21 Year Old GI Freemason Killed in Masonic Mystery
GI found dead hours after scheduled secretive rite
Stars and Stripes, European edition
By Steve Mraz
Sunday, February 12, 2006
MANNHEIM, Germany — Weeks before Spc. Donald Anthony Wilder was found dead in a barracks shower, his parents say, he told them he knew he was going
to be beaten.
On Jan. 7, Wilder, 21, was set to become a third-degree Mason with the Prince Hall Masons in Mannheim. A radio communication security controller
repairman with the 512th Maintenance Company, Wilder had become active with the Prince Hall Masons in the fall of 2005.
In order to become a third-degree Mason, Wilder knew he would have to endure being beaten on his buttocks with a paddle by fellow Masons.
On Jan. 8, just hours after the evening ceremony that took place inside Mannheim American High School at Benjamin Franklin Village, Wilder was found
dead in a friend's shower in the barracks at Spinelli Barracks in Mannheim.
Donald Wilder's parents say their son told them quite a bit about the Masons, except for the group's secrets. He talked about the good work he did
with the Masons. The group raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims and for the college funds of children of U.S. troops killed in action. He told
them about the roughly $1,000 in dues he paid since September to be a Mason.
Also, he told them about the paddlings he took when he became a first- and second-degree mason last fall: how he would lie in his bed at Spinelli
Barracks in Mannheim, icing his body after the paddlings, his mother said.
"He talked about the beatings a lot and he was very afraid of them," Diane Wilder said from her home in Seal Rock, Ore. "Prior to the ceremony, he
was throwing up because he was so nervous, that's what we were told."
He said the beatings were to show the other Masons just how badly you want to be a member.
On Christmas, Diane Wilder talked to her son twice. During those conversations, she says, Donald Wilder expressed concern about the paddlings he knew
The week before his death, the Wilders talked to their son every other day. On Jan. 5 - three days before he died - Wilder promised his mother he
would not go through with the third-degree ceremony, she said.
On Jan. 7 - the night Wilder was set to become a third-degree Mason - he called Testai around 8 p.m. and told her he was going to the "party," she
"I have another friend married to an American," Testai said. "She told me about the Masons. She told me that they would beat up the people and
drink a lot when they have parties. I didn't like it so I didn't ask for more.
The initiation ceremony took place inside Mannheim American High School.