Aileen Wuornos had the infamous distinction of being America's first female serial killer. The fact that she killed seven men is not disputed, and that horrific reality led ultimately to her execution at the Florida state penitentiary. But what happened to Aileen Wuornos? Why did she kill? Aileen never met her father. He killed himself in prison while serving time for child molestation. Her young, teenage mother abandoned her before the age of two. Her grandparents were abusive alcoholics, and she was molested and raped by age 9. She was known for selling sex for cigarette money and attention.
She was homeless by the age of 13. The product of abuse, shunned by friends and family, Aileen hit the road and turned to prostitution, the only means she knew for getting by. And shortly after, the killings began. Was it self-defense? Did she kill because she was raped? Or did she kill because she had hatred for men who had abused and used her all of her life? What was her mental state? Did she suffer from bipolar disorder, and was this a contributor to the murders? Was she the product of both nature and nurture? These are questions that will be explored.
Aileen Wuornos was born outside of Detroit, Michigan in 1956. Her teenage, unwed mother Diane Wuornos never bonded with the infant, said she "made a lot of racket" and abandoned her before she was two years of age. She never met her father, Leo Dale Pittman; he killed himself while serving time in prison for raping a seven-year-old girl. So it was that Aileen and her brother Keith found themselves living with their alcoholic, abusive grandparents in Troy, Michigan, where Aileen would grow up to be a sad and lonely individual; hostile, aggressive, an outcast to all.
"She [Wuornos] apparently engaged in an incestuous relationship with her brother and was kicked out of her grandfather's house at 13, having given birth to a child (possibly fathered by the neighborhood pedophile) that she was forced to give up for adoption. After that, Wuornos camped out in the woods, did lots of drugs and quickly fell into prostitution. " (Townsend, par 6). Aileen was always looking for someone to love her, yet was so full of rage and so lacking in any social skills, the best she was able to manage was one childhood friendship.
Dawn Botkins remained friends with Wuornos until the day she was executed in a Florida prison. Lost in memories of Aileen as a girl, Botkins recalls, "They ridiculed her… Often, after Aileen supplied booze for the party, the kids would run her off. All the guys used to say, 'She's a sleazebag, she's a slut, she's nothin' but a slut,' and I know none of them ever went to bed with her… How would they know? They wouldn't touch her with a 10-foot pole. " (Lomartire, pars 22-23). After Aileen's grandmother died, her grandfather kicked her out of his home.
"She was a ninth-grade dropout… She would sleep in abandoned cars, in the woods, or bunk with Dawn whenever she could. She sold sex full time, and everyone knew it" (Lomartire, par 21). Dawn Botkins continues, "Aileen would buy liquor or drugs for teen parties, and the other kids used and abused her. " (Lomartire, par 21). When Dawn met the man she would later marry, Aileen no longer had any reason to stay in a town where she was the subject of torture and ridicule. She hit the road, now on the path to a life of prostitution and murder.
Aileen Wuornos crime spree started shortly after her grandmother Britta died on July 7. Aileen and her brother Keith became wards of the court. Aileen soon dropped out of Troy High School to work the streets full-time, earning her way as a teenage hooker, drifting across country as the spirit moved her. In December 1989, Aileen Wuornos started killing men in and around Central Florida. She was living in the Daytona Beach area, but she hitchhiked along highways all over central and north Florida as a prostitute.
She claimed that the men, who picked her up, were aggressive and would beat or raped her and then she would shot them in self-defense. She worked the bars and truck stops, thumbing rides to snag a trick when all else failed, she would steal from her victim and would always travel with a loaded pistol in her purse. http://www. crimelibrary. com/notorious_murders/women/wuornos/10. html? sect=11 Aileen's first victim was Richard Mallory, a 51-year-old electrician from Palm Harbor, he was last seen alive by coworkers on November 30, 1989. His car was found abandoned at Ormond Beach, in Volusia County.
