The Tragic Story of the First Female Serial Killer

Aileen Wuornos was the first female serial killer convicted of six murders in the first degree and sentenced to the death penalty in 2002.

Twelve days before Christmas in 1989, a body was found outside Ormond Beach, Florida. The victim was wrapped in an old carpet and identified as Richard Mallory, a fifty-one-year-old electrician. Further investigation by the police found that he had been convicted of rape. The autopsy revealed that he had been shot a total of twenty-four times with a 22 calibre handgun.

The Body Count Increases

Mallory was the first of many bodies that would be found. Over the next twelve months, five more victims were discovered. All of them in different locations but with almost identical circumstances. The victims were forty-three-year-old construction worker David Spears, who had been shot six times. A rodeo worker called Charles Carskaddon was forty and had been shot nine times. A fifty-year-old truck driver, Troy Burress and a fifty-six-year-old child abuse investigator, Charles Humphreys. The final body would be discovered on 19th November and was Walter Gino Antonio.

In every case, the murderer had used a 22 calibre handgun. They had also stolen valuables such as money and cars. At most of the crime scenes, police found used condoms. The matching bullets soon convinced the police that they had a serial killer on the loose. In addition, criminal profiling from the FBI suggested the perpetrator was a woman.

Witnesses had come forward and placed the victim with two women, the first tall and blond, the other heavy-set and brunette.

A Childhood Filled with Abuse

Wuornos had a difficult childhood, having been abandoned by her parents. Wuornos never met her father as he was in prison at the time of her birth. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and convicted of sex crimes against children. In 1969, he committed suicide.

As a toddler, her mother, Diane Wuornos, abandoned her children, leaving them with her parents, both of which were alcoholics. The grandparents went on to formally adopt Aileen and her brother Keith in 1960.

Wuornos was sexually active by eleven; she would sell sexual activities for cigarettes, drugs and food. It was reported that she also engaged in sexual activities with her brother. She would later claim that her grandfather sexually molested her when she lived with him.

At fourteen, she was raped by an accomplice of her grandfather’s. She gave birth alone in a hostel; the child was given up for adoption. At fifteen, her grandmother died, and her grandfather threw her out of the family home.

A Life of Prostitution.

By the early 1980s, after her brother’s death from cancer, Wuornos moved to Florida to work as a prostitute. She worked one of the most dangerous routes for prostitution along the highway. She would solicit men by hitchhiking, getting into the car at one junction and dropping off at the next. She claims to have seen as many as six men a day. She was frequently in trouble with the law. By 1991 her record included arrests for illegal firearm possession, forgery, assault, and robbery. Her associates and law enforcement often described her as erratic and quickly angered. At thirty-three, something changed, and her behaviour escalated to murder.

The Net Tightens

On 4th July 1990, Wuornos and her girlfriend skidded off the road in a stolen car. The car belonged to sixty-five-year-old Peter Seims, a part-time missionary. Seims had been murdered in June, although his body has never been found. After crashing the vehicle, the couple removed the license plates and left the damaged Pontiac Sunbird, hoping to stop the car from being identified.

By December 1990, the artist sketches of the two women had yielded two names. The brunette was identified as possibly Tyria J Moore, twenty-eight, and the blond was her live-in lover Aileen Wuornos, known as Lee. The police tracked her down to the Last Resort, bikers bar in Florida and arrested her on 9th January 1991.

Shortly after the arrest, the police located Moore, who was staying with her sister in Pennsylvania. Moore was not arrested, but she told the police that Wuornos had told her about at least one murder. She agreed to help the prosecution in return for immunity from the charge of accessory after the fact.

The Lover Scorned

The first thing Moore did was to lead officers to the creek where Wuornos had thrown the gun. Then under police supervision, she made a total of eleven recorded phone calls to Wuornos whilst in prison, claiming that she was still on the run and the police had no idea where she was. She urged Wuornos to confess to the killing; Wuornos, who was still in love with Moore, agreed to make a statement to save her.

Moore and the police had another motive for securing the confession; they were trying to sell the story to Hollywood. Wuornos had once again been betrayed by someone that she loved.

Please Kill Me

On 16th January 1991, Wuornos gave a three hour taped confession. During it, she admitted to a total of seven murders. She also provided details that only a witness could have known about, proving she was the perpetrator. Defending the killings, she insisted that she had accompanied the men to the woods to trade sex for money. Each of the seven men had then attacked her and tried to rape her, fearing for her life, and she had shot them in self-defence.

The initial trial for Wuornos was for the murder of Richard Mallory; the jury found her guilty and sentenced her to death by electric chair. Later at a further arraignment for another three of the murders, Wuornos pleaded guilty and requested the death penalty without trial, stating that she wanted to ‘be with Jesus.’

When the judge complied with this request, Wuornos became angry, shouting that she was being executed for being a victim of rape. She shouted that she hoped the judge’s wife and children were raped as she left the courtroom. This erratic behaviour would have many questioning whether she had been mentally stable enough to plead no contest.

Execution Set Me Free

She maintained to her death that she was a victim of rape; she wanted to die and get away from this terrible world. The execution was her way of escaping the publicity and those making money off her name.

It is evident when you view her story she was a woman that was sexually assaulted all her life. Mallory was a convicted sex offender, so it would be plausible to say it is entirely likely he abused her. However, other victims were shot in the back, indicating they were running away, which brings into question whether each of the victims tried to attack her.

Before death, she had complained that the prison staff were trying to poison her and mentally torture her. She was found to wash her food and refused to shower in front of specific male staff. Several questions remain after her death, was she a victim or a cold-blooded serial killer? Was she mentally capable of pleading for herself or even facing execution in her volatile mental state? Wuornos was executed on 9th October 2002 by lethal injection. She was the first woman executed in a decade.