Aileen Carol Wuornos was an American serial killer who killed seven men in Florida in 1989 and 1990.
Wuornos was born Aileen Carol Pittman in Rochester, Michigan, on February 29, 1956. Her mother, Diane Wuornos (born 1939), was 14 years old when she married Aileen’s father, Leo Dale Pittman, on June 3, 1954. Less than two years later, and two months before Aileen was born, Diane filed for divorce. Aileen’s older brother Keith was born in March 1955.
Wuornos never met her father, Leo Pittman; he was incarcerated at the time of her birth. A schizophrenic who was later convicted of sex crimes against children, Pittman eventually hanged himself in prison in 1969. Terry Manners in Deadlier Than the Male: Stories of Female Serial Killers describes what kind of psychopathic violence Pittman was capable of:
“When his grandfather died of throat cancer, his grandmother spoilt him even more, baking him cakes and giving him money. In his teens he returned her love and kindness by beating and abusing her. One of his favorite games was to tie two cats together by their tails and throw them over a clothesline to watch them fight.”
In January 1960, when Wuornos was almost four years old, Diane abandoned her children, leaving them with their maternal grandparents, Lauri and Britta Wuornos, who legally adopted Keith and Wuornos on March 18, 1960. By the age 11, Wuornos began engaging in sexual activities in school in exchange for cigarettes, drugs, and food. She had also engaged in sexual activities with her brother.
The Wuornoses raised Aileen and Keith with their own children in Troy , Michigan . They did not reveal that they were, in fact, the children’s grandparents. Aileen discovered the truth at around age twelve, information which did not help an already troublesome situation. Lauri Wuornos drank heavily and was strict with the children; when Aileen and Keith discovered their true parentage they rebelled.
In 1962 at age six, she was severely burned while she and Keith set fires with lighter fluid. Although she recovered, she was permanently scarred on her face. Aileen was whipped with a belt by Lauri, she was made to pull down her shorts and bend over the wooden table in the middle of the kitchen, when the doubled-over belt flew down onto her bare buttocks, sometimes she lay face down, spread-eagled naked on the bed, for her whippings.
Wuornos claimed that her alcoholic grandfather had sexually assaulted and beaten her when she was a child; before beating her, he would force her to strip out of her clothes. In 1970, at age 13, she became pregnant, having been raped by a friend of her grandfather’s. Wuornos gave birth at a home for unwed mothers, and the child was placed for adoption.
A few months after her baby was born, Wuornos dropped out of school at about the time that her grandmother died of liver failure. When she was 15, her grandfather threw her out of the house, and she began supporting herself as a prostitute and living in the woods near her old home.
In July of 1971 Britta Wuornos died, supposedly of liver failure. Diane, Aileen’s biological mother, believed that Lauri killed her. Britta’s daughters believed that after the stress that Aileen and Keith put Britta through with truancy, pregnancy, etc. that she had started to drink heavily again. The night of Britta’s death, she was having convulsions. If there was culpability on the part of Lauri, it was in not calling an ambulance in time because he didn’t have the money for it.
On May 27, 1974, Wuornos was arrested in Jefferson County, Colorado, for driving under the influence (DUI), disorderly conduct, and firing a .22-caliber pistol from a moving vehicle. She was later charged with failure to appear. In 1976, Wuornos hitchhiked to Florida, where she met 69-year-old yacht club president Lewis Gratz Fell. They married that same year, and the announcement of their nuptials was printed in the local newspaper’s society pages.
However, Wuornos continually involved herself in confrontations at their local bar and eventually went to jail for assault. She also hit Fell with his own cane, leading him to get a restraining order against her. She returned to Michigan where, on July 14, 1976, she was arrested in Antrim County, Michigan and charged with assault and disturbing the peace for throwing a cue ball at a bartender’s head. On July 17, her brother Keith died of esophageal cancer and Wuornos received $10,000 from his life insurance. Wuornos and Fell annulled their marriage on July 21 after only nine weeks. Around this time Lauri Wuornos committed suicide.
