Aileen Wuornos story is no fairytale, it is filled with misfortune, tragedy, and terror. Aileen Wuornos was born on February 29, 1956 in Rochester, Michigan. Wuornos parents, Diane and Leo were divorced before Aileen was born and both abandoned her and her brother Keith to Diane’s parents, Lauri and Britta Wuornos. Wuornos Grandfather abused both Aileen and Keith physically, verbally, and sexually, while the grandmother pretended to be oblivious to what was happening. When Wuornos was thirteen years old, she started to engage in sexual activities with the boys at school for cigarettes, drugs, and food. Wuornos began her life of prostitution when she was sixteen and she lived by herself. Her brother Keith died of lung cancer when she was twenty and Aileen decided to migrate to Florida. In Florida she became a highway prostitute where she met her girlfriend Tyria Moore at a gay bar in Daytona Beach. Wuornos was a highway prostitute, she would walk down the street and when a guy picked her up, she would tell them my car broke down or I have two kids that I need to get to. She would say to them that she has no money and wondered if they were willing to help her out and in exchange, she would have intercourse or other things with them. On December 13, 1989 was the kick off of Wuornos’ murders when Richard Mallory raped and tried to murder Wuornos. Wuornos escaped and shot Mallory three times with a 0.22 caliber handgun. From there she ended up killing six or seven men. Aileen Wuornos was arrested on January 6, 1991 on an old traffic warrant. Police couldn’t charge Aileen with the murders because there were, no witnesses, and no murder weapon. The police found Moore and convinced her to get Wuornos to confess. “On January 16, Wuornos confessed to six of the killings but claimed that they were in self-defense” (Phelps, 6). In January 1992 she was sentenced to death and on October 9, 2002 she died of lethal injection. What caused her to murder those men? Based off research the three main reasons are that she never had a good male role model in her life, when she was raped as an adult that furthered her hatred towards men, and she had to provide money for her girlfriend Tyria Moore.
Ever since Wuornos was born she has never had a good male role model in her life. Her father was incarcerated right when Wuornos born for kidnapping and raping a seven-year old girl. He committed suicide in prison by hanging himself on January 30, 1969. Throughout her life the “man” that took care of Wuornos and her brother was her alcoholic Grandfather Lauri Wuornos. Aileen grew up thinking that she had four siblings, but three of them were actually her uncles, and aunts. Since Aileen and Keith were not Lauri’s children, he was more abusive towards them. He would constantly physically abuse them. Call them names such as worthless, evil, and unwanted children. Sometimes he would make Aileen strip off her clothes before beating her. “At about age fourteen, Wuornos was raped by a family friend and became pregnant. Her grandfather forced her to give up the child for adoption” (Encyclopedia, 2). Aileen even tried to tell her Grandfather what happened and he beat her for it. In Jeffery Jerome Cohen’s “Monster Culture (Seven Theses)” he tries to explain how each monster fits into his seven theses’. For Aileen she fits into “Thesis three: The Monster is the Harbinger of Category Crisis”, meaning that a monster is created, born, or raised in a different way. Aileen Wuornos was not raised in the same way most people are. She was raised in an abusive home by her grandparents who she thought were her real parents until the age of eleven. Since she was born and raised differently, that caused problems for her that not everyone goes through.
On December 13, 1989 when she met Richard Mallory, that night changed Wuornos life forever. Wuornos claimed that Mallory raped her and that she used self-defense and shot him three times. Because of that night that was the precipitating cause where she could no longer take men anymore and felt powerless to them. Mallory was actually a convicted rapist and even his wife said “He was so sweet … and then ten minutes later he would scare the heck out of you” (Pearson, 19) and that even his wife knew of his unpredictable violent actions. Since the incident with Mallory, Wuornos convinced herself that every man that picked her up was going to rape her. Psychologists believe that she made up the excuse of self-defense. For example, “in one instance she indicated that the murders were the result of anger when her companions refused to have sex with her (Court TV, 1999). In another instance, Aileen reported that she would fight with her victims about sex and that when they became abusive, demanding that she have intercourse with them, she endeavored to protect herself from being raped (Ahern, 2001)” (Arrigo and Griffin, 56). So, this leads to the question were any of those men really trying to rape her? Or did she feel scared that something would happen and took action?
Tyria Moore was an important person in Aileen Wuornos life. It first started off with them meeting in a gay bar in Daytona Beach, Florida that then escalated to them becoming lovers to them moving in together. They were together for almost four years and lived off the earnings that Wuornos made as a prostitute. Moore knew about the murder of Mallory and was suspicious about others, but she was scared and unsure of what to do. In the movie “Monster” directed by Patty Jenkins, Moore’s character “Shelby Wall” was more of a fictional character and didn’t actually properly represent her. Shelby Wall became greedy with money and wanted Wuornos to continue to prostitute while Moore never wanted that because she believed it was too dangerous. The truth about the movie is that Wuornos loved Moore, wanted to provide for her, and was always afraid that Moore would leave her. That was the root cause of why Wuornos continued to kill those men, so that she could provide for Tyria Moore.
Do you believe that those men Wuornos killed actually tried to hurt her? Or did she misread the situation she was in? From the research that I have read I believe that some of the men she killed such as Mallory actually did rape her. That was her breaking point, she couldn’t handle being inferior to men anymore so she somewhat lost her mind and killed every man she thought would rape her. I believe there were situations that she misread for men trying to help her such as Charles Humphreys who was a former state child abuse investigator/chief of police and also known as a family man. He was known as a guy to always try to help people in need especially women. I do feel some empathy for the things that Wuornos went through and that how she was brought up and went through life was hapless. That she was doomed from the beginning, but I also feel sorry for the families who lost someone who was actually innocent in the situation if any were.
Arrigo, Bruce A., and Ayanna Griffin. “Serial Murder and the Case of Aileen Wuornos: Attachment Theory, Psychopathy, and Predatory Aggression.” Behavioral Sciences & the Law, vol. 22, no. 3, May 2004, pp.375-393. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1002/bsl.583.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).” University of Minnesota Press. 1996. Print.
“Monster”. Directed by Patty Jenkins. Denver and Delilah Films. 17 December, 2003.
Pearson, Kyra. “The Trouble with Aileen Wuornos, Feminism’s ‘First Serial Killer.’” Communication & Critical/cultural Studies, vol. 4, no. 3, Sept. 2007, pp. 256-275. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/1420701472791.
“Wuornos, Aileen Carol [Aileen Carol Pittman] (1956 – ).” World of Criminal Justice, Gale, edited by Shirelle Phelps, Gale, 1st edition, 2002. Credo Reference, https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/worldcrims/wuornos_aileen_carol_aileen_carol_pittman_1956/0?institutionId=5312. Accessed 05 Aug. 2019.
“Wuornos, Aileen.” Encyclopedia of Capital Punishment in the United States, Louis J. Palmer, McFarland, 2nd edition, 2008. Credo Reference, https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/mcfcpus/wuornos_aileen/0?institutionId=5312. Accessed 05 Aug. 2019.