Tina Marie Risico: Where is The Beauty Queen Killer’s Survivor Now?

While Tina Marie Risico has often been described as an accomplice of serial killer Christopher Wilder during his 1984 rampage across the United States, the truth is she was just another victim. It thus comes as no surprise she remained utterly quiet about her experiences for decades, only to now open up because she hopes her tale will somehow, someway inspire others to simply live. This much has actually been explored in Hulu’s ‘The Beauty Queen Killer: 9 Days of Terror,’ especially as it focuses more upon her as well as this monster’s other survivors rather than he himself.

Tina Marie Risico’s Childhood Trauma Helped Her Survive A Serial Killer

Since Tina was born to Carol Sokoloski and Jasper Joe Risico around 1968, while they were just party-going high school teenagers, her early years were sadly anything but cozy, happy, or stable. That’s because not only did her father leave them when she was merely a toddler, but her mother also ended up exposing her to abuse, alcohol, plus drugs by the time she was merely 3 or 4. In fact, per her account in the aforementioned series, she witnessed her mother nearly overdose twice in those early years before ultimately going into the loving care of her maternal grandparents.

Though little did Tina know her life wouldn’t really improve as some relatives then continuously assaulted/molested her from the ages of three to seven, making her learn to live with the trauma. Nevertheless, as she grew older, she did her best to move on from the past by doing all the normal teenage stuff – hanging out with friends, partying a little, looking for part-time jobs, and then just having nonstop fun. Therefore, of course, this 16-year-old had no idea that her decision to stop by the mall to apply for a job would be one of her biggest regrets, apart from agreeing to talk to a stranger.

It was here on April 4, 1984, that Christopher Wilder approached Tina under the pretense of being a professional photographer, claiming he was aligned with an agency and was looking for someone natural like her. He then lured her into his vehicle by asserting he needed to take some photographs of her in a natural area to take to the agency, only to actually kidnap her. As he stopped by a wooded area and had Tina move forward, he took out his gun and pointed it right at her, so when she turned around, she had mere seconds to make a decision.

Therefore, when Christopher ordered Tina to strip before assaulting her, she decided to simply comply with his every order and command in the hopes he’d grow to trust her and eventually let her go. He actually raped her right then and there before taking her to a motel and assaulting her again, but he tortured her the second time around too – he hit her, marked her, and extracted her using open wires. “There’s something inside of me that I knew how to play along,” she once said. “Just his near touch was just — I couldn’t shutter, but inside and internally I was shuttering.”

Christopher had even handcuffed her hands above her head to the bed to ensure she wouldn’t try to slip away, and unfortunately, that’s the only position in which Tina can fall asleep to this day. In her own words, the threat of violence was present at every step of the way, especially as he always had his gun and knife out in the car for her to see when he took her cross country. He even had her eyes taped shut below her sunglasses or had her looking directly at him instead of the windows to ensure she could never figure out where she was, and then raped her every single night.

“Every night stopping at the hotels were continuous rape for me,” Jane said in the documentary series prior to adding how he didn’t let her get clean by showering either. There were many times they were in public at restaurants or gas stations, yet she still never made any effort to signal to anyone she was in trouble or run away because he still had his gun on him, and she feared he’d shoot her without a second thought. Then came his decision to use her to lure another victim – 16-year-old Dawnette Sue Wilt in Indiana on April 10 – and she still went along with whatever he said. This resulted in the latter being tortured that night before being nearly killed the next day in New York, just to survive through sheer will.

As per Tina, she remained in the car while Christopher took Dawnette into the woods and didn’t dare ask any questions once he returned, but her one regret is actually taking her in the first place. Even though the latter believed her to be an accomplice at the time because she shut down any conversation and never once tried to help, she now understands the California girl was a victim just like her and asserts she holds no bad blood. After all, her survival played a key role in ultimately ending Christopher’s rampage, but prior to that, he shot and killed 33-year-old Beth Elaine Dodge for just her vehicle in the hopes it’d help him get away.

Then came Christopher’s decision to let Tina go without any arguments, additional torture, or ploy – on April 12, he put her on a plane from Boston to Los Angeles with $1,000 in cash, saying she’d need it. However, it wasn’t until the teen was really on the plane that she realized she was free, only to then still be unable to snap out of that submissive, letting herself be controlled mentality. Therefore, having already endured a lot of abuse in the past, Tina did her best to resume a normal life, only to realize people had actually been looking for her throughout the nine days she’d been missing.

Therefore, knowing the media would be outside her home, Tina chose to shop for clothes so as to be clean and immediately headed to her then-boyfriend’s apartment for some peace. She only went to the officials after that, which is where she learned her captor had died during a scuffle with two troop officers in New Hampshire, making her breathe a sign of relief. However, upon realizing people were calling her a willing accomplice, a charmer who’d made a serial killer fall in love, or a teen with Stockholm Syndrome, she shut down – they judged her without knowing anything, so she initially only spoke of her ordeal with the police, and they cleared her of any wrongdoing.

Tina Marie Risico is a Proud Survivor and Moving On

It took Tina years to finally deal with the traumas of her past, yet even now, there are understandably good days and bad days because what she experienced changed her to the core. She began trusting people a lot less, turned to drugs for solace, and became quick to anger with even her closest loved ones in order to protect herself – she regrets being short with her grandmother the most. However, with time, she was able to understand how her childhood experiences and years of simply observing had helped her get Christopher to trust her and then also eventually let her go.

It was only then that Tina was able to begin leading her real life as herself, only for it to soon result in her finding love too – she’s currently happily married to a man named Lou and has grown to trust him as well as a select group of childhood friends. From what we can tell, she still gladly resides in California, where she’s now determined to share her side of the story with the world to not just clear any doubts about her own standing but also maybe help other survivors find closure by realizing they’re not alone in this world. The 56-year-old has had to do a lot of healing to reach this stage, but she concedes there is a lot more she still needs to work upon because there are some details she admittedly hasn’t yet come to terms with.

Read More: Christopher Wilder: How Did the Beauty Queen Killer Die?