On May 20, 1981, Wuornos was arrested in Edgewater, Florida, for the armed robbery of a convenience store, where she stole $35 and two packs of cigarettes. She was sentenced to prison on May 4, 1982 and released on June 30, 1983. 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 car theft, resisting arrest, and obstruction of justice for providing identification bearing her aunt’s name. Miami police officers found a .38-caliber revolver and a box of ammunition in the stolen car. On June 2, 1986, Volusia County, Florida, deputy sheriffs 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 under the passenger seat she had occupied.
She lurched from one failed relationship to another and still engaging in prostitution. Along the way, she tried to commit suicide. Emotionally and physically, she was a mess from the drinking and doping and self-destructive lifestyle.Around this time, Wuornos met Tyria Moore, a hotel maid, at a Daytona gay bar. They moved in together. For a while it was great. Ty loved her and didn’t leave her; she even quit her job as a motel maid for a while and allowed Lee to support her with her prostitution earnings. Their passion cooled, though, and money ran short -still, Ty stayed with Lee, following her from cheap motel to cheap motel, with stints in old barns or in the woods in between.
Lee’s market value as a prostitute, never spectacular, fell even more. Their existence, meagre though it was, became ever harder to maintain. Clearly, something had to change. 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. 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, the middle-aged owner of a Clearwater , Florida electronics repair business was known to close up shop abruptly and disappear for a few days at a time on drinking and sex binges. He changed the locks to his apartment eight times in three years. He kept employees at his business only long enough to clear the backlog of work that accrued during one of his disappearances, letting them go once his repair orders were caught up again. His only constants were alcohol, sex and paranoia. So when he didn’t show up to open his shop in early December 1989, no one thought much of it. There was no one close enough to him to notice he was gone. It wasn’t until his 1977 Cadillac was found a few days later outside Daytona that anyone knew anything was amiss.On December 13, 1989, two young men were looking for scrap metal along a dirt road close to Interstate 95 in Volusia County, Florida . Instead of saleable junk they found a body wrapped in a rubber-backed carpet runner. Fingerprints carefully taken from the badly decomposed hands proved that this was Richard Mallory, who had last been seen 13 days earlier.
He had been killed with three shots from a .22. Several months of investigation into his sordid lifestyle and somewhat shady acquaintances produced no real leads. Initial suspicion revolved around a stripper who went by the name of Chastity. Sue Russell writes that Chastity had told her boyfriend that she had gone for several days to party with Mallory and that she had killed him. When investigators arrested Chastity, they realized that her “confession” was prompted by a burst of anger at her boyfriend and was not true. After a number of dead ends, Mallory’s case went cold.
On June 1st, another unidentified naked male body was found in the woods of Citrus County, Florida, about 40 miles north of Tampa. The victim was identified on June 7 as that of David Spears, 43, of Sarasota . Spears had been a heavy-equipment operator who was last seen on May 19. He told his boss that he was going to Orlando , but he never made it. His truck was found shortly after that on Interstate 75 with the doors unlocked and the license plate missing. Spears had been shot several times with a .22. Manners writes that a used condom was found near his body.
Meanwhile, thirty miles south in Pasco County, yet another naked body was found a few miles off Interstate 75. This one was discovered on June 6, and was so badly decomposed that medical examiners were not able to obtain fingerprints and could not estimate time of death. The nine bullets found in the remains were damaged by the decomposition, but were determined to have come from a .22 caliber weapon. According to Michael Reynolds, Pasco County detective Tom Muck had no immediate luck identifying his John Doe (later determined to be Charles Carskaddon), but had heard about the case in Citrus County. He notified Citrus County sheriff’s investigator Marvin Padgett about the similarities and told him to stay in touch.
On July 4th, a car careened off State Road 315 near Orange Springs, Florida and came to rest in some brush. Rhonda Bailey, who was sitting on her porch at the time and watched the accident happen, said two women clambered frantically from the car, throwing beer cans into the woods and swearing at each other. The brown-haired woman said little; the blond, whose arm was bleeding from an injury sustained in the crash, did most of the talking. She begged Bailey not to call the police, saying her father lived just up the road. She and her companion got back in the car, which now had a smashed wind-shield and other damage, and got it out of the brush. The crippled vehicle didn’t take them far, though. They abandoned it just down the road and began walking. Hubert Hewett of the Orange Springs Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call about the accident and asked the two women if they had been the ones in the car. The blond cursed at him and said no, they had not, and they did not want any help. He left them alone and they walked on.
