“I’m the one who seriously hates human life and would kill again” – Aileen Wuornos
When given this assignment it was hard trying to pick what to write about, since we have been discussing serial killers in class I remembered a name that came up from watching a show when I was younger and it was Aileen Wuornos. I’ve always have been interested in why serial killers do what they do, when picking Aileen as my topic I found it interesting that she was America’s first female serial killer and instantly I wanted to know what caused her to become that and have that title to her name. The primary source that I have chosen is a documentary published in 2003 called Aileen- Life and Death of a Serial Killer Directed by Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill; this film is a follow up piece of the 1992 documentary Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer. I chose the follow up of the documentary because it follows Aileen about a year in a half before she is executed, several interviews happen within that year not only with Aileen but with a couple of her hometown friends, and through that you learn a lot about Aileen and her past before the killings and the causes of what turned her into what she became. Which is her family, neighborhood, and her past as a prostitute; the documentary also shows throughout how Aileen slowly loses her mind at the very end of her life and blaming the police for what she went through and blaming them for turning her into America’s first female serial killer.
Aileen Carol Pittman was born February 29th 1956 in Troy, Michigan to her father Leo Dale Pittman who was a child molester and sociopath and who was strangled in prison in 1969; her mother Diane Wuornos married Pittman when she was fifteen and had two children Keith and then Aileen. Diane soon divorced Pittman two years later, which was a few months before Aileen was born, Diane was overwhelmed with the responsibilities of single mother hood and in 1960 she abandoned Aileen and Keith and were soon adopted by their maternal grandparents Lauri and Britta Wuornos. Aileen did not know that she was being raised by her grandparents until the age of twelve, which was hard enough considering the situation going on within her family home “Lauri Wuornos drank heavily and was strict with the children; when they discovered their true parentage they rebelled against this severity, quickly becoming incorrigible.” (MacLeod) Soon Aileen became pregnant at age fourteen and was sent to a unwed mothers’ home for the duration of her pregnancy she was very uncooperative and did not get along with her peers, in January 1971 she delivered a baby boy who was soon put up for adoption. In July of that year Aileen’s grandmother, Britta who she called Mom passed away; Diane offered to let her children live with her but they both denied her offer.
Aileen’s grandfather blamed her for her grandmother’s death, claiming she put too much stress on her grandmother because of her pregnancy, so she chose to live in the woods whether it be in an abandoned car or under some scraps of wood. Soon she grew tired of sleeping outside in the snow and took up hitchhiking and prostitution, a few years later her brother Keith died of throat cancer and her grandfather Lauri committed suicide; Aileen then moved to Florida and met an elderly man named Lewis Fell and had a decent amount of money from railroad stocks. Soon Lewis and Aileen married in 1976 and annulled their marriage that same year due to Lewis claiming that “Lee was arrested for hurling a cue ball at a bartender’s head back home in Michigan. He also claimed she had squandered his money and beaten him with his cane when he was not forthcoming with even more cash.” (MacLeod) In 1986 Aileen met twenty four year old Tyria Moore at a Daytona gay bar, Lee was lonely and angry; before she met Tyria and blew the $10,000 she got from her brother Keith’s life insurance in two months went back to Florida and embarked on ten years of failed relationships and a did a stint with forgery, theft, and armed robbery that put her in prison for a little bit. Throughout their relationship Aileen was very controlling to the point where Tyria quit her job just so she can stay at home with Aileen and spend more time with her and only her, just relying on Aileen’s prostitute money. With the rough life she had growing up with her mother abandoning her and her grandfather physically abusing her it’s clear too see this was the start of her having anger issues throughout the rest of her life.
“There exists case file reports on adolescents who have expressed serious fantasies about becoming serial killers prior to actualizing their fantasizes.” (Bradley) Is this what was going on with Aileen Wuornos? According to the documentary that I watched, Aileen’s best friend Dawn took the film crew and showed them around the neighborhood her and Aileen grew up in. A lot of people say it’s environment that turns someone into a serial killer, and I think that is the truth when it comes to this woman, while watching the film her neighborhood was filled with drug addicts and the only thing to do on the weekends according to her best friend was to do drugs, have sex, and hang out in the woods. So was her family life the reason she began killing? Or was it her time in the woods doing drugs and having time to think of how to kill someone for what she wants? It has never been confirmed who Aileen got pregnant from but it is said in the film that the neighborhood had a pedophile and Aileen would hang out with him a lot since he liked to hang out in the woods with the other kids and teens. When Broomfield interviewed Aileen about her living in the woods, her eyes seemed to light up for a few moments, like it was the last time she felt like she was free and it was before she had to sell her body just so she can survive on the streets, but gradually throughout the film you cannot believe anything she says because she changes her stories every time she gets interviewed and you really see her for who she really is, a killer who did not care about what she did to get what she wanted.
