Aileen Wuornos: The Dark Tale of One Woman’s Descent into Infamy
When did it all begin? Technically, Aileen became a murderer on December 1, 1989 when 51-year-old electrics shop owner Richard Mallory picked her up on I-75 (8) and together they drove off into the woods to meet an uncertain fate. But when did the murderous creature that is Aileen Wuornos come to be? She began prostituting herself as age 9 (5), without so much as an assault charge related to her profession for 24 years while working the streets. Yes, she was a hitchhiking prostitute that became famous for murdering and robbing seven of her johns, but what was it in her that snapped? What caused her transformation from a hooker into a murderer?
There have been various documentaries made about Aileen that focused on everything from the detrimental effects of her nomadic upbringing and lack of parental guidance, to her numerous murders over the course of slightly more than a year, to her loss of sanity in prison while she sat on Death Row for over a decade. While the question of “nature vs. nurture” will always be somewhat of a mystery, Aileen’s childhood was a recipe for nothing short of a disastrous adult.
In the documentary The Real Monster Aileen Wuornos - Serial Killers, Aileen is described as having had an “exceptionally, profoundly impaired history” (5). This included child sexual abuse, abandonment by her parents, physical abuse at the hands of her grandfather, becoming “hypersexual” and trading sexual favors for cigarettes at the age of nine. Born on February 29, 1956 to Diane Wuornos at the age of 16, Aileen was given up to her grandparents to be raised and got to know either of her biological parents. Perhaps one of her greatest blessings, and sadly so, is that she never got to know her biological father. Leo Dale Pittman was a sick and sadistic man. “One of his favorite games was to tie two cats together by their tails and throw them over a clothesline to watch them fight,” (9). He hung himself while in prison in 1969 for molesting a young boy (9). As a child, Aileen was reported to have explosive tantrums and many of the neighborhood children were afraid of her (4).
Her grandfather was physically abusive: "When she was made to pull down her shorts and bend over the wooden table in the middle of the kitchen, when the doubled-over belt flew down onto her bare buttocks, little Aileen railed against her father, petrified and crying noisily. Sometimes she lay face down, spread-eagled naked on the bed, for her whippings," (9). When she was only 13 years old, she got pregnant – at one point she claimed that her older brother Keith was the father. She was sent to a home for unwed mothers, and after having her baby boy, she gave him up for adoption (4). After this, she was kicked out of the house and was forced to live on the streets, sleeping in the woods during winters in Michigan. By the age of 16, the severe weather proved to be too harsh to withstand and she began hitchhiking down to Florida (2).
When she was 20 years old, she met a man named Lewis Fell while hitchhiking along the highway (2). This man could have been her ticket to a better life, a ticket down a much different path than the one she ultimately chose. He was a 69-year-old president of a yacht club who fell in love with her instantly. They were married in 1976, the news for which was actually printed in the society pages (9). Unfortunately for Aileen, their marriage only lasted one month; she was unable to give up her wild and reckless ways, she treated Fell terribly, would get into bar fights, and was even sent to jail on assault charges. After Lewis Fell realized his mistake, he had the marriage annulled (9).
Another possible turning point in Aileen’s life came a decade later when she met 24-year-old Tyria Moore in 1986 at a Daytona Beach gay bar at the age of 30 (4). This relationship was the one that...
References: 1. "Monster, Frequently Asked Questions." IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. May 2014. .
2. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer. Dir. Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill. Perf. Aileen Wuornos and Nick Broomfield. Lafayette Films, 2003. DVD.
3. Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer. Dir. Nick Broomfield. Perf. Aileen Wuornos, Nick Broomfield, Steve Glazer, and Arlene Pralle. Lafayette Films, 1992. DVD.
4. Aileen Wuornos (Damsel of Death). Http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz3oyxqX6Fk. Biography, 2013. YouTube.
5. The Real Monster Aileen Wuornos - Serial Killers. Http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81C1zyvCBiY. 2013. YouTube.
6. Holden, Stephen. "Monster (2003) FILM REVIEW; A Murderous Journey To Self-Destruction." The New York Times. N.p., 24 Dec. 2003. Web. May 2014. .
7. "Aileen Carol Wuornos #805." Aileen Carol Wuornos #805. N.p., n.d. Web. May 2014. .
8. "The Crimes." Crime and Investigation. N.p., 2014. Web. May 2014. .
9. Macleod, Marlee. "Aileen Wuornos: Killer Who Preyed on Truck Drivers." A Poor Beginning — — Crime Library. N.p., n.d. Web. May 2014. .
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