Marion County sheriff’s deputies found the car where the women had left it. It was a 1988 Pontiac Sunbird, grey with four doors. The glass in the front doors, as well as the wind-shield, was smashed. There were apparent bloodstains throughout the interior, and the license plate was missing. A computer search based on the VIN number revealed that the car belonged to Peter Siems, who had disappeared on June 7 after leaving his home in Jupiter, Florida to visit relatives in Arkansas. Siems was a 65-year-old retired merchant seaman who devoted much of his time to a Christian outreach ministry. John Wisnieski of the Jupiter Police, who had been working the case since Siems was reported missing, sent out a nationwide teletype containing descriptions of the two women. He also sent a synopsis of the case and sketches of the women to the Florida Criminal Activity Bulletin. Then he waited. He was not optimistic about finding Siems alive.
Troy Burress left on his delivery route from Gilchrist Sausage early on the morning of July 30. When he didn’t return that afternoon, Gilchrist manager Johnny Mae Thompson started calling around and discovered Burress hadn’t shown up at his last few delivery stops. Late that night she and her husband went out looking for him. At 2:00 a.m. Burress’s wife reported him missing. At 4:00 a.m. Marion County sheriff’s deputies found his truck on the shoulder of State Road 19, twenty miles east of Ocala . It was unlocked and the keys were missing. So was Burress.
He was found five days later. A family out for a picnic in the Ocala National Forest happened upon his body in a clearing just off Highway 19, about eight miles from where his truck was found. The Florida heat and humidity had hastened decomposition, precluding identification at the scene, but his wife identified his wedding ring. He had been killed with two shots from a .22 caliber gun, one to the chest and one to the back. Investigator John Tilley’s initial suspect was a drifter named Curtis Michael Blankenship. He had been hitch-hiking on Highway 19 the day of Burress’s disappearance and was picked up close to the abandoned truck. It became evident as the investigation progressed, however, that Blankenship was not involved. For the time being, Tilley had no more suspects.
Dick Humphreys never made it home from his last day of work at the Sumterville office of the Florida ‘s Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. A protective investigator specializing in abused and injured children, he was about to transfer to the Department’s Ocala office. He was fifty-six and this was not his first career; previously, he’d been a police chief in Alabama . He celebrated his thirty-fifth wedding anniversary on September 10; on September 11, he disappeared. On the evening of September 12 his body was found in Marion County . He’d been shot seven times. Six .22 caliber slugs were recovered from his body; the seventh went through his wrist and was never found. His car was found in late September in Suwanee County .
About a month later the nude body of Walter Gino Antonio was found on a logging road in Dixie County . Sixty-year-old Antonio was a trucker, a sometime security guard, and a member of the Reserve Police. He’d been shot four times with a .22. When he was found on November 19 he’d been dead less than 24 hours. His car was found five days later across the state in Brevard County .
Captain Steve Binegar was commander of the Marion County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Division, and he knew about the crimes in Citrus and Pasco Counties. He could not ignore the similarities and was formulating a theory, along with a multi-agency task force with representatives from counties where victims were found. No one stopped to pick up hitch-hikers any more, he reasoned, so the perpetrator(s) of these crimes had to be initially non-threatening to the victims.
He suspected women-specifically, he suspected the two women who had wrecked Peter Siems’s car and walked away. He turned to the press for help. In late November, Reuters ran a story about the killings, saying police were looking for the women. Papers across Florida picked up the story and ran it, along with police sketches of the women in question.
