Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos

Infobox Serial Killer
name = Aileen Wuornos

caption = Aileen Wuornos mug shot
birthname = Aileen Carol Pittman
alias = Sandra Kretsch, Susan Lynn Blahovec, Lee Blahovec, Cammie Marsh Greene, Lori Christine Grody
birth = birth date|1956|2|29
location = Rochester, Michigan
death = death date and age|2002|10|9|1956|2|29
cause = Lethal injection
victims = 7
country = United States
states = Florida
beginyear = November 30, 1989
endyear = November 19, 1990
apprehended =
penalty = Death

Aileen Carol Wuornos (born Aileen Carol Pittman; February 29, 1956 – October 9, 2002) was an American serial killer who killed seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990, later claiming they raped or attempted to rape her while she was working as a prostitute. She was convicted and sentenced to death for six of the murders, and executed via lethal injection on October 9, 2002.


Wuornos was born in Rochester, Michigan to Diane Pratt and Leo Pittman. Pratt was 14 years old when she married Pittman on June 3, 1954. Pratt and Pittman had two children; Keith was born in 1955 and Aileen in 1956. Less than two years into their marriage, and just a few months before Wuornos was born, Pratt divorced Pittman. Pittman was a child molester who spent most of his life in and out of prison and mental hospitals. Wuornos never knew her father, as he was imprisoned for the rape of a 7-year-old girl shortly before she was born and strangled in prison in 1969.cite book | last = Howard | first = Amanda | coauthors = Martin Smith | title = River of Blood: Serial Killers and Their Victims | publisher = Universal-Publishers | date = 2004 | pages = 332 | isbn = 9781581125184 ]

In 1960, Pratt abandoned the children, leaving them with their maternal grandparents, Lauri and Britta Wuornos. They were legally adopted on March 18, 1960 by the Wuornos and took their surname.

Wuornos engaged in sex with multiple partners, including her own brother, at a young age and became pregnant at age 14. She claimed the pregnancy was a result of being raped by a unknown man. [cite book | last = Reynolds | first = Michael | title = Dead Ends: The Pursuit, Conviction and Execution of Female Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, the Damsel of Death | publisher = Macmillan/St. Martin's | date = 2003 | pages = 256 | url =| isbn = 9780312984182 ] Wuornos gave birth to a son at a Detroit home for unwed mothers on March 23, 1971, who was put up for adoption.

In July 1971, Britta Wuornos died of liver failure, after which Wuornos and her brother became wards of the court. Wuornos ran away from home and entered into prostitution.

Early criminal career

On May 27, 1974, Wuornos was arrested in Jefferson County, Colorado for drunk driving, disorderly conduct, and firing a .22-caliber pistol from a moving vehicle. She was later charged with failure to appear. [cite book | last = Reynolds | first = Michael | title = Dead Ends: The Pursuit, Conviction and Execution of Female Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, the Damsel of Death | publisher = Macmillan/St. Martin's | date = 2003 | pages = 116 | url =| isbn = 9780312984182 ]

In 1976, Wuornos hitchhiked to Florida, where she met 70-year-old yacht club president Lewis Gratz Fell. They married that same year, and the news of their nuptials was printed in the local newspaper's society pages. However, Wuornos continually involved herself in confrontations at their local bar and was eventually sent to jail for assault. She also hit Fell with his own cane, leading him to get a restraining order against her, after which she returned to Michigan.facts|date=October 2008

On July 14, 1976, Wuornos was arrested in Antrim County, Michigan and charged with assault and disturbing the peace following an incident in which she threw a cue ball at a bartender's head. [cite book | last = Reynolds | first = Michael | title = Dead Ends: The Pursuit, Conviction and Execution of Female Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, the Damsel of Death | publisher = Macmillan/St. Martin's | date = 2003 | pages = 116-117 | url =| isbn = 9780312984182 ]

On July 17, her brother Keith died of throat cancer and Wuornos acquired $10,000 from his life insurance. Wuornos and Fell divorced on July 21 after nine weeks of marriage.facts|date=October 2008

On May 20, 1981, Wuornos was arrested in Edgewater, Florida for the armed robbery of a convenience store. She was consequently sentenced to prison on May 4, 1982 and released on June 30, 1983.cite book | last = Reynolds | first = Michael | title = Dead Ends: The Pursuit, Conviction and Execution of Female Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, the Damsel of Death | publisher = Macmillan/St. Martin's | date = 2003 | pages = 117 | url =| isbn = 9780312984182 ] On May 1, 1984, Wuornos was arrested for attempting to pass forged checks at a bank in Key West. On November 30, 1985, she was named as a suspect in the theft of a revolver and ammunition in Pasco County.

