Aileen Carol Wuornos

Executed October 9, 2002 by Lethal Injection in Florida

56th murderer executed in U.S. in 2002
805th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
10th female murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
2nd murderer executed in Florida in 2002
53rd murderer executed in Florida since 1976
2nd female murderer executed in Florida since 1976

Since 1976
Date of Execution
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
Date of
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Date of
Method of
to Murderer
Date of
Lethal Injection
Aileen Carol Wuornos

W / F / 33 - 46

Richard Mallory
W / M / 51
Dick Humphreys
W / M / 56
Charles Carskaddon
W / M / 40
Troy Burress
W / M / 50
Peter Siems
W / M / 65
Walter Jeno Antonio
W / M / 62
David Spears
W / M / 43





Drivers who picked her up hitchhiking






Between December 1989 and September 1990, the bodies of several men were found murdered along the highways of northern and central Florida, including Richard Mallory, Dick Humphreys, Troy Burress, David Spears, Walter Gino Antonio, Peter Siems, and Charles Carskaddon. Items belonging to Mallory and Antonio were pawned near Daytona Beach and the alias names used were traced to Wuornos through thumbprints left on the pawn shop cards. Wuornos confessed to the murder of all six men, claiming that she was picked up by the men when she was working as a highway prostitute, and shot them in self defense after they attempted to sexually assault her. Wuornos was convicted of the murder of Richard Mallory after a jury trial in Volusia County and was sentenced to death. At trial, the State was allowed to introduce similar crimes evidence about Wuornos' commission of several other murders. While on death row, it was discovered that Mallory had previously served time for Attempted Rape. Wuornos pleaded no contest to the murders of the other 5 men and was sentenced to death in each case.

Within two weeks of her arrest, Wuornos and her attorney had sold movie rights to her story. Investigators in her case did likewise. The case resulted in several books and movies, and even one opera on the life of "America's first female serial killer." Wuornos’s father, Leo Dale Pittman, was a child molester and a sociopath who was strangled in prison in 1969. Wuornos was pregnant at age fourteen. Shortly thereafter, she dropped out of school, left home and took up hitchhiking and prostitution. Wuornos had a prior conviction for armed robbery in 1982.

Wuornos v. State of Florida, 19 Fla. Law W. S 455 (September 22, 1994). (Mallory)
Wuornos v. State of Florida, 1996.FL.545 (May 9, 1996). (Antonio)

Final Meal:
Wuornos declined the traditional last meal, which could have been anything she wanted for under $20, and instead was given a cup of coffee.

Final Words:
"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."

Internet Sources:

Florida Department of Corrections

DC Number: 150924
Eye Color: BROWN
Height: 5'04'' Weight: 137
Birth Date: 02/29/1956
Initial Receipt Date: 01/31/1992
Current Facility: FSP - MAIN UNIT

Victims of serial killer Aileen Wuornos:

Richard Mallory, 51, Clearwater electronics shop owner. On December 1, 1989, a deputy in Volusia County discovered an abandoned vehicle belonging to Richard Mallory. His body was found December 13, several miles away in a wooded area. Mallory had been shot several times, but two bullets to the left lung were found to have caused hemorrhaging and ultimately death.

David Spears, 43, Winter Garden construction worker, body found June 1, 1990, along Highway 19 in Citrus County. Except for a baseball cap, Spears was nude. He had died of six bullet wounds to the torso.

Charles Carskaddon, 40, part-time rodeo worker, body found June 6, 1990, in Pasco County. The medical examiner found nine small caliber bullets in his lower chest and upper abdomen.

Troy Burress, 50, a sausage salesman from Ocala, was reported missing July 31, 1990. On August 4, 1990 law officers found the body in a wooded area along State Road 19 in Marion County. The body was substantially decomposed, but evidence showed he had been shot twice.

Charles "Dick" Humphreys, 56, retired Air Force major, former police chief and Florida state child abuse investigator, body found in Marion County on September 12, 1990. The body was fully clothed, and had been shot six times in the head and torso. Humphreys' car was found in Suwannee County.

Walter Jeno Antonio, 62, body found on November 19, 1990 near a remote logging road in Dixie County. His body was nearly nude, and had been shot four times in the back and head. Law officers found Antonio's car five days later in Brevard County.

Peter Siems, 65. In June 1990, Peter Siems left Jupiter, Florida, heading for New Jersey. Law officers later found Siems' car in Orange Springs on July 4, 1990. Witnesses identified Tyria Moore and Aileen Wuornos as the two persons seen leaving the car where it ultimately was found. A palm print on the interior door handle matched that of Wuornos. Siems' body has never been found.


Timeline Of Aileen Wuornos' Crimes

December 1989: Wuornos started killing men in and around Central Florida. She was living in the Daytona Beach area, but she hitchhiked along highways all over central and north Florida as a prostitute. She claimed that the men who picked her up, beat or raped her and then she shot them in self-defense. She also robbed them.

December 13, 1989: The first victim, Richard Mallory, was found dead in November of 1989. This is the only case that Wuornos actually stood trial for. The trial happened in DeLand.

June 1 1990: The body of David Spears was found.

June 6, 1990: The body of Charles Carskaddan was found.

July 4, 1990: Police found a car connected to man named Peter Siems. His body was never found, but Wuornos confessed to the crime.

August 4, 1990: Troy Buress, the fifth victim, was found dead.

September 12, 1990: Dick Humphreys, the sixth victim, was found dead.

November 19, 1990: The body of Walter Gino Antonio was found.

January 9, 1991: Wuornos was arrested.

January 16, 1991: Wuornos confesses to one of the murders, saying it was self-defense.

November 21, 1991: Arlene Pralle, a 44-year-old "born-again" Christian and her husband legally adopted Wuornos.

January 14, 1992: Wuornos went on trial for the Mallory murder.

January 27, 1992: Wuornos was convicted of the murder of Richard Mallory.

January 31, 1992: Wuornos received the death sentence.

"Florida Executes Female Serial Killer; Wuornos Declines Final Meal." (October 9, 2002)

STARKE, Fla. -- Prison officials in Florida executed convicted serial killer Aileen Wuornos Wednesday morning. Wuornos was pronounced dead at 9:47 a.m. EDT, but the process of injecting lethal drugs into both of her arms started promptly at 9:30, according to WESH-TV news reporter Claire Metz, who witnessed the execution. A brown curtain was drawn back, and witnesses saw Wuornos turn to them, make a bizarre face, kind of smile, roll her eyes and turn away; she was strapped in completely, unable to move anything but her head, Metz reported. At 9:31, she shut her eyes, and her head jerked backward; at 9:32, her mouth seemed to drop open, her eyes opened to slits, and it appeared she was gone, according to Metz.

It's an execution that many believed was a long time in coming. Wuornos' final ride, in a hearse from the death chamber, was a far different road than the one that led to her execution. Victims' family members aren't sorry that she's gone. "She got off really easy. These men suffered. These men's families suffered tremendously all these years. I mean it was cold-blooded murder," said Wanda Pouncey, a victim's daughter. "I wish it would have been a little bit more, a little harder on her. It was very, very easy. Very easy ... even the years in prison that she did. It was a piece of cake. It was a cake walk," said Teri Griffith, a victim's daughter.

For years after her arrest, Wuornos claimed she was the victim. But on death row two years ago, she told Metz she killed the men in cold blood, something she's repeated again and again this year. "I robbed them, and I killed them as cold as ice, and I would do it again, and I know I would kill another person because I've hated humans for a long time," Wuornos stated.

Volusia County State Attorney John Tanner prosecuted Wuornos and felt obligated to witness the execution. "She liked to be in control. In fact, these killings, as much as anything, were acts of ultimate control, and we've seen that in serial killer patterns in the past. She killed these men to bring about the ultimate in control over their lives, which was to terminate it," Tanner said.

Wuornos was allowed to make a final statement, and there was no time limit on it, but it probably took her only 30 seconds. "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," Wuornos said.

United Press International

"Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos Executed," by John Koch. (October 9, 2002)

STARKE, Fla., Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Highway prostitute Aileen Carol Wuornos, known as the "Damsel of Death" for the seven slayings she is believed to committed, was executed by lethal injection Wednesday at the Florida State Prison. The 46-year-old serial killer was pronounced dead at 9:47 a.m. 6 minutes after the injection process began.

She was executed for the 1989 killing of Palm Harbour, Fla., electrician Harry Mallory, but has confessed to five others and was a suspect in a seventh. Mallory's trial was held in Daytona Beach. "We did wake her up at 5:30. She requested a towel and washcloth to wash her face and freshen up," said prison spokesman Sterling Ivy before the execution. "She is very calm this morning. Not as talkative as she has been in the past." Wuornos declined the traditional last meal, which could have been anything she wanted for under $20, and instead was given a cup of coffee.

A half-dozen anti-death penalty demonstrators were outside the prison, but were outnumbered by corrections officers. Wuornos was strapped to a gurney and hooked to two intravenous lines. Thirty-two witnesses watched as she was wheeled into the death chamber where an executioner pumped deadly chemicals into her system. "We can testify that that lethal injection is certainly more of a humane way to terminate life than the electric chair," said State Attorney John Tanner, who prosecuted the case in Daytona Beach. "She expressed in her last psychiatric examination relief that the electric chair had been abolished in the state of Florida."

Wuornos went to her death willingly. She fired her attorneys and opposed appeals made on her behalf. Two appeals were turned down by the Florida Supreme Court Tuesday. They both contended Wuornos was insane and not competent enough for her execution. In her final statement, Wuornos said: "Yes, I would 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, I'll be back." She had written the Florida Supreme Court last year to say she "would prefer to cut to the chase and get on with the execution. Taxpayers' money has been squandered and the families have suffered enough." Her life as a highway prostitute and the killings have been chronicled in three books, two television movies and a production by the San Francisco Opera.

The 367 inmates left on Florida's death row are appealing their sentences or considering appeals. Their executions will be delayed while the state supreme court considers the impact on Florida of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in an Arizona case. The court ruled that Arizona's death penalty was unconstitutional because the sentences were handed down by judges rather than juries of the defendant's peers. In Florida, juries make recommendations on the death penalty, but judges make the final decisions. Rigoberto Sanchez Velasco of Hialeah, Fla., had also "volunteered" for lethal injection and was executed last week. Democrats contend Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, who is running for re-election, was politically motivated when he signed the death warrants.

Wuornos will be the first woman to be executed in Florida since Judy Buenoano was electrocuted March 30, 1998. Buenoano was known as the "black widow" for poisoning her husband, drowning her handicapped son and for trying to kill her boyfriend. She was a suspect in the poison death of another boyfriend in Colorado, but she wasn't charged. Buenoano was the first woman to be executed in Florida since a freed slave was hanged in 1848.

The media and others have said Wuornos may be the first female serial killer in the nation's history. The first known woman serial killer in history is thought to be Hungarian Countess Erzebet Bathory who was said to have killed more than 600 people, most of them young girls, before she was found out. She was imprisoned in one of her castles and died in 1614.