It didn’t take long for the leads to start pouring in, and by mid-December, police had several tips involving the same two women. A man in Homosassa Springs said the two women had rented a trailer from him about a year earlier. Their names were Tyria Moore and Lee. A woman in Tampa said the women had worked at her motel south of Ocala . Their names, she said, were Tyria Moore and Susan Blahovec. An anonymous caller identified the women as Ty Moore and Lee Blahovec, who bought an RV in Homosassa Springs. Lee Blahovec was the dominant one, the caller said, and a truck stop prostitute. Both were lesbians.
The mother lode though, came from Port Orange near Daytona. Police there had been tracking the movements of Lee Blahovec and Tyria Moore, and provided a detailed account of the couple’s movements from late September to mid-December. They had stayed, primarily, at the Fairview Motel in Harbor Oaks, where Blahovec registered as Cammie Marsh Greene. They spent a bit of time living in a small apartment behind a restaurant very near the Fairview , but returned to the motel. In early December they left the Fairview . Blahovec/Greene returned alone, and stayed until December 10.
A quick computer check gave driver’s license and criminal record information on Tyria Moore, Susan Blahovec and Cammie Marsh Greene. Moore had no real record, breaking and entering charges against her in 1983 having been dropped. Blahovec had one trespassing arrest, while Greene had no record at all. Additionally, the photograph on Blahovec’s license did not match the one for Greene. The Greene ID was the one that paid off best. Volusia County officers checked area pawnshops and found that in Daytona, Cammie Marsh Greene had pawned a camera and a radar detector, and had left the requisite thumbprint on the receipt. These items had belonged to Richard Mallory. In Ormand Beach, she pawned a set of tools that matched the description of those taken from David Spears’s truck.
The thumbprint was the key. Jenny Ahern of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System found nothing on her initial computer search, but came to Volusia County and began a hand search of fingerprint records there. Within an hour, she found what she came for. The print showed up on a weapons charge and outstanding warrant against a Lori Grody. A bloody palm print found in Peter Siems’s Sunbird matched Lori Grody’s prints as well. All this information was sent to the National Crime Information Center . Responses came from Michigan , Colorado and Florida . Lori Grody, Susan Blahovec and Cammie Marsh Greene were all aliases for Aileen Carol Wuornos.
The hunt for Wuornos began in earnest on January 5, 1991. Pairs of officers, including two undercover as “Bucket” and “Drums,” drug dealers down from Georgia, hit the streets hoping to track her down. On the evening of January 8, Mike Joyner and Dick Martin, in their roles as “Bucket” and “Drums,” spotted her at the Port Orange Pub. They meant for their take-down to develop gradually, as they wanted an airtight case, but Port Orange police entered suddenly and took Wuornos outside. Mike Joyner frantically phoned the command post at the Pirate’s Cove Motel, where authorities from six jurisdictions had come to work the case. This development wasn’t because of a leak, they surmised; these were just cops doing their jobs. Bob Kelley of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office called the Port Orange police station and told them not to arrest Wuornos under any circumstances.
The word was relayed to the cops in the nick of time, and Wuornos returned to the bar. Joyner and Martin struck up a conversation with her and bought her a few beers. She left the bar at around 10:00, declining an offer for a ride. Once again, the cautious take-down was almost ruined. Two Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers pulled up behind Wuornos as she walked down Ridgwood Avenue , following her with their lights off. Officers at the command post made a call and got the FDLE officers off the street and Wuornos made it to her next destination, a biker bar called the Last Resort. Joyner and Martin met her there for a while, drank more beers, shot more bull. They left just after midnight. Wuornos didn’t leave at all. She spent her last night of freedom sleeping on an old car seat in the Last Resort.
The following afternoon, Joyner and Martin were back at the Last Resort as “Bucket” and “Drums,” talking Wuornos up and wearing transmitters that kept the police apprised of everything that went on. They had planned on making their collar later that night, but the Last Resort was gearing up for a barbecue, and bikers would start pouring in any second. The decision was made at the command post to go ahead with the arrest. Joyner and Martin asked Wuornos if she’d like to get cleaned up at their motel room.
She accepted their offer and left the bar with them. Outside on the steps, Larry Horzepa of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office approached her and told her she was being arrested on the outstanding warrant for Lori Grody. No mention was made of the murders, and no announcement was made to the media that a suspect had been arrested. Their caution was wise: as of yet, they had no murder weapon and no Tyria Moore.
