Survivors of serial killer Christopher Wilder speak out for first time

Survivors of serial killer Christopher Wilder speak out for first time

Tina Risico shares her brush with death in new doc, "The Beauty Queen Killer."

ByDoc Louallen

May 16, 2024, 5:03 PM

    Over 47 days in 1984, a man who would become known as "The Beauty Queen Killer" unleashed shocking violence on young women, some of whom were aspiring models. Now, in 2024, some of the victims are speaking out for the first time about surviving the enduring torture that killer Christopher Wilder put them through.

    "The Beauty Queen Killer: 9 Days of Terror," a new true-crime docuseries that explores the stories of the women who survived Wilder's rampage, will begin streaming on May 16 exclusively on Hulu.

    Wilder's method of operating was to approach young women in shopping malls, kidnap them, and then sexually assault and rape them. He ultimately killed most of his victims, but three survived. One of Wilder's victims was 16-year-old Tina Marie Risico.

    PHOTO: Floyd Clarke, deputy assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, addresses reporters at FBI headwuarters in Washington, April 13, 1984.

    Floyd Clarke, deputy assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, addresses reporters at FBI headwuarters in Washington, April 13, 1984, to discuss the possible shooting and killing of murder-kidnap suspect Christopher Wilder in Cilebrook, N.H.Ron Edmonds/AP

    Risico describes her time with Wilder as nine hellish days. She says Wilder forced her to help him abduct another teenage girl and bear witness to her captor's brutal crimes.

    After decades of silence, Risico reveals how she survived those nine terrible days with Wilder, 40 years after she was abducted.

    "I was 16 at the time and I am 56 years old now," Risico said. "A lot hasn't been opened in 40 years. I think it's time. I want to share my side of the story, my truth. Why did Tina survive being tortured and controlled? If nobody has ever been in that situation of captivity, it's difficult for people to grasp the concept. But I lived it."

    MORE: Serial killer Ted Bundy's former girlfriend, her daughter wonder why he spared them

    Life-changing trip to mall

    On April 4, 1984, Risico's life changed forever when she went to the Hickory Farms store in the Del Amo Fashion Center, in Torrance, California, to apply for a job. It was there that the 16-year-old student at Shery High School would meet her kidnapper.

    Risico says that Wilder, who had cameras around his neck, approached her at the store and told her she was beautiful. She says he then proceeded to give her information on his fake modeling agency and claimed that he could make Risico into a model and wanted to take pictures of her.

    "This is the one point that I regret every second of my life, every day," Risico said. "I got in the car with this perfect stranger when all bells and whistles were going off in my head. Why didn't I listen to my instincts? Why didn't I listen to the voice in my head? Don't get into the car with a stranger."

    Risico says she noticed that Wilder's car had a distinct odor, but she overlooked it because of his charming personality and convincing modeling pitch.

    PHOTO: Christopher Wilder, sought by the FBI nationwide in the disappearance of eight women since Feb. 26, is shown in a 1981 video dating service tape, April 8, 1984.

    Christopher Wilder, sought by the FBI nationwide in the disappearance of eight women since Feb. 26, is shown in a 1981 video dating service tape, April 8, 1984.WTVJ/AP

    Risico said Wilder pulled off the side of the road in the Anaheim woods, and the two walked up to a wooded area. And that's when Wilder's demeanor changed, says Risico, who alleges that Wilder pulled out a gun and forced her to strip naked.

    "He taped my face, put sunglasses on me, and put a hat on me," Risico said. "And at this time he was escorting me to the car…like, now I feel captive. I was feeling fear…desperation… anxiety. I had no idea what kind of monster this person was."

    Wilder drove Risico to a hotel, where she says she was forced to do sexual acts. He began to torture her with his knife and used electric shocks to sexually abuse her.

    "I felt helpless," Risico said. "Very helpless. Helplessness is an awful feeling. When all of a sudden you realize your civil rights and your whole morality is being taken and controlled by someone else. And in order to survive, you have to obey. And I didn't like it, but I had to deal with it."

    Risico describes her days with Wilder as very long. On her seventh day with Wilder, the two traveled to Gary, Indiana, and that's when she says she would be forced to be an accomplice to his crimes.

    More victims emerge

    Before Risico, Wilder had already victimized several people. The FBI was already on his trail. He continued, however, to kidnap and rape young women.

    Wilder killed his victims in a span of two months, starting from Feb. 26, 1984. The first reportable incident involved Rosario Theresa Gonzalez, who went missing after a visit to the "Miami Grand Prix" racetrack. Her body was never recovered.

