1983 Cold Case Possibly Linked to Serial Killer

Wess Haubrich

Was Shari Lynne Ball another victim of a psychopath's cross-country crime spree?


Shari Lynne Ball rendering. Source: NY State Police


Shari Lynne Ball in 1983. Source: Buffalo News

The woods were a powerful sauna, mad with a feverish heat, when Shari arrived.

The man had forced her some yards from the dirt road that is state highway 63 in the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. She would remain there until almost November, nothing now but food for the wildlife and memories in the psyches of friends and family. Immortal. Undying. Kept alive through stories and recollections.

Who killed Floridian Shari Lynne Ball? Some 38 years after she died, investigators in Orleans County, in upstate New York, still don’t have the foggiest idea. Though her death may be the work of a serial killer.

New York and Florida officials didn’t even know the remains were Ball’s until eight years ago. That fact could only be established through DNA identification.

Decomposition was so advanced that investigators had to forensically reconstruct her face for the rendering above. They did this by using her remains and the National Center for Human Identification.

Investigators can’t even rule this case a homicide with the current evidence. Foul play isn’t confirmed, only suspected. Investigators cannot elaborate much more because they need informational leverage over a suspect if one is ever brought in. Ball was declared legally dead in 1988.

Ball’s family in Palm Beach, Florida had reported her missing on June 27, 1983. They said she told them she was going to New York with a friend they did not know to pursue a career in modeling. She also came home that same night after initially leaving, apparently to ask her mother for $10. She appeared to be in good spirits and left again.

On June 29, 1983, Shari called a friend back home in Florida from a truck stop in Ashland, Virginia. After that, no one heard anything from her. It was only four months later that her mother called local police and filed the initial report. Investigators did not act fast because Ball was an adult who appeared to have left of her own accord.

Ball was 5’4”, 100 pounds with hazel eyes and blonde hair. She was known to use Timmerman as an alias for her surname. She was twenty years old in 1983 and living in Boca Raton.


Christopher Wilder. Source: The Daily Telegraph.

Suspects? The Beauty Queen Killer

While it is still exceedingly early in the investigation, one suspect's name has been “brought up” despite no evidentiary link as of now: that of Christopher Wilder, “The Beauty Queen Killer”.

Wilder was born in Australia in 1945 to an American GI and a native Australian mother. In 1963 he raped a 13-year-old girl and received a light sentence: probation. He married in 1968, but his wife left him after only one week. He lived in Australia for another year, then moved to the US.

Wilder lived in Boynton Beach, Florida where he was rather successful in a career in real estate. He also cultivated an interest in photography.

From 1971 to 1975, Wilder engaged in a rather long streak of sex offenses. He also began refining his later M.O. of luring a woman into his vehicle with a ruse of photographing them for a modeling gig. Despite being found guilty, he was never jailed for a sex offense.

In 1982, Wilder raped two 13-year-old girls in Australia when he was there visiting his parents. They posted his bail, and he was allowed to return to Florida before a trial, which was to take place in 1984.

It was around this time that Wilder began a six-week-long crime spree across the USA from California to Texas to Florida and up to New Hampshire. He left eight female corpses in his wake.

Law enforcement killed Christopher Wilder during a gunfight when they pulled him over in New Hampshire and he started shooting. He was never held accountable for any of his crimes.


Was Shari Lynne Ball a victim of Christopher Wilder? We may never know for certain.

Nevertheless, the New York State Police asks anyone with information to please call (585) 344-6200. Please refer to SJS # 3032334.

Journalist and dogged student of all things forensic, Wess Haubrich, examines the nitty, gritty details you didn’t know about famous (and not so famous but equally weird) crimes and their unseen motivations. Thanks for reading!

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Former editor, now dogged-maverick journalist and researcher covering the crime beat. I examine the weird, absurd, and downright infamous in American crime both here and at Real Monsters podcast. Contact: wess@realmonsters.live


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