On January 4, 1986, Wuornos was arrested in Miami and charged with grand theft auto, resisting arrest and obstruction by false information (she provided identification with the name Lori Grody, her aunt). Miami police found a .38-caliber revolver and a box of ammunition in the stolen car. [cite book | last = Reynolds | first = Michael | title = Dead Ends: The Pursuit, Conviction and Execution of Female Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, the Damsel of Death | publisher = Macmillan/St. Martin's | date = 2003 | pages = 117-118 | url =| isbn = 9780312984182 ]

On June 2, 1986, Volusia County deputies detained Wuornos for questioning after a male companion accused her of pulling a gun in his car and demanding $200. Wuornos was found to be carrying spare ammunition and a .22 pistol was discovered beneath the passenger seat she occupied. [cite book | last = Reynolds | first = Michael | title = Dead Ends: The Pursuit, Conviction and Execution of Female Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, the Damsel of Death | publisher = Macmillan/St. Martin's | date = 2003 | pages = 118 | url =| isbn = 9780312984182 ]

Around this time, Wuornos met Tyria Moore, a hotel maid, at a Daytona gay bar. They moved in together, and Wuornos supported them with her prostitution earnings. [cite book | last = Ventura | first = Varla | title = The Book of the Bizarre: Freaky Facts and Strange Stories | publisher = Weiser | date = 2008 | pages = 132 | isbn = 9781578634378 ]

On July 4, 1987, Daytona Beach police detained Wuornos and Moore at a bar for questioning regarding an incident in which they were accused of assault and battery with a beer bottle.cite book | last = Reynolds | first = Michael | title = Dead Ends: The Pursuit, Conviction and Execution of Female Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, the Damsel of Death | publisher = Macmillan/St. Martin's | date = 2003 | pages = 119 | url =| isbn = 9780312984182 ]

On March 12, 1988, Wuornos accused a Daytona Beach bus driver of assault. She claimed that he pushed her off the bus following a confrontation. Moore was listed as a witness to the incident.


* Richard Mallory,cite web|url= |title=Aileen Carol Wuornos |accessdate=2008-09-26 |publisher=The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney |archiveurl= |archivedate=2008-09-27 ] 51 – November 30, 1989: Wuornos' first victim was an electronics store owner in Clearwater, a convicted rapist whom she claimed she killed in self-defense. A Volusia County deputy found Mallory's abandoned vehicle on December 1, 1989. Mallory's body was not found until December 13, several miles away in a wooded area. He had been shot several times.
* Dick Humphreys, 56 – May 19, 1990: Humphreys was a retired Air Force major, a former child abuse investigator for the state of Florida and former police chief. His body was found in on September 12, 1990. He was fully clothed, and was shot six times in the head and torso. His car was found in Suwannee County.
* David Spears, 43: Spears was a Winter Garden construction worker whose nude body was found on June 1, 1990, along Highway 19 in Citrus County. He had been shot six times.
* Charles Carskaddon, 40 – May 31, 1990: Carskaddon was a part-time rodeo worker. His body was found June 6, 1990, in Pasco County. He had been shot nine times with a small caliber weapon.
* Peter Siems, 65: Siems left Jupiter, traveling to New Jersey in June 1990. His car was found in Orange Springs on July 4, 1990. Tyria Moore and Aileen Wuornos were identified as being the persons who left the car where it was found. A palm print belonging to Wuornos was found on the interior door handle. His body was never found.
* Troy Burress, 50 – July 30, 1990: Burress was a sausage salesman from Ocala. He was reported missing on July 31, 1990 but was not found until August 4, 1990 in a wooded area along State Road 19 in Marion County. He had been shot twice.
* Walter Jeno (Gino) Antonio, 62 – November 19, 1990: Antonio's nearly nude body was found on November 19, 1990 near a remote logging road in Dixie County. He had been shot four times. His car was found in Brevard County five days later.

Justice system

Apprehension and sentencing

Wuornos and Moore abandoned Peter Siems' car after they were involved in an accident on July 4, 1990, after which Wuornos' palm print was found. Witnesses who had seen the women driving the victims' cars provided police with their names and descriptions, resulting in a media campaign to locate them. Police also found some of the victims' belongings in pawnshops and retrieved fingerprints, which matched those found in the victims' cars and on Wuornos' arrest record.

On January 9, 1991, Wuornos was arrested on an outstanding warrant at a biker bar in Volusia County. Police located Moore the next day in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She agreed to get a confession from Wuornos in exchange for prosecutorial immunity. Moore returned with police to Florida, where she was put up in a motel. Under police guidance, Moore made numerous telephone calls to Wuornos, pleading for help in clearing her name. Three days later, on January 16, 1991, Wuornos confessed to the murders. She claimed the men had tried to rape her and she killed them in self-defense. [cite book | last = Dwyer | first = Kevin | coauthors = Jure Fiorillo | title = True Stories of Law & Order: SVU | publisher = Penguin Group/Berkley | date = 2007-11-06 | pages = 53-54 | url =,,0_9780425217351,00.html | isbn = 9780425217351 ] cite news | title=Timeline Of Aileen Wuornos' Crimes | url = | work =Local 6 News | accessdate = 2008-10-03 | archiveurl= |archivedate=2008-10-03 ]

Wuornos went to trial for the murder of Richard Mallory on January 14, 1992. Under Florida's Williams Rule, the prosecution introduced evidence related to her other crimes in order to show a pattern. Wuornos was convicted for Richard Mallory's murder on January 27, 1992 with help from Moore's testimony. At her sentencing, psychiatrists for the defense testified that Wuornos was mentally unstable and had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. She was sentenced to death on January 31, 1992. [cite book | last = Dwyer | first = Kevin | coauthors = Jure Fiorillo | title = True Stories of Law & Order: SVU | publisher = Penguin Group/Berkley | date = 2007-11-06 | pages = 54-55 | url =,,0_9780425217351,00.html | isbn = 9780425217351 ]

On March 31, 1992, Wuornos pleaded no contest to the murders of Dick Humphreys, Troy Burress and David Spears, saying she wanted to "get right with God". In her statement to the court, she averred, "I wanted to confess to you that Richard Mallory did violently rape me as I've told you. But these others did not. [They] only began to start to." On May 15, 1992, Wuornos was given three more death sentences.

In June 1992, Wuornos pleaded guilty to the murder of Charles Carskaddon and received her fifth death sentence in November 1992. That same month, "Dateline NBC" reporter Michele Gillen uncovered evidence that Mallory had served 10 years for violent rape in another state. The judge refused to allow this to be admitted in court as evidence and denied Wuornos' request for a retrial. [cite book | last = Dwyer | first = Kevin | coauthors = Jure Fiorillo | title = True Stories of Law & Order: SVU | publisher = Penguin Group/Berkley | date = 2007-11-06 | pages = 55 | url =,,0_9780425217351,00.html | isbn = 9780425217351 ] [ cite web|url= |title=AILEEN C. WUORNOS v. STATE OF FLORIDA |accessdate=2008-10-02 |date=2004-11-19 |publisher=Florida Supreme Court |archiveurl= |archivedate=2008-10-02 ]

In February 1993, Wuornos pleaded guilty to the murder of Walter Gino Antonio and was sentenced to death again. No charges were brought against her for the murder of Peter Siems, as his body was never found. In all, she received six death sentences.

Wuornos told several inconsistent stories about the killings. She claimed initially that all seven men had raped her while she was working as a prostitute then later recanted the claim of self-defense. During an interview with filmmaker Nick Broomfield in which she thought the cameras were off, she told him that it was in fact self-defense, but she could not stand being on death row—12 years at that point—and had to die. cite web|url= |title=Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer |accessdate=2008-09-27 |archiveurl= |archivedate=2008-09-27 ]


Wuornos' appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied in 1996. In 2001, she announced that she would not issue any further appeals against her death sentence. She petitioned the Florida Supreme Court for the right to fire her legal counsel and stop all appeals, saying, "I killed those men, robbed them as cold as ice. And I'd do it again, too. There's no chance in keeping me alive or anything, because I'd kill again. I have hate crawling through my system...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." [cite news | first=John | last=Zarrella | title=Wuornos' last words: 'I'll be back' | date=2002-10-15 | url = | work =CNN | accessdate = 2008-10-02 |archiveurl= |archivedate=2008-10-02] Some argued that she was in no state for them to honor such a request.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush instructed three psychiatrists to give Wuornos a 15-minute interview. The test for competency requires the psychiatrist(s) to be convinced that the condemned person understands both that they will die and for which crime(s) they are being executed. All three judged her mentally fit to be executed.

Wuornos later started accusing the prison matrons of abusing her. She accused them of tainting her food, spitting on it, serving her potatoes cooked in dirt, and her food arriving with urine. She also claimed overhearing conversations about "trying to get me so pushed over the brink by them I'd wind up committing suicide before the [execution] " and "wishing to rape me before execution." She also complained of strip searches, being handcuffed so tightly that her wrists bruised any time she left her cell, door kicking, frequent window checks by matrons, low water pressure, mildew on her mattress and "cat calling ... in distaste and a pure hatred towards me." Wuornos threatened to boycott showers and food trays when specific officers were on duty. "In the meantime, my stomach's growling away and I'm taking showers through the sink of my cell."citequote

Her attorney stated that "Ms. Wuornos really just wants to have proper treatment, humane treatment until the day she's executed," and "If the allegations don't have any truth to them, she's clearly delusional. She believes what she's written". [cite news | first=Catherine | last=Wilson | title=Aileen Wuornos says prison guards abusing her | date=2002-07-13 | url = | work =News Chief | accessdate = 2007-11-13 ]

During the final stages of the appeal process she gave a series of interviews to Broomfield. In her final interview shortly before her execution she claimed that her mind was being controlled by "sonic pressure" to make her appear crazy and described her impending death to being taken away by angels on a space ship. [cite web| url =| title = Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (Film Summary)| accessdate = 2008-09-24| last = Broomfield| first = Nick] When Broomfield attempted to get her to speak about her earlier claims to have killed her victims in self-defense, Wuornos became livid, cursed Broomfield, and terminated the interview. Broomfield later met Dawn Botkins, a childhood friend of Wuornos', who told him, "She's sorry, Nick. She didn't give you the finger. She gave the media the finger, and then the attorneys the finger. And she knew if she said much more, it could make a difference on her execution tomorrow, so she just decided not to." [cite web| url =| title = A Lot of Illegalness Going On| accessdate = 2008-09-24| last = Fuchs| first = Cynthia| date = 2004-02-12| publisher = PopMatters |archiveurl= |archivedate=2008-10-02]

Wuornos was executed via lethal injection on October 9, 2002. [ cite web|url= |title=Execution List: 1976 - present |accessdate=2008-09-26 |publisher=Florida Department of Corrections |archiveurl= |archivedate=2008-09-27 ] She was the tenth woman in the United States to be executed since the reintroduction of the death penalty in 1976 and the second woman ever executed in Florida.


After her execution, Wuornos was cremated. Her ashes were taken by Dawn Botkins to her native Michigan and spread beneath a tree. She requested that Natalie Merchant's song "Carnival" be played at her funeral. Natalie Merchant commented on this when asked why her song was played during the credits of the documentary "":

:"When director Nick Broomfield sent a working edit of the film, I was so disturbed by the subject matter that I couldn't even watch it. Aileen Wuornos led a tortured, torturing life that is beyond my worst nightmares. It wasn't until I was told that Aileen spent many hours listening to my album Tigerlily while on death row and requested "Carnival" be played at her funeral that I gave permission for the use of the song. It's very odd to think of the places my music can go once it leaves my hands. If it gave her some solace, I have to be grateful". [ cite web |url= |title=News: Aileen Wuornos Documentary |accessdate=2008-09-26 | |archiveurl= |archivedate=2008-10-02 ]

Broomfield later stated::"I think this anger developed inside her. And she was working as a prostitute. I think she had a lot of awful encounters on the roads. And I think this anger just spilled out from inside her. And finally exploded. Into incredible violence. That was her way of surviving... I think Aileen really believed that she had killed in self-defense. I think someone who's deeply psychotic can't really tell the difference between something that is life threatening and something that is a minor disagreement; that you could say something that she didn't agree with, she would get into a screaming black temper about it. And I think that's what had caused these things to happen. And at the same time, when she wasn't in those extreme moods, there was an incredible humanity to her." [cite web| url =| title = Transcript interview Nick Broomfield on Paula Zahn NOW| accessdate = 2006-08-12| date = 2004-02-26| work = CNN |archiveurl= |archivedate=2008-10-02]

About Wuornos


Filmmaker Nick Broomfield directed two documentaries about Wuornos:
* "" (1994) [ cite web|url= |title=Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer |accessdate=2008-10-03 | |archiveurl= |archivedate=2008-10-03 ]
* "" (2003)


The 2003 film "Monster", starring Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci, tells Wuornos' story from the moment she met Selby Wall (based on Tyria Moore) until her first conviction for murder. Theron received the 2003 Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal. [ cite web|url= |title=Monster (2003) |accessdate=2008-10-03 |publisher=IMDB ]


An operatic adaptation of Wuornos' life events premiered at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on June 22, 2001. Entitled "Wuornos", the opera was written by composer/librettist Carla Lucero, conducted by Mary Chun, and produced by the Jon Sims Center for the Arts. [ cite web|url= |title=Welcome to the operatic world of Wuornos! |accessdate=2008-09-26 |archiveurl= |archivedate=2008-10-02 ]


External links

* [ Inmate Release Information Detail - Inmate 150924] . "Florida Department of Corrections". Retrieved on November 14, 2007.

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