Aileen Carol Wuornos: The Life of a Serial Killer “I robbed them, and I killed them as cold as ice, and I would do it again, and I know I would kill another person because I’ve hated humans for a long time. ” (Wuornos, 1999-2010) These words came from Aileen Wuornos after she was arrested for the murders of seven men during the course of a year. She faced numerous adversities from early childhood through adulthood. She displayed many psychological warning signs, but none was attended too regardless of her outcries.
The course of this paper will outline her upbringing, lifestyle choice, psychological warning signs, psychological disorders, course of treatment that could have been undertaken before the killing spree commenced. To begin, Aileen Carol Wuornos, nickname of “Lee”, was born on February 29, 1956, in Rochester, Michigan. Her parents Dale Pittman and Diane Wuornos eloped when Diane was only fourteen years old, which we know is too young to make an educated decision such as marriage. However, her troubled childhood began with her parent’s troubled marriage as well as their inability to care properly for their children.
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Aileen’s father, Dale Pittman was an alcoholic, angry psychopath and her mother, Diane Wuornos was a teen mother unable to maintain the responsibilities of her children Aileen and her brother Keith. Dales attempt to avoid jail time for raping a seven-year-old girl, was to join the army, which left Diane to raise the kids on her own. Diane was unable to provide for the children, as they required. Regardless of Dale’s “escape plan” he was eventually arrested and later hung himself in his prison cell. Diane abandoned Wuornos and her elder brother, Keith, to the care of her parents, Lauri and Britta Wuornos, before she was 4 years old, and they adopted the pair and raised them as their own. ” (Aileen Wuornos, 2008) Nevertheless, her grandparents assumed the parental role in raising Keith and Aileen there still was trouble behind those four walls. Her grandfather was an angry alcoholic, which caused intense situations in the household growing up. Aileen and her brother formed a very close bond and relied on each other for support and companionship through this rough childhood.
Because of their upbringing, Aileen developed a serious temper and would have outrages at any given moment. Nonetheless, her brother was always by her side and they would always pull each other thru no matter what situation arose. Even though, a neighborhood boy rumored that Aileen, who was ten years old at the time, and her brother Keith had consensual sex with one another. This behavior not only displays the inner workings of serious psychological issues of what would later elaborate into behavior that is more chronic. Consequently, Aileen, at eleven years of age would routinely sneak out of the house to the “Pit’s” to meet boys.
She would have sex with them in exchange for cigarettes and change. She would later use that money for drugs. “She had become an inveter-ate liar, and displayed a fiery, life-long, and unpredictable temper, that frightened every one, es-pecially her peers. She was known to fly into a rage, the trigger known only to her, causing many people to refer to her as “Jekyll and Hyde. ” (DellaSanta-Percy, 2003-2005) Since, she was well known for this behavior, she was treated with a lack of respect and was labeled with that reputation.
In fact, as her behavior increasingly worsened along with her angry outbursts her grandfather began to clash even more, which resulted in Aileen and her brother Keith running away. As little kids, they had nowhere to turn so they namely slept in the woods, in cars, etc. Nonetheless, this lifestyle coupled with her promiscuous behavior led to Aileen becoming pregnant and she was sent to a home for unwed mothers. As soon as she delivered, the baby was immediately placed for adoption. However, Aileen and her brother returned home, but only to find that her grandmother was sick and soon passed away.
Her grandfather decided that the unruly behavior was too much for him to handle and kicked them both out. They found themselves on the street again and Aileen began earning a living by prostituting herself for money. Overall, her lifestyle only escalated as she hitchhiked in Michigan where she grew up and participated in drinking, drugs, partying and prostitution. She decided that she would leave and hitchhike her way on up to Colorado where she continued the same lifestyle. In the midst of the horrible, unethical lifestyle, she was informed that her grandfather had committed suicide in his garage.
