Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sex Slaves: The Psychology of Mastery

The Sex Slave as Bait

Christopher Wilder
Christopher Wilder

In 1984, Christopher Wilder, 39, came under suspicion in Florida in the disappearance of several women, so he grabbed his business partner's credit card and fled the state. Along the way, he murdered a number of pretty young women, but he also kept one of them alive to do his will. A chance survivor's experience suggested that he enjoyed torturing girls with electricity. He'd lure them with the promise of a career in modeling, and then abducted them, often killing them.

Wilder was a charming white male in his thirties, spurred by sexual fantasies and excited by a certain type of victim — in this case, beautiful young women who could be models. Hence, he was dubbed "The Beauty Queen Killer." Apparently he was associated with several rapes and murders before he finally went on the run, making the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.

Oddly, at one point during his spree, Wilder picked up a 16-year-old girl, "Marie," from a store where she had just filled out a job application. He forced her to help him to lure others, including "Dawn" in Gary, Indiana, who was also filling out a job application. Marie introduced herself as Tina Wilder and asked Dawn to step outside the store to speak to the store manager, who turned out to be Wilder. He forced her into his stolen car, making Marie drive as he placed duct tape over Dawn's eyes and mouth before raping her.

They stopped at a hotel in Ohio, where Wilder tortured Dawn, and then they all drove to New York state. Marie and Wilder took photographs at Niagara Falls before they went to Rochester, N.Y., for the night. Wilder warned both girls that if they tried to escape or draw attention to themselves, he would kill them.

When Wilder saw a televised appeal for Marie's return, he drove the girls into the Northeast. In the woods, he tried to suffocate Dawn, but she struggled so much he could not get a grip. When he stabbed her, she pretended to be dead, so he left her there. She managed to get out and get help.

Book cover: The Collector
Book cover: The Collector

Near Victor, N.Y., Wilder had Marie persuade a woman driving a Pontiac Trans-Am to come over to their car. Wilder grabbed her car keys and ordered Marie to drive the Trans-Am, following him. When he found a deserted gravel pit, he shot the woman in the back. Then, inexplicably, he drove the Trans Am to Boston's Logan Airport, gave Marie enough money to fly back home, and they parted.

Oddly, when she arrived in Los Angeles, she asked the cab driver to take her to a lingerie store. 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, even as Wilder was killed in New Hampshire by a police officer who had recognized him.

Found in his possession were handcuffs, rolls of duct tape, rope, a sleeping bag, the specially designed electrical cord, and a novel by British author John Fowles called The Collector. Therapists who had treated Wilder over a period of time knew that he loved this book and had practically memorized it. In fact, other self-styled "slave masters" have acknowledged the novel or the movie based on it as their inspiration.

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