Christopher Wilder Lured Women And Girls With The Promise Of Modeling Gigs — Then Brutally Raped And Murdered Them

Published February 11, 2024
Updated March 18, 2024

In February 1984, Christopher Wilder embarked on a seven-week, cross-country murder spree, torturing and killing at least eight aspiring models and earning himself the nickname "The Beauty Queen Killer."

Christopher Wilder

Public DomainKnown as “The Beauty Queen Killer,” Christopher Wilder targeted aspiring models, often posing as a photographer or agent and luring victims into his car by promising them modeling opportunities.

Christopher Wilder enjoyed life in the fast lane — literally. A race car driver who preferred the finer things, Wilder had no trouble attracting beautiful young women with a nice car, an expensive camera, and, of course, lies.

Little did those women know that being seduced by this charming bachelor would cost them their lives.

Who Was Christopher Wilder?

Born Christopher Bernard Wilder on March 13, 1945 in Sydney, Australia, his father was an American naval officer and his mother was Australian.

Wilder’s life of crime began early. When he was 17, he participated in the gang rape of a girl on a Sydney beach. He pleaded guilty but only received a year of probation and mandatory counseling, as reported in Michael Newton’s The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers.

During his time in counseling, Wilder underwent electroshock therapy. However, this had little, if any, effect on curbing his appetite for violence. In fact, the treatment may have actually inspired one of his many horrific methods of torturing his later victims.

In 1968, 23-year-old Wilder married. Almost immediately, his new wife found photos of other women wearing her own bikinis. She also accused him of sexual abuse, and claimed that he had tried to kill her. The marriage barely lasted a week.

Christopher Wilder On A Beach

HandoutA young Christopher Wilder on a beach in his native Australia.

Christopher Wilder’s Life In The Fast Lane

In 1969, 24-year-old Christopher Wilder moved to Boynton Beach, Florida, where he made a fortune in construction work and real estate. He purchased a Porsche, a speedboat, and a luxurious bachelor pad and began racing cars in his spare time.

Developing an interest in photography, Wilder also bought several high-end cameras. This “hobby” would soon become key in luring beautiful women back to his home.

Wilder spent his time prowling South Florida beaches in search of women to solicit. In 1971, he was arrested at Pompano Beach for demanding that two young women pose nude for him. In 1974, he convinced a girl to come back to his house under the premise of a modeling job. Instead, he drugged and raped her. But Christopher Wilder never served prison time for either of these crimes.

Without consequences, Wilder’s actions only became more sordid. In 1982, while visiting his parents in Sydney, Wilder abducted two 15-year-old girls, forced them to get naked, and took pornographic photos of them. Wilder was arrested and charged with kidnapping and sexual assault.

The case was delayed multiple times, however. By the time he was finally scheduled to appear in court, he was safely out of reach back in the United States.

The following year he abducted two girls, aged ten and twelve, at gunpoint in Florida. He forced them to fellate him in a remote area. But Wilder managed to evade arrest for this crime as well — and it wasn’t until much later that he was identified as their attacker.

Christopher Wilder’s violent streak continued unhindered.

Becoming The Beauty Queen Killer

Rosario Gonzales

The International Center for Unidentified and Missing PersonsTwenty-year-old Rosario Gonzales disappeared from the 1984 Miami Grand Prix with Christopher Wilder, who was racing there. She hasn’t been seen since.

On Feb. 26, 1984, Christopher Wilder embarked on a seven-week-long cross-country trip, during which he murdered at least eight women and girls, all aspiring models. This earned him the ominous moniker of “The Beauty Queen Killer.”

Wilder’s first known victim during this spree was 20-year-old Rosario Gonzales, who was working at the Miami Grand Prix in which Wilder was a contestant. Gonzales was last seen leaving the racetrack with a man matching Wilder’s description.

On March 5, a 23-year-old high school teacher and former Miss Florida finalist named Elizabeth Kenyon disappeared. Wilder and Kenyon had dated previously; he even asked her to marry him, but she declined.

Kenyon was last seen by a gas station attendant filling her car. The attendant reported seeing a man who looked like Wilder at the station with Kenyon. The attendant also said that Kenyon and the man appeared to be planning a photoshoot in which Kenyon would model.

Dissatisfied with the progress of the investigation, Kenyon’s parents hired a private investigator. When the PI called Wilder to question him, the murderer was spooked. He fled to Indian Harbour, two hours north of Boynton Beach.

Neither Gonzales nor Kenyon have ever been found.

Beth Kenyon

The International Center for Unidentified and Missing PersonsElizabeth Kenyon, Wilder’s former girlfriend, was last seen at a gas station with a man fitting Wilder’s description. She has not been seen since.

On March 18, 21-year-old Terry Ferguson disappeared from a Merritt Island mall, where witnesses recalled seeing Wilder. Her body was found four days later in a Polk County canal, strangled and beaten so viciously that she had to be identified by her dental records.

Christopher Wilder’s next attack occurred on March 20 when he lured 19-year-old Florida State University student Linda Grover into his car, again under the premise of modeling work. Instead, he knocked her unconscious, tied her up, and drove to a motel in Georgia.

There, he proceeded to rape and torture her for several hours, supergluing her eyes shut and shocking her with electric wires. But against all odds, Grover managed to break free and lock herself in the bathroom — and screamed so loudly that Wilder fled.

Grover was rescued, leaving her free to identify her attacker in photographs shown to her by police. Meanwhile, Christopher Wilder fled the state.

The Sordid Murder Spree Continues

On March 21, Christopher Wilder arrived in Beaumont, Texas where he tried convincing 24-year-old mother and nursing student Terry Walden to do a photoshoot for him. She declined. That day, Walden mentioned to her husband that a bearded Australian had been asking to take her picture.