I can only speculate that she felt alone in the world and needed to fill that void. So as she was “Hitchhiking across America, Wuornos arrived in Florida and was presented with a potentially life-changing piece of luck: she met wealthy yacht club president, 69-year old Lewis Fell, who fell in love with her, and they were married in 1976. Wuornos soon reverted to type, however, and began fighting in bars, and was sent to jail for assault as a result. Fell was horrified; a brawling bride had no place in his high-society lifestyle, and he had the marriage annulled after a few months. (Aileen Wuornos, 2008) Additionally, Aileen also received word that her brother Keith had passed due to throat cancer. She was not only devastated, but also alone in the world since he was the only loyal person by her side. As she had done in the past, she resorted back to her heavy drinking and life of prostitution. Aileen received ten thousand dollars from her bothers life insurance, but she would blow that in less than three months time. Aileen would focus on her prostitution clientele and post herself at the exit ramps off the freeways.
As a result, of the continual stresses that she endured, in 1978, she was admitted to the hospital for shooting herself in the stomach with a . 22-caliber pistol. This was an obvious suicide attempt and reportedly told the physicians that this was not the first time that she tried to kill herself. She was given minimal psychological counseling. Her behavior simply escalated from that point forward by robbery of a mini-mart where she received three years in prison. Subsequently, while she was in prison for the robbery of the mini mart, she turned to the bible.
However, once she was released from prison, she quickly left her life of religion and resorted back to her old lifestyle of drinking, drugs, hitchhiking and prostitution. “Lee often used other drugs – mescaline, marijuana, pe-yote, LSD, and “downers” (various barbiturates and other depressants) – at least through her ado-lescence, but drank all her life. ” (DellaSanta-Percy, 2003-2005) I believe at this point in her life she felt that she had nowhere and nobody to turn to for support and guidance. Her experiences with men were nothing but catastrophic for her and she decided to turn to women to fill that void.
Subsequently, by age twenty-eight years old, she began to cruise the biker bars. It was at her usual hang out biker bar where she met Tyria Moore, who was twenty-four years old at the time. “She soon fell in love with a young waitress, Tyria Moore, and the couple stayed together for four years. Wuornos and Moore barely survived on Aileen’s meager income from prostitution, a vocation that was all too frequently coupled with violence. ” (Aileen Wuornos, 2008) Tyria and Aileen quickly became inseparable and served as Aileen’s anchor.
Due to the economic constrictions of prostitution, they found themselves living in all sorts of different places such as friend’s houses, cars, woods, etc. Regardless of their “loving” relationship, Aileen would do whatever she had to do to maintain their relationship. Although, the career and lifestyle choice of Aileen Wuornos had begun to take a toll on her looks as well as her clientele she found herself not bringing in as much money as she used too. Therefore, between her prostitution and Tyria’s income from cleaning hotel rooms it just was not making ends meet.
Aileen waited by the exit of the freeways, just as she normally did. However, December 13, 1989, would mark a dramatic change in her life. A prospective client, Richard Mallory, agreed that they would have sex in the woods and ended up drinking until dawn. However, he would never make it out of those woods, because Aileen would shoot him in the chest and back with her . 22-caliber pistol. She took whatever money and belongings he had on him, buried his body in the woods and stole his car. Aileen came home that night and reportedly told Tyria and they chose to hide the evidence, wipe the car down and flee.
Tyria never reported this to the police since she thought that Aileen released all of her anger and frustrations that she had with society out of her system. Needless to say, six-months later Aileen would kill three more men, David Spears in May 1990, Charles Carskaddon in June 1990, and Peter Siems in July 1990. However, the police were not linking Aileen to the killings of these men simply because her method of killing was not typical to that of a serial killer. Either she would stand by the side of abandoned cars acting like a damsel in distress or she would pick them up for prostitution of the exit of freeways.
After she killed these strangers with her . 22-caliber pistol, she would remove their bodies from the car and place them in the woods somewhere with a good distance away from the cars. This method was different from a typical serial killer, therefore threw the cops off from suspecting a serial killer or a woman for that matter, and definitely was not able to link Aileen Wuornos. In fact, close to the end of 1990, Aileen would strike again and murder an additional three men. These three men consisted of Troy Buress in August 1990, Dick Humphreys in September 1990 and Walter Antonio in November 1990 with her . 2-caliber shotgun. The police now had reports of two women due to witnesses who gave sketches of some pawnshop records that Aileen had sold items from her victims. The sketches were now out to the public as possible serial killer suspects. As a result, this caused panic amongst Aileen and Tyria, which resulted in Tyria fleeing to her family in Pennsylvania leaving Aileen to fend her herself. For this reason, the police were on Aileen’s trail for two days and knew that she frequented The Last Resort Bar, a lesbian biker bar.
