Making of a Monster: Christopher Wilder (The Beauty Queen Killer)

Pick Me Upmagazine asked for my professional opinion on Christoper Wilder, also known as ‘The Beauty Queen Killer.’ Wilder was a serial killer who abducted and raped at least ten women and killed at least eight of them during a spree across the United States in early 1984. Here are my answers to their questions, published on 16th August 2012

 

 

 

He survived a near-drowning incident when he was a child. Do events like this in someone’s childhood have lasting effects?

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.

After being involved with a gang rape as a teenager, Christopher was given electroshock therapy. What effects would this have had on this young man?

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.

Later, as a young man, he was in trouble with the law again for forcing a teen to perform a sex act. He told a judge he didn’t believe he’d done anything wrong. Why would he have believed that what he did was not wrong?

Wilder had endured trauma that was supposedly ‘good’ for him in the form of electroshock therapy. Perpetrators often convince themselves that what they are doing is good for the victim; a gift in disguise. If Wilder felt this way, his own traumatic experiences would likely have supported this belief. Evidence does suggest, however, that Wilder did have a conscience when committing these crimes, suggesting that he was unlikely to have genuinely believed that what he was doing was not wrong.

 

He got very good at maintaining a façade of a successful and upstanding businessman while leading a double life as a sex criminal. What makes some people so good at this kind of deception? And how can they compartmentalise their lives like this? He also managed to appear charming and affable when luring his victims.

Some people are born with narcissistic traits that assist them in manipulating others through charm and charisma. We see this trait in many successful people, particularly managers or high up executives. This trait in someone whose need for power and control is never quenched or satisfied, possibly due to life experiences and needs not being met as a child, can create what we see in Wilder – a monster.

 

He seems to have had an interest in masturbation – he’d masturbate over and beside his victims before raping them. What does this say about him?

This would suggest that Wilder was turned out by the fear expressed by his powerless victims. It also indicates that he wanted to prolong his pleasure and their fear.

 

He’d pose as a photographer to lure young women into his trap. Is there some significance to his choice of assumed profession?

Wilder lured his victims in with flattery – a cunning strategy. Also, by posing as a photographer, he was able to provide women with a lot of attention without raising suspicion. This was a clever tactic, indicating a degree of intelligence and calculated thinking and planning.

 

In one of his attacks, he glued his victim’s eyes together – why did he have this focus on the visual?

It is likely that Wilder didn’t want to be able to look into his victims eyes. This suggests that he did have a conscience, which makes his crimes all the more horrific. It is also possible that he was self-conscious and did not want to be viewed by his victims. Either way, eye contact was a level of intimacy Wilder was not comfortable with.

 

During another rape, he was said to be mesmerised by a telly that was on in the corner of the room, even raping his victim while watching it. Why should this be?

By focusing on something else, Wilder was able to distance himself from the horrific act he was carrying out. This is yet another clue to the fact that, unlike some serial killers, Wilder had a conscience and needed to employ strategies to prevent his conscientious from ‘ruining’ the pleasure he gained from attacking vulnerable women.

 

Is it likely that someone like Wilder killed more women than is known? 

It is likely that Wilder was involved in more murders than he was convicted of. Indeed, he had a cunning plan to lure victims, the charisma to avoid suspicion, and an unquenching desire to manipulate, scare, and ultimately kill the women he set his sights on.



Categories: Psychology

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9 replies

  1. Hi,
    I remember Christopher Wilder well. I lived in Lockport, NY in 1984. Beth Kenyon-Wilder’s ex-girlfriend-and who was with Wilder in March 1984 when she disappeared in Florida-
    parents had a Kenyon’s Variety Store in Lockport-two blocks from me. Wilder actually stopped at my and my girlfriend’s yard sale in Locport, 3 days before he was killed in New Hampshire.! He came up to my girlfriend and myself, gave us his card-as a model photographer and talke to us about looking for models who wanted a portfolio.
    He-Wilder- was nice and very polite-nice looking, not looking like a man who was at that point the FBI’s most wanted! There was a girl in his car who never left the car whole time he was with us. Neither of us had cars available-and told him niceley we had no way to meet him-and knew no one wanting to be a model! He actaully talked about his ex-girlfriend Beth kenyon! As if she were alive! mentioned he knew her parents who owned the nearby Kenyon’s store!
    We never connected him to report we’d heard about a man wanted in possible connection at that time to Beth’s disappearance!
    When we read about his suicide by cop three days later in NH-we couldn’t believe it! We’d talked to this guy and took his card!
    gave us both shivers for quite awhile. We have since talked to many like us who had this same type of close call with Wilder.!