    Popular Reads

    survivors of serial killer christopher wilder speak out for first time

    Boat seized in fatal hit-and-run: FWC

    May 15, 7:23 PM

    survivors of serial killer christopher wilder speak out for first time

    New portrait of King Charles draws mixed reactions

    4 hours ago

    survivors of serial killer christopher wilder speak out for first time

    Teen graduates with doctoral degree

    May 14, 12:07 PM

    A week after Theresa Ferguson disappeared, 23-year-old Elizabeth Kenyon disappeared on March 8, and her body was never found. After Kenyon, Wilder would try the same scheme with five other women before meeting Risico on April 4. Four of the five women died, and one, Linda Grober, survived a night of terror.

    Wilder decided to do things differently for his next victim.

    This time, he would use Risico to help with recruitment. In Gary, Indiana, Risico says Wilder told her to recruit a girl he felt was pretty. Risico approached the girl, told her she was beautiful and how there was a modeling show in the mall. Then Wilder followed up and gave her his modeling spiel. He then explained how they must get in the car and drive to his warehouse for more clothes.

    After pulling a gun and forcing the girl into a car, Wilder drove them to a motel, and that's where Risico said she watched as Wilder raped the girl.

    "After he was done raping her, raping me, he allowed -- he said 'you need to go take a bath,'" Risico said. "And while I was in the bath I could see the lights dimming on and off, so he was electrocuting her. And she was screaming. I could hear her from the bathroom. But there was just one moment -- I don't know if she could understand what I said -- but I had a moment to look at her between her and I, and he didn't see it, and I just said silently, 'I'm sorry.'"

    Wilder took the girl to the woods and started to suffocate her. He then stabbed her as she tried fighting back.

    Wilder stabbed her in the lungs and left her in the woods with just her pants. Once he left, the girl was able to hail down a passing car. She ended up in a hospital, where she received help and told her story.

    MORE: Trove of new evidence released in Long Island serial killer case as murder charge added

    Risico returns home

    All over the news, there were reports of the girl's kidnapping and rape.

    "This is when he started getting crazy," Risico said . "I think he feared now the FBI are on the right track and they weren’t too far behind. And you could just sense he’s -- closing in on him. He’s done. He was very sketchy and scary. And from that point he said to me, 'we need to change cars.'"

    Wilder was driving up to Canada when he made contact with 33-year-old Beth Dodge as she was leaving a New York shopping center. As she was about to get in her gold Pontiac Firebird, Wilder approached her with a gun. He pushed her into the car and took off.

    "[Wilder] told me to follow, we peeled off the road in this gravel area like a turn out," Risico said. "The minute she got out of the car with him, he told her to walk ahead and he just shot her straight in the back. I mean point blank just pfff."

    PHOTO: Tina Maria Risico sits for interview with HULU.

    Tina Maria Risico sits for interview with HULU.HULU

    After Dodge's death, Wilder took Risico to the Boston airport. He bought her a plane ticket to her hometown and said goodbye. Once Risico arrived home, she says she faced reporters' relentless inquiries for information. She says she went to police and explained everything that happened.

    Meanwhile, Wilder was spotted in a Pontiac Firebird, the car belonging to Dodge. He was heading toward the Canadian border, about 12 miles north, in the small town of Colebrook, New Hampshire.

    During a struggle with two police officers, Wilder shot himself. The bullet passed through his body and hit one of the officers, injuring him. Wilder then fired again, dying by suicide.

    After Wilder's death, Risico says she was interrogated by police on her involvement.

    "It's difficult to come to grips with. She sees Beth Dodge being executed," Duncan McNab, a former police detective who has written about Wilder, said. "She's dropped off by Wilder at Logan Airport, and she sits there and doesn't call the police. Flies back to California. Heads off to do some shopping. It's very strange behavior."

    Although Risico witnessed crimes, the investigators determined she was a victim during the nine-day terror that ended with her safe return to Torrance.

    "Why did I survive and they didn't? I don't know. That's everyone's question," Risico said. "I never screamed. I never retaliated. I succumbed and, you know, was vulnerable to him. I don't like playing games, but it was a game. I'm gonna survive in playing this game."