The police moved in on January 9, 1991 to The Last Resort Bar where she was arrested and immediately taken into custody. After the arrest of Aileen Wuornos, Tyria was questioned and released of any involvement in these crimes in exchange for her agreement to snitch on her former lover, Aileen. She was later able to get Aileen to admit that Tyria had absolutely no involvement in the murders and Aileen completely took the blame for all the murders. Later, Aileen Wuornos was charged with six counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death by lethal injection.
Aileen insisted that the Supreme Court waive her additional appeals, stop the unnecessary taxpayer money and set the lethal injection. The Supreme Court obliged Aileen Wuornos request. It was here in her final days where she found her way back to the bible. She was sentenced to death by lethal injection on October 9, 2002 at the age of forty-six years old. She was cremated and taken back to Florida where she spent the majority of her life. Throughout, her life of continued hardships, deviant behavior and unmoral choices she displayed early warning signs of her psychological tendices and her capability of worsening behavior.
In taking a look back, “from the moment of her conception in the womb, aspects of her character, her personality and her behavior were formed. She received through the DNA of her parents a propensity for alcoholism, aggression, and below average IQ. She was born into an environment unlikely to ameliorate any of these genetic characteristics. She was born into a family of contra-dictions and secrets. Her family, her peers, her school, and her neighbors derogated her. She never learned the value of people, property and self, or the assertion of social control that comes from an individual bonding with their society.
Developing negative characteristics instead of positive ones, never learning societal norms, inheriting destructive traits – either through genetics or through the environment into which she was born – made her much more likely than her peers to engage in deviant behavior and crime (Nagin & Paternoster, 1994). ” (DellaSanta-Percy, 2003-2005) Indeed, Aileen grew up in such an abusive, alcoholic and unhappy environment, which has been proven that “Children of violent parents are more likely to be violent themselves (Spatz Widom, 1989).
In some children, violence and aggressive behavior becomes a stable part of personality from a very early age, well into adulthood. In addition to other research, adoption studies have shown that if a child’s biological parents and their adoptive parents are both violent, he/she is nearly twice as likely to become aggressive and violent him/herself (Raine, 2002). In addition, aggressive behavior has been shown to be more heritable than delinquency (Van Den Oord, Boomsma, & Verhulst, 1994; Mednick, Gabrielli, & Hutchings, 1984).
Lee seemingly inherited her aggressive, violent streak from her biological father, and learned aggression and violence from her adopted father. ” (DellaSanta-Percy, 2003-2005) In addition, to her already violent past, drug usage, promiscuous behavior she lacked self-control. “Two important aspects of social control theory are containment and neutralization. Con-tainment involves internal factors and external factors (controls and constraints) that push and pull the individual toward and away from deviant behavior.
The internal factors include a favor-able self-image, a high level of tolerance for frustration, a well-developed ego and superego, be-ing self-directed and goal-oriented, and having a set of internalized morals and ethics. External factors include consistent moral values, institutional supports, positive role models, reasonable limits and responsibilities, and a sense of belonging. ” (DellaSanta-Percy, 2003-2005) However, just as we have seen these traits repeat themselves in other people, we know that there are a high percentage of mental disorders in people who exhibit this behavior.
Upon Aileen’s arrest for the murders in 1990, she underwent a psychological exam. “The 1990 Marcy report on Lee con-cluded with a warning that “It is vital for this girl’s welfare that she receive counseling immedi-ately” (Russell, 2002, p. 53). During the assessments for her presentencing hearing, three clini-cal psychologists and a forensic psychiatrist diagnosed Lee as having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and APD. “Individuals with this prototype are characteristically impulsive, acting on the spur of the moment, and frequently engage in activities with potentially negative consequences.
