Aileen Carol Wuornos (born Aileen Carol Pittman; February 29, 1956 - October 9, 2002) was an American serial killer who was convicted and sentenced to death by the state of Florida in 1992. She ultimately received five additional death sentences. Wuornos admitted to killing seven men in separate incidents, all of whom she claimed either raped or attempted to rape her while she was working as a prostitute. She was executed via lethal injection on October 9, 2002.
On May 20, 1981 Wuornos was arrested in Edgewater, Florida for armed robbery. She was consequently sentenced to prison on May 4, 1982 and released on June 30, 1983. On May 1, 1984 she was sentenced 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 pistol and ammunition in Pasco County. By this time Wuornos was "borrowing" the alias Lori Christine Grody from her aunt/adoptive sister (her grandparents' daughter) in Michigan. In December 1985, the Florida Highway Patrol cited "Lori Grody" (Wuornos) for driving without a valid license.
On January 4, 1986 Wuornos was arrested in Miami under her own name and charged with grand theft auto, resisting arrest, and obstruction by false information. Miami police found a .38-caliber revolver and a box of ammunition in the stolen car. On June 2, 1986 Volusia County deputies detained "Lori Grody" (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.
Wuornos, now using the alias Susan Blahovec, was ticketed for speeding in Jefferson County, Florida just one week later. A few days after the Jefferson County incident Wuornos met 24-year-old Tyria Moore at a Daytona gay bar. They soon became lovers. Moore quit her job as a motel maid and allowed Wuornos to support them with her prostitution earnings. They went from motel to motel and sometimes slept in an old barn. In July 1987 Daytona Beach police detained Moore and "Susan Blahovec" (Wuornos) for questioning on suspicion of hitting a man with a beer bottle. On December 18 that same year Florida highway patrol cited Wuornos for driving on the interstate highway and possessing a suspended driver's license.
On March 12, 1988, under a new alias of Cammie Marsh Greene. Wuornos accused a Daytona Beach bus driver of assault. She claimed that he pushed her off the bus following an argument. Moore was listed as a witness to this incident. On July 23, 1988, Moore and Wuornos (under the "Susan Blahovec" alias) were accused by their Daytona Beach landlord of vandalizing their apartment. He claimed they had ripped out the apartment's carpets and painted the walls dark brown without his permission. In November 1988, Wuornos launched a six-day campaign of threatening calls against a Zephyrhills supermarket following an altercation over lottery tickets. By 1989 Wuornos seldom traveled without a loaded pistol. She worked in the bars and truck stops to supplement her income from prostitution. By this time Moore and Wuornos were running into more financial problems.
Apprehension and sentencing
Wuornos was eventually identified when she and Moore were involved in an accident while driving a victim's car. They rejected help from bystanders even though Wuornos was bleeding and ran from the scene. Their police sketches were later broadcast on television. The police tracked Moore down in Pennsylvania, where she had retreated to live with her sister, and they made a deal; if she would testify against Wuornos, Moore would be granted immunity. Moore agreed. The police provided her a motel room in Florida. She wrote a letter to Wuornos, who was in custody for a parole violation. After numerous calls and Moore threatening to kill herself Wuornos caved in and said "You do what you gotta do. I'm not gonna let you go to jail. If I have to confess, I will." She made a full confession on January 16 of that same year. Wuornos cited self-defense for Mallory's murder, maintaining that he had raped and sodomized her. She was convicted for his murder in January 1992 with help from Moore's testimony. When she was found guilty of the murder of Mallory, Wuornos exclaimed to the media, "I was raped, I was tortured. They had the steering wheel, they had a picture of the steering wheel with the scratches on it, it was broken. That was the proof that I was tied to the steering wheel. I cannot believe that this has happened." Meanwhile, Moore had made several book and movie deals selling her story. So did three detectives on the case, who later resigned.
In November 1992, Dateline NBC reporter Michele Gillen uncovered 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 Wuornos was never given a retrial.
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." During the trial she was adopted by Arlene Pralle after Pralle had a dream in which she was told to "take care of" Wuornos. According to Pralle, Jesus told her to write to Wuornos, and so she did. What Wuornos did not know was that Pralle was taking money for interviews, including one with Nick Broomfield, who paid her $10,000. Part of the money went to Wuornos' erstwhile lawyer, Steven Glazer, whom Pralle hired. Wuornos' appeal to the Supreme Court was denied in 1996. The relationship between Wuornos and Pralle was not to last; Wuornos began to suspect that Pralle was only there for the publicity and the money. Wuornos told Broomfield in an interview that Pralle and Glazer were even telling her ways to kill herself in prison. They also advised the no contest plea because Glazer, known before Wuornos' trial as "Dr. Legal," was too inexperienced to handle a multiple murder trial. 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."
In June 1992 she pleaded guilty to the murder of Charles Carskaddon and received her fifth death sentence. In February 1993 she 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 these killings. She admitted to killing seven men in separate incidents. She claimed initially that all seven had raped her while she was working as a prostitute. She later recanted the claim of self-defense. During an interview with Broomfield in which she thought the cameras were off, she told him that it was definitely self-defense in Mallory's case, but she had no other choice than to go for the death penalty. She claimed she could never handle being in prison for the rest of her life. When Broomfield asked: "Was it self defense?" she answered: "Yes, and so were some of the others but I can't tell anybody ever so I have to go for the death penalty."
After her first death sentence Wuornos often said she wanted "it all to be over". 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." 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. All three judged her mentally fit to be executed. The test for competency requires the psychiatrist(s) be convinced that the condemned person both understands that he or she will die, and also understands for which crimes he or she is being 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."
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".
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. 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."
The contents of Wuornos' last meal are uncertain. Some sources state that she declined the traditional last meal, which could have been anything she wanted for under $20, and instead was given a cup of coffee. However, Broomfield's documentary stated that she was given a last meal of KFC fried chicken and french fries.
Her final words were "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."