Five days later, her body was found in a nearby canal. She had been stabbed to death.

Mugshot

West Palm Beach Sheriff’s DepartmentDespite being arrested multiple times in both Australia and the United States, Christopher Wilder never did time in prison for his crimes.

Wilder then fled in Walden’s rust-colored Mercury Cougar. Authorities in Texas soon found Wilder’s abandoned car during the search for Walden and discovered hair samples belonging to Terry Ferguson — confirming that Wilder was responsible for her death.

Meanwhile, Wilder abducted 21-year-old Suzanne Logan from a shopping mall in Oklahoma City and drove 180 miles north to Newton, Kansas. He checked into a motel room where he raped her, shaved her pubic hair, and tortured her.

He then drove 90 miles northeast to Junction City, Kansas, where he stabbed Logan to death and dumped her body in the nearby Milford Reservoir. She and Walden were discovered the same day, on March 26.

On March 29, Wilder kidnapped 18-year-old Sheryl Bonaventura from a shopping mall in Grand Junction, Colorado. They were seen together several times, once at the Four Corners Monument, then checking into a motel in Page, Arizona.

Bonaventura was not seen again until her body was discovered in Utah on May 3. She had been fatally shot and stabbed multiple times.

A Prophetic Photoshoot

On April 1, Christopher Wilder posed as a professional photographer and attended a fashion show in Las Vegas for aspiring models competing to appear on the cover of Seventeen magazine.

One of the attendees was taking pictures, and by chance, Wilder appeared in the background of one shot, clearly ogling 17-year-old model Michelle Korfman in her mini skirt.

Seventeen Magazine Shot

Lauth InvestigationsThe photo taken at the Seventeen magazine competition in Las Vegas, in which Christopher Wilder can be seen watching from the background. Michelle Korfman was last seen at the event.

At the end of the show, the Beauty Queen Killer approached Michelle, and the two left together. This was the last time Korfman was seen alive. Her badly decomposing body was found over a month later in California’s Angeles National Forest. An autopsy showed that she had died of asphyxia from soil being forced into her larynx and trachea.

By now, Christopher Wilder had been linked to several murders across the country. Desperate to put his crime spree to an end, the FBI added him to the “Ten Most Wanted” list on April 3.

The next day, Wilder abducted 16-year-old Tina Marie Risico from Torrance, California, and began driving back east. In a strange twist of events, however, he did not kill her. Instead, he kept her alive and demanded that she help him lure more victims. Terrified, Tina Marie agreed.

On April 10, Tina Marie helped Wilder abduct 16-year-old Dawnette Wilt from Merrillville, Indiana. Wilder drugged Dawnette, raped and tortured her for two days, then stabbed her and dumped her in a wooded area of upstate New York.

But miraculously, Dawnette survived and managed to drag herself toward the highway. She was picked up and taken to a nearby hospital, where she was able to give police more information about her attacker.

Christopher Wilder Wanted Poster

FBIChristopher Wilder was added to the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.” Posters with his image began to appear in shopping malls and at beaches across the country.

Wilder’s final victim was 33-year-old Beth Dodge. Wilder abducted Dodge near Victor, New York, where he fatally shot her and dumped her body in a gravel pit. He then drove to Boston Logan Airport. There, he bought Tina Marie a flight to Los Angeles.

Why he decided to spare her is a mystery to this day.

The Final Chapter Of The Beauty Queen Killer

On April 13, Christopher Wilder was recognized by two state troopers at a gas station in Colebrook, New Hampshire. As they approached him, Wilder leaped into his car and grabbed a .357 magnum.

One officer managed to restrain him, but in the struggle, two shots were fired. One shot passed through Wilder and into the officer restraining him. The other went straight through Wilder’s chest, killing him.

It is unclear whether Wilder fired the gun by accident, or if he had purposely killed himself. Regardless, his reign of terror was finally over.

“I was happy he’d been stopped,” Christopher Wilder’s brother Stephen said after news broke of his death, according to the Miami Herald. However, Wilder’s death meant that none of his crimes would ever go to trial.

It is believed that Wilder is responsible for several other unsolved murders, including Australia’s horrific 1965 Wanda Beach murders and the March 1984 murder of Colleen Osborn in Daytona Beach. But Wilder took any knowledge about these other crimes to the grave with him.

What he left behind were eight known corpses, potentially even more, and a slew of traumatized young women across two hemispheres. The possibility of justice for the Beauty Queen Killer, unfortunately, had died with him.


After this unsettling look at Christopher Wilder, the Beauty Queen Killer, check out another elusive serial killer, Ronald Dominique, whose murder streak went on for nearly a decade before he was caught. Then, read about the tragic murder of Playboy model Dorothy Stratten at the hands of her own jealous husband.

author
Leah Silverman
author
A former associate editor for All That's Interesting, Leah Silverman holds a Master's in Fine Arts from Columbia University's Creative Writing Program and her work has appeared in Catapult, Town & Country, Women's Health, and Publishers Weekly.
editor
Maggie Donahue
editor
Maggie Donahue is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. She has a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a Bachelor's degree in creative writing and film studies from Johns Hopkins University. Before landing at ATI, she covered arts and culture at The A.V. Club and Colorado Public Radio and also wrote for Longreads. She is interested in stories about scientific discoveries, pop culture, the weird corners of history, unexplained phenomena, nature, and the outdoors.
Citation copied
COPY
Cite This Article
Silverman, Leah. "Christopher Wilder Lured Women And Girls With The Promise Of Modeling Gigs — Then Brutally Raped And Murdered Them." AllThatsInteresting.com, February 11, 2024, https://allthatsinteresting.com/christopher-wilder. Accessed May 21, 2024.