LOS ANGELES -- Tina Marie Risico, the teenager who accompanied serial killer Christopher Wilder cross country during the final days of his rampage, credits a turbulent childhood with helping her to handle the ordeal, it was reported Wednesday.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Miss Risico, who just turned 17, talked publicly for the first time of nine harrowing days on the road with Wilder, who picked her up April 4 at a shopping mall in Torrance with promises of making her a model, then tortured and abused her before setting her free.
Wilder, a Florida contractor, allegedly killed as many as 12 people during his spree of violence and was finally shot to death by police while trying to escape to Canada.
That Miss Risico survived is amazing, but even more stunning was her nonchalance at the end of the ordeal.
Instead of calling police after Wilder put her on a plane for Los Angeles, she took a taxi to a boutique after arriving in California and bought $100 worth of lingerie.
Miss Risico was toughened by a turbulent home life, an early sexual attack and her mother's hard-core lifestyle, which revolved around outlaw motorcycle clubs.
It was her past, she said, that helped her handle Wilder.
'It was what I've seen when I've sat there and been quiet and watched and learned,' she said. 'There's something inside of me that I knew how to play along.'
In the last days of his rampage, Wilder, accompanied by Miss Wilder, executed one New York woman at point-blank range and brutally stabbed another girl, dumping her half naked but alive on a country road.
But before making his final break for Canada, Wilder drove to the Boston airport and bought Miss Risico an airplane ticket home.
'He knew he was too close to being killed,' and didn't want her to die with him, Miss Risico said.
'He told me to kiss him on the cheek,' she said recounting their farewell scene. 'He said, 'All you gotta do kid, is write a book.' And he walked away.
'It was heartbreaking. It was so sentimental.'
Miss Risico has been living with her boyfriend and looking for work. She said she is 'thankful for all the people who prayed for me.' But now that she survived, she said, nobody seems interested in her.