Beauty Queen Killers – Known and Unknown – Crime Tutorial

Maybe you’re an author writing about JonBenet Ramsey, a little “beauty queen” whose murder is still unsolved.  Or you’re writing about grown-up queens who’ve been murdered, like the ones featured in podcasts and 24/7 crime shows.

Well, here’s a tutorial that might help you flesh out some details in an article or book you’re writing. It’s about a few of the deets about both a known killer and an unknown one.

Known and Unknown Beauty Queen Killers

There are a few books about the known “Beauty Queen Killer” (by Mark Quarry, Jack Rosewood, and Megan White),  but few Americans know about Christopher Wilder. This might be due to the fact that he’s an Aussie who started  committing crimes back home before he moved to the States at age 24.

Another serial killer in the U.S. that few Americans know about, the Paper Bag Killer, is among the killers featured in my forthcoming book, Privileged Killers. He  barely makes the cut as a serial killer, having killed two men separated by four  months. Not that he didn’t try. He failed in two other murder attempts approximately  5 months and 8 months before his first murder.

His attacks occurred in 1972 and 1973, and helped terrorize San Francisco during the time of   Zebra and Zodiac killings in the city.

A Known Beauty Queen Killer

Wilder was an amateur race car driver who put his skills behind the wheel to use for other “hobbies” — the crimes of kidnap , rape, torture, and murder.

In a month and a half in the mid-’80s, he careened from Florida to California, then up to New York, snatching at least a dozen women and killing eight of them, before police in New Hampshire put an end to his bloody road trip.

Wilder was born in 1945 in Sydney, Australia, the son of an American  naval officer and an Australian national. He nearly died at birth  and almost drowned in a swimming pool at the age of two.

What you—a writer, budding criminologist, or amateur sleuth—might want to suss out is this. What parental influences caused Wilder to feel such anger and hatred toward women in his life?

Beauty Queen Killer and Victims

Beauty Queen Killer and Victims

Australian crimes/killings

In January  1963, Wilder  raped a 13-year old girl in an alleged gang rape. Both codefendants denied being involved in the actual assault. Wilder was sentenced to probation. Other allegations of crime resulted in easy sentences — counseling and shock therapy.

Wilder  was considered a suspect in the unsolved 1965 murder of two teenage girls on Wanda Beach in Sydney, Australia.   A few years later,  after a short-lived marriage of a week, his bride suggested that Wilder’s psychiatric treatments hadn’t worked.

American Killings

After Wilder moved to Florida and made a “killing” (sorry, couldn’t resist)  in construction and real estate, he acquired the trappings of success — a Porsche, a speedboat,  and a luxury home with a pool and sauna.

Beauty Queen Killer - Victims

Beauty Queen Killer –

He also purchased pricey cameras that gave him access to a pool of lovely, gullible victims — young women who dreamed of being models. So, despite average-slightly-balding looks, Wilder’s wealth and camera allowed him to attract, and then kill, beauty-queen caliber women.

In 1974, using an assumed name, he picked up a wannabe cover girl in a shopping mall, then drugged and raped her. A plea bargain got him probation and more psychiatric care. It didn’t help.

As one informant noted: “He would go to the beach and he would go to malls and pick up women… Anyone would voluntarily go with him.
He was very attractive and witty, he always seemed to have plenty of money and he was very personable.”
Yet Wilder would start on a path of horrific crimes that would become increasingly brutal and brazen. In 1983, Wilder is believed to have raped two girls, aged 10 and 12, in Florida. He became one of the most-wanted fugitives by the FBI, making #1 on the Most Wanted list faster than anyone in the U.S.ever has.
In 1984, he was tied to the abduction and assault of two sisters, just 10 and 12-year-old. A police search began for Wilder, who fled Florida, and a bloody six-week manhunt ensued.

Wilder abducted 19-year-old Linda Grober, who underwent a horrific experience as his captive. She revealed the suffering she underwent thusly:

       “He was electrocuting me. He had me
tied up to an electrical outlet in both my pinkies and my toes, and he’d had superglued my eyes shut.”

Grober managed to fight for her life and escaped from Wilder, but by this stage, four other women were dead, or missing presumed dead.


Finally after a six-week cross-country crime spree that led through Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nevada, and California (including attempted abductions in Washington and New York), Wilder was killed during a struggle with police in New Hampshire on April 13, 1984.

Since Wilder’s death,    the Wanda Beach murders remain one of Australia’s most infamous unsolved crimes. Two teenage girls – Marianne Schmidt and Christine Sharrock – disappeared on a Sydney summer’s day in 1965, until their bodies were found in a shallow grave in the sand.

An Unknown Beauty Queen Killer.

Wilder is known as the Beauty Queen Killer because all his female victims were attractive.  JonBenét Ramsey was also attractive and was killed December 25, 1996 at the age of 6 in her family’s home in Boulder, Colorado.

Little Known Serial Killers - Beauty Queen Killer

Who’s the Beauty Queen
Killer of JonBenet Ramsey?

JonBenet’s mom, Patsy Ramsey entered her in various child beauty pageants that were held in Boulder. JonBenét won the titles of America’s Royale Miss, Little Miss Charlevoix, Little Miss Colorado, Colorado State All-Star Kids Cover Girl, and National Tiny Miss Beauty.

Since the case remains unsolved, there are two broad theories:

The family member theory –

That Patsy – a former beauty queen herself – and/or her husband John…or JonBenet’s brother  strangled her. The Ramsey family   left Colorado for Georgia 6 months after JonBenet’s death. Patsy died of ovarian cancer in 2006 at age 49.  On July 9, 2008—nearly 12 years after their daughter’s death — the Boulder District Attorney cleared John Ramsey and his late wife of any wrongdoing in their daughter’s death.

The intruder theory –

The DA’s exoneration decision was based on new DNA evidence that was collected from JonBenét’s clothing, which belonged to an unidentified male not part of the family. This particular type of DNA analysis did not exist at the time of the killing. Boulder County DA Mary Lacy said new DNA tests point to an “unexplained third party” as possibly responsible for the killing.

The evidence seems to favor this theory, which —other than eliciting a false confession from someone—hasn’t led anywhere .

Your theory? –

To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.


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  5. Livia Matielo says:

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