Damsel of Death: Aileen Wuornos

To become a serial killer you need to have traumatic events happen at the younger ages of your life. For Aileen Wuornos, her entire childhood was built with trauma making her the perfect candidate. Her mother abandoned her and her father was in prison, leaving her and her brother Keith in the care of their grandparents. Adopting both their grandchildren and raising them with their own kids but, getting a new start was not any better. Their grandfather was a heavy drinker and gave harsh punishments. All she had was her brother and as they grew older their relationship changed. By the time Aileen Wuornos was ten she and her brother were having sexual intercourse. By the age of eleven, she was having sex with neighborhood boys for money and cigarettes. Eventually, her ways would get her pregnant, and sent away to have the baby and give it up for adoption. After losing her child she would also lose her grandmother, bringing a turning point. Her grandfather no longer wanted to deal with an angry and raging teenager. At the age of fifteen, he would kick both her and her brother out on the street. Their once-close relationship would break apart as both Keith and Aileen Wuornos would go their separate ways. These events would be the stepping stone to a life filled with prostitution.

For the next five years, Aileen Wuornos would walk the highways surviving by prostituting until she reached Daytona Beach. After these many years of prostituting she made a decision to change things. She would marry a rich older man with the means to get out of prostitution and no longer have any financial problems. But, her swelling rage would once again ruin things ending the marriage after only nine months. Shortly after her brother, Keith would die from cancer. These events would send Aileen Wuornos into a downward spiral straight back to a life of selling herself to anyone.

her life would quickly change once more when she met Tyria Moore. Aileen Wuornos finally found love from someone who was not paying her for it. This time it was not a man, for she felt those would never work. Tyria Moore was the first person who truly loved her and they grew close extremely fast, Moore becoming the only thing that Aileen Wuornos had. Aileen Wuornos became swept in a romance thinking and doing whatever it would take to keep Moore in her life. But, for the third time, the rage and anger in her would ruin things for her. This time is the most drastic and unthinkable thing to do, murder.

The first man Aileen Wuornos killed was Richard Mallory. After being picked up on I-75 in Florida by Mallory, with consensual intentions of having sex. They drove off of the highway parking in the woods. Mallory would never guess what was in store, Aileen Wuornos pulled out a 22 caliber gun. She shot him four times in the chest and stole all the money he had. She wrapped his lifeless body in a random carpet she found and stole his car fleeing the scene. Eventually ditching the car at another site, clearing off any fingerprints she saw. The police would find the car first, and then the body two weeks after the murder. From there on Aileen Wuornos would continue to kill, finding a new way to easily provide money for her love and herself. Between 1989 and 1990 Aileen Wuornos would kill six more men known, David Spears, Charles Carskaddon, Peter Simes, Troy Burress, Charles Humphreys, and Walter Antonio. In all seven killings, she repeated her method. Kill the man, steal the money and car, and eventually ditch the car in a new sight. Her method would soon bring her trouble. Wuornos and her lover Moore had gotten in an accident when driving the car of her fourth victim Peter Simes. As a result of abandoning the car at the crash, a witness was able to see and identify the woman driving the stolen car. This was the police’s first break on the cases, and with descriptions of both Aileen Wuornos and Tyria Moore, they were able to get a composite sketch.

Even though the police now had a sketch they only published it in one local newspaper, in fear that they would tip off the women and lose them. This was a big mistake made by the police, for Aileen Wuornos would kill her last three victims over the next 5 months. But, with the continuation of killings all done with a 22 caliber gun, it was clear of her intentions. Finally, the police published the composite sketches of both Aileen Wuornos and Tyria Moore state-wide. Once they were released they immediately got calls from the Daytona Beach area stating they had seen these women. If the police had posted the composite sketches sooner the lives of Troy Burress, Charles Humphreys, and Walter Antonio may not have been lost. Finally, they had the break that they need in the case. Police found items of Aileen Wuornos’ victims that she had sold to a pawn shop. They were able to retrieve fingerprints off these items. By obtaining these fingerprints they were able to compare them to those found in the victim's cars. It was a match and Since Aileen Wuornos had already committed small crimes and been booked her fingerprints were in the systems already. It was only a matter of time until they caught their killers.