“Furthermore, Wuornos’s activities as a prostitute are ridiculously exaggerated. Her claim of having had sex with 250,000 men (which was widely reported as truth) is preposterous; such a feat would require the bedding of 35 different men a day every day for 20 years. Wuornos had neither the stamina nor the planning skills necessary for such a record-breaking performance.” (MacLeod) One thing I think people who do not know much about Aileen is that she was a prostitute in Florida who killed truck drivers, first off not all of her victims were truck drivers and yes she was a prostitute. Being out on her own at age sixteen and leaving Michigan she wanted to go somewhere warm and that is where Florida comes in. She learned how to turn tricks and learn how to trick men into giving her more money than she was worth, and during this time she met Tyria. Aileen being a prostitute as a way to lure her victims to her and she killed seven men doing so; Richard Mallory was her first victim and was the reason why she claimed she was raped by him and that is the reason why she killed him, because Richard Mallory also was a convicted rapist and made it believable in the stands that he raped her because he has a record of it.
“The authors, one of whom evaluated the subject shortly before her death, determined that she evidenced a psychopathic personality. She also met criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. While her killings ostensibly were carried out during routine acts of prostitution, there was ambiguous evidence that her crimes were sexually motivated or gratifying.” (Wade) Aileen killed Richard Mallory by being picked up by him on the highway and shortly after having sex she shot him several time, two bullets in the left lung were found to have been the cause of his death. In the documentary her mind slowly goes away, with her last interview in the film she didn’t want a big news conference she just wanted to talk to Nick Broomfield; so in a room with about fifteen guards and a warden in attendance she had her last interview. I thought she wasn’t going to answer anything but she went on rant that the police knew she killed Richard Mallory, that she left a bunch of evidence behind but they wanted to make her into a serial killer so they allowed her to kill the other six men. Then went off and said that the police were putting pressurized sound waves into her cell to crush her brain to make her go crazy, she says that “the police are pissing me off so much if I were to be let out I will kill again.”
In conclusion, Aileen Wuornos’s family, neighborhood, and prostitution are the causes of her becoming a monster. She is very persuasive in saying that all those men raped her when she lied about the whole thing, she confesses it in the documentary because she wants to go to heaven and not hell. She meant to kill all those men because they had the amount of money she wanted, she wanted to kill out of cold blood and continued doing it until she got caught and if she didn’t get caught she would’ve continued killing which she admits to. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s Monster Theory talks about seven different monster theories, in the case of Aileen I would say she is theories one, two, four, five, and seven. To wrap it all together the theories summarize that a monster like Aileen is one of us, a human, not a made up fantasy monster that Universal Films came up with; but someone who walked among us and did things that a normal person would never think of doing, but Aileen Wuornos made it possible. She was someone who grew up in horrible way and had to grow up fast; never had a normal childhood and had to do things to survive on the streets but all that eventually led her to kill.
Aileen- Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)
Cohen, Jeffery J. “Monster Culture: Seven Theses. Excerpt from Monster Theory” Reading Culture. Univ of Minnesota Press, 1996 http://www.englishwithtuttle.com/uploads/3/0/2/6/30266519/cohen_monster_culture__seven_theses__3-20.pdf
I am using this in my essay because we are discussing this in class, it’s a great source because it is a scholarly written article about monsters. This will help me understand why Aileen became what she became not only through her life but through what Cohen discusses in his work about the seven monsters.
Johnson, Bradley R., and Judith V. Becker. “Natural born killers? the development of the sexually sadistic serial killer.” Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online 25.3 (1997): 335-348. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/095d/8b137d396f9b7debb227f2484922a7e0b4ad.pd
This scholarly article does a test on children between the ages of 14-18 years old, who have expressed fantasies of wanting to become a serial killer. I’m using this in my essay because I believe at one point Aileen thought of these things when she was on her own, because as she grew up she became a serial killer. I trust this article because it’s a scholarly article.
Macleod, Marlee. “Aileen Wuornos: Killer who preyed on truck drivers.” Rinvenuto nel sito di web di TruTV Crime Library http://www. trutv. com/library/crime/notorious_murders/women/wuornos/11. html (2001). http://members.chello.nl/w.kuijpers3/literature/Wuornos.pdf
This article I used in my essay because it is a more in depth description on Aileen’s family life and how she grew up in an abusive family. How she got pregnant at fourteen and was kicked out being blamed of her grandmother’s death. Also, discusses her past relationships and her time as a prostitute. I trust this article because it is a scholarly article.
Myers, Wade C., Erik Gooch, and J. Reid Meloy. “The role of psychopathy and sexuality in a female serial killer.” Journal of Forensic Science 50.3 (2005): 1-6. http://drreidmeloy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2005_TheRoleofPsycho.pdf
I’m using this in my essay because it discusses how Aileen used her sexuality to lure in men before she killed them. She knew what they wanted and gave it to them before she took what she wanted, which was money, and killed them in cold blood and left them on the side of the freeway in the woods. I trust this article because it’s a scholarly article.