On January 10th Moore was located. She was living with her sister in Pittston , Pennsylvania. Jerry Thompson of Citrus County and Bruce Munster of Marion County flew to Scranton, Pennsylvania to interview her. She was read her rights but not charged with anything. Munster made sure she knew what perjury was, swore her in, and sat back as she gave her statement. She had known about the murders since Lee had come home with Richard Mallory’s Cadillac, she said. Lee had openly confessed that she had killed a man that day, but Moore told her not to say anything else.
“I told her I didn’t want to hear about it,” Moore told Munster and Thompson. “And then any time she would come home after that and say certain things, telling me about where she got something, I’d say I don’t want to hear it.” She had her suspicions, she admitted, but wanted to know as little as possible about Lee’s doings. The more she knew, she reasoned, the more compelled she would feel to report Lee to the authorities. And she didn’t want to do that. “I was just scared,” she said. “She always said she’d never hurt me, but then you can’t believe her, so I don’t know what she would have done.”
The next day Moore accompanied Munster and Thompson back to Florida to assist the investigation. A confession would make the case against Wuornos virtually airtight, and Munster and Thompson explained their plan for obtaining one to Moore on the flight. They would put her in a Daytona motel and have her make contact with Lee in jail, saying she’d received money from her mother and came down to get the rest of her things. Their phone conversations would be taped, and Moore was to tell Wuornos that authorities had been questioning her family, that she thought the Florida murders would be mistakenly pinned on her (Moore). Munster and Thompson hoped that, out of loyalty to Moore, Wuornos would confess.
The first call from Wuornos came on January 14. She was still under the impression that she was only in jail for the Lori Grody weapons violation. When Moore broached her suspicions, Wuornos reassured her:
“I’m only here for that concealed weapons charge in ’86 and a traffic ticket,” she said, “and I tell you what, man, I read the newspaper, and I wasn’t one of those little suspects.”
She was aware though that the jail-house phone was monitored, and made efforts to speak of the crimes in code words and to construct alibis.
“I think somebody at work, where you worked at, said something that it looked like us,” she said, “And it isn’t us, see? It’s a case of mistaken identity.”
For three days the calls continued. Moore became more insistent that the police were after her, and it became clear that Wuornos knew what was expected of her. She even voiced suspicion that Moore was not alone, that someone was there taping their conversations. But as time passed, she became less careful about what she said. She would not let Moore go down with her.
“Just go ahead and let them know what you need to know, what they want to know or anything and I will cover for you, because you’re innocent. I’m not going to let you go to jail. Listen, if I have to confess, I will.”
And on the morning of January 16, she did. Wuornos came back to two main points over and over during her confession to Larry Horzepa and Bruce Munster. First, she made it clear that Moore was not involved in any way in any of the murders. Additionally, she was emphatic in her assertion that nothing was her fault, not the murders and not any circumstance that led her down the criminal path that was her life. All the killings were done in self-defence, she claimed. Each victim had either assaulted her, threatened her, or raped her. Her story seemed to develop as she told it. When she thought she’d said something incriminating she would back up and retell that part, changing details to suit her overall scenario. She’d been raped several times in the past few years, she claimed, and had had enough. When each of her victims became aggressive she killed out of fear. Several times Michael O’Neill, a public defender from the Volusia County public defender’s office, advised Wuornos to stop talking, finally asking in exasperation, “Do you realize these guys are cops!” Wuornos answered, “I know. And they wanted to hang me. And that’s cool, because maybe, man, I deserve it. I just want to get this over with.”
An avalanche of book and movie offers poured in to detectives, relatives, Moore and even Wuornos herself. Wuornos seemed to think she would make millions from her story, not yet realizing that Florida had a law against criminals profiting in such a manner. She was all over the local and national media. She felt famous, and she continued to talk about the crimes with anyone who would listen, including Volusia County Jail employees. With each retelling she refined her story, casting herself in a better light each time.