"I Need to Die" - Female Serial Killer Executed. (October 9, 2002)

Aileen Wuornos, the first woman ever to fit the FBI profile of a serial killer, was executed by lethal injection today. Wuornos, 46, was pronounced dead from lethal injection at 9:47 a.m. in Florida State Prison near Starke, said Jill Bratina, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jeb Bush.

She had been working as a prostitute along Florida's highways when she started her killing spree in 1989. By the time it was over two years later, there were at least six dead — all middle-aged white men who had made the mistake of picking up Wuornos on the road. She admitted guilt for the killings and went willingly to the execution chamber. "I was sentenced to death," Wuornos said in a Feb. 2001 interview with ABC affiliate WPLG in Miami. "I need to die for the killing of those people."

During her trial Wuornos was remorseless and angry. After she was convicted and given six death sentences, Wuornos began screaming at the jury. She called the jurors scumbags and warned the judge that she would kill again. "Everything they said about me was so full of lying," she said after the trial. "It wasn't funny. None of that stuff was true. I am totally sane. I didn't do drugs." Sordid, sensational, and chilling, her story was retold in three movies, two books, a comic book, and even set to music in an opera.

‘As Cold as Ice’

But Wuornos did not remain defiant. In prison, she was adopted by an evangelical Christian couple. She said her feelings had changed, and she felt the need to come clean about what she had done. "I'm one who seriously hates human life and would kill again," she wrote in a letter to the Florida Supreme Court. In April, after Wournos served 10 years on death row, the Court agreed to allow her to fire her lawyers and drop all appeals.

For her first slaying, Wuornos flagged down video repair shop owner Richard Mallory. She robbed him and shot him to death with a .22-caliber pistol she kept in her purse. Wuornos later confessed to killing Mallory and six more middle-aged white men. Prosecutors only charged her in six deaths, as the body of the seventh man she said she killed was never found. In each murder, Wuornos followed the same pattern of flagging down men who were driving alone on or near Interstate 75, offering them sex for money, then shooting them. At first, Wuornos said that she killed men in self-defense, but she later recanted.

Girl Abandoned

Wuornos was raised by her grandparents after she was abandoned by her mother as an infant. Her father, a convicted child molester, committed suicide in prison. The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously rejected a request by an Ohio group to file an appeal on Wuornos' behalf. In its request, the "Florida Support" group argued that Wuornos was "borderline psychotic." Gov. Bush also stepped in, issuing a stay and ordering a mental exam, but Bush lifted the stay last week after three psychiatrists concluded that she understood she would die and why she was being executed. Wuornos showed no desire to delay her sentence before her execution. She said, that through death, she wanted to pay for the crimes that made her so notorious in life.

Orlando Sentinel

"Serial-killer Wuornos Executed." (October 9, 2002)

STARKE -- Aileen C. Wuornos was put to death by lethal injection today at 9:30 a.m. here at Florida State Prison, ending the strange and sensational story of the nation's first female serial killer. Wuornos, 46, was pronounced dead from lethal injection at 9:47 a.m. in Florida State Prison near Starke, said Jill Bratina, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jeb Bush. Wuornos woke up at 5:30 a.m., four hours before she was set to die by lethal injection, said Sterling Ivey, Department of Corrections spokesman. "She is very calm this morning, not talkative as she has been in the past," Ivey said.

Wuornos had confessed to killing seven men who picked her up as she hitchhiked along Florida interstates more than a decade ago. Wednesday's execution was for the 1989 murder of Richard Mallory, a Clearwater businessman, whose body was found in Ormond Beach. She never went to trial for the other killings but was condemned to death for five of them after pleading guilty or no contest.

Wuornos, 46, acknowledged as the first woman to fit the FBI's criteria for a serial killer, dropped her appeals and fired her attorneys earlier this year, saying she wished to die rather than live her life as a condemned person. Her case created a media sensation in the years following her arrest, spawning movies, books, an opera and even a comic book pairing Wuornos with mobster John Gotti.

Wuornos' behavior remained bizarre and defiant until the end. Nick Broomfield, a British filmmaker who made a 1992 documentary about Wuornos, said the condemned inmate cut short their interview Tuesday, claiming police were controlling her mind, making an obscene gesture and storming from the room.

At The Last Resort, a Port Orange biker bar where Wuornos was arrested in 1991, about two dozen patrons gathered Wednesday morning to await word of her death. They drank coffee and beer and ate Danish pastries provided by the bar's owner. Shortly after the announcement of the execution, a couple of patrons toasted with bottles of Bud Light. Said Dale Westbrooke of Port Orange, "Well, she picked a beautiful day for it."

St. Petersburg Times

Florida Executes Female Serial Killer," by Ron Word. (AP October 9, 2002)

STARKE, Fla. (AP) -- Serial killer Aileen Wuornos was executed Wednesday, more than a decade after she murdered six men along central Florida highways while working as a prostitute. Wuornos, 46, became the 10th woman executed in the United States since the death penalty resumed in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. She was pronounced dead from lethal injection at 9:47 a.m. in Florida State Prison near Starke.

"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 mothership and all. I'll be back," Wuornos said from the execution chamber. The Rock is a Biblical reference to Jesus. Wuronos had fired her attorneys and dropped her appeals despite lingering questions over her sanity.

Wuornos was sentenced to death six times for killing middle-aged men in 1989 and 1990 and spent a decade on Florida's death row. The death warrant was based on her first murder victim, Richard Mallory, a Clearwater electronics shop owner whose body was found in 1989 in Volusia County. During her 1992 murder trial, Wuornos testified that Mallory raped, beat and sodomized her and that she killed him in self-defense. After standing trial for Mallory's death, Wuornos pleaded guilty to five other murders in Marion, Pasco and Dixie counties.

For years, Wuornos claimed she shot the men out of self-defense while being raped and sodomized. Later, she recanted her claims, saying she wanted to make peace with God. "I'm one who seriously hates human life and would kill again," she told the state Supreme Court.

Wuornos also claimed to have killed a seventh man. Her life story spawned two movies, several books and the opera "Wournos," by Carla Lucero, which debuted last year. Wuornos gave her last media interview Tuesday to British producer Nick Broomfield, who did a documentary on her in 1993, but she stormed out after about 35 minutes, Broomfield said. "My conclusion from the interview is, today we are executing someone who is mad. Here is someone who has totally lost her mind," Broomfield said Wednesday outside the prison.

Fort Lauderdale lawyer Raag Singhal wrote a letter to the state Supreme Court last month expressing "grave doubts" about Wuornos' mental condition. Gov. Jeb Bush issued a stay and ordered a mental exam, but lifted the stay last week after three psychiatrists who interviewed her concluded that she understood why she was being executed. State Attorney John Tanner, who watched psychiatrists interview her for 30 minutes last week, said she was cognizant and lucid. "She knew exactly what she was doing," Tanner said.

Wuornos joined Judy Buenoano as the only women Florida has executed since resuming the death penalty in 1976. Fifty-one men have been executed by Florida during that span. The state Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected two efforts to stop the execution, one from a private attorney in Tampa who expressed "serious concerns" about Wuornos' competency, the other from an Ohio group that wanted to file an appeal on Wuornos' behalf.

Billy Nolas, who represented Wuornos in her 1992 trial in Daytona Beach, said she suffered from borderline personality disorder as a result of neglect and sexual abuse as a child. He said she was "the most disturbed individual I have represented."


Governor Jeb Bush signed a death warrant for Aileen Wuornos, a hitchhiking prostitute who killed 6 men along Florida highways and volunteered for execution. Her execution was set for Oct. 9. Wuornos, 46, was convicted of fatally shooting 6 middle-aged men who picked her up as a hitchhiker along the highways of northern and central Florida in 1989 and 1990. Her story has been portrayed in 2 movies, 3 books and an opera. Wuornos dropped her appeals and volunteered for execution last year, obtaining the Florida Supreme Court's permission to fire her appellate attorneys. Wuornos told the Supreme Court in a letter that she is one "who seriously hates human life and would kill again."

Wuornos was convicted and condemned in 1 case in Volusia County and pleaded no contest in the other 5, which were in Marion, Citrus, Pasco and Dixie counties. Wuornos is 1 of 3 condemned women in the state, which also has 369 men on death row. Like the other women, she is housed at Broward Correctional Institution in Pembroke Pines. Florida has executed only one other woman since 1848: Judy Buenoano, who died in the electric chair in March 1998. Florida's main method of execution now is lethal injection.

In one of her letters to the court, Wuornos said she wanted to "waive off in the remainder of my appeals, since I've come clean. All were in flat murder to rob." Wuornos had previously claimed in requests for a new trial that the victims had tried to rape or kill her. During her 1992 trial for murdering Richard Mallory - her 1st victim and a convicted rapist - Wuornos testified he sexually assaulted her and she feared for her life. She later made similar claims against all her victims. Mallory, a 51-year-old Clearwater electronics technician, picked her up on a rainy night in late 1989. He offered her some vodka and marijuana, but bought her beer when she asked. They drove into the woods and fell asleep. When she awoke, she took out her gun, woke Mallory up and robbed him. She then shot him dead. After killing Mallory, Wuornos laid low for several months until mid-1990, when she robbed and murdered David Spears on another rainy day. Over the next 5 months of Florida's rainy season, she killed 5 more men.

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Aileen Wournos (FL) Oct. 9, 2002 7:00 AM EST

Aileen Wournos, a white woman, is scheduled to be executed Oct. 9 for a series of murders she committed in Florida in late 1989 and 1990. She confessed to six murders, but claimed she killed only in self-defense, resisting violent assaults by men while working as a prostitute. At her trial for the murder of Richard Mallory, Wournos testified that she shot him only after he attempted to violently rape her. Police found “nothing dirty” on the victim and concluded that there was nothing to substantiate the defendant’s tale of sexual assault. Had they simply run Mallory’s name through the FBI’s computer network, they would have known he served a decade behind bars for violent rape years before.

The defendant’s confession speaks for itself, and the argument that six murders over two months were all in self-defense is difficult to justify. However, this example of poor investigating and insufficient defense researching represents a common trend in death penalty cases: critical evidence goes undiscovered, especially in cases of poor defendants. When Dateline NBC reported the Mallory rape charges in November of 1992, Wournos was already sitting on death row.

Despite the facts inexcusably undetected by investigators, the death sentence was extremely harsh to begi with in this case, considering the mitigating evidence in the punishment phase of the trial. The defense showed that Wournos suffered a tragic, abusive upbringing, which resulted in antisocial and borderline personality disorders. Her mother abandoned her as an infant, and her father served time in mental hospitals in several states as a deranged child molester. Eventually, her father, like her grandfather, committed suicide, and her grandmother died of liver failure from alcoholism. Wournos suffered from physical abuse as a child, and later told police she had sex with her brother at a very early age. During both the trial and the appeal, the court declined to find the statutory factor of extreme emotional disturbance.

This case, from the early investigations to the appeals process, has been tainted by publicity and media drama. Three top investigators in the case hired lawyers within weeks of the arrest to field offers from Hollywood concerning movie deals. The media’s idea of catching a “serial killer” unjustly simplified the complexities of this case. As reporter Michele Gillen said on NBC upon revealing new evidence after the conviction and death sentence: “She’s a sick woman…but that’s no reason for the state to say, ‘She confessed to killing men; we don’t have to do our homework.’”

