A Killer's Rampage
His next victim was from Tallahassee, but he had grabbed her on March 20 from a shopping mall near Florida State University. Leaving her in a motel, he had driven her car to various places before abandoning it, and then had taken her across the Florida state line into Bainbridge, Georgia, close to Louisiana. Only 19, she was blond and pretty. She had fallen for his line and made herself vulnerable. Instead of photographing her as promised, he tortured her, and from her the police were able to learn a more detailed version of Wilder's peculiar modus operandi.
Around 11:00 that night, she screamed at the motel, waking other overnight guests. A man intent on locating the source of the distress passed by another man with a suitcase who was rushing out. The stranger in a hurry excused himself, speaking in a foreign accent. He sped out of the parking lot as if to escape someone. And the screams had stopped, so there was no way to find the room from which they had originated.
However, the girl eventually found her way to the night manager's desk. He was stunned to see her standing there, wrapped only in a sheet, her hair soaked in blood. Something was wrong with her eyes, but she urged him to call the police immediately, so he did. He called an ambulance as well, and they were able to determine that this girl's eyelids had been glued shut, and they found bruises all over her body.
The motel clerk supplied the police with the name of the man who had registered for the room, paying with cash and using a Florida driver's license. He was in his mid-to-late thirties, around six feet tall, deeply tanned, and physically fit. He had thinning brown hair and a trimmed beard.
A search of the room revealed that while the man may have packed quickly, he had taken anything that could have helped them to identify him. Yet there were bloodstains on the wall, duct tape on the floor, and an indication that someone had used the bed. It was time to speak to the girl.
At the hospital, she told police officers that she had been shopping at a mall near where she went to college and was in the parking lot when the man had approached her. He told her that he was a photographer looking for a model to pose for him. She need only go with him to a nearby park, with no obligation. He told her she had a fresh face and she was just the type he was seeking. He would pay her $25 for less than an hour.
He seemed sincere and credible. He was well dressed, in a pin-stripe suit and was not at all pushy. She had hesitated for a moment, but then decided to go along with him. At his car, he'd shown her some fashion magazines and claimed that several of the impressive photos were his work.
Something told this girl not to go with him, so she thanked him and declined. At that moment, he punched her hard in the stomach. Then he hit her in the face and pushed her into his car. She couldn't breathe, let alone struggle, and he was already in the car and driving fast before she got her bearings. When he stopped near a wooded area, he placed duct tape over her mouth and bound her hands together. A little farther away, he stopped again and placed her in the trunk of his sedan. She lay there, bound and gagged, for hours while the man drove to an unknown destination. When he finally stopped, he opened the trunk, wrapped her in a sleeping blanket, and carried her over his shoulder into a motel room. She had no idea where they were or what he might do next.
The man said that if she did not remain quiet, he would kill her. Then he began to subject her to torture. Cartel says that he intended to keep her there and torture her over a period of several days.
He made her undress and then lay down next to her and masturbated. (James says he also shaved off her pubic hair and Cartel adds that he put a knife to her groin to see how she would react.) Then he made her perform sexual acts, and finally he raped her twice. All this time, he was watching the television. She hoped this might be all he would do, but apparently he had decided to make things more interesting for himself. He pulled out an electrical cord, which appeared to have been cut in the middle and fashioned for some specific purpose. There was even a switch. She found out what this contraption was for when he applied two open copper wires to her flesh and used the cord to painfully shock her feet.
Afterward, he used a bottle of Superglue with an applicator to force her eyes shut, then used a blow dryer to try to harden it. He did a poor job of it, since she managed to see what he was doing through tiny slits.
He turned the channels until he found an aerobics show, and then ordered his abductee to get up and dance in the way the women were dancing on the tube. She could barely see, but she complied. Her feet were still wired, so when she did not perform as he wanted, he shocked her into obedience.
The television seemed to mesmerize him. After a while, he stopped paying attention to her and remained glued to the screen. She thought she might be able to escape, so she moved toward the bathroom. He came at her, grabbing a hairdryer to hit her in the head. He had told her that if she tried to escape, he would kill her and now she faced that possibility. The girl was terrified. Nevertheless, she struggled with him and managed to get into the bathroom and lock the door. Her eye had been gouged and was bleeding, but for the moment she was safe. She turned around to the wall that was shared between rooms and pounded, screaming as loudly as she could.
She heard fumbling in the room and then the door slam closed. She prayed that he was gone. Yet she waited fully half an hour before she dared to venture out to see. She hoped her screams had frightened him. When she cracked open the door, sure enough, he had packed his "toys" and left. He'd even taken her clothes. But she thought he might still come back, so she ran out, grabbed a bed sheet to cover herself, and went in search of help.
At any moment, she knew, she might still encounter her captor, and he could still kill her. Yet to her relief, she made it to the motel office without being stopped.
After she told her story, the sheriff issued notices to all patrol cars to be on the lookout for a cream-colored Chrysler sedan, and sent bulletins to neighboring states. They also sent a notice to the FBI, since with a kidnapping they could now step in. In fact, they had already been on the case while Wilder was still in Florida.
Aware of the two missing girls in Florida, they gave this incident a lot of attention. Christopher Wilder, a convicted sex offender, was a very dangerous man, and he was desperate. Yet despite his knowledge that the law was after him, he was clearly unafraid of approaching and grabbing girls along the way.
No one spotted the car. Wilder managed to get to Texas, where he found his next victim.