Into this tumult came Arlene Pralle, a forty-four-year-old “born-again” Christian who ran a horse breeding and boarding facility near Ocala . She had seen Wuornos’s picture in a newspaper and wrote her a letter. “My name is Arlene Pralle,” she began, “I’m born-again. You’re going to think I’m crazy, but Jesus told me to write you.” She provided her home telephone number, and on January 30 Wuornos called her (collect) for the first time. Almost immediately, Pralle became her ardent defender and helpmate. Pralle advised her that her public defenders were trying to profit from her story, as was everyone else. Wuornos asked for and got new attorneys. Pralle spoke with reporters, describing her relationship with Wuornos to a Vanity Fair reporter as, “a soul binding. We’re like Jonathan and David in the bible. It’s as though part of me is trapped in jail with her. We always know what the other is feeling and thinking.” To another reporter she said, “If the world could know the real Aileen Wuornos, there’s not a jury that would convict her.”
Throughout 1991, Pralle appeared on talk shows and in tabloids, talking to anyone who would listen about what she perceived as Wuornos’s true, good nature. She arranged interviews for Wuornos with reporters she thought would be sympathetic, and in this forum Wuornos continued to tell and embellish her fantastic story. Both Wuornos and Pralle emphasized Wuornos’s troubled upbringing, and both levelled accusations of corruption and complicity at anyone who was handy-the agents proffering the book and movie deals, the detectives, the attorneys and, especially, Tyria Moore. And just when it seemed things couldn’t get any weirder, they did. On November 22, 1991, Arlene Pralle and her husband legally adopted Aileen Wuornos. Pralle said God had told her to.
Wuornos’s attorneys engineered a plea bargain, to which Wuornos agreed, in which she would plead to six charges and receive six consecutive life terms. One state attorney, however, thought she should receive the death penalty, so on January 14, 1992, Wuornos went to trial for the murder of Richard Mallory. The evidence and witnesses against her were severely damaging. Dr. Arthur Botting, the medical examiner who had autopsied Mallory’s body, stated that Mallory had taken between 10 and 20 agonizing minutes to die. Tyria Moore testified that Wuornos had not seemed overly upset, nervous or drunk when she told her of killing Mallory. Twelve men told of encounters with her along Florida ‘s highways over the years.
Tricia Jenkins, one of Wuornos’s public defenders, did not want her client to testify and told her so. But Wuornos insisted on telling her story. By now, her account of Mallory’s killing barely resembled the one she gave in her confession. Mallory had raped and sodomized her, she claimed, and had tortured her. On cross-examination, prosecutor John Tanner obliterated any shred of credibility she may have had. As he brought to light all her lies and inconsistencies, she became agitated and angry. Her attorneys repeatedly advised her not to answer questions, and she invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination twenty-five times. She was the defence’s only witness, and when she left the stand there was not much doubt about how her trial would end.
On January 27, Judge Uriel Blount charged the jury. They returned with their verdict less than two hours later. They found Wuornos guilty of first-degree murder, and as they filed out of the courtroom she exploded with rage, shouting, “I’m innocent! I was raped! I hope you get raped! Scumbags of America!” Her outburst was still fresh in the minds of jurors as the penalty phase of her trial began the next day. Expert witnesses for the defence testified that Wuornos was mentally ill, that she suffered from borderline personality disorder, and that her tumultuous upbringing had stunted and ruined her. Jenkins referred to her client as “a damaged, primitive child” as she pleaded with the jury to spare Wuornos’s life. But jurors neither forgot nor forgave the woman they’d come to know during the trial. With a unanimous verdict, they recommended that Judge Blount sentence her to the electric chair. He did so on January 31.
Wuornos did not stand trial again. On March 31, 1992 she pleaded no contest to the murders of Dick Humphreys, Troy Burress and David Spears, saying she wanted to “get right with God.” In a rambling statement to the court she said, “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.” She ended her monologue by turning to Assistant State Attorney Ric Ridgeway and hissing, “I hope your wife and children get raped in the ass!” On May 15, Judge Thomas Sawaya handed her three more death sentences. She made an obscene gesture and muttered, “Motherfucker.” In June, 1992 she pleaded guilty to the murder of Charles Carskaddon, and in November, she received her fifth death sentence. In early February of 1993, she was sentenced to die after pleading guilty to the murder of Walter Gino Antonio. No charges were brought for the murder of Peter Siems, as his body was never found.