Deliberate acts of self-harm (e. g. , cutting, burning), suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts typically occur in the context of intense distress and dysphoria, particularly in the context of feelings of abandonment when an important relationship is disrupted. (Borderline Personality Disorder Type, 2010) In spite of the indications of ADHD, CD, unrestrained aggression and volatile temperament, no help was ever attempted for Lee while she was still young enough to potentially benefit from it. The lack of a support structure and psychological treatment is a clear example of inner containment gone awry. (DellaSanta-Percy, 2003-2005) Unfortunately, we know all too well that she was given very minimal psychological counseling regardless of the three psychologists findings of borderline personality disorder (BPD), antisocial personality disorder (APD), conduct disorder (CD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Perhaps if she was given indepth and intense psychological counseling that focused on the core psychological issues such as BPD, APD, ADHD, CD, unrestrained aggression and volatile temperament she would have been better off to herself as well as society and would have never developed into a serial killer.
She would have always suffered from these mental illnesses as mentioned above, but could have possibly had a chance to fit in to society if these early warning signs were detected and treated. In conclusion, Aileen Wuornos faced many adversities beginning in her early childhood. It is an unfortunate situation that none of the early psychological signs she exhibited were detected and treated by family, friends, boyfriends, her girlfriend or medical professionals. Perhaps some of her crimes could have been prevented if caught and dealt with early on. There is no question about Lee Wuornos’ guilt. In the end, even she conceded that. However, there is also no doubt that the effects of her biology, as well as the lack of sup-port from both her family and society, allowed her to develop into the individual she became. Even as a female (who Lombroso expressed doubt could fit his archetype), Wuornos would fit Lombroso’s idea of the “born criminal” (Lombroso-Ferrero, 1972). ” (DellaSanta-Percy, 2003-2005) She was destined for failure from the very beginning of her life.
While Aileen was in her last moments on earth she was given the rights for her last words, “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. ” (Aileen Carol Wuornos , 2002) Her last words just goes to show you how psychologically imbalanced she really was. Timeline of Aileen Wuornos’ Crimes “December 1989: Wuornos started killing men in and around Central Florida. She was living in the Daytona Beach area, but she hitchhiked along highways all over central and north Florida as a prostitute.
She claimed that the men who picked her up, beat or raped her and then she shot them in self-defense. She also robbed them. December 13, 1989: The first victim, Richard Mallory, was found dead in November of 1989. This is the only case that Wuornos actually stood trial for. The trial happened in DeLand. June 1 1990: The body of David Spears was found. June 6, 1990: The body of Charles Carskaddan was found. July 4, 1990: Police found a car connected to man named Peter Siems. His body was never found, but Wuornos confessed to the crime.
August 4, 1990: Troy Buress, the fifth victim, was found dead. September 12, 1990: Dick Humphreys, the sixth victim, was found dead. November 19, 1990: The body of Walter Gino Antonio was found. January 9, 1991: Wuornos was arrested. January 16, 1991: Wuornos confesses to one of the murders, saying it was self-defense. November 21, 1991: Arlene Pralle, a 44-year-old “born-again” Christian and her husband legally adopted Wuornos. January 14, 1992: Wuornos went on trial for the Mallory murder. January 27, 1992: Wuornos was convicted of the murder of Richard Mallory.
January 31, 1992: Wuornos received the death sentence. “Florida Executes Female Serial Killer; Wuornos Declines Final Meal. ” (October 9, 2002) “ (Aileen Carol Wuornos , 2002) Bibliography Aileen Carol Wuornos . (2002). Retrieved April 30, 2011, from Clark Prosecutor: http://www. clarkprosecutor. org/html/death/US/wuornos805. htm Aileen Wuornos. (2008, May). Retrieved April 30, 2011, from Biography. com: http://www. biography. com/articles/Aileen-Wuornos-11735792 Aileen Wuornos. (2008). Retrieved April 30, 2011, from Crime & Investigation Network: http://www. citvasia. com/crimeFile. spx? t=2&id=1#top Borderline Personality Disorder Type. (2010). Retrieved May 1, 2011, from American Psychiatric Association DSM-5 Development: http://www. dsm5. org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision. aspx? rid=440# DellaSanta-Percy, C. (2003-2005). Looking at the Case of Aileen Wuornos from Biosocial and Social Control Theoretical Perspectives. Retrieved May 1, 2001, from My Site: http://mysite. cdellasanta. com/pdf/aileen_wuornos. pdf Wuornos, A. (1999-2010). Aileen Wuornos quotes. Retrieved April 30, 2011, from Thinkexist. com: http://thinkexist. com/quotes/aileen_wuornos/