In 2002, the state of Florida executed the 10th woman to receive the death penalty in the United States since the 1976 reinstatement of capital punishment. The woman’s name was Aileen Wuornos, a former prostitute who had killed seven men she picked up while working the highways of the state in 1989 and 1990.
If a psychologist was challenged to invent a childhood that would predictably produce a serial killer, Wuornos’ life would have been it to the last detail. Aileen Wuornos found prostitution early in life, trading sexual favors at her elementary school for cigarettes and other treats at age 11. Of course, she didn’t just pick up the habit on her own.
Wuornos’ father, a convicted sex offender, was out of the picture before she was born and ended up hanging himself in his prison cell when she was 13 years old. Her mother, a Finnish immigrant, had already abandoned her by that point, leaving her in the care of her paternal grandparents.
Less than a year after her father committed suicide, Wuornos’ grandmother died of liver failure. Meanwhile, her grandfather had been, according to her later account, beating and raping her for several years.
When Wuornos was 15 years old, she dropped out of school to have her grandfather’s friend’s baby at a home for unwed mothers. However, after having the child, she and her grandfather finally had it out in a domestic incident, and Wuornos was left to live in the woods outside of Troy, Mich. She then gave up her son for adoption and got by on prostitution and petty theft.
At the age of 20, Wuornos tried to escape her life by hitchhiking to Florida and marrying a 69-year-old man named Lewis Fell. Fell was a successful businessman who had settled into semi-retirement as the president of a yacht club. Wuornos moved in with him and immediately started getting into trouble with local law enforcement.
She frequently left the home she shared with Fell to carouse in a local bar where she often got into fights. She also abused Fell, who later claimed she beat him with his own cane. Eventually, her elderly husband got a restraining order against her, forcing Wuornos to return to Michigan to file for an annulment after just nine weeks of marriage.
Around this time, Wuornos’ brother (with whom she had had an incestuous relationship) suddenly died of esophageal cancer. Wuornos collected his $10,000 life insurance policy, used some of the money to cover the fine for a DUI, and bought a luxury car that she then crashed while driving under the influence.
When the money ran out, Wuornos returned to Florida and started getting arrested for theft again. She briefly did time for an armed robbery in which she stole $35 and some cigarettes. Working as a prostitute again, Wuornos was arrested in 1986 when one of her customers told police she had pulled a gun on him in the car and demanded money. In 1987, she moved in with a hotel maid named Tyria Moore, a woman who would become her lover and partner in crime.
Wuornos told conflicting stories about her murders. Sometimes, she claimed to have been the victim of rape or attempted rape with every single one of the men she killed. At other times she admitted she was trying to rob them. Depending on who she was talking to, her story changed.
As it happens, her first victim, Richard Mallory, actually was a convicted rapist. Mallory was 51 years old and had finished his prison term years earlier. When he met Wuornos in November of 1989, he was running an electronics store in Clearwater. Wuornos shot him several times and dumped him in the woods before ditching his car.
In May 1990, Aileen Wuornos killed 43-year-old David Spears by shooting him six times and stripping his corpse naked. Five days after Spears’ body was discovered, police found the remains of 40-year-old Charles Carskaddon, who had been shot nine times and tossed on the side of the road.
On June 30, 1990, 65-year-old Peter Siems disappeared on a drive from Florida to Arkansas. Witnesses later claimed to have seen two women, matching Moore and Wuornos’ descriptions, driving his vehicle. Wuornos’ fingerprints were later recovered from the car and from several of Siems’ personal effects that had turned up in local pawn shops.
Wuornos and Moore went on to kill three more men before Aileen was picked up on a warrant after yet another fight in a biker bar in Volusia County, Fla. Moore had left her by this time, returning to Pennsylvania, where police apprehended her the day after Aileen Wuornos was booked.
It didn’t take long for Moore to flip on Wuornos. In the days immediately following her arrest, Moore was back in Florida, staying at a motel the police had rented for her. There, she made calls to Wuornos in an attempt to elicit a confession that could be used against her.
In these calls, Moore acted up a storm, pretending to be frightened that the police would pin all of the blame for the murders on her. She’d beg Aileen to go over the story with her again, step-by-step, in order to get their stories straight. After four days of repeated phone calls, Wuornos confessed to several of the murders but insisted over the phone that the killings Moore hadn’t known about were all attempted rapes. Authorities now had what they needed to arrest Aileen Wuornos for murder.
Wuornos spent all of 1991 in jail, waiting for her trials to start. During that time, Moore was fully cooperating with prosecutors in exchange for full immunity.
She seemed to be having a hard time inside of prison. As she sat in confinement, Wuornos gradually came to believe that her food was being spat in or otherwise contaminated with bodily fluids. She repeatedly went on hunger strikes as she refused to eat meals prepared while various individuals were present in the jail’s kitchen. She really just became paranoid about everyone and everything around her. During her trial, Wuornos had been diagnosed as a psychopath with a borderline personality disorder.
Wuornos went on trial for the murder of Richard Mallory on Jan. 16, 1992 and was convicted two weeks later. The sentence was death. Around a month after, she pleaded no contest to three more murders, for which the sentences were also death. In June 1992, Wuornos plead guilty to the murder of Charles Carskaddon and was given yet another death sentence in November for the crime.
The gears of death turn slowly in American capital cases. Ten years after first being sentenced to die, Wuornos was still on Florida’s death row and degenerating fast.
In 2001, she directly petitioned the court to ask for her sentence to be hurried along. Citing abusive and inhumane living conditions, Wuornos also claimed her body was being attacked by a sonic weapon of some kind. Her court-appointed lawyer tried to argue she was irrational, but Wuornos wouldn’t go along with the defense. Not only did she confess again to the slayings, but she also sent this to the court as a document for the record: “I am so sick of hearing this ‘she’s crazy’ stuff. I’ve been evaluated so many times. I’m competent, sane, and I’m trying to tell the truth. I’m one who seriously hates human life and would kill again.”
On June 6, 2002, Aileen Wuornos got her wish: she was put to death at 9:47 p.m. that day. During her last interview, she was quoted saying: “’I’d just like to say I’m sailing with the Rock and I’ll be back like ‘Independence Day’ with Jesus, June 6, like the movie, big mother ship and all. I’ll be back.”
this video was taken a day before she was executed, just listen to her madness. She makes no sense, honestly she doesn’t feel remorse just watch and see for yourself..
3 thoughts on “Aileen Wuornos”
Her story is so sad in a sense. She was clearly disturbed toward the end of her life, believing she was being poisoned or the thing about sonic rays surely doesn’t come from a rational mind. I always find myself conflicted because I sympathise with her childhood but obviously, if she murdered people, that’s not an easy thing to forgive or accept.
It really is sad.. no one should go through what she did. She had some underlying mental illness of course but yeah killing random guys doesn’t fix anything.
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