Mallory's body was discovered on December 13, in the woods of northwest of Daytona Beach, his corpse was fully dressed and he had been shot three times in the chest with a . 22 pistol. Shortly after Mallory's body was discovered six other mysterious body was being discovered all of which appeared to have been shot with a . 22 caliber pistol. By the time Aileen was arrested in January 9, 1991, police had found a total of six victims allegedly murder by Aileen. On January 16, 1991, Aileen confessed to the murders, she claimed all the killings were done in self-defense and out of fear.
She claimed that love drove her towards criminal activity and that she had enough. In January 31, 1992, she plead guilty to the Mallory murder and was sentence to death by the electric chair. (News channel 2000). In June 1992 she pleaded guilty to five other murders, in November, she received her fifth death sentence. In early February of 1993, she was sentenced to die, according to the Associated Press she was also allowed to choose lethal injection over the electric chair, changing the manner in which she would die. http://www. crimelibrary. com/serial4/wuornos/ Chapter 10
Also known as "Lee" and dubbed the "Damsel of Death", Wuornos was indicted and charged in the shooting deaths of six middle aged males in Citrus, Colusia, Dixon, Marion, and Pasco counties in Florida. In 1992, she was convicted of murdering her first victim, Richard Mallory. Mallory had picked her up on a rainy night. They drank, drove into the woods and fell asleep. When she awoke, she took out her gun, woke Mallory up and robbed him. Then she started shooting. After killing Mallory, Wuornos laid low for several months until mid-1990, when she murdered and robbed her second victim on another rainy day.
Over the next few months of Florida's rainy season, she killed four more men. Wuornos, who also claims to have killed a seventh man, said she killed and robbed when it rained because it made her "nasty looking" and she couldn't make enough money as a prostitute. (Word, Ron, par. 12) Tabloid publicity dominated the case from the start. Wuornos's lover Moore, who became the star prosecution witness, was talking with a police lawyer about selling her story even before Wuornos was arrested. One of the first lawyers to represent Wuornos also tried to sell the tale to a Hollywood producer.
By the time Wuornos had been convicted for the first murder, so many people had sold their rights to entertainment producers that she did not have a character witness left to testify at her sentencing hearing. (Davidson, Ros, par. 14) After pleading no contest to five other murders, receiving six death sentences, and spending 10 years incarcerated on death row, Wuornos' death warrant was signed by Florida's Governor Jeb Bush during September of 2002. Wuornos was moved from her 6 x 9 cell to a "death watch cell" measuring 12 x 7 located near the Death chamber.
For the following ten days, she was allowed to watch a black and white television located outside the cell. Tuesday evening, before Wuornos was scheduled receive the death penalty, she was allowed a visit from a childhood friend named Dawn Botkins. Botkins remarked that Wuornos was in a good mood, laughing a lot. ''She was looking forward to being home with God and getting off this earth,'' Ms. Botkins said, adding that Ms. Wuornos prayed that the souls of the men she killed would be saved by her death. ("Woman", par. 12) On October 9th, 2002 at 9:30 a. m.
, Aileen Carol Wuornos was executed at Florida State Prison by a lethal injection of Potassium Chloride in her right arm. She was pronounced dead at 9:47 a. m. She has been vilified as the ultimate man-hater, a low-life lesbian prostitute who was "obnoxious, aggressive and unsexy", to quote state attorney John Tanner, one of the prosecutors at her 1992 trial. "She was a homicidal predator. She was like a spider on the side of the road, waiting for prey – men," adds Tanner, who once told reporters that Wuornos could not have been a victim because she chose to be a prostitute.
(Davidson, Ros, par. 5) Family members of Wuornos' victims had mixed comments regarding the sentence. Leta Prater, the sister of one of the victims, Troy Burress, said:"I want to know she is absolutely gone. " Lenny Siems, the son of another, Peter Siems, said: "I just see it as justice being done. " (Burkeman, Oliver, par. 20) Terri Griffith, whose father was killed by Ms. Wuornos, said: ''I'm glad it's over. It was an easy death. It was a little bit too easy. I think she should have suffered a little bit more. She was off her rocker. '' ("Woman", par. 14)