He is also believed to have raped two girls, aged 10 and 12, in Florida in 1983. Since his death, Wilder has also been considered a suspect in the unsolved 1965 murder of two teenage girls in Sydney, Australia, where he had lived from his birth until 1965.
Wilder was born in Australia. His father was an American naval officer and his mother an Australian. He almost died at birth, but recovered, only to almost drown in a swimming pool at age two.
In 1962 or 1963, he pleaded guilty in the case of a gang-rape at a beach in Sydney and was put on probation, during which time he also received electroshock therapy. There is some evidence to suggest that this course of treatment only exacerbated his violent sexual tendencies.
It is known that he had virtually memorized the text of the 1963 novel The Collector by John Fowles, in which a man keeps a woman in his basement against her will until she dies. A copy of the novel was found among his possessions after his death.
In 1968 he married, but his wife left after only a week. Wilder emigrated to the United States in 1969. He lived in Boynton Beach Florida in a mansion on Mission Hill Rd and made a small fortune in real estate while developing an interest in photography.
Over the next few years, however, between about 1971 and 1975, he was in and out of court facing various charges related to sexual misconduct. He eventually raped a young woman he had lured into his truck on the pretense of photographing her for a modelling contract. This would become part of his modus operandi during his later rape and murder spree. Despite several convictions, Wilder was never jailed for any of these crimes.
While in Australia on a visit to his parents in 1982, Wilder was charged with sexual offenses against two 15-year-old girls whom he had forced to pose nude. His parents posted bail and he was allowed to return to Florida to await trial, but court delays prevented his case from being heard. The initial hearing date was finally set for April 1984, by which time he was dead.
The first murder attributed to Wilder was that of Rosario Gonzalez, last seen on February 26, 1984 at the Miami Grand Prix, where she was employed as a model. Soon after, on March 5, Wilder's former girlfriend, Miss Florida finalist Elisabeth Kenyon, went missing. Neither woman was ever found.
Wilder was known to both of them, and police were able to link him to them after initial enquiries by a private investigator who had been hired to find information about Kenyon by her parents. On March 15, Wilder went on the run.
On March 18, he lured 21-year old Terry Ferguson away from a shopping center in Satellite Beach and murdered her, dumping her body at Canaveral Groves where it was discovered on March 23.
His next victim was a 19-year old woman who he abducted and transported to Bainbridge, Georgia on March 20. When she declined his offer to photograph her for a modelling agency, he assaulted her, wrapped her in a blanket and put her into the trunk of his car after binding her hands. In a motel room that night, he raped her then glued her eyes closed and tortured her by applying copper wires to her feet and passing an electric current through them. When she tried to escape he threatened to kill her, but he fled after her screams attracted the other guests' attention.
The Charley Project also connects Wilder to the disappearance of 15 year old Colleen Orsborn from Daytona Beach on 19 March
The next day (21 March) he approached 24-year old Terry Walden in Beaumont, Texas about posing as a model. She turned him down but, on March 23, disappeared. Wilder transferred his stolen license plates to her Mercury Cougar and dumped her body in a canal, where she was found on March 26.
That day, the body of 21-year old Suzanne Logan was found in Oklahoma City. She had disappeared the day before. Logan had been raped and tortured before being stabbed to death.
Wilder then took 18-year old Sheryl Bonaventura captive in Colorado on March 29. They were seen together at a diner in Silverton where they told staff they were heading for Las Vegas. Bonaventura was shot and stabbed to death around March 31 in Utah but not found until May 5. Wilder also killed 17-year old Michelle Korfman, an aspiring model who disappeared from Las Vegas on April 1. She remained undiscovered until May 13.
Near Torrance, California, Wilder photographed 16-year old Tina Marie Risico before abducting her and driving her to El Centro where she was assaulted. Wilder apparently believed Risico would be "robotic enough" to help him lure other victims, so he kept her alive and took her with him to Taos, New Mexico.
Wilder had been on the FBI ten most wanted fugitives list now for some time and while he was now close to Mexico for some reason which has never been explained he and Risico now went to Gary, Indiana where she helped him abduct 16-year old Dawnette Wilt. Wilt was raped several times as Risico drove to New York. Near Rochester, he took Wilt into the woods and attempted to suffocate her before stabbing her twice and leaving her. Wilt survived, and told police Wilder was heading for Canada.
In Victor, Risico persuaded 33-year old Beth Dodge to approach them. Wilder forced Dodge into his car and had Risico follow him in Dodge's Trans-Am. After a short drive, Wilder shot Dodge and dumped her in a gravel pit. He and Risico then drove the Trans Am to Logan Airport in Boston, where he bought her a ticket to Los Angeles.
On April 13, he attempted to abduct another young woman after offering her a ride to a gas station, but she escaped. Shortly afterward, he arrived at a gas station in Colebrook, New Hampshire where he was noticed by state troopers. There is some debate about why Wilder drew their attention at this point, but it is likely that the police would have now been aware he was driving a Trans Am and Wilt had told them he had been heading for Canada.
As they approached him, he reached into the car for a .357 Magnum. Trooper Leo Jellison jumped onto Wilder's back and during the scuffle the gun went off twice. The first shot hit the killer and also went into Jellison's liver. The second blew out Wilder's heart, killing him instantly. His death was officially listed as a suicide. Jellison made a full recovery from his injury.