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Wilder's death probably accidental

By JON FLEMING

COLEBROOK, N.H. -- Fugitive Christopher Wilder probably killed himself accidently with two quick shots meant for a policeman who was trying to arrest the suspected sex-slayer 10 miles from the Canadian border, an autopsy revealed today.

A pathologist who examined Wilder's body concluded that 'Wilder, rather then trying to kill himself, was killed in a struggle while he tried to kill (state trooper Leo) Jellison,' Assistant Attorney General Andrew Isaac said.

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Wilder, 39, shot himself twice with his .357 magnum Friday as he wrestled with one of two state policemen who cornered him at a gas station in Colebrook, an isolated lumbering community in northern New Hampshire.

The wealthy Australian-born race driver was sought in the deaths, rapes and disappearances of 11 young women in eight states in a nighmare of violence that began in late February.

Isaac said the pathologist, Dr. Robert Christie, believes Wilder died from two shots fired almost simultaneously from his high-powered revolver because both bullets followed almost the exact path.

'The two entry wounds were so close together they indicate the gun was in the same position,' Isaac said. 'Both bullets followed very similar paths through the body -- just a centimeter apart -- so that both bullets struck Wilder's heart.

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'The heart was disintegrated. The cause of death, in the doctor's words, was cardiac obliteration,' Isaac said.

Trooper Wayne Fortier, who helped Jellison corner Wilder, told investigators he saw Wilder fire the second shot about 15 seconds later.

But Isaac said, 'The doctors feel it was very unlikely the shots were fired other than simultaneously. It is unlikely -- it's not impossible -- that having suffered a wound of that magnitude, he (Wilder) would have fired the gun a second time other than simultaneously.

'We're talking about a very powerful weapon -- a .357 magnum with a 6-inch barrel with hollow point bullets.'

Both bullets entered Wilder's chest and exited through his back, Isaac said.

Earlier reports indicated Jellison moved back to his cruiser after he was struck by a bullet that passed through Wilder's body and struck Jellison.

Neil Couture, an emergency medical technician who was one of the first people on the scene, said Jellison told him Wilder clearly was trying to shoot him during the struggle in Wilder's car.

'He (Jellsion) said both shots were meant for him. To me, there was no question (Wilder) was not trying to commit suicide. I question whether at any point whether he tried to do himself in,' Couture said.

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