    • Shane, thank you for sharing. I get shivers just thinking about it. It must still go over in your mind? The what ifs, etc.? I am just pleased that you and your friend escaped this man….in fact, it sounds like many had a close call….

      • Hi, Dr. Davies, I am so sorry it took so long for me to read your reply!
        I have since found i was wrong in my memory on the day i met Wilder…not sure why, but thankfully my girlfriend remembered the timeline of events more accurately. ! Though oddly enough, i remembered details about meeting Wilder, she did not. But, in our defense-this WAS 31 years ago, and it was so traumatic when we found out who we’d talked to-we shut it out of our minds for awhile-realizing how fortunate we were to have escaped this killer.
        My friend remembering correctly dates however, has brought another wrinkle in this whole Wilder story., and may have turned up another victim of Wilder’s-only in summer of 1983!
        My friend said our yard sale we put on together happened in warm weather, she thinks in very early July 1983. Which makes more sense that the April 1984 i thought i remembered.!
        After talking to her husband and my husband, they both said they remembered our telling them about meeting Wilder, and that it was a very hot day, and on a Friday, in 1983. My husband left the job he was working at in Oct. 1983, so we know it was before that that he remembers stopping in from work at our yard sale, and hearing about Wilder.! Both of our husbands worked at a radio station in Lockport, home of Beth Kenyon and Kenyon family., and where we lived at time we met Wilder.

        What this brought up was a case that hit our news media in NY about the recent id of a Jane Doe, identified this April ’14, as Shari Lynne Ball,whose nude body had been found murdered, in a swampy field in western, ny, in Oct. 1983, some 25 min. east of Lockport.
        The State Police said it looked as if she’d been there since end of June, beginning of July. No id was on her. Her Mother, Nancy had donated a sample of her DNA in 2005. Took this long for a match, as they exhumed Shari’s body last Oct. for DNA.
        My friend couldn’t believe how the time we met and talked with Wilder, matched around the time Shari was killed/body placed in wny field.
        Shari Lynne Ball, age 20, left West Palm beach June 26th, telling her Mother she was meeting a friend in Boynton beach(home of Christopher Wilder), who was taking her to NY for a modeling career. She called 2 days later in Ashalnd, Va., then was never heard from or seen again. They figure she would’ve arrived in NY(WNY?), around June 30th/July 1st.(a Friday-and a long holiday weekend for most-July 4th fell on a Monday.).
        Though my friend and i can’t remember an exact date/month we talked to Wilder-we know it was early summer of 1983. We truly think the timing and coicidences-matching with details about Shari’s disappearance- is too much to ignore.
        We believe Wilder planned on taking Shari up here as he was taking a long Holiday weekend and wanted to see the Kenyon family, and possibly even Beth kenyon, with whom he was seeing as a friend-and-who often came up from Florida during summer when her parents were at their summer home in Lockport, NY. Our feelings are: he also planned to kill Shari-as early as 1983, Wilder i feel, was starting his killings.
        We gave our information to the Sate Police here who are handling Shari’s case. They told me they feel also Wilder killed Shari Lynne Ball. Only problem: proving beyond a doubt, he was up here at same time Shari’s body was dumped in a field here. I’m currently trying to find something that will place Wilder here at that same time, and at my yard sale. Aagin, sadly i didn’t advertise our yard sale, and can’t remember an exact date we talked to Wilder.
        Shari’s Mom really doesn’t want right now to deal with who killed her daughter. She says even proving her daughter died at Wilder’s hands, won’t bring her justice or back, as Wilder is dead. I understand her feelings.
        I have a Facebook page: Who killed Shari Lynne Ball?. I also have a FB page under Shane Kurz Sia.
        I feel almost guilty being a survivor while Shari wasn’t ,of Wilder’s. The only thing that saved me and my friend; age and life experience. Wilder came across as a bit “off”, however charming. I kept asking “myself when he talked to us: “Why is he at a yard sale, trying to pitch two women to do a portfolio?”Is he THAT desparate?”
        Thankfully, my friend and i both listened to our instincts!
        it still creeps us both out when we think about it. Feel if we can, maybe we can help bring the real killer of Shari-at least a name, that’s why we are pursuing it. Cases older than this have been solved., so who knows!

