The Unsolved: After 4 decades, Liberty County woman’s killer still unknown

Christie Wilson was murdered in 1982 in Liberty County. Her killer has yet to be identified.

It has been 40 years since Christie Monicalynn Bright Wilson’s body was found in a ditch off Deadman’s Curve in Dayton, and her family still has unanswered questions. Who murdered the young woman who had her whole life ahead of her? Why was she targeted for what appears to be a crime of rage?

For four decades, her loved ones have clung to the hope that someone, somewhere would finally be able to give them the answers they have been seeking.

Christie was just 19 when she vanished on the way home from her job as a clerk at Snappy’s convenience store in Liberty on Aug. 26, 1982. A newlywed, she was looking forward to spending time with her husband, Steve Wilson, for his birthday the following day. She left the store around midnight and began driving toward her home in Dayton on US 90 in her 1969 orange convertible with a black soft top.

When she failed to show up at home, Steve became worried and went out to look for her. It was a time before cell phones, and a woman stranded on the highway had only a couple of options – stay in your vehicle until help arrived or walk to a nearby store to call a loved one at a payphone. Steve, assuming that her vehicle had broken down, headed toward Liberty to look for her. Along the way, he found her abandoned convertible parked on the westbound lane of US 90 in front of the Wagon Wheel nightclub, which later became the old Terrell’s Auto Parts and Salvage.

Unable to locate Christie and seeing that all of her belongings were still in her unlocked car, Steve reportedly grabbed her purse and headed toward Dayton, stopping at convenience stores and anywhere she may have found a phone booth. There were no signs of Christie anywhere. After calling his mom to see if she had heard from Christie, Steve called police.

The next morning, Christie’s body was discovered by a passing motorist lying near a body of water off of FM 1409 in Dayton – an area known to locals as Deadman’s Curve. She had a fatal stab wound to her throat, her breasts had been mutilated, but she had not been raped.

When a woman goes missing or is murdered, the husband or boyfriend is always the first to be suspected, so Steve was interrogated by police before being ruled out as a suspect.

Texas Ranger Brandon Bess, who is keeping hope alive for the family of Christie Wilson by doggedly pursuing the investigation, said that Steve also passed two polygraph tests that proved he was innocent.

“We think this is someone who was known to her, probably well known to her. The person who did this had a severe anger issue. The motive for her murder may only be known to him. The profile that we developed led us to believe that the killer was heavily involved in drugs in that day – Angel Dust, heroin – and he probably didn’t have much of a criminal record at the time,” Bess said. “He could have gone on to continue that type of behavior and never committed another crime.”

Robbery obviously was not the motive as Christie was taking home a large sum of cash from the store until banks opened the next day so she could make a deposit. The money, as well as all of her personal possessions, were still in the car.

Though her murder is random and without a motive, Bess does not believe her murder is the work of a serial killer.

“It doesn’t match,” he said.

Tommy Bright, Christie’s youngest brother, was just 12 years old when she was murdered. Though some memories have faded over time, he still recalls the love that he and his sister had for each other.

“It’s been hard on me. We were very close. She was always holding me in her arms in family photos. She would tell people I was her baby,” he said. “We would just like to know who killed her.”

On the day he learned of her murder, Bright recalls walking home from school with his brother Matthew and seeing his parents sitting on the front porch of the family’s home, a two-story house that is located next to Hall’s Veterinary Clinic in Dayton. At that time, the land where the vet clinic is located today was used by the Bright family as a pasture.

“My parents were sitting on the front porch and they never sat on the front porch together. As we got closer to the house, I could hear Daddy saying, ‘They killed her. They killed her,'” Bright said. “That was the first time I ever saw my daddy cry.”

In the years that followed, there were many nights where Bright found his Mom, sitting alone at the kitchen table, crying over Christie’s loss.

“I would just sit there with her and cry. My parents died without knowing who killed Christie,” he said. “Christie was so easygoing and so nice to everybody. She never disliked anyone. She was always smiling and happy-go-lucky. I can’t understand anyone killing her. Why would they?”

He wonders if he has ever crossed paths with her killer and secretly wishes that he will one day.

“If I ever found out who done this and they were on the street, they wouldn’t be on the street any longer. I would kill the sorry son-of-a-bitch that did this to my sister,” he said, “but I take comfort in knowing that the Good Lord’s got this one.”

For Steve Wilson, the grief lingered for the rest of his life. He died three years ago, still carrying a photo of Christie in his wallet. Ten years after Christie’s murder, Steve married his second wife, Terri, and the couple had a daughter. Terri died of breast cancer and their daughter died a year later.

Tommy said he never doubted Steve’s innocence because he knew how much he loved Christie. He said that Christie had shared with him that she and Steve were trying to get pregnant and she was looking forward to one day being a mother to his children.

Steve’s brother, Pct. 4 Commissioner Leon Wilson, said Christie’s murder “totally ruined Steve’s life.”

“Initially he was questioned as a suspect. Put yourself in his place. He was innocent and being questioned and browbeaten for a murder he didn’t commit, and he loved Christie above everyone else. He never got over it,” Leon said. “If this hadn’t happened, I think Steve and Christie would have lived a good, happy life.”

Though many theories have been posed and possible leads have come and gone, the killer has yet to be identified. Unless someone comes forward with new information, it is likely the killer will take this secret to the grave.

At the time of Christie’s murder, DNA from her clothing and body was collected, as was other evidence. However, when Hurricane Rita hit Southeast Texas in 2005, one casualty was the evidence storage room at the old Liberty Police Station, which was located at the time on the 2100 block of Sam Houston St. near the intersection of San Jacinto St.

“All the evidence from her case got rained on and turned moldy, which kills DNA,” Bess said.

Admitting that the Christie Wilson case is a little like hunting for a needle in a haystack, Bess vows to never give up.

“There could be one person who has never come forward. They might be able to share one thing about the case and might not even realize that it’s important. Maybe they saw something or maybe they heard something. Maybe they overheard someone talking about the murder,” Bess said. “If there is someone out there who might know something, we would sure like to hear from them.”

Investigators are not without some leads. Bess said they have been able to determine two persons of interest, though one is in a federal penitentiary and the other is homeless and believed to be in the Fort Worth area.

If you know anything about this case or others, call the Rangers Office in Liberty County at 936-336-4627 or contact the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office at 936-336-4500.

Note: If you have a suggestion for a future article in “The Unsolved” series, please send information to Cases should be local to Liberty County or the surrounding area.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.


  1. Thelma Fountain was murdered and stabbed over 100 times and dumped in the Hull Daisetta oilfield. No one has been arrested. I hope both cases get revived and solved soon

  2. Christie was tough, street wise babe. She didn’t take shit from anyone, including Steve. She defended herself fiercely. Glad she was my friend, miss you. 🙂

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