For a time there was speculation that Wuornos might receive a new trial for the murder of Richard Mallory. New evidence showed that Mallory had served ten years in prison for sexual violence, and attorneys felt that jurors would have seen the case differently had they known this fact. No new trial was forthcoming, though. The State Supreme Court of Florida has affirmed all six of her death sentences.
“I’m one who seriously hates human life and would kill again,” she wrote in a letter to the Florida Supreme Court, which in April agreed to allow her to fire her attorneys and stop her appeals. 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. CNN reported that Gov. Jeb Bush issued a stay and ordered a mental exam, but lifted the stay in the first week of Oct., 2002, after three psychiatrists who interviewed her concluded that she understood she would die and why she was being executed.
She was incarcerated in the Florida Department of Corrections Broward Correctional Institution death row for women. 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.”
A defence attorney argued that she was in no state for them to honour such a request, but a panel of three psychiatrists ruled her competent for execution.
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”. Her attorney stated that “Ms. Wuornos really just wants to have proper treatment, humane treatment until the day she’s executed.” He added, “She believes what she’s written”.
During the final stages of the appeal process, she gave a series of interviews to Broomfield. In her final interview shortly before her death she claimed that, at BCI (Broward Correctional Institution), her mind was being tortured and her head crushed by “sonic pressure”, as well as food poisonings and other abuses that she claimed would get worse each time she complained, to make her appear insane and/or attempt to drive her insane. She stated she was prepared to leave, ‘The Angels and Jesus Christ would be there’. She described her impending death as “being taken away to meet God and Jesus and the angels and whatever is beyond the beyond”.
Wuornos said to Broomfield in the interview, “You sabotaged my ass! Society, and the cops, and the system! A raped woman got executed, and was used for books and movies and shit!” Her final words in the on-camera interview were “Thanks a lot, society, for railroading my ass.” 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.”
Wuornos was brought into the death chamber on October 9, 2002. For Aileen Wuornos’ last meal, she requested a “single cup of black coffee,” not KFC as was once reported. Her last words before the execution were:
“Yes, I would 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, I’ll be back.”
At 9:47 a.m. EDT, Aileen Wuornos died. She was the tenth woman in the United States to be executed since the Supreme Court lifted the ban on capital punishment in 1976. The execution took place at Florida State Prison near Starke, Florida.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center. Fifty-one men have been executed by Florida between 1976 and Oct., 2002. Judy Buenoano was the other woman executed in Florida during that time span.
For years, Wuornos claimed she shot the men out of self-defence while being raped and sodomized. Later, she recanted her claims, saying she wanted to make peace with God. Wuornos also claimed to have killed a seventh man. Her life story spawned two movies, several books and the opera “Wournos,” by Carla Lucero, which debuted in 2001.
Wuornos gave her last media interview just days before her execution, to British producer Nick Broomfield, who did a documentary on her in 1993, Broomfield stated she stormed out after about 35 minutes. Broomfield said Wednesday outside the prison:
“My conclusion from the interview is, today we are executing someone who is mad. Here is someone who has totally lost her mind.”
State Attorney John Tanner, who watched psychiatrists interview her for 30 minutes last week, said she was cognizant and lucid. “She knew exactly what she was doing,” Tanner said.
Wuornos’ body was cremated, and her ashes were spread beneath a tree in her native Michigan by Dawn Botkins. Wuornos requested that Natalie Merchant’s song “Carnival” be played at her funeral. Merchant commented on this when asked why she permitted “Carnival” to be played during the credits of the documentary “Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer”:
“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.”
Since Wuornis’ execution Tyria Moore has since been living under an unknown name in an unknown location.
“May your wife and kids get raped – right in the ass.” – Aileen Wuornos
If you want to watch a documentary on Aileen Wuornos then just check out the video below: