Aileen Wuornos: The Manhunter

Aileen Wuornos was an American serial killer who robbed her victims, all men, before she ultimately shot and killed them. Remembered for her hostile, sullen, and intimidating character, she was executed by lethal injection in 2002.
Aileen Wuornos: The Manhunter

Written by Vanessa Viqueira

Last update: 20 November, 2022

Aileen Wournos became America’s most famous female serial killer. This fame was, without a doubt, well-deserved.

She never showed remorse for the murders she committed, claiming self-defense. However, from the moment she was born, she had a difficult life.

Childhood and adolescence

Aileen Carol Wuornos was born on February 29, 1956, in Rochester (Michigan, United States), as Aileen Carol Pittman.

Her mother, Diane, abandoned her six months after giving birth and her father, Leo, was in jail for child abuse. Aileen, her sister Laurie, and her brother Keith were sent to live with their grandparents, Lauri and Britta Wuornos. They adopted the little ones in 1960.

Alone girl in a room

A horrible childhood

Her lifelong friend, Dawn Botkins, would say in a later documentary that she saw Aileen being severely beaten by her grandfather, even when he knew there were witnesses. Furthermore, it was rumored that she was the biological daughter of her grandfather. In fact, he was said to abuse both her and her mother.

Arguments, fights, and beatings were a constant in the family. One of these many episodes would leave traces on her skin for life: her grandmother burned her skin with a flammable liquid.

When she was nine years old, Aileen Wuornos began engaging in prostitution. At the age of fourteen, she gave birth to a baby that was given up for adoption, and, after being kicked out of her home, she went to live in the woods near her home.

The hope of a better life

Sometime later, Aileen traveled around the country in search of work. She ended up as a prostitute. Little Aileen had become a woman, but she was wild, uneducated, and with a violent and intimidating character.

She married Lewis Gratz Fell, president of a yacht club in Florida, whom she divorced soon after. She was in and out of prison on a regular basis for crimes such as vehicle theft, resistance to authority, obstruction of justice, threats with a firearm, etc.

Later, she began a relationship with Tyria Moore, a woman she met at a gay bar in the area and with whom she fell in love. The couple undertook a series of criminal adventures under false names.

Spiderwoman

Aileen Wuornos was baptized by the authorities as Spiderwoman, because of her aversion to men and her taste for wearing black leather clothes.

Her best friend was a .22-caliber pistol, which she claimed she carried for protection. However, one day she pulled the trigger for another purpose, and, from then on, there was no looking back.

The murders

It all started when she met Richard Mallory, a 51-year-old truck driver who spent hours driving up and down the highway and who she accused of sexual assault. According to Aileen’s version, their meeting wasn’t like the previous ones with her clients. In fact, she accused Richard Mallory of beating, raping, and sodomizing her.

Aileen shot him three times in the chest with her pistol, then wrapped his body in a rug and left him. She left no clues behind, so the subsequent investigation didn’t get very far.

A year later, the remains of David Spears, 43, were found. He’d been shot six times. While the identification was being carried out, just five days later, a third body with nine bullet wounds was found. This was Charles Carskaddon, aged 40.

The fourth body was identified as Peter Siems, aged 65. Several witnesses claimed that he had two women hitchhikers in his car. Aileen Wuornos’s prints were found on the doorknob.

Two identikit portraits of Aileen Wuornos and Tyria Moore were released. The subsequent investigation was helped by the fact that they were both selling various valuables belonging to the victims to different pawnbrokers.

A serial killer

Gradually, more bodies started to appear. However, it all came to a stop when, after being arrested, Tyria claimed that Aileen Wuornos was the murderer. She led the police to Aileen, who they found in her car, drunk.

Aileen Wuornos had turned into a serial killer. But she had no regrets. In fact, as she stated in the documentary, Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (1992), regarding one of the murders, “He deserved it, I feel sorry for his relatives, but what I did was defend myself”.

During her interrogation, she admitted to having murdered seven men and excused herself on the grounds of self-defense.

In 1992, she appeared before the court, and on June 30 of that same year, she was sentenced to death for the proven murder of three men.

“Sons of Bitches! I was raped! I hope you get raped. Scumbags of America!” 

Aileen Wuornos’ statement after being found guilty.

 

Sentence

During her time in prison, she granted several controversial interviews. At times, her story didn’t even sound real, however, unfortunately, it was. Today, her stories are all that remains of Aileen Wuornos, and it’s likely that these were a combination of truth and lies.

Some people, although they don’t defend her actions, point out that Aileen was the victim of an awful dysfunctional past, and her accumulated rage could well have led her to act in the worst possible way. Whatever the truth may be, she met her end at 9:45 a.m. on October 9, 2002, executed by lethal injection at the age of 46. She’d spent 12 years on Florida’s death row.

A movie was made about her life, entitled Monster (2003). Charlize Theron turned in a terrific performance in this movie and won the Oscar for best actress. Based on the true story of Aileen Wournos, without a doubt, it’s a highly recommended feature film.

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  • Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (1992). (1994, 4 febrero). IMDb.

  • Cereal Serial K. (2015, 2 septiembre). Aileen Wuornos Última Entrevista, Subtítulos en Español. YouTube. 

  • MONSTER – Trailer ( 2003 ). (2008, 2 junio). [Vídeo]. YouTube. 

  • Monster (2003). (2004, 30 enero). IMDb.