Unfortunately, Wournos’ abusive upbringing – a tragic situation far beyond her control – is not unique on death row. The United States sentences men and women to death every year with tragic childhood backgrounds, refusing to recognize the pattern of destructive behavior so often associated with such upbringings. Please write the state of Florida to encourage a re-evaluation of Aileen Wournos’ death sentence.

Orlando Sentinel

"Wuornos Attracts Interest Until End," by Beth Kassab. (October 7, 2002)

PORT ORANGE -- At a gritty biker bar called the Last Resort, Al Bulling recalls the crowds that have come from as far as Japan to glimpse the spot where the world's first known female serial killer enjoyed her final hours of freedom. Tourists, news crews, filmmakers and Geraldo Rivera have stopped by the small Volusia County bar in the decade since Aileen C. Wuornos played country music on the jukebox and drank beer moments before police arrested her on a firearms charge. "They walked her outside, took her away, and that was the end of that," said Bulling, who owns the 23-year-old Port Orange landmark. But it was only the beginning.

Wuornos has gained worldwide notoriety and is the subject of at least three movies, two books, a comic book and a San Francisco opera whose final act may have been written last month when Gov. Jeb Bush signed the warrant ordering Wuornos, 46, to be executed by lethal injection Wednesday.

She was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1989 murder in Volusia County of Richard Mallory, a Clearwater businessman whose body was found covered with a piece of carpet in a wooded area in Ormond Beach. He was shot four times with a .22-caliber gun and left lying on his back, his pants pockets emptied and turned inside out.

She would later plead no contest or guilty to five similar murders in Marion, Citrus, Pasco and Dixie counties, for which she would receive five more death sentences. Wuornos, who has spent more than a decade on death row, confessed to a seventh killing, but that victim's body was never found.

FBI's 1st female serial killer

Wuornos was not the first woman to murder multiple people, but criminologists became intrigued with the case. That's because she was the first to fit the FBI's definition of a serial killer, which includes killing more than three people, targeting victims whom she did not know and who did not know each other, and allowing some time to elapse between each killing, said David Damore, who prosecuted Wuornos in the Mallory case. Wuornos would choose her targets at random, allowing anywhere from a few days or months to pass before killing again. She knew none of her victims. They all were middle-aged or older men who stopped to pick up Wuornos as she hitchhiked on Florida highways. All were killed with multiple gunshots.

James Fox, a leading national expert on serial killings, said Wuornos became known as the first woman who sought strangers as victims resembling highly publicized male serial killers such as Ted Bundy. "She was the first female to kill in the predatory style of male serial killers," said Fox, a criminal-justice professor at Northeastern University in Boston who has published five books on multiple killings. Other women who have killed serially know their victims, he said, such as the cases of a nurse who murdered patients, mothers who killed children or a landlady who killed tenants -- all over a period of months or years.

But the Wuornos fascination crept outside law-enforcement circles. An abusive childhood, and her initial insistence that she killed men to defend herself against rape and robbery, resonated with some who saw her as the symbol of a strong woman rebelling against male violence. Others were drawn to the story of her hardscrabble youth -- she was living on the streets by age 15 -- her career as a prostitute, her relationship with a lesbian lover and her open defiance of authority and the judicial system. Unrelentingly grim and angry, she has screamed at judges and once called the jurors who convicted her "scumbags of America" as she was escorted from the courtroom. While Wuornos was in jail awaiting her trial, a self-described born-again Christian couple from North Florida adopted her, yet again drawing attention to the serial killer.

"There's so much sensationalism attached to her life and her story," said Carla Lucero, a San Francisco composer who wrote an opera about Wuornos' life. "I really felt for this woman. She never gave up on the concept of love, and she's been betrayed all the way down the line." The opera, titled Wuornos, debuted in San Francisco last year and is on its way to premiere in Europe. It portrays Wuornos as a woman whose background drove her to kill as a means to survive and then was abused again by the criminal-justice system.

No heroine, prosecutor says

Though she has been glorified on stage, those closest to the case say such portrayals are exaggerations. "She's really a much more shallow character than she's been portrayed as," said Damore, the former prosecutor. "She has been made into something she's not. She truly hated men. I think it's a tragedy to make her into some type of heroine figure." Damore said Wuornos never showed any remorse for the seven men she confessed to killing and robbing, sometimes after offering them sex for money. "Some people think, 'Here was this poor woman who had to go out and prostitute herself, and she had to fight to survive,' " Damore said. "Five, maybe six, of these murders had nothing to do with sex. Several of these men were shot in the back from some distance."

Wuornos left her victims in wooded areas, where she killed them before ditching their cars elsewhere and pawning their belongings for money so she and her former lover, Tyria Moore, could eat and pay for another night's stay at a cheap motel, according to court records. After Wuornos' arrest at the Last Resort, Moore was found in Pennsylvania and helped investigators by urging Wuornos to confess to the murders. Wuornos, who acted alone, confessed because she thought police were targeting Moore, her partner of more than two years, as the killer, and wanted to protect her, according to court records.

Subject of movies, comic

In 1992, the same year after Wuornos was convicted of killing Mallory, the Lifetime cable network aired the made-for-television movie Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story, starring Jean Smart. A more recent film, Damsel of Death, premiered at a film festival in New York, promising in an advertisement, "You've seen Ted Bundy, Son of Sam, Jeffrey Dahmer. Now see the Damsel, herself, Aileen Wuornos." There was even a film documenting the fanfare surrounding Wuornos' case. A "True Crimes" comic book for sale on the Internet packaged the Wuornos story with that of another famed criminal, mob boss John Gotti.

Lenny Siems, whose father, Peter Siems, was murdered by Wuornos, said he's aware of her notoriety but has never seen the movies or read the books based on the case. "When it's someone related to you, it brings up too many memories," Siems said. His father's body was never found. "I've tried not to think about it too much," said Siems, a teacher in Mississippi. "I just think it's sick and twisted."

Ruled competent to die

Wuornos' persistent and loud demands to be executed have brought her additional attention. Wuornos insists she should die because she would kill again if given the opportunity. A psychiatric evaluation earlier this month found her competent to be executed. In an earlier letter to the Florida Supreme Court, Wuornos said she is ready to "cut to the chase then and get on with an execution."

Wuornos has said little during the years about her infamy but expressed concerns. When informed about the opera last year, Wuornos wrote in a letter, "My main concern is if this composer has been made aware of the fact that I've come clean in all of my cases. "I killed in pure hate, robbing along the way. So if this person hasn't [heard], then I'd sure appreciate it if someone would inform him or her of it."

Wuornos' arrest re-enacted

Wuornos' attempt to "come clean" has done little to diminish interest in her case. In March, a Japanese film crew re-enacted Wuornos' arrest at the Last Resort, according to bar owner Bulling. "They had American actors, but they didn't really have a script because it was all going to be dubbed in Japanese for Japanese TV anyway," said Bulling. Tourists, he said, come from all over to have a drink where Wuornos played pool with her girlfriend and sometimes slept on an old car seat at the bar. "She didn't really act any different than anybody else," Bulling said. "She never had any transportation, so sometimes she would ask people to take her places."

Some tourists buy black T-shirts with an image of Wuornos and the words, "On A Killing Day." The shirts misspell her first name as "Eileen." The bar has adopted the logo "Cold Beer and Killer Women" and is counting down the days to Wuornos' execution on a Jim Beam chalkboard, along with the days until a fall biker rally when the bar will feature women wrestling in creamed corn. Some of the regulars said they would gather Wednesday to celebrate Wuornos' passing.

Said bartender Karen Strnad, who wore a black tank top with "GUILTY" on it, "If she wants to die, the best form of punishment is to let her live." Bulling said he doesn't expect the attention to fade after the execution. "It's like a Bonnie and Clyde kind of thing," he said. "Somebody's always going to make money off of it."

The Crime Library

"Aileen Wuornos: Killer Who Preyed on Truck Drivers," by Marlee MacLeod.

The Myth and the Reality

Some of what you’ve heard about Aileen Wuornos is true.

Yes, she killed seven men in Florida. Yes, she was a prostitute. She gave a shocking, detailed confession at the behest of her lesbian ex-lover, and during her trial she was legally adopted by a well-meaning woman who claimed to receive her instruction from God. She had memorable profane outbursts in more than one courtroom, and she awaits execution on Florida’s death row, the recipient of six death sentences, more than anyone else residing there. All these things are true.

It’s important, however, to dispel some of the hyperbole surrounding the Wuornos case at the outset. She was not America’s first female serial killer. Women have been murdering serially for as long as men, though their victims are usually family members or acquaintances, and they most often choose poison over other means of disposal. Wuornos killed strangers with a gun, an unusual but not unprecedented fact that the media seized upon and ran with rampantly. 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.

Even with these most sensational claims discredited, Aileen Wuornos remains intriguing. She is both repellent and strangely pathetic. Her belligerence all but sealed her fate from the moment she was apprehended, and inspired contempt in most who encountered her or heard of her case. Her bravado and her claims that all seven of her victims tried to rape her are as incomprehensible as her boast of having serviced 250,000 johns. Add to these the melodrama of her confession, her befriending and adoption by Arlene Pralle, and her never-had-a-chance personal history, and her story fairly reels one in.

A Poor Beginning

Wuornos’s father, Leo Dale Pittman, was a child molester and a sociopath who was strangled in prison in 1969. Her mother, Diane Wuornos, married Pittman when she was fifteen and bore him two children. She divorced Pittman less than two years into the marriage, a few months before Aileen was born. Diane found the responsibilities of single motherhood unbearable and in 1960 she abandoned Aileen and her brother Keith, who were then adopted by their maternal grandparents, Lauri and Britta Wuornos. The Wuornoses raised Aileen and Keith with their own children in Troy, Michigan. They did not reveal that they were, in fact, the children’s grandparents. Aileen discovered the truth at around age twelve, information, which did not help an already troublesome situation. Lauri Wuornos drank heavily and was strict with the children; when they discovered their true parentage they rebelled against his severity, quickly becoming incorrigible. Aileen was pregnant at age fourteen and sent to an unwed mothers’ home for the duration of her pregnancy. The staff found her hostile, uncooperative, and unable to get along with her peers. She delivered a baby boy, who was put up for adoption, in January 1971. In July of the same year Britta Wuornos died. Diane Wuornos offered to let Aileen and Keith come live with her in Texas, but they declined, as she intended to establish rules and keep order in her household. Aileen, known to friends as Lee, dropped out of school, left home and took up hitchhiking and prostitution.

In the next few years Keith died of throat cancer and Lauri committed suicide, and Lee headed for Florida, where she met and married an elderly man named Lewis Fell who had a comfortable income from railroad stocks. The marriage was short; Fell obtained a restraining order and an annulment after Lee was arrested for hurling a cue ball at a bartender’s head back home in Michigan. He claimed she had squandered his money and beaten him with his cane when he was not forthcoming with even more cash.

Keith’s life insurance had paid off well for Lee and her siblings. Lee received $10,000, which was gone in two months. She drifted back to Florida and embarked on a decade of failed relationships and small-time crime-forgery, theft, and a rather ridiculous armed robbery that put her in prison for a spell. From time to time she turned tricks, but even as an exit-to-exit interstate prostitute she was not a hot commodity. When she met twenty-four-year-old Tyria Moore at a Daytona gay bar in 1986, Lee was lonely and angry and ready for something new.

For a while it was great. Ty loved her and didn’t leave her; she even quit her job as a motel maid for a while and allowed Lee to support her with her prostitution earnings. Their ardor cooled, though, and money ran short-still, Ty stayed with Lee, following her from cheap motel to cheap motel, with stints in old barns or in the woods in between. Lee’s market value as a prostitute, never spectacular, fell even more. Their existence, meager though it was, became ever harder to maintain. Clearly, something had to change.

Mysterious Deaths

Richard Mallory liked a change now and again, too. The middle-aged owner of a Clearwater, Florida electronics repair business was known to close up shop abruptly and disappear for a few days at a time on drinking and sex binges. He changed the locks to his apartment eight times in three years. He kept employees at his business only long enough to clear the backlog of work that accrued during one of his disappearances, letting them go once his repair orders were caught up again. His only constants were alcohol, sex and paranoia. So when he didn’t show up to open his shop in early December 1989, no one thought much of it. There was no one close enough to him to notice he was gone. It wasn’t until his 1977 Cadillac was found a few days later outside Daytona that anyone knew anything was amiss.

On December 13, 1989, Jimmy Bonchi and James Davis were looking for scrap metal along a dirt road close to Interstate 95 in Volusia County, Florida. Instead of saleable junk they found a body wrapped in carpet. Fingerprints carefully taken from the badly decomposed hands proved that this was Richard Mallory. He had been killed with three shots from a .22. Several months of investigation into his sordid lifestyle and somewhat shady acquaintances produced no real leads. Initial suspicion revolved around a stripper who went by the name of Chastity, but the evidence, what little of it there was, didn’t add up. Mallory’s case went cold.

On May 5, 1990 the body of an unidentified male was found naked in Brooks County, GA, close to Interstate 75 and just across the state line from Florida. Two .22 caliber slugs were found in the remains, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation had no leads as to the identity of their mysterious corpse. On June 1, another unidentified naked male body was found in the woods of Citrus County, Florida, about 40 miles north of Tampa. Police initially suspected Mathew Cocking, a surveyor who had found the body, as he was known to carry a gun and spewed profanity and threats at anyone who questioned him about his find. The identification of the body on June 7 as that of David Spears of Bradenton, Florida cleared Cocking. Spears had been a heavy-equipment operator who was last seen on May 19th. His truck was found shortly after that on Interstate 75 with the doors unlocked and the license plate missing.

Meanwhile, thirty miles south in Pasco County, yet another naked body was found a few miles off Interstate 75. This one was discovered on June 6, and was so badly decomposed that medical examiners were not able to obtain fingerprints and could not estimate time of death. The nine bullets found in the remains were damaged by the decomposition, but were determined to have come from a .22 caliber weapon. Pasco County detective Tom Muck had no immediate luck identifying his John Doe (later determined to be Charles Carskaddon), but had heard about the case in Citrus County. He notified Citrus County sheriff’s investigator Marvin Padgett about the similarities and told him to stay in touch. Searching further for leads, he called the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and was told of their own mystery guest. Again, he noted similarities, but didn’t feel he had enough information to put together an investigation.

Killing Spree Continues

On July 4, a car careened off State Road 315 near Orange Springs, Florida and came to rest in some brush. Rhonda Bailey, who was sitting on her porch at the time and watched the accident happen, said two women clambered frantically from the car, throwing beer cans into the woods and swearing at each other. The brown-haired woman said little; the blond, whose arm was bleeding from an injury sustained in the crash, did most of the talking. She begged Bailey not to call the police, saying her father lived just up the road. She and her companion got back in the car, which now had a smashed windshield and other damage, and got it out of the brush. The crippled vehicle didn’t take them far, though. They abandoned it just down the road and began walking. Hubert Hewett of the Orange Springs Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call about the accident and asked the two women if they had been the ones in the car. The blond cursed at him and said no, they had not, and they did not want any help. He left them alone and they walked on.

Marion County sheriff’s deputies found the car where the women had left it. It was a 1988 Pontiac Sunbird, gray with four doors. The glass in the front doors, as well as the windshield, was smashed. There were apparent bloodstains throughout the interior, and the license plate was missing. A computer search based on the VIN number revealed that the car belonged to Peter Siems, who had disappeared on June 7 after leaving his home in Jupiter, Florida to visit relatives in Arkansas. Siems was a 65-year-old retired merchant seaman who devoted much of his time to a Christian outreach ministry. John Wisnieski of the Jupiter Police, who had been working the case since Siems was reported missing, sent out a nationwide teletype containing descriptions of the two women. He also sent a synopsis of the case and sketches of the women to the Florida Criminal Activity Bulletin. Then he waited. He was not optimistic about finding Siems alive.

Troy Burress left on his delivery route from Gilchrist Sausage early on the morning of July 30. When he didn’t return that afternoon, Gilchrist manager Johnny Mae Thompson started calling around and discovered Burress hadn’t shown up at his last few delivery stops. Late that night she and her husband went out looking for him. At 2:00 a.m. Burress’s wife reported him missing. At 4:00 a.m. Marion County sheriff’s deputies found his truck on the shoulder of State Road 19, twenty miles east of Ocala. It was unlocked and the keys were missing. So was Burress.

He was found five days later. A family out for a picnic in the Ocala National Forest happened upon his body in a clearing just off Highway 19, about eight miles from where his truck was found. The Florida heat and humidity had hastened decomposition, precluding identification at the scene, but his wife identified his wedding ring. He had been killed with two shots from a .22 caliber gun, one to the chest and one to the back. Investigator John Tilley’s initial suspect was a drifter named Curtis Michael Blankenship. He had been hitchhiking on Highway 19 the day of Burress’s disappearance and was picked up close to the abandoned truck. It became evident as the investigation progressed, however, that Blankenship was not involved. For the time being, Tilley had no more suspects.

Women Suspected

Dick Humphreys never made it home from his last day of work at the Sumterville office of the Florida’s Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. A protective investigator specializing in abused and injured children, he was about to transfer to the Department’s Ocala office. He was fifty-six, and this was not his first career; previously, he’d been a police chief in Alabama. He celebrated his thirty-fifth wedding anniversary on September 10; on September 11, he disappeared. On the evening of September 12 his body was found in Marion County. He’d been shot seven times. Six .22 caliber slugs were recovered from his body; the seventh went through his wrist and was never found. His car was found in late September in Suwanee County.

About a month later the nude body of Walter Gino Antonio was found on a logging road in Dixie County. Sixty-year-old Antonio was a trucker, a sometime security guard, and a member of the Reserve Police. He’d been shot four times with a .22. When he was found on November 19 he’d been dead less than 24 hours. His car was found five days later across the state in Brevard County.

Captain Steve Binegar was commander of the Marion County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Division, and he knew about the crimes in Citrus and Pasco Counties. He could not ignore the similarities and was formulating a theory, along with a multi-agency task force with representatives from counties where victims were found. No one stopped to pick up hitchhikers anymore, he reasoned, so the perpetrator(s) of these crimes had to be initially non-threatening to the victims. He suspected women—specifically, he suspected the two women who had wrecked Peter Siems’s car and walked away. He turned to the press for help. In late November, Reuters ran a story about the killings, saying police were looking for the women. Papers across Florida picked up the story and ran it, along with police sketches of the women in question.

Investigation Pays Off

It didn’t take long for the leads to start pouring in, and by mid-December, police had several tips involving the same two women. A man in Homosassa Springs said the two women had rented a trailer from him about a year earlier. Their names were Tyria Moore and Lee. A woman in Tampa said the women had worked at her motel south of Ocala. Their names, she said, were Tyria Moore and Susan Blahovec. An anonymous caller identified the women as Ty Moore and Lee Blahovec, who bought an RV in Homosassa Springs. Lee Blahovec was the dominant one, the caller said, and a truck stop prostitute. Both were lesbians.

The mother lode, though, came from Port Orange near Daytona. Police there had been tracking the movements of Lee Blahovec and Tyria Moore, and provided a detailed account of the couple’s movements from late September to mid-December. They had stayed, primarily, at the Fairview Motel in Harbor Oaks, where Blahovec registered as Cammie Marsh Greene. They spent a bit of time living in a small apartment behind a restaurant very near the Fairview, but returned to the motel. In early December they left the Fairview. Blahovec/Greene returned alone, and stayed until December 10.

A quick computer check gave driver’s license and criminal record information on Tyria Moore, Susan Blahovec and Cammie Marsh Greene. Moore had no real record, breaking and entering charges against her in 1983 having been dropped. Blahovec had one trespassing arrest, while Greene had no record at all. Additionally, the photograph on Blahovec’s license did not match the one for Greene.

The Greene ID was the one that paid off best. Volusia County officers checked area pawnshops and found that in Daytona, Cammie Marsh Greene had pawned a camera and a radar detector, and had left the requisite thumbprint on the receipt. These items had belonged to Richard Mallory. In Ormand Beach, she pawned a set of tools that matched the description of those taken from David Spears’s truck.

The thumbprint was the key. Jenny Ahern of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System found nothing on her initial computer search, but came to Volusia County and began a hand search of fingerprint records there. Within an hour, she found what she came for. The print showed up on a weapons charge and outstanding warrant against a Lori Grody. A bloody palm print found in Peter Siems’s Sunbird matched Lori Grody’s prints as well. All this information was sent to the National Crime Information Center. Responses came from Michigan, Colorado and Florida. Lori Grody, Susan Blahovec and Cammie Marsh Greene were all aliases for Aileen Carol Wuornos.

The Hunt for Wuornos

The hunt for Wuornos began in earnest on January 5, 1991. Pairs of officers, including two undercover as "Bucket" and "Drums," drug dealers down from Georgia, hit the streets hoping to track her down. On the evening of January 8, Mike Joyner and Dick Martin, in their roles as "Bucket" and "Drums," spotted her at the Port Orange Pub. They meant for their takedown to develop gradually, as they wanted an airtight case, but Port Orange police entered suddenly and took Wuornos outside. Mike Joyner frantically phoned the command post at the Pirate’s Cove Motel, where authorities from six jurisdictions had come to work the case. This development wasn’t because of a leak, they surmised; these were just cops doing their jobs. Bob Kelley of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office called the Port Orange police station and told them not to arrest Wuornos under any circumstances. The word was relayed to the cops in the nick of time, and Wuornos returned to the bar. Joyner and Martin struck up a conversation with her and bought her a few beers. She left the bar at around 10:00, declining an offer for a ride. Once again, the cautious takedown was almost ruined. Two Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers pulled up behind Wuornos as she walked down Ridgwood Avenue, following her with their lights off. Officers at the command post made a call and got the FDLE officers off the street and Wuornos made it to her next destination, a biker bar called the Last Resort. Joyner and Martin met her there for a while, drank more beers, shot more bull. They left just after midnight. Wuornos didn’t leave at all. She spent her last night of freedom sleeping on an old car seat in the Last Resort.

The following afternoon, Joyner and Martin were back at the Last Resort as "Bucket" and "Drums," talking Wuornos up and wearing transmitters that kept the police apprised of everything that went on. They had planned on making their collar later that night, but the Last Resort was gearing up for a barbecue, and bikers would start pouring in any second. The decision was made at the command post to go ahead with the arrest. Joyner and Martin asked Wuornos if she’d like to get cleaned up at their motel room. She accepted their offer and left the bar with them. Outside on the steps, Larry Horzepa of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office approached her and told her she was being arrested on the outstanding warrant for Lori Grody. No mention was made of the murders, and no announcement was made to the media that a suspect had been arrested. Their caution was wise: as of yet, they had no murder weapon and no Tyria Moore


On January 10 Moore was located. She was living with her sister in Pittston, Pennsylvania. Jerry Thompson of Citrus County and Bruce Munster of Marion County flew to Scranton, Pennsylvania to interview her. She was read her rights but not charged with anything. Munster made sure she knew what perjury was, swore her in, and sat back as she gave her statement. She had known about the murders since Lee had come home with Richard Mallory’s Cadillac, she said. Lee had openly confessed that she had killed a man that day, but Moore told her not to say anything else. “I told her I didn’t want to hear about it,” Moore told Munster and Thompson. “And then any time she would come home after that and say certain things, telling me about where she got something, I’d say I don’t want to hear it.” She had her suspicions, she admitted, but wanted to know as little as possible about Lee’s doings. The more she knew, she reasoned, the more compelled she would feel to report Lee to the authorities. And she didn’t want to do that. “I was just scared,” she said. “She always said she’d never hurt me, but then you can’t believe her, so I don’t know what she would have done.”

The next day Moore accompanied Munster and Thompson back to Florida to assist the investigation. A confession would make the case against Wuornos virtually airtight, and Munster and Thompson explained their plan for obtaining one to Moore on the flight. They would put her in a Daytona motel and have her make contact with Lee in jail, saying she’d received money from her mother and came down to get the rest of her things. Their phone conversations would be taped, and Moore was to tell Wuornos that authorities had been questioning her family, that she thought the Florida murders would be mistakenly pinned on her (Moore). Munster and Thompson hoped that, out of loyalty to Moore, Wuornos would confess.

The first call from Wuornos came on January 14. She was still under the impression that she was only in jail for the Lori Grody weapons violation. When Moore broached her suspicions, Wuornos reassured her. “I’m only here for that concealed weapons charge in ’86 and a traffic ticket,” she said, “and I tell you what, man, I read the newspaper, and I wasn’t one of those little suspects.” She was aware, though, that the jailhouse phone was monitored, and made efforts to speak of the crimes in code words and to construct alibis. “I think somebody at work -- where you worked at -- said something that it looked like us,” she said, “And it isn’t us, see? It’s a case of mistaken identity.”

For three days the calls continued. Moore became more insistent that the police were after her, and it became clear that Wuornos knew what was expected of her. She even voiced suspicion that Moore was not alone, that someone was there taping their conversations. But as time passed, she became less careful about what she said. She would not let Moore go down with her. “Just go ahead and let them know what you need to know…what they want to know or anything,” she said, “and I will cover for you, because you’re innocent. I’m not going to let you go to jail. Listen, if I have to confess, I will.” And on the morning of January 16, she did.

Wuornos came back to two main points over and over during her confession to Larry Horzepa and Bruce Munster. First, she made it clear that Moore was not involved in any way in any of the murders. Additionally, she was emphatic in her assertion that nothing was her fault, not the murders and not any circumstance that led her down the criminal path that was her life. All the killings were done in self-defense, she claimed. Each victim had either assaulted her, threatened her, or raped her. Her story seemed to develop as she told it. When she thought she’d said something incriminating she would back up and retell that part, changing details to suit her overall scenario. She’d been raped several times in the past few years, she claimed, and had had enough. When each of her victims became aggressive she killed out of fear. Several times Michael O’Neill, a public defender from the Volusia County public defender’s office, advised Wuornos to stop talking, finally asking in exasperation, “Do you realize these guys are cops!” Wuornos answered, “I know. And they wanted to hang me. And that’s cool, because maybe, man, I deserve it. I just want to get this over with.”

An avalanche of book and movie offers poured in to detectives, relatives, Moore and even Wuornos herself. Wuornos seemed to think she would make millions from her story, not yet realizing that Florida had a law against criminals profiting in such a manner. She was all over the local and national media. She felt famous, and she continued to talk about the crimes with anyone who would listen, including Volusia County Jail employees. With each retelling she refined her story, casting herself in a better light each time.

Aileen's Defender

Into this tumult came Arlene Pralle, a forty-four-year-old "born-again" Christian who ran a horse breeding and boarding facility near Ocala. She had seen Wuornos’s picture in a newspaper and wrote her a letter. “My name is Arlene Pralle,” she began, “I’m born-again. You’re going to think I’m crazy, but Jesus told me to write you.” She provided her home telephone number, and on January 30 Wuornos called her (collect) for the first time. Almost immediately, Pralle became her ardent defender and helpmate. Pralle advised her that her public defenders were trying to profit from her story, as was everyone else. Wuornos asked for and got new attorneys. Pralle spoke with reporters, describing her relationship with Wuornos to a Vanity Fair reporter as, “a soul binding. We’re like Jonathan and David in the bible…It’s as though part of me is trapped in jail with her. We always know what the other is feeling and thinking.” To another reporter she said, “If the world could know the real Aileen Wuornos, there’s not a jury that would convict her.”

Throughout 1991, Pralle appeared on talk shows and in tabloids, talking to anyone who would listen about what she perceived as Wuornos’s true, good nature. She arranged interviews for Wuornos with reporters she thought would be sympathetic, and in this forum Wuornos continued to tell and embellish her fantastic story. Both Wuornos and Pralle emphasized Wuornos’s troubled upbringing, and both leveled accusations of corruption and complicity at anyone who was handy-the agents proffering the book and movie deals, the detectives, the attorneys and, especially, Tyria Moore. And just when it seemed things couldn’t get any weirder, they did. On November 22, 1991, Arlene Pralle and her husband legally adopted Aileen Wuornos. Pralle said God had told her to.

The Trial

Wuornos’s attorneys engineered a plea bargain, to which Wuornos agreed, in which she would plead to six charges and receive six consecutive life terms. One state attorney, however, thought she should receive the death penalty, so on January 14, 1992, Wuornos went to trial for the murder of Richard Mallory. The evidence and witnesses against her were severely damaging. Dr. Arthur Botting, the medical examiner who had autopsied Mallory’s body, stated that Mallory had taken between ten and twenty agonizing minutes to die. Tyria Moore testified that Wuornos had not seemed overly upset, nervous or drunk when she told her of killing Mallory. Twelve men told of encounters with her along Florida’s highways over the years.

Florida has a law known as the Williams Rule that allows evidence relating to other crimes to be admitted if it helps to show a pattern. Because of the Williams Rule, information regarding the other killings was presented to the jury. Wuornos’s claim of having killed in self-defense would have been a lot more believable had the jury known only of Mallory. Now, with the jury made aware of all of the murders, self-defense seemed improbable, at best. After the excerpts from her videotaped confession were played, the self-defense claim seemed ridiculous. On the tape Wuornos appeared confident and not at all upset by the story she was telling. She made easy conversation with her interrogators and repeatedly told her public defender to be quiet. Her image spoke from the screen-“I took a life…I am willing to give up my life because I killed people…I deserve to die.”

Tricia Jenkins, one of Wuornos’s public defenders, did not want her client to testify and told her so. But Wuornos insisted on telling her story. By now, her account of Mallory’s killing barely resembled the one she gave in her confession. Mallory had raped and sodomized her, she claimed, and had tortured her. On cross-examination, prosecutor John Tanner obliterated any shred of credibility she may have had. As he brought to light all her lies and inconsistencies, she became agitated and angry. Her attorneys repeatedly advised her not to answer questions, and she invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination twenty-five times. She was the defense’s only witness, and when she left the stand there was not much doubt about how her trial would end.

On January 27, Judge Uriel Blount charged the jury. They returned with their verdict less than two hours later. They found Wuornos guilty of first-degree murder, and as they filed out of the courtroom she exploded with rage, shouting, “I’m innocent! I was raped! I hope you get raped! Scumbags of America!” Her outburst was still fresh in the minds of jurors as the penalty phase of her trial began the next day. Expert witnesses for the defense testified that Wuornos was mentally ill, that she suffered from borderline personality disorder, and that her tumultuous upbringing had stunted and ruined her. Jenkins referred to her client as “a damaged, primitive child” as she pleaded with the jury to spare Wuornos’s life. But jurors neither forgot nor forgave the woman they’d come to know during the trial. With a unanimous verdict, they recommended that Judge Blount sentence her to the electric chair. He did so on January 31.


Wuornos did not stand trial again. On March 31 she pleaded no contest to the murders of Dick Humphreys, Troy Burress and David Spears, saying she wanted to “get right with God.” In a rambling statement to the court she said, “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.” She ended her monologue by turning to Assistant State Attorney Ric Ridgeway and hissing, “I hope your wife and children get raped in the ass!” On May 15, Judge Thomas Sawaya handed her three more death sentences. She made an obscene gesture and muttered, “Motherfucker.”

In June, she pleaded guilty to the murder of Charles Carskaddon, and in November, she received her fifth death sentence. In early February of 1993, she was sentenced to die after pleading guilty to the murder of Walter Gino Antonio. No charges were brought for the murder of Peter Siems, as his body was never found.

For a time there was speculation that Wuornos might receive a new trial for the murder of Richard Mallory. New evidence showed that Mallory had served ten years in prison for sexual violence, and attorneys felt that jurors would have seen the case differently had they known this fact. No new trial was forthcoming, though. The State Supreme Court of Florida has affirmed all six of her death sentences, and she is in her second round of appeals, a round that will eventually wend its way to the United States Supreme Court. Those many appeals proceed haltingly, as Florida’s efforts to streamline its appeals process create new delays. She will probably be put to death in five to seven years.

Serial Killers: A Short History

Wuornos, Aileen Carol

She has been heralded in tabloid headlines and on television talk shows as Americas first female serial killer. In fact, Aileen Wuornos was neither the first nor the worst, although she did display a curiously masculine tendency to prey on strangers of the opposite sex. Suspected of at least seven murders, sentenced to die in four of the six cases she confessed to police, Wuornos still maintains that some or all of her admitted killings were performed in self-defense, resisting violent assaults by men whom she solicited while working as a prostitute. Ironically, information uncovered by investigative journalists in November 1992 suggests that in one case, at least, her story may well be true.

