Man Fascinated With Serial Killers, Dead Bodies Convicted Of Killing Beauty School Classmate

Christopher Wilson was accused of bludgeoning, strangling, and stabbing 17-year-old Mackenzie Cowell.

Mackenzie Cowell, pictured here, was only 17 years old when she was murdered by her beauty school classmate in February 2010.

Christopher Wilson was accused of bludgeoning, strangling, and stabbing 17-year-old Mackenzie Cowell.

Photo by: Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (Screenshot from ID's "Hometown Homicide: Local Mysteries")

Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (Screenshot from ID's "Hometown Homicide: Local Mysteries")

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A Washington man reportedly obsessed with dead bodies and the fictional serial killer Hannibal Lector was sentenced to prison for the murder of his beauty school classmate.

In May 2012, Christopher Scott Wilson, then 31, received an 171-month sentence after he pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of 17-year-old Mackenzie Cowell.

Nearly two years earlier, on Feb. 9, 2010, surveillance video shows Cowell, a high school senior who attended the Academy of Hair Design in Wenatchee, leave the school in her vehicle, The Spokesman-Review reported.

Cowell told a classmate she would be back in around 15 minutes — but she was never seen alive again.

“Beauty school got out at 5 o'clock. So I called her about 5:40 to see how close she was,” the teenager’s father, Reid Cowell, told 48 Hours. “And her cell phone went straight to voicemail, which was pretty weird.”

The missing girl’s vehicle was located about five miles away from the school. Her body was then discovered near the Columbia River, around 20 miles from the academy.

An autopsy determined Cowell had been bludgeoned, strangled, and stabbed.

Douglas County Chief Deputy Robbin Wagg told 48 Hours that the victim’s killer attempted to saw off her arm. “You could see a knife still stuck into the tissue, still stuck into her shoulder into the tissue,” Wagg recalled.

Detective John Kruse of the Wenatchee Police Dept. said the attempted dismemberment “was probably the most shocking thing” about the slaying, which he called “a violent way to meet your end.”

According to The Spokesman-Review, detectives combed through leads for more than seven months and interviewed over 800 people before arresting Cowell’s hair school classmate for her murder.

“No stone would go unturned no matter how long it took,” Chief Wagg said of the in-depth investigation.

Several witnesses told detectives a person matching Wilson’s description was spotted around the area where the victim’s car was found abandoned.

Police were also able to connect Wilson to the crime through DNA recovered from duct tape that was in the area where Cowell’s body was found as well as from blood in his apartment, which was just blocks from the Academy of Hair.

One witness claimed to detectives that Wilson, who worked at a funeral home, admitted he liked to “cut people up” at his job, court documents show.

Another witness said Wilson was obsessed with serial killers and had a tattoo of the Silence of the Lambs character Hannibal Lecter inked on his arm.

"I think he was fascinated with serial killers. He certainly was fascinated with death," Wagg told 48 Hours.

Wilson later recanted his confession and claimed he was railroaded into accepting the plea deal.

He could be released from prison as early as August 2023.

For more on this case, stream Hometown Homicide: Local Mysteries on discovery+.

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