sexual abuse, and finally left him after finding women’s underwear (not her own) and photographs of naked women in a briefcase Wilder carried in his car. In November 1969, he used nude photographs to extort sex from an Australian student nurse; she complained to the police, but charges were ultimately dropped when she refused to testify in court.
Australia was growing too hot for Wilder, so he moved to the United States. Settling in southern Florida, he prospered in the fields of construction and electrical contracting, earning (or borrowing) enough money to finance fast cars and a luxurious bachelor pad, complete with hot tub and a private photo studio. The good life visibly agreed with Wilder, but it did not fill his other hidden needs.
In the years that followed Wilder’s work in construction and real estate allowed him to build himself a veneer of success. It was this mask that he would subsequently use to lure women into his trap. Specifically, his new photography hobby and the expensive equipment to match gave him direct access to a plethora of young, vulnerable “wannabe” models.
Wilder’s next known sexual assault occurred in 1976. His victim was a 16-year-old girl whose parents had hired him as subcontractor on their Boca Raton home. What did she want to be after high school? He asked her that day. A secretary, she said. Would she like an interview for a job right now? Yes. She got into his truck and drove off with him, and when she got scared he slapped her around. To fend him off, she told him she had venereal disease, hoping her lie would save her life. She survived to press charges, but not before being sexually violated.
Before the trial Wilder was diagnosed as being psychotic and dangerous. “At this time,” Dr. D.G. Boozer told the court, “Wilder is not safe except in a structured environment and should be in a resident program geared to his needs. When left to his own resources and under stress, he disintegrates.” Another psychiatric expert, who thought institutionalization was unnecessary, recommended “structured and supervised treatment.” But the jury acquitted him, apparently discounting the girl’s story, and Wilder received no treatment.
Three years later he was caught again, charged with attempted rape of a 17-year-old girl after asking her to pose for a pizza ad. She was a vacationer from Tennessee to whom he introduced himself as “David Pierce,” agent for a Barbizon modelling school. He had her try on shorts and spike heels he got from a department store, and then told her to act sexy while he evaluated her poses. He gave her a piece of pizza, which he had apparently laced with drugs, and told her to take a bite while he held it. “He told her to chew it real slowly so that he could see what it would be like,” Palm Beach Sheriff’s Det. Arthur Newcombe testified, adding that he told her, “My eyes are the camera.” Then Wilder took the girl into his pickup truck and forced her to have sex with him. “She kept asking why she had to do this,” said Newcombe, “and he would answer, ‘You want to be a Barbizon model, don’t you?’ ” Newcombe said Wilder admitted having “sexual problems and said he was seeing a psychiatrist. He told me his job was his whole life and when he was working he had no problem, but when the weekends rolled around something came over him….”
After pleading guilty to a lesser offense—attempted sexual battery—Wilder was sentenced to five years’ probation and required to see a sex-therapist twice a month, which he continued to do until his disappearance. “He wasn’t much different from a lot of other fellows I see every day,” said his probation officer, “I never had the vaguest idea he would do anything like this. I’m not so sure there isn’t someone else out there just like him, and no one has any idea who he is.”
Ever the negotiator, a plea bargain for this crime meant that he was simply put on probation with compulsory therapy.
However, based on what was to come, it is clear that the therapy didn’t work…
Wilder’s probation apparently did not hinder his social life at all. He rarely stopped in at his company’s office, spending his days instead at a health club or at the beach, and his nights at pickup bars. A stream of women came and went from his house—some of them “street-type” girls, some of them looking like models, a few of them walking in with suitcases and staying for a week or two. By then his photography studio was fully equipped for fashion work, with special lighting, backdrops and cosmetics supplies, and his “fashion photographer” come-on appeared to work. “He often brought beautiful broads in here,” says the bartender at one of his hangouts. “But I was very surprised to hear about him. He was always well-behaved. And he was a great tipper—never left less than $1 a drink.”
Lisa Maxwell, 19, met him at the Banana Boat. “He sat down and started buying us drinks,” she recalls. “He was tan and good-looking and talked about the cars he raced and showed off his Rolex and the big gold chain he wore around his neck. The next thing I knew, my friend Lori left with him.”
Lori Barth, 21, remembers it well. “We enjoyed the afternoon, so I saw no reason not to go with him,” she says. “He drove his Porsche 80 mph down the street. I was nervous, but I loved the interior of his car because it smelled like leather.” At his home, however, “it was weird,” she says. “He tried to impress me with material items”—the sauna, the pool, the cars, the speedboat. As they stood near the bed, Wilder made a pass. “He grabbed me and kissed me,” she says, “but I backed off and didn’t respond. None of them were French kisses.”
Lori Barth was lucky. An employee of the Boynton Beach Kmart’s photo department once mistakenly opened a package of the photos Wilder had brought in for developing and found pornographic pictures of women and prepubescent children—many of whom may have been rendered compliant by a fast-acting hypnotic drug that Wilder had admitted to using in the 1980 case.
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. Wilder admitted the crime to his therapist, but confidential interviews are inadmissible in court, and he was later acquitted.
In December 1982 Wilder violated his probation by flying to Australia. While visiting his parents in Australia, 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. His family posted $350,000 bail, and Wilder was permitted to return to the United States, his trial scheduled for May 7, 1983. Legal delays postponed the case, but Wilder was scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on April 3, 1984.
He never made it.
It was a warm, sunny Sunday morning on the cusp of spring when Teresa Ferguson set out from her home in Indian Harbor Beach, Fla. for the shopping mall nearby. Terry, 21, stepdaughter of the local police captain, was an attractive woman with long, dark hair who worked in a factory that specialized in silk-screened T-shirts while she waited for the fulfillment of her life’s ambition: to become a model. That morning at the mall she met a man with the promises she wanted to hear.
Two days later, on March 20, 300 miles northwest in Tallahassee, a blond, 19-year-old Florida State student disappeared from a shopping mall near the campus with a man who offered her a modeling assignment. When she demurred, he forced her into his car, beat her, bound and gagged her and forced her into a sleeping bag, which he stuffed into the trunk of his car. At some point during the agony of sexual sadism that followed, the man tried to seal her eyes shut with glue. Next morning outside Bainbridge, Ga. the woman, identified only as “Jane Doe,” managed to escape and contact authorities.
Terry Ferguson was not so lucky. It was in the middle of the night, the day after Jane Doe told her harrowing story to the FBI, that Capt. Don Ferguson’s dispatcher informed him that a body had been discovered in a swamp about 100 miles to the east. They had found Terry. She was the first confirmed victim.
It was the most intensive FBI manhunt since the 1968 dragnet for Martin Luther King’s assassin, James Earl Ray, and by the time Christopher Wilder, 39, was killed with his own gun in a Colebrook, N.H. gas station on April 13, he had murdered at least four women—and probably four others whose bodies had yet to be found—in a six-week rampage that stretched from Florida to California to New England. All of his victims were pretty, young women, most of them modelling hopefuls lured by his pitch that he was a photographer with a job just for them. Most of them were sexually assaulted and tortured. There were some 500 FBI agents on the Wilder case by its end, and the portrait they drew of their quarry was eerily familiar—not unlike John Wayne Gacy of Chicago, under whose house authorities found 27 bodies of young men and boys in 1979; not unlike the Hillside Strangler or the Boston Strangler; and very similar indeed to the smooth-talking ex-law student Ted Bundy, who is believed to have killed and sexually tortured some 36 young women in the 1970s.
Like Bundy, Wilder had a most credible exterior. An affluent builder, sportsman and man-about-town, he seemed to be a character out of a John D. MacDonald novel. At his home in the eastern Florida coastal town of Boynton Beach, there was a speedboat at his dock, several cars in the driveway, including a customized Porsche and an Eldorado, and a sauna next to his bed. His screened-in swimming pool had a map of his native Australia on the bottom, and the surrounding tiles sported pictures of koala bears. An animal lover, he shared his house with three show-quality English setters, made donations to Save the Whales and the Seal Rescue Fund and was known to brake for turtles crossing the road. His neighbours, were shocked at the charges against him, described him as unfailingly polite. They thought it only a little curious that he had so many girlfriends and that the drapes in his house were always closed.
A sometime race-car driver, he competed at the Miami Grand Prix not long before his killing spree began, and some thought that his 17th-place finish could have set him off. But what drove Wilder to murder must have been festering in him for years. He had a long history of violent sex offenses—one that, by the law of common sense, should have taken him out of circulation years ago. In that too Wilder’s is a familiar story.
The FBI has drawn the veil on the most graphic details of his assaults. “Unfortunately,” Assistant Director O.B. “Buck” Revell said, “the more bizarre the act the more likely you are to find copycats. And inevitably there are going to be more Wilders out there.” But the FBI and others who worked on the case consider it a classic cautionary tale of how, after all the advice about never getting into cars with strangers, our dreams make us vulnerable to a nightmare like Christopher Wilder—and how, despite the long arm of the law, which had Wilder in its grasp a half-dozen times before the murders began, justice can be so tragically confounded.
The day after Terry Ferguson’s body was found and more than 800 miles west in Beaumont, Texas, Terry Diane Walden, 24, packed her 4-year-old daughter, Mindy, into the family’s newly purchased 1981 Cougar and headed for a local day-care center. A nursing student, she planned to do some studying with a friend, maybe pick up a few things at the shopping mall and be home by 1:30. At 5 p.m. the day-care center called her husband, John David, a machine operator on the night shift at the Goodyear’s Chemical Plant, to say Terry hadn’t picked up Mindy. And indeed no one had seen her since she left Mindy that morning.
Three days later, on March 26, Terry’s body was found floating face-down in a canal in Beaumont. She had been bruised, knifed and bound; there were rope burns on her ankles and wrists.
Later the same day, 620 miles north, the body of Suzanne Logan, 20, was found by fishermen in a waterside park in Milford Lake, Kans. She had been beaten, knifed and bound with duct tape and nylon cord. She had disappeared the day before from a shopping mall in Oklahoma City. Three years before Logan had put together a portfolio of photographs in the hope of beginning a career as a model.
“My brother was a loner,” Stephen Wilder said. “This problem has been in his life for many, many years.”
On March 29, four days after Suzanne Logan’s body was found, and more than 800 miles to the west, Sheryl Bonaventura, 18, of Grand Junction, Colo. packed her bags for a car trip to Aspen and dressed up for the long-awaited occasion: faded jeans, rust-coloured, gold-toed cowboy boots, gold rings, gold bracelets and a white sweatshirt, which read “Cherokee” on the front. To her mother’s admonitions about careful driving, she replied with a breezy “Mom, you worry too much” and rushed off for a quick stop at the nearby shopping mall before meeting her travelling companion, best friend Kristal Cesario. Wilder was there that day asking for a “cowgirl type” for a modelling assignment. Kristal thinks Sheryl may have fallen for his pitch. “We were always dreaming of someone coming up and saying, ‘You’re found. You’re Vogue material.’ I would have done it.”
Two days after Sheryl’s disappearance there was a beauty contest at the Meadows Mall in Las Vegas sponsored by Seventeen magazine. Wilder was there—an amateur photographer snapped him sitting in the background—and he was seen leaving with one of the finalists, Michelle Korfman, 17, the daughter of a casino chief executive officer. Michelle aspired to be a model, among other things. Says her mother, Linda: “She wanted to be President of the United States at 35.”
On his flight from the assault charges in Australia, he carried back with him gifts of koala bear place mats and napkins for Mrs. Dolores Kenyon, the mother of the one woman with whom he seemed to have a sincere relationship. “He always was a gentleman,” Mrs. Kenyon says. “Courteous, soft-spoken, polite, always rose when a lady came into the room.” Her daughter Beth, 23, was a real beauty: Once an Orange Bowl queen, she was a finalist in the 1982 Miss Florida contest. Wilder met her at that event. A serious young woman, she was a student teacher at a Coral Gables school for gifted children last year, and this year was teaching the mentally disturbed.
The 1984 Miami Grand Prix, this was the second motor racing event on the temporary road course at the glittering Bayfront Park. This was a very glamorous occasion. Some of the top motor racing drivers were taking part in Porsches, Aston Martins, Jaguars and other prestigious vehicles. Wilder was there of course, and as the sports cars roared around the circuit, twenty year old Rosario Gonzalez circulated through the crowd as one of ten models hired by a pharmaceutical company to distribute free aspirin samples.
Rosario was never seen again. She had been seen leaving the race event though with a man described as being Caucasian in his thirties. Just one week later another part-time model, Beth Kenyon, also disappeared. Her parents discovered that she had last been seen with Christopher Wilder – talking to him at a gas station. The police were wary, they did not want to immediately arrest the wealthy property developer on the strength of one witness report.
It was around the time of the Miami Grand Prix races that Beth Kenyon told Wilder firmly that she would not marry him, in part because of their 16-year age difference. Her parents believe that rejection sparked his killing rage. Whatever its cause, it apparently began at the Grand Prix that last weekend in February with the disappearance of Rosario Gonzalez, the 20-year-old would-be model who had come to the event to make a quick $400 passing out free samples of a new aspirin. Witnesses last saw her at the raceway in the uniform of the day—red short shorts and white T-shirt—with a man who looked like Wilder. She had met Wilder before. He had taken her picture in October 1982 “for the cover of a romance book,” her fiancé recalled, “but she had never seen the picture and had never heard from him again.”