Americas future media monster was born Aileen Pittman in Rochester, Michigan, on February 29, 1956. Her teenage parents separated months before she was born, father Leo Pittman moving on to serve time in Kansas and Michigan mental hospitals as a deranged child-molester. Mother Diane recalls Aileen and her older brother Keith as crying, unhappy babies, and their racket prompted her to leave them with her parents in early 1960. On March 18 of that year, maternal grandparents Lauri and Britta Wuornos legally adopted the children as their own. Aileens childhood showed little improvement from there. At age six, she suffered scarring facial burns while she and Keith were setting fires with lighter fluid. Aileen later told police that she had sex with Keith at an early age, but acquaintances doubt the story and Keith is unable to speak for himself, having died of throat cancer in 1976. At any rate, Aileen was clearly having sex with someone, for she turned up pregnant in her fourteenth year, delivering her son at a Detroit maternity home on March 23, 1971. Grandmother Britta died on July 7, and while her death was blamed on liver failure, Diane Pratt suspected her father of murder, claiming he threatened to kill Aileen and Keith if they were not removed from his home. In fact, they became wards of the court, Aileen soon dropping out of school to work the streets full-time, earning her way as a teenage hooker, drifting across country as the spirit moved her.

In May 1974, using the alias Sandra Kretsch, she was jailed in Jefferson County, Colorado, for disorderly conduct, drunk driving, and firing a .22-caliber pistol from a moving vehicle. Additional charges of failure to appear were filed when she skipped town ahead of her trial. Back in Michigan on July 13, 1976, Aileen was arrested in Antrim County for simple assault and disturbing the peace, after she lobbed a cue ball at a bartenders head. Out-standing warrants from Troy, Michigan, were also served on charges of driving without a license and consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle. On August 4, Aileen settled her debt to society with a $105 fine. The money came, at least indirectly, from her brother. Keiths death, on July 17, 1976, surprised her with a life insurance payment of $10,000, squandered within two months on luxuries including a new car, which Aileen promptly wrecked. In late September, broke again, she hitched a ride to Florida, anxious to sample a warmer climate, hoping to practice her trade in the sun. It was a change of scene, but Aileens attitude was still the same, and she inevitably faced more trouble with the law. On May 20, 1981, Wuornos was arrested in Edgewater, Florida, for armed robbery of a convenience store. Sentenced to prison on May 4, 1982, she was released thirteen months later, on June 30, 1983. Her next arrest, on May 1, 1984, was for trying to pass forged checks at a bank in Key West. On November 30, 1985, named as a suspect in the theft of a pistol and ammunition in Pasco County, Aileen borrowed the alias Lori Grody from an aunt in Michigan. Eleven days later, the Florida Highway Patrol cited Grody for driving without a valid license. On January 4, 1986, Aileen was arrested in Miami under her own name, charged with auto theft, resisting arrest, and obstruction by false information; 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 for questioning after a male companion accused her of pulling a gun in his car and demanding $200; in spite of her denials, Aileen was carrying spare ammunition on her person, and a .22 pistol was found beneath the passenger seat she occupied. A week later, using the new alias of Susan Blahovec, she was ticketed for speeding in Jefferson County, Florida. The citation includes a telling observation: Attitude poor. Thinks she is above the law. A few days after the Jefferson County incident, Aileen met lesbian Tyria Moore in a Daytona gay bar. They soon became lovers, and while the passion faded in a year or so, they remained close friends and traveling companions, more or less inseparable for the next four years. On July 4, 1987, police in Daytona Beach detained Tina Moore and Susan Blahovec for questioning, on suspicion of slugging a man with a beer bottle. Blahovec was alone on December 18, when highway patrolmen cited her for walking on the inter-state and possessing a suspended drivers license. Once again, the citation noted Attitude POOR, and Susan proved it over the next two months, with threatening letters mailed to the circuit court clerk on January 11 and February 9, 1988.

A month later, Wuornos was trying a new approach and a new alias. On March 12, 1988, Cammie Marsh Green accused a Daytona Beach bus driver of assault, claiming he pushed her off the bus following an argument; Tyria Moore was listed as a witness to the incident. On July 23, a Daytona Beach landlord accused Moore and Susan Blahovec of vandalizing their apartment, ripping out carpets and painting the walls dark brown without his permission. In November 1988, Susan Blahovec launched a six-day campaign of threatening calls against a Zephyr Hills supermarket, following an altercation over lottery tickets. By 1989, Aileens demeanor was increasingly erratic and belligerent. Never one to take an insult lightly, she now went out of her way to provoke confrontations, seldom traveling without a loaded pistol in her purse. She worked the bars and truck stops, thumbing rides to snag a trick when all else failed, supplementing her prostitutes income with theft when she could. Increasingly, with Moore, she talked about the many troubles in her life, a yearning for revenge. Richard Mallory, a 51-year-old electrician from Palm Harbor, was last seen alive by coworkers on November 30, 1989. His car was found abandoned at Ormond Beach, in Volusia County, the next day, his wallet and personal papers scattered nearby, along with several condoms and a half-empty bottle of vodka. On December 13, his fully-dressed corpse was found in the woods northwest of Daytona Beach, shot three times in the chest with a .22 pistol. Police searching for a motive in the murder learned that Mallory had been divorced five times, earning himself a reputation as a heavy drinker who was very paranoid and very much into porno and the topless-bar scene. A former employee described him as mental, but police came up empty in their search for a criminal record. They could find nothing dirty on the victim, finally concluding he was just paranoid and pussy-crazy. The investigation was stalled at that point on June 1, 1990, when a nude John Doe victim was found, shot six times with a .22 and dumped in the woods forty miles north of Tampa. By June 7, the corpse had been identified from dental records as 43-year-old David Spears, last seen leaving his Sarasota workplace on May 19. Spears had planned to visit his ex-wife in Orlando that afternoon, but he never made it. Ironically, his boss had spotted the dead mans missing pickup truck on May 25, parked along I-75 south of Gainesville, but there the trail went cold. By the time Spears was identified, a third victim had already been found. Charles Carskaddon, age forty, was a part-time rodeo worker from Booneville, Missouri, missing since May 31. He had vanished somewhere along I-75, en route from Booneville to meet his fiancée in Tampa, his naked corpse found thirty miles south of the Spears murder site on June 6. Carskaddon had been shot nine times with a .22-caliber weapon, suggesting a pattern to officers who still resisted the notion of a serial killer at large. On June 7, Carskaddons car was found in Marion County, a .45 automatic and various personal items listed as stolen from the vehicle. Peter Siems, a 65-year-old merchant seaman turned missionary, was last seen on June 7, 1990, when he left his Jupiter, Florida, home to visit relatives in Arkansas. Siems never arrived, and a missing-person report was filed with police on June 22. No trace of the man had been found by July 4, when his car was wrecked and abandoned in Orange Springs, Florida. Witnesses described the vehicles occupants as two women, one blond and one brunette, providing police sketch artists with a likeness of each. The blond was injured, bleeding, and a bloody palm print was lifted from the vehicles trunk.

Eugene Burress, age fifty, left the Ocala sausage factory where he worked to make his normal delivery rounds on July 30, 1990. A missing-person report was filed when he had not returned by 2:00 A.M. the next day, and his delivery van was found two hours later. On August 4, his fully-dressed body was found by a family picnicking in the Ocala National Forest. Burress had been shot twice with a .22-caliber pistol, in the back and chest. Nearby, police found his credit cards, clipboard, business receipts, and an empty cash bag from a local bank. Fifty-six-year-old Dick Humphreys was a retired Alabama police chief, lately employed by the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services to investigate child abuse claims in Ocala. His wife reported him missing when he failed to return home from work on the night of September 11, 1990, and Humphreys was found the next day in an undeveloped subdivision, shot seven times with a .22 pistol, his pants pockets turned inside-out. On September 19, his car was found abandoned, stripped of license plates, behind a defunct service station in Live Oak. Impounded on September 25, the car was not traced to Humphreys until October 13, the same day his discarded badge and other personal belongings were found in Lake County, seventy miles southeast of the murder scene. Victim number seven was 60-year-old Walter Antonio, a truck driver from Merrit Island who doubles as a reserve police officer for Brevard County. Found in the woods northwest of Cross City on November 19, 1990, he had been shot three times in the back and once in the head. Antonio was nude except for socks, his clothes later found in a remote area of neighboring Taylor County. His car, meanwhile, was found back in Brevard County on November 24. Police determined that Antonios killer had stolen a distinctive gold ring, along with his badge, nightstick, handcuffs, and flash-light. By that time, journalists had noted the obvious pattern detectives were reluctant to accept, and media exposure forced authorities to go public with their suspect sketches on November 30, 1990. Over the next three weeks, police received four calls identifying the nameless women as Tyria Moore and Lee Blahovec. Their movements were traced through motel receipts, detectives learning that Blahovec also liked to call herself Lori Grody and Cammie Marsh Green. Fingerprint comparisons did the rest, naming Blahovec/Grody/Green as Aileen Wuornos, placing her at the scene where Peter Siemss car was wrecked in July, but it still remained for officers to track the women down. Meanwhile, Cammie Green was busy pawning items stolen from her victims, pocketing some extra cash.

On December 6, she pawned Richard Mallorys camera and radar detector in Daytona, moving on to Ormond Beach with a box of tools stolen from Richard Spears. (She also left a thumb print behind in Ormond Beach, identical to that of Lori Grody.) The next day, in Volusia County, Green pawned Walter Antonios ring, later identified by his fiancée and the jeweler who sized it. With mug shots and a list of names in hand, it was a relatively simple matter to trace Aileen Wuornos, though her root-less life style delayed the arrest for another month. On January 9, 1991, she was seized at the Last Resort, a biker bar in Harbor Oaks, detained on outstanding warrants for Lori Grody while police finished building their murder case. A day later Tyria Moore was traced to her sisters home in Pennsylvania, where she agreed to help police. Back in Florida, detectives arranged a series of telephone conversations between Moore and Wuornos, Tyria begging Aileen to confess for Moores sake, to spare her from prosecution as an accomplice. One conversation led police to a storage warehouse Aileen had rented, a search revealing tools stolen from David Spears, the nightstick taken from Walter Antonio, another camera and electric razor belonging to Richard Mallory.

On January 16, 1991, Wuornos summoned detectives and confessed six killings, all allegedly performed in self-defense. She denied killing Peter Siems, whose body was still missing, and likewise disclaimed any link to the murder of a John Doe victim shot to death with a .22-caliber weapon in Brooks County, Georgia, found in an advanced state of decay on May 5, 1990. (No charges were filed in that case.) I shot em cause to me it was like a self-defending thing, she told police, because I felt if I didnt shoot em and didnt kill em, first of all ... if they had survived, my ass would be gettin in trouble for attempted murder, so Im up shits creek on that one anyway, and if I didnt kill em, you know, of course, I mean I had to kill em ... or its like retaliation, too. Its like, You bastards, you were going to hurt me. Within two weeks of her arrest, Aileen and her attorney had sold movie rights to her story. At the same time, three top investigators on her case retained their own lawyer to field offers from Hollywood, cringing with embarrassment when their unseemly haste to profit on the case was publicly revealed. In self-defense, the officers maintained that they were moved to sell their version of the case by pure intentions, planning to put the money in a victims fund. To a man, they denounced exposure of their scheme as the malicious work of brother officers, driven by their jealousy at being cut out of the deal. A bizarre sideshow to the pending murder trial began in late January 1991, with the appearance of Arlene Pralle as Aileens chief advocate. A 44-year-old ranchers wife and born-again Christian, Pralle advised Wuornos in her first letter to prison that Jesus told me to write you. Soon, they were having daily telephone conversations at Pralles expense, Arlene arranging interviews for Wuornos and herself, becoming a fixture on tabloid talk shows from coast to coast. In Pralles words, their relation-ship was a soul binding. Were like Jonathan and David in the Bible. Its as though part of me is trapped in jail with her. We always know what the other is feeling and thinking. I just wish I was Houdini. I would get her out of there. If there was a way, I would do it, and we could go and be vagabonds forever. Instead, Pralle did the next best thing, legally adopting Wuornos as her daughter.