By the time the sketches were released Tyria Moore had fled Daytona Beach leaving Aileen alone and defenseless. Police had already staked out Aileen’s hang out, and on January 9th, 1991 they arrested Aileen Wuornos at the Last Resort a biker bar. After Aileen’s arrest, they found Tyria Moore in Pennsylvania. It was clear to Moore that she should do anything the police wanted in order to show her innocence. Tyria Moore became the key to unlocking the truth of Aileen Wuornos’ killing spree. The authorities brought Tyria Moore back to Florida and instructed her to write a letter with her motel phone number in order for the two to get back in contact. Sure enough, Aileen Wuornos reached out to Tyria. In an effort to get Aileen to confess Tyria told her that the police were coming for her family and were going to pin all of it in on her. She even made a comment about killing herself because of all the chaos going on with the police. With the need to do anything and everything to help her lover, Aileen told Tyria Moore that if she had to confess she would. Little did she know that Tyria Moore had already turned on her, becoming the police’s prime witness in order to get full immunity for herself. Soon after the calls with Tyria, Aileen would confess to all seven of the murders. She claimed that all her killings were in self-defense, trying to keep the men from raping her. But made it very clear that Tyria Moore was completely innocent and she had acted on her own. With her confession, the police had enough evidence to put her in jail until the trials were able to begin.

After a year of being in prison, her first trial for the murder of Richard Mallory would start on January 15, 1992. This would be yet another devastating time for her. If going to her first trial was not hard enough, none other than Tyria Moore walked in. Heading straight for the witness stand, testifying against Aileen and on the opposing side. It was in that moment and that moment alone that Aileen Wuornos realized that her former lover had turned on her. In this instance, one can only imagine the pain that struck her heart. Not only did she have the possibility of being put on death row. She now knew that the phone calls and Tyria’s words were a trick to set her up. But, Aileen would have to hold her heart together and testify on her own behalf. While she claimed that she killed Richard Mallory in self-defense, fearing that he was about to kill her. Her testimony was what brought her down and showed her true colors. As she talked about that night she went in out of different personalities. Acting like a sweet innocent damsel in distress fighting to stay alive. While the tears flowed she quickly shifted to her true self. Showing the anger and rage inside of her, and making harsh and rude comments. This would make it very clear to any judge or jury that she really did not care what happened to those men. By the end of the trail they charged Aileen Wuornos with first-degree murder of Richard Mallory possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and armed robbery with a firearm or deadly weapon. In her first trail she would receive the worst punishment ever, the death penalty.

While she had not had family for many many years, it would seem most unlikely to gain a new family behind bars. Aileen Wuornos would be adopted in jail, and get a new start with a family. Arlene Pralle and her husband first saw and learned about Aileen Wuornos in a newspaper. Arlene Pralle stated, “my husband and I saw her picture in the paper down here and we just felt compelled by God to reach out to her we did not care about guilt or innocence.” Arlene wanted to visit Aileen in jail as much as possible, but since she had no relation to Aileen she could not. This led Arlene Pralle to her decision of adopting someone in jail for seven suspected murders. Out of her good Christian heart, she wanted to learn as much as possible and help Aileen to her full ability. With no contact with her lover, and no other companionship. Aileen Wuornos began to act the same way she did with Tyria Moore. When talking to her lawyer she always wanted to know what Arlene’s opinion was and if she was not told then Aileen proved to be difficult.

The plan was to make the people believe that she was acting in self-defense, bought that clearly did not work. Once Arlene Pralle and her new defense attorney were in the picture, the plan changed. Arlene, being a Christian woman, made it very clear of her thoughts. The only way to be forgiven by God was to tell the truth and come clean. Her new defense attorney Steve Glazer was also in agreement with Arlene. Steven would soon suggest using the no-contest plea. That by pleading no contest she accepts the punishments and is convicted, but does not actually have to admit that she is guilty of the crimes. This seemed to be the perfect option for Aileen Wuornos since she continued to state that all her killings were in self-defense. She clearly knew she was not going to escape punishment. Once again she did what she thought was best and wanted by the one she loved Arlene. For the murders of David Spears, Charles Carskaddon, Peter Simes, Troy Burress, Charles Humphreys, and Walter Antonio she pleads no consent to all six.

As the trials continued on she began to receive the death sentence each time. This began to bring out the anger and rage that was inside her. During the trails she would yell in disgust at the judge. Screaming that they were going to be killing someone who was raped and trying to defend herself. Along with the movie deals and tv show offers Aileen wanted nothing to do with it. The movies that were made portrayed Aileen and her life in a way that she thought was very inaccurate and absurd. The charades were growing old and the decision remained the same, always resulting in the death penalty. As the trails continued she did not care at all anymore, she did not see the point in having a trail if it always ended with her getting killed. As the trails continued repeating themselves, Aileen Wuornos began to beg and ask for them to just kill her. She already knew her fate and saw no point in waiting. In Steve Glazer's eyes, she wanted to die in order to be with God.