    OTHER NEWS

    4 hrs ago

    Forget Steven Spielberg, George Lucas’ First Cut of Star Wars Was So Bad Even the Movie’s Editor Couldn’t Understand the Story

    4 hrs ago

    Rolling blackouts as Russian attacks erode Ukraine's energy capacity

    4 hrs ago

    Sky Sports: Leeds make approach to sign "quality" new 54,000-a-week player

    4 hrs ago

    Russian MiG-35: How Fighter Jet Compares To Ukraine's Incoming F-16s

    4 hrs ago

    Kate Middleton issues first major update on farmer project since cancer diagnosis

    4 hrs ago

    Australians skipping doctor’s appointments, heating amid housing crisis

    4 hrs ago

    13 best umbrellas for facing the unpredictable British weather

    4 hrs ago

    M&S in ‘best financial health since 1997’ as sales and profits soar

    4 hrs ago

    Watch live outside Downing Street as Sunak set to make general election announcement

    4 hrs ago

    How extreme heat will disproportionately affect disadvantaged communities

    4 hrs ago

    Bosnian Serb leader reiterates threat to secede from Bosnia ahead of UN vote on genocide

    4 hrs ago

    U.S. existing home sales drop 1.9% in April, pushed lower by high rates and high prices

    4 hrs ago

    Utah woman describes 'terror' at seeing stepson detained and beaten after DRC coup attempt

    4 hrs ago

    Parents protest outside another HISD school over principals, teachers reportedly being forced out

    4 hrs ago

    HPD: Suspect in custody after running from officer who shot at him in southwest Houston

    4 hrs ago

    Indonesia mulls ban on investigative journalism, LGBTQ content

    4 hrs ago

    Big-winning Lotto Max tickets sold in Ontario, but jackpot remains unclaimed

    4 hrs ago

    Progressive Conservatives easily retain Pictou West in Nova Scotia byelection

    4 hrs ago

    ANALYSIS: Solving roster issues on blue line is key for Jets in off-season

    4 hrs ago

    Promotions and raises are going to be harder to get in 2024—here's why

    4 hrs ago

    A newspaper near Ukraine's border with Russia watches for freed POWs

    4 hrs ago

    Rishi Sunak calls Cabinet to urgent meeting at 4.15pm amid warnings he 'could trigger a General Election TONIGHT': Cameron and ministers cut short trips and Chancellor cancels TV appearance as rumours of a July 4 poll grip Westminster

    4 hrs ago

    Video of man harshly ordering wife to fetch fermented milk resurfaces, sparking outrage.

    4 hrs ago

    Woman says builder's two-word reply to reasonable request started 'blazing row'

    4 hrs ago

    The shocking moment college golfers watch airport staff THROW their clubs off Delta plane on to the floor

    4 hrs ago

    Woman, 28, is left paralyzed after a huge grand PIANO fell on her and severed her spine as she helped move it for a friend

    4 hrs ago

    Top progressive member's sister LOSES primary in Oregon despite The Squad's backing: Alarm bells for far-left candidates across the country in key takeaways from primaries

    4 hrs ago

    New Derek Chauvin accuser claims killer cop performed same 'signature pose' on her that he later used to murder George Floyd - as her horrific injuries are revealed

    4 hrs ago

    Auburn: Man dies and a 32-year-old is taken into custody after confrontation in Sydney's west

    4 hrs ago

    Tottenham player ratings vs Newcastle: James Maddison impresses as Alfie Devine and Tyrese Hall stake a claim

    4 hrs ago

    Giovanni Pernice's Plan B - embattled dancer launches back up career amid Strictly training row

    4 hrs ago

    Phillip Schofield takes his puppy Alfie for a walk after making a 'tepid' return to the limelight as he ventured back to Instagram following year-long hiatus

    4 hrs ago

    Gold prices in Qatar Today Wednesday, May 22, 2024

    4 hrs ago

    ‘Extreme Turbulence’ on Singapore Airlines Flight Kills 1 and Injures Dozens

    4 hrs ago

    'I saw people across the aisle going completely horizontal': Passengers recall extreme turbulence

    4 hrs ago

    RFK Jr. says he invested $24K in GameStop after meme stock rally: ‘Apes together strong’

    4 hrs ago

    Fatal mistake: Russians leave tank hatch open and enemy storms in

    4 hrs ago

    Options market sees 12% move in Nvidia after this 'unusually important' earnings report, says Goldman

    4 hrs ago

    BBC Breakfast host Jon Kay takes swipe at Jeremy Hunt in 'car crash' interview

    4 hrs ago

    Home sales slipped unexpectedly in April, despite big gains in supply

    Kênh khám phá trải nghiệm của giới trẻ, thế giới du lịch