Aileens trial for the murder of Richard Mallory opened on January 13, 1992. Eleven days later, Wuornos took the stand as the only defense witness, repeating her tale of violent rape and beating at Mallorys hands, insisting that she shot him dead in self-defense, using her pistol only after he threatened her life. With no hard evidence to support her claim, jurors rejected the story, deliberating a mere ninety minutes before they convicted Aileen of first-degree murder on January 27. Im innocent, she shouted when the verdict was announced. I was raped! I hope you get raped! Scumbags of America! The jury recommended death on January 29, and the following day Aileen was formally sentenced to die. In April, she pled guilty to the murders of victims Burress, Humphreys, and Spears, with a second death sentence delivered on May 7, 1992. Around the same time, Aileen offered to show police where the corpse of Peter Siems was hidden, near Beaufort, South Carolina. Authorities flew her to the Piedmont State, but nothing was found at the designated site, Daytona police insisting that Wuornos created the ruse to get a free vacation from jail. They speculate that Siems was dumped in a swamp near I-95, north of Jacksonville, but his body has never been found.

The Wuornos case took an ironic twist on November 10, 1992, with reporter Michele Gillens revelations on Dateline NBC. Thus far, Aileens defenders and Florida prosecutors alike had failed to unearth any criminal record for Richard Mallory that would substantiate Aileens claim of rape and assault. In the official view, Mallory was clean, if somewhat paranoid and pussy-crazy. Gillen, though had no apparent difficulty finding out that Mallory had served ten years for a violent rape in another state, facts easily obtained by checking his name through the FBIs computer network. The fascinating part about this, Gillen said, is here is a woman who for the past year has been screaming that she didnt get a fair trial and that everyone was rushing to make a TV movie about her--and in reality that comes true. (The first TV movie depicting Aileen aired on a rival network one week to the day after Gillens report.) Even so, Gillen stopped short of calling for Aileens release. Shes a sick woman who blew those men away, Gillen declared, but thats no reason for the state to say, Shes confessed to killing men, we dont have to do our homework.

The Prison Activist

The Story of Aileen Wuornos - Aileen "Lee" Wuornos is on Death Row in Broward County, convicted of the murder of six men. Lee says all of the men raped or attempted to rape her.

We Believe Aileen Acted in Self-Defense

At the time of the killings, Lee was working as a highway prostitute. All of the men she killed were men who picked her up and who, she says, violently attacked her. Lee was picked up by many other men during this period and she did not harm them. Several men have testified that they spent days or weeks with her and she never threatened them. They did say that she was worried that they would attack her. Prostitutes are much more likely to be raped than women in other jobs. One study of a group of prostitutes said that they had been raped an average of 33 times a year.

In the Seattle area, at least 65 prostitutes and strippers have been killed by the "Green River Murderer" who has never been caught. New York police recently arrested Joel Rifkin, who confessed to the murders of 17 prostitutes. When they stopped Rifkin by chance, the cops were not even investigating the disappearances of these women. Very few murders of prostitutes are ever investigated or solved.

We Believe Lee Did Not Receive a Fair Trial

Lee has been tried only once--for the killing of Richard Mallory--but has been convicted of six murders. In her videotaped confession, which was the key evidence used by the prosecution in her trial, Lee said more than 60 times that she acted in self-defense. None of these references was included in the version of that tape which was shown to the jury.

The prosecution claimed that Mallory had no history of sexual violence. It was later revealed that Mallory had been convicted of attempted rape in Maryland, and had threatened to harm other women. Evidence of these prior attacks was not presented at her trial. The jury was allowed to hear evidence of crimes Lee had not been convicted of.

We Believe Lee Was Inadequately Represented By Counsel

Her trial attorneys first failed to interview, and later failed to call, several witnesses who had volunteered information which corroborated Lee's testimony. Her trial attorneys delayed in researching evidence of Mallory's history of violence against women. The judge then ruled it inadmissible because it was introduced too late. Private attorney Steven Glaser encouraged her to plead no contest to five murder charges, without securing a sentencing offer or informing her of all her options.

We Believe Officers Involved In Investigating The Case Behaved Unethically

There is evidence that Volusia County sheriff deputies negotiated contracts for book and movie deals about Lee's case before she was even arrested. Deputies arranged with Tyria Moore, Lee's former girlfriend, to set Lee up. Though Tyria was implicated in several of the killings, she was never charged. Officer Brian Jarvis, initially the chief investigator on the case, was removed from the case when he questioned the conduct of his colleagues on the case. He later reported vandalism to his house, theft of his records on the case and threats against him and his family. We Believe Lee Is Not a Serial Killer

According to the prosecution, portraying Lee as a "serial killer" won them the death penalty. Lee does not fit the profile of a serial killer. No serial killer has ever claimed they killed in self-defense. Serial killers stalk their victims; they do not kill in moments of fear or passion.

We Believe Sexism, Anti-Lesbian and Anti-Prostitute Prejudice Were Used To Condemn Lee To Death

Prosecutors made repeated references to Lee's romantic relationships with women. 80% of women on death row in Florida are lesbians. Though Lee does not consider herself a lesbian, society's fear and hatred of lesbians was used against her. People have trouble believing that a prostitute would need to kill six times in self-defense. Yet recently, a Los Angeles store owner killed five men in four different armed robbery attempts. This man was never charged with any crime.

Tens of thousands of women are in prison in the U.S. for killing men who abused them. A study by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence found that men who kill their wives or girlfriends serve an average of 2-6 years, while women who kill their male partners serve an average of 15 years. Ted Bundy, who killed more than 30 women in Florida, had offers from several well-known private criminal attorneys to defend him pro bono. At one time his defense team included five public defenders and a volunteer consultant on jury selection. Lee's supporters have been unable to find any such assistance for her; she has had to rely on overworked public defenders.

Demand Equal Justice for Aileen Wuornos

Write the Florida Supreme Court, 5th Judicial Circuit, 300 South Beach Street, Daytona Beach, FL 32114, and urge them to grant Aileen Wuornos a new trial. Write letters of support to Aileen Wuornos, A#150924 DR1, Broward County Correctional Institution, P.O. Box 8540, Pembroke Pines, FL 33024.

Volunteer at or contribute to battered women's services or men's anti- violence programs in your community. Contact the Aileen Wuornos Defense Committee, (415) 995-2392, 3543 - 18th Street #30, San Francisco, CA 94110 to find out how else you can help.


Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (1994)
Director: Nick Broomfield
Runtime: 87 minutes
Synopsis: Chilling documentary dissects investigation, trial of woman convicted of killing seven men. A must for fans of films with political/social commentary, those interested in death penalty, crime rehabilitation issues.


Court TV Documentary: "Aileen Wuornos: America's First Female Serial Killer

In a chilling documentary, Mugshots looks inside the mind of America's first female predatory serial killer, Aileen Wuornos. The FBI says Wuornos was responsible for the murder of 7 middle-aged white men, each last seen driving alone on the highways of central Florida. An admitted prostitute, Wuornos defended her actions by saying she shot to defend herself against rape and torture by her johns.

In the only interview Wuornos has given in seven years since she was sentenced to death, she claims that love drove her towards criminal activity. Speaking from death row, she believes that she is a victim of her life, and not a predatory prostitute. Her defense attorney states that Wuornos operates at the emotional level of a 2-3 year old, and her behavior should be understood within that framework.

Web Premiere -- The latest Court TV interview with Aileen Wuornos, May 4, 2000

Excerpts from Wuornos' testimony at her January, 1992, murder trial.

Excerpts from Aileen Wuornos' interview with Court TV, August 25, 1999.

Pawn shop records indicating the sale of a ring, a radar detector, and a camera. Wuornos' thumbprint appears in the lower corner as the seller. The items were determined to be property of Wuornos' victims.

Aileen Wuornos' arrest report, Volusia County, FL, January 16, 1991.

"Lethal Intent," a book by Sue Russell.

Sarasota Herald Tribune

Female Serial Killer Featured in Movies, Opera Facing Execution," by Ron Word. (AP October 5, 2002)

Aileen Wuornos terrorized central Florida highways for a year, fatally shooting six men who had picked her up as she worked as a prostitute and then pawning some of their possessions. One of the nation's few female serial killers, her case spawned two movies, an opera and several books. Her motivation, she says, was simple hatred for human kind.

On Wednesday, nearly 12 years after her killing spree ended with her arrest, Wuornos will likely be executed by lethal injection at Florida State Prison, becoming the second woman put to death by Florida since it resumed the death penalty 26 years ago. Wuornos, 46, has dropped her appeals and the state Supreme Court has ruled her competent.

"I want to know she is absolutely gone," said Leta Prater, who plans to witness Wuornos' execution. Wuornos murdered Prater's 50-year-old brother, Troy Burress, an Ocala salesman, who was reported missing July 31, 1990. Wuornos' fourth victim, his body was found in Marion County. Prater says lethal injection is too light a punishment for Wuornos. "I would have liked to see her get the electric chair," she said. "My brother didn't go to sleep. He was shot more than once." A day doesn't pass that Prater doesn't think about her brother and his death. "I was absolutely devastated," said Prater, who lives in Micanopy. "I still am. He was more than a brother. He was my best friend. I miss him so much."

Wuornos once claimed she was an "exit-to-exit" highway hooker, who earned $1,000 a week having sex with 40 to 50 men. She was convicted in Volusia County of the shooting death of her first victim, Richard Mallory, 51, of Clearwater. She pleaded no contest to murders in Marion, Dixie, Pasco and Citrus counties and received six death sentences. Nicknamed "the Damsel of Death," she also claimed to have killed a seventh man. Her killing spree ended with her arrest on Jan. 9, 1991, in the Last Resort, a Daytona Beach biker bar where women's underwear hangs above the bar and a plaque about her arrest is on the wall.

In her 1992 trial in Daytona Beach, State Attorney John Tanner said, "She was a homicidal predator. She was like a spider on the side of the road, waiting for prey - men." Billy Nolas, who represented Wuornos in that trial, said she suffers from borderline personality disorder as a result of neglect and sexual abuse as a child. "She is the most disturbed individual I have represented," said Nolas, who now practices law in Philadelphia. "As she has gotten older and older, she has gotten worse and worse," said Nolas, who believes Wuornos is too mentally ill to comprehend what dropping her appeals and seeking death will mean.