    • I also had a close call with who I believe was Christopher Wilder. I was 19 years old, and shooting in a pool tournament in Junction City, KS (this was in April 1984). A man with a full beard and a camera around his neck came up to me (this was in a bar though, not a mall) and asked me if I had ever modelled before. I told him that when i was 16 I modelled for a formal wear shop in Milwaukee, WI (where I am from). He asked me if I had an interest in being a photography model, and I told him that I had thought about it. He told me that he could make a portfolio for me and wouldn’t’ even charge me. I asked him for his card, and he told me that he ran out of them. He told me that if i wanted him to do it for me, that I would have to come with him right then and that it wouldn’t take that long. I told him “no” because I was in a pool tournament and also that I don’t just up and take off with strange men. I told him it was a shame that he didn’t have a business card because I could have called him and we could have set it up. I don’t remember if it was the next day or two days later that someone had found a body in the Milford Lake Kansas reservoir. She was ultimately identified as being one of Christopher Wilder’s victims. In reading news reports later, I realized that he had started using business cards after Kansas. I hate to think that I gave him that idea. I don’t know, maybe when he saw me, he really had run out of them, but I don’t remember him reported using one before Kansas. I didn’t even realize that he could have been a serial killer until I saw the news that Christopher Wilder had killed himself and I saw a picture of him. That’s when I realized that I came very close to being one of his victims. I am now 49 years old, and am a full time college student. I am pursuing a Bachelor in Social and Criminal Justice with emphasis on Forensics and a Minor in Psychology to start with. I hope to go on to get my Masters then PhD. I am thinking about being a Criminologist and Forensic Psychologist, but I have to be a Clinical Psychologist in order to be a Forensic Psychologist, So I think that is the path I will take. I want to have a profession that will allow me to study serial killers and why they do what they do. I hope to be involved with the study of them and hopefully, be able to recognize qualities in a person that would identify them as a serial killer or a potential serial killer.

      • You were very smart to listen to your insticts and i do admire how you’ve gone on to do something positive with your experience. Wilder was two distinct personality’s. When he first walked up to us at our yard sale, he was very unassuming, polite and casual, neatly dressed with good manners. I didn’t feel “put off” by him, he didn’t in an obvious way, push his wanting to do a portfolio. He did seem a bit annoyed when i chuckled when he said he would do a portfolio and i’d be good, as i was thinking, “At a yard sale, you are asking me?”, he quickly went to his dark colored car, and came back with an album of models he said he’d done, as if to prove he was legit. it was then i had this feeling that i cludln’t shake. My friend and i also had people stoping at the yard sale and interrupting his pich, and, our small kids were running around, too. Maybe reason he gavie it up and went on!
        I too-am going to night classes soon in criminal justice, mainly becasue of this encounter with a spree killer-actually, i think-serial killer.!

  2. My sister had a close call with wilder. She met him at a race track in Florida. She was supposed to go on a date with him but couldn’t. The FBI found a card with our home telephone number on it in his house. They started investing my father thinking he was somehow invoked because of finding the home telephone number at Wilders house. Once it was established that wilder had the number because of my sister, the FBI kept tabs on her and warned us he may come back to GA for her. When I heard he was killed in NH, we were all so very relived.

  3. i posted something on 11/05 but it disappeared!

  4. I was approached by a man in 82-83 in the west palm beach mall parking lot. It was 30 yrs ago but his reason for approaching me was that he was a photographer and that I was pretty enough to be a model. I told him I was waiting for my mom and he said we could go to his studio and be back in 10 minutes with some test shots to show my mom. I thought it odd that we could do it that quickly. I asked for his card and he didn’t have one and Just then when my mom drove up I said you can talk to my mom,but instead, he sped off! His face looks familiar and the Chrysler sedan sounds like the nondescript car that he had that I remember….I wasn’t afraid because I knew I wasnt going with him but after the fact when I realized what could have happened to me it freaked me out. It still does.

  5. I knew Mr. Wilder in 82 for a short time. I met him through a friend of a friend and my boyfriend at the time and myself ate dinner with them at a restaurant in Miami. I got up to use the bathroom and he approached me with a card and told me he could get me some modeling jobs if I did a photo shoot with him. Since he was dating a friend of a friend I said “Sure” and I met him days later at a motel in Hollywood Florida close to my house. He took pi’s of me with jeans and my white blouse (he brought Jordache je ans with him) I could tell at the restaurant that he was interested in me by the very intense look on his face during dinner. I modeled the clothes and did a few topless but with my arms covering my front. He asked me out but I was dating an Air Traffic Controller at the time and didn’t want to cheat on him. I was attracted to the monster. He had more hair in 82 and all though he was quite-he seemed charming and well balanced. I have survivors guilt when I see video’s or text about him. I didn’t even know that he was a serial killer till a couple years ago (had left Florida before he started his spree) I was watching CNBC and saw a show about a somewhat wealthy serial killer and almost lost my lunch when I saw the pic of him with the blazer and jeans on. I remember that outfit from the night I met him. I feel terrible for the families and what they must have and are still going through and I pray they have peace.

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