On October 9, 2002, Aileen Wuornos was killed by lethal injection in the Florida State jail. The morning of the 9th her last 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.' Even until the end you could tell that her sanity was long gone and all that was left was the body of a deteriorating woman. During Aileen’s time in jail and even after her death she received countless movie deals. Aileen was offered these deals her job being to tell them all the details of her life and her murders. For documentaries, they would have most likely wanted to get video footage of her recounting life events. In the end, her lawyer Steve Glazer told her that taking the movie deals was not worth is. Telling Aileen she would never see even a fourth of the money that they were offering her. Aileen rejected every movie deal that came her way, and despised the documentary made in 1992. Aileen Wuornos: the selling of a serial killer, she believed that it was a misrepresentation of herself and it was disgusting. Along with the 1992 documentary, the following documentary was made in 2003 by the same filmmaker. The last film to be made was a movie in 2003 titled Monster. Even though Aileen Wuornos never participated in any of these films, her story was told either way and the world will never forget the name, Aileen Wuornos.

Now that I know all the information of her life and her murders, I have a few arguments against the process of her trails. Along with measures that could have been taken in order to help her case and could have brought a completely different outcome. While the use of fingerprints first came into the forensic world in 1892. The process and methods were not very efficient. While they were able to use fingerprints found on items of her victims in order to figure out that she was the killer. The first mechanical sketch was made in 1959, evolving into today's composite sketch. The police were able to use an eyewitnesses statement to draw a basic sketch of what the criminals looked like. The first case for Aileen Wuornos began on January 13, 1992. It was not until 1996 that the use of live scan and card scanning devices was implemented. Bringing computerized searches to the FBI. By 1999 the use of an automated fingerprint identification system was completely finished and perfected. Even though they had methods, made before 1992, that lead them to the right culprit. If either of these new techniques were made during the killing spree of Aileen Wuornos, it would have made catching her somewhat easier. Possibly making the process faster, with the ability to use many more resources in identifying fingerprints and matching them to hers.

Overall the case itself brought a fair punishment for all seven murders but I disagree with the steps taken before reaching this outcome. The police finally had a break from the accident. Resulting in a composite sketch of both Aileen Wuornos and Tyria Moore. After this is where my thought process differs from the police. If I was on the case I would have released the sketches immediately and I would have done it in the entire state of Florida. Since by this point she had already killed four men the same way, classifying her as a serial killer. In doing this she had several months after the sketches were composed. Continued killing innocent men over that time.

Another thing that I did not agree with was Aileen Wuornos’ first defense attorney. Aileen told her attorney and the courtroom that the first man she killed was out of self-defense. Stating that Richard Mallory raped her, unlike the rest who only began attempting rape. The attorney brought no evidence to the case that could make her statement true. All the while there was substantial evidence favoring Aileen’s claim. Richard Mallory was convicted for rape in 1957 yet the attorney never found this information. Even though it would have been very easy to find if the attorney had put more effort into her search. Even though Aileen Wuornos killed six more, she still deserved justice if she was truly raped. Even though she would still get charged with the death penalty for all six other murders. She would at least get justice for the disgusting act that Richard Mallory may or may not have done.

Along with the complete neglect of finding the information on Richard Mallory, the defense attorney made another big mistake in my eyes. In not one of her cases did they plead insanity. It is very clear that she was mentally unstable just based on the fact that she was killing again and again. But, what it even more prevalent was the recording of her talking to interrogatories, police, and the judge. Aileen constantly swung between different moods. One minute she was crying and telling detailed accounts of Richard Mallory raping her or killing the other six men. The next second yelling and screamed profanity at the judge. Stating that they were sending someone who was trying to defend herself from rape. Saying that she did not deserve to be going to the death penalty. Quickly shifting to begging and pleading for them to just kill her and push the date to make it sooner. Along with the drastic difference in what she said her facial expression only added to the fact that she was truly mentally unstable. While she would have still been charged with serious offenses and most likely sent to a mental institution to serve her time. The death penalty would have been off the table. I would think that her new adoptive mother Arlene would have wanted her to do anything in order to stay alive and still be able to confess her sins.

This leads me to another point if Arlene was really adopting Aileen Wuornos out of her Christian heart, and the love she soon found for her. Stating that it was not for money or publicity, but because she truly cared for Aileen and believed she was innocent and sorry for her actions. If she was telling the truth then why did she accept money in exchange for interviews about the status of Aileen and information about their relationship. If she really did not care about the money then she would have given the interviews for free and would not have tried to make a profit any chance she got. While I think that it was good for Aileen to have someone that she could talk to that truly cared about her. The intentions of Arlene Pralle in my eyes had another motive on top of being a mother to Aileen Wuornos.

Aileen Wuornos was a very special human being and struck the world with many things she did. One really shocking thing was the fact that she was a serial killer, and was a woman. Studies show that it is more common for men to become serial killers. Due to the fact that they need the x chromosome (that is rare to get) to be passed from their mom. Along with immense trauma in their adolescent years. It is very rare that a female gains the trait of a possible serial killer. Due to the fact that women would need two rare x chromosomes. In this case, Aileen had the rare double chromosome. Along with an abundance of childhood trauma. As all these factors are added up we are given Aileen Wuornos. Now she will forever be known as the first female serial killer. 

29 April 2022
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