"She is a like a kid," Nolas said, adding that she pouts and stomps around and doesn't want to deal with difficult situations. Nolas, who refers to Wuornos as "Lee," said he believes Mallory raped Wuornos and that pushed her over the edge. Information on Mallory's prior history of sexual assault was withheld from defense attorneys, he said "Before that, she had no history of physical violence," Nolas said.

When she was convicted on Jan. 27, 1992, she shouted at the jury, "I'm innocent. I was raped! I hope you get raped! Scumbags of America!" Two days later the jury recommended the death penalty, and the judge sentenced her the next day to die.

In April, after a hearing in Daytona Beach, the Florida Supreme Court agreed to allow Wuornos to fire her attorneys and stop her appeals. "I am a serial killer. I would kill again," Wuornos testified at the hearing.

For years, Wuornos claimed she shot the men out of self-defense while being raped and sodomized. Later, she recanted her claims and in a letter to the Florida Supreme Court wrote, "I'm one who seriously hates human life and would kill again." Wuornos said wanted to come clean and make peace with God. "I wanted to clear all the lies and let the truth come out. I have hate crawling through my system," Wuornos said.

Fort Lauderdale lawyer Raag Singhal wrote a letter to the state Supreme Court last month expressing "grave doubts" about Wuornos' mental condition. Gov. Jeb Bush ordered a mental exam, which took place last week.

Tanner, who watched the exam, said she was agitated with both Singhal and Bush for putting her through another mental evaluation. He said Wuornos was cognizant and lucid during the 30-minute interview. Tanner has no doubts that she was responsible for the killings. "She knew exactly what she was doing," Tanner said. "She is pretty bright, very quick and very deliberate - even now." When she was asked about the killings at her competency exam, Tanner said the former prostitute replied, "I really got tired of it all. I was angry about the johns."

Wuornos was raised by her grandparents. Her mother abandoned her when she was an infant and her father, a convicted child molester, committed suicide in prison. By age 14, she was pregnant, claiming to have been raped. She was forced to give up the child and was turning tricks at age 15. At the time of the her arrest, she was living in a $200-a month apartment with her girlfriend, Tyria Moore, who testified against her at her murder trial. Some of their income came from pawning goods stolen from the murdered men.

If Wuornos is executed, she will join Judy Buenoano as the only women Florida has killed since resuming the death penalty in 1976. Fifty-one men have been executed by Florida during that span. Buenoano died March 30, 1998, in the electric chair for the poisoning death of her husband, Air Force Sgt. James Goodyear. She is one of nine women executed nationwide since 1984.

Wuornos' execution would follow by one week the death of Rigoberto Sanchez-Velasco, who was lethally injected last Wednesday for the rape and strangulation of an 11-year-old Hialeah girl. He also was convicted in the stabbing deaths of two death row inmates. The death warrants for Wuornos and Sanchez-Velasco were signed while the state Supreme Court continues to review whether a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in an Arizona case would apply to Florida's 369 death row inmates. The high court ruled that only juries and not judges can sentence inmates to death. In Florida, juries make a recommendation to the trial judge, who imposes the sentence.


"Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story." Synopsis: TV drama first aired on CBS on Tuesday, August 28th, 1994 about the highly publicized case of the nation's first convicted female serial killer. (Jean Smart as Aileen Wuornos, Park Overall as Tyria Moore, Directed by Peter Levin)

Bay Area Reporter

"Opera Goes Activist: Carla Lucero's 'Wuornos' Takes Pity on a Battered Woman," by Mark Mardon (June 21, 2001).

Suddenly opera is enjoying a Renaissance among young composers and audiences. Once the art form seemed nearly moribund, an anachronistic form of musical theater in which bloated singers sang bloated roles in overworked, worn-out old warhorses. Now, in a daring departure from the stodgy past, composer and librettist Carla Lucero - one of the very few women composers in the history of opera - has created the politically and socially charged opera Wuornos - a full-scale opera to be premiered Friday at Yerba Buena Center as part of the National Queer Arts Festival.

The ambitious production tackles head-on the issue of men committing violence against women in America. It zeros in on one particular woman - convicted serial murderer Eileen Wuornos, a prostitute who worked along Florida highways and who now awaits her fate on death row - who her defenders say was provoked to the point of striking back hard, not just once, but seven times. This is not the usual stuff of opera. Think of Verdi's Aďda, with its splendid setting in ancient Egypt and plot involving an Ethiopian slave and the commander of the Egyptian army; or Bizet's Carmen, which occurs in Spain of yore, entangling a gypsy cigarette girl with a corporal and a handsome matador; or Puccini's Tosca, in which a devout Italian girl crosses paths with an escaped political prisoner and a savage police chief, and ends up dispatching the cop with a knife. Again and again around the world, these magnificent museum pieces have played to audiences that, far from welcoming innovation, insist upon upholding tradition.

This is the modern age, however, and the operatic nerve seems to have been struck in a number of young composers who insist on taking liberties that shock the blue bloods but warm the cockles of New Music enthusiasts. The results, so far, are encouraging: witness the recent smash success of Erling Wold's Queer, a chamber opera based on the William Burroughs novel. Now comes Carla Lucero, a lesbian forging new ground in an artistic territory heretofore dominated by men. Before she relocated to the Bay Area, where she had the good fortune to become AIRspace artist-in-residence at the Jon Sims Center for the Arts (then under the direction of Lauren Hewitt, now the producer of Wuornos), Lucero lived and composed in L.A., working with Collage Dance Theater, scoring for films and videos, and studying Music Composition at the California Institute of the Arts. She's young, and hugely ambitious, and hugely talented, and a host of equally talented, ambitious people have lined up to support her in her endeavor, including acclaimed soprano Kristin Norderval in the lead role as Wuornos, musical director Mary Chun, who conducts the Opera Ensemble of SF, and director Joseph Graves, a veteran of more than 36 shows in this country and in Great Britain.

Hooking up with the Jon Sims Center changed Lucero's life, and will likely have ripple effects in the opera world for some time to come. Her opera could even make waves, but whether that happens depends on how many people are willing to give her a chance to present her case, and what kind of mood they're in. One thing is certain: the opera must fly on its artistic merits. If it relies too heavily on its social message to make an impact, it may be doomed to early retirement. The balance to be struck is one of high-minded social activism versus art for its own sake. In today's capitalist world, art with a conscience doesn't sell particularly well. The right balance can be achieved, but it will take uncommon effort - the kind that comes from the will of a woman determined to use opera to tell a tragic story.

In the Wuornos prologue, Aileen Wuornos (Norderval) retrieves a gun from its hiding place and says: "If I am damned, who is forgiven?" The question is one Lucero has pondered and seems to want to answer, and the result, judging from the opera's synopsis (, is something of a morality play, with Wuornos as the tragic innocent.

As the curtain opens on Act I, Wuornos stands upon a balcony, watching a media circus take place as reporters talk excitedly among themselves about murdered men found in the woods off a Florida highway. She taunts them, though they can't hear her, then recalls her horrible childhood: "A flashback reveals Aileen's teenage mother and abusive father in their home. Her mother is desperate. She makes the decision to escape, fleeing to the home of her parents (Aileen's grandparents). Aileen's grandmother is an alcoholic and her grandfather is disturbingly distant. Aileen's mother convinces her reluctant parents to take the baby Aileen." Already, the sociological line Lucero is taking in the Wuornos case is clear. Serial murderess Aileen Wuornos is a product of her rotten environment. We dare not judge her without judging the society that put her in the position of having to kill - repeatedly - in self defense. So her defenders, including Lucero, insist.

Who, in fact, is Aileen Wuornos? Some of the answer can be found in the many newspaper accounts of Wuornos' crime spree and subsequent trial and imprisonment. The most visual/visceral way to get into the heart of the story is to view Nick Broomfield's fascinating, well-made but hopelessly biased 1992 documentary, Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer. Looking at the wild array of loony characters in Wuornos' life - including the lesbian lover who betrayed her, the hippie lawyer who prodded her to plead guilty, and the "nice" Christian lady who adopted the imprisoned Wuornos - you can't help but feel sympathy for the Aileen, and see your way to forgiving her for doing in seven tricks who done her wrong. Clearly she was hanging with a wacky and dangerous crowd, in the context of which her own murderous instincts seem forgivable. After all, she didn't choose her rotten life, it was chosen for her. In the build-up for Wuornos, including well-received sneak-peaks during the past year, many lesbians in San Francisco have begun discussing Wuornos, both the woman and the political and social issues underlying the opera.

In one meeting at the Women's Building, two or three dozen women viewed the Broomfield documentary, then formed a circle with their chairs to speak their minds. Soon they were discussing the merits of using "psychodrama" as a way for women inmates to tell their stories as a way of saving their own lives. Medea Project director and talented performer Rhodessa Jones was there. So was Norma Hotaling, founder and director of SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation), a nonprofit organization in San Francisco which helps ex-prostitutes heal traumas and live healthy lives. The moderator put out questions about Wuornos, and the women responded with enormous passion and compassion for the woman's suffering, and anger at those who forced her hand.

At the same time, they raised questions about the opera - not about its quality, which received wildly enthusiastic raves from those who had seen it in previews, but about its authenticity. Whose story is it? Is it the true story of Aileen Wuornos, or Lucero's conception of Wuornos. Of course it's the latter, and Lucero has put together a compelling libretto that promises a great operatic opening night. But does the real Aileen Wuornos, in her cell on death row, even know the opera is taking place? Lucero replies she wrote twice asking Wuornos' blessing, but received no response. Instead, she relied for her impressions in large part on personal letters from Wuornos that came into her possession from an intermediary. "What struck me was the child-like innocence," Lucero told the women in the circle, adding that the eventual hardness in Wuornos took over as a protective measure. "I've been more than responsible with the story," said Lucero, then reiterated, just for good measure: "Having the letters confirmed my perception of her character, her child-like innocence." And that, dear opera lovers, is how larger-than-life characters are born.


The Résumé
Aileen Wuornos

Occupation: Serial Killer
Born: February 29, 1956
Birth name was Aileen Pittman
Born in Rochester Michigan
Convicted Woman Serial Killer

Why might be annoying: She was a prostitute with an extensive rap sheet before she was ever a suspect in any murder investigation. She had an out-of-wedlock child at age 15. She was suspected of at least seven murders between November 30, 1989 and January 9, 1991. On May 7, 1992 she was sentenced to die in Florida's electric chair in four of the six cases she confessed to police. Her girlfriend, Tyria Moore, set her up by cooperating with authorities and got a taped confession from her. She claimed to have had sex with her brother, Keith, at a young age (he died of throat cancer in 1976). He left her a $10,000 life insurance policy that she promptly spent on luxury items and a car she totaled shortly after purchase. She claims all her murders were in self-defense because she claimed the men who paid her for sex ended up raping her. She is nicknamed the I-75 killer because she hitchhiked along that stretch of Interstate and most of her victims were found near their cars parked on I-75 with multiple gunshot wounds. Within two weeks of her arrest, she and her attorney had sold movie rights to her story. At the same time