A few days later, on March 3, Beth Kenyon also disappeared. A gas station attendant was the last to see her, and he told the Kenyon’s, Wilder had been with her. When she didn’t turn up at home, a distraught William Kenyon called Wilder to account. “I would never do anything to hurt any of you,” Wilder told him, but Kenyon hired a $1,000-a-day private detective to check up on him. The family offered to pay for FBI surveillance of Wilder but the agency refused, the police said they had nothing to go on and, when the Kenyon’s’ detective confronted Wilder and suggested they go to the police together, he bolted. “We couldn’t understand why a man who broke probation four times couldn’t be tailed,” says Dolores Kenyon. “In our justice system the criminal has all the rights and that is why my daughter isn’t here tonight. If the system was different, all eight girls would be alive.”
Tina Marie Risico, a pretty but troubled 16-year-old, met Wilder on April 4 when she visited a dress shop in a mall near her Torrance, Calif. home to apply for a job. For the next three days he kept her bound and gagged, raped her and tortured her with the same 110-volt prod he had used on the others. By then he was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List, and he made Tina watch all the TV coverage to show her how dangerous he was. Somehow, though, he could not bring himself to commit the final assault on Tina, and he made her his accomplice as he looped back across the country.
Within the week they made Merrillville, Ind., where Tina approached Dawnette Sue Wilt, 16, in a shopping mall and asked her if she wanted to be a model. When she went to Wilder’s car to sign a consent form he pulled a gun. Bound and gagged, she rode in the back seat while Wilder drove toward upstate New York.
On April 12 near Barrington, N. Y. he apparently tired of Dawnette. He stabbed her repeatedly and dumped her in the woods, thinking she was dead. But she managed to work her way free of the tape, then tied clothes around her chest to stanch the flow of blood and stumbled to a road where a farmer picked her up in his truck and drove her to the hospital. In the emergency room she gave the police enough information to set them hot on Wilder’s path. After surgery she described in grotesque detail what she had been through. Last weekend police stood guard over Dawnette to keep away the media and the curious. At her bedside was a Cabbage Patch doll, bought with donations from the sheriff’s deputies.
Risico stayed with Wilder until the day before his savage journey ended, even procuring his last victim—Beth Dodge, a 33-year-old working mother whom he killed for her car. She had stopped off at the mall in Victor, N.Y. on her lunch hour. “He had Tina approach Beth Dodge and bring her to his car,” says a source close to the investigation. “He had told Tina he would kill her if she did anything unusual. He drove the hostage’s car with the hostage and Tina followed in her car. For her to try to escape then would have been foolish. He had told her he was a race-car driver and could easily catch her.”
Wilder shot Beth Dodge at a gravel pit close by the mall—no torture, no tape or cord. Says Capt. H. Gerald Willower of the New York State Police: “Beth was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Wilder seemed to know his time was just about up. He drove to Boston’s Logan Airport, gave Tina Marie enough money to fly back home and get a cab, and they parted ways. In Los Angeles, she later said that he had expressed a desire that she not be with him when he died.
She barely got away with her life, and even boarding the plane, she said, she believed she would be shot in the back. Oddly, when she arrived in Los Angeles, she asked the cab driver to take her to a lingerie store first. She spoke to the sales manager and told her that Wilder had cut her hair short to make her look like the girl in the movie Flashdance. Then some friends saw her and took her to the police.
On April 13, Wilder tried to grab another girl. He saw a nineteen-year-old by the side of the road whose car had broken down. Wilder offered to give her a lift to get gas, but when he passed the gas station, she knew something was up. She insisted he stop, so he pulled out a gun. However, he had to slow down in one place, and she grabbed the opportunity to open the door and leap out. Rolling away, she managed to escape.
Wilder dumped several articles, such as his camera, suitcase and things he’d taken from the victims, and then drove into New Hampshire. At a service station in Colebrook, New Hampshire, about twelve miles from the Canadian border, he drew the attention of two state troopers. (Newton says they had recognized the car from FBI descriptions, Gibney says they knew it from recent news reports, while Cartel says they thought Wilder was acting strangely enough to investigate.). They looked at him as he stood talking to the attendant and thought he looked like the guy on the FBI posters, sans beard. His tan indicated he was not from around there.
The troopers pulled in and got out of their car. They called out to him, and he dove inside the vehicle, apparently going for a gun. In the scuffle, one trooper, Leo Jellison, jumped on his back, grabbing for the .357 Magnum, and two shots were fired. One went through Wilder into the trooper’s chest, lodging in his liver. The second went into Wilder’s heart, obliterating it. He died on the spot.
It was Friday the 13th. It had been 47 days since the first reported disappearance and he had spent twenty-six days on the run. His luck had just run out.
Found in his possession, were the .357 revolver, extra ammunition, handcuffs, rolls of duct tape, rope, a sleeping bag, his business partner’s credit card, the specially designed electrical cord for stunning the women he picked up, and a novel by British author John Fowles called The Collector.
Published in 1963, this story features a lonely entomologist who collects butterflies and who also captures and imprisons a pretty art student named Miranda. He keeps her in his basement. Seeing nothing wrong with what he has done, he treats her well, expecting that this will eventually win her love, and willingly gives her anything she wants, except her freedom. While she grows to need his attention, since he’s the only person she ever sees, she also views him as evil for his imprisonment of her. Nevertheless, she belongs to him, and this fantasy is not uncommon among sadists.
Among those who hoped to create sexual slaves were Jeffrey Dahmer, who murdered seventeen men; Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, who tortured and killed an unknown number of people, and others who actually imprisoned women for sex for long stretches of time but did not kill them. One woman was kept in a box for seven years.
Therapists who had treated Wilder over a period of time knew that he loved this book and had practically memorized it. For him it had been the ultimate fantasy.
But now he would have no more chances to make it come true.
Yet Wilder’s wretched tale did not end there. Six days after the autopsy, New Hampshire pathologist Robert Christie took a phone call from a man claiming to be from Harvard. According to Newton, this man said that Harvard wanted Wilder’s brain for study. He agreed, in the interest of science, but he wanted a formal written request. It never materialized, and when he phoned Harvard, no one there admitted to making any such call.
Even as Wilder was cremated in Florida, there were many questions concerning the whereabouts of some of his victims. The families of the missing were sick with grief that they might never find their daughters.
Yet gradually, a few more were located and identified.
On May 3, over a month after she had disappeared, Sheryl Bonaventura was found under a tree in Utah. She had been killed with a gun and also stabbed. Her time of death was estimated at around March 31, two days after she was spotted with Wilder in a restaurant. Eight days later, in the Angeles National Forest, Michelle Korfman was discovered. She was badly decomposed and it took almost a month to notify her family of the identification. Neither of the two girls who had disappeared in Florida, triggering Wilder’s spree, were ever found.
Some women who were murdered in places where he was known to have been on those dates were tentatively linked to him as well, particularly in Las Vegas. A couple of girls identified him from mug shots as the man who had grabbed them in Boynton Beach, Florida in 1983 and forced them to perform oral sex on him. They were ten and twelve.
Even in Australia, he was linked to numerous incidents of sexual molestation and two deaths. In 1965, two decades before his final run, two young women had accompanied a man matching Wilder’s description to a beach near Sydney, and they were both found raped, strangled, and placed in a shallow grave.
Two more girls had been grabbed at malls in Florida. One was stabbed to death and the other was never found. Several sets of skeletal remains were found near property that Wilder owned, and one woman was estimated to have been dead for several years.
In other places where Wilder was seen, girls disappeared. Some were found dead, others disappeared altogether.
Officer Jellison recovered from his wounds and was happy to know the identity of the man he had stopped from escaping into Canada. Thanks to him, it was the end of the line for Christopher Bernard Wilder, who left an estate estimated as being worth between half a million and almost two million.
While he’s credited with eight victims, he’s tentatively linked to so many others that it’s impossible to know the final count of his victims.
Psychologist Al C. Carlisle believes that serial killers have a divided personality. Wilder certainly exhibited a good side that fooled people, Carlisle points out, and a bad side that harmed them. He was able to maintain a public persona of an upstanding citizen and run a successful business, even as he entertained and acted out his darker fantasies. As each one was played out, and as life became more disappointing, Wilder’s fantasies became more violent. Nevertheless, Carlisle admits, “the pathological process that leads to the development of an obsessive appetite (and possibly an addiction) to kill is still one of the most perplexing psychological mysteries yet to be solved.”
Captain Ferguson has taken to stopping young hitchhikers whenever he sees them. “These girls don’t understand what’s going on today,” he says. “This mass-murder type of thing is becoming an epidemic. All you have to do is look at TV—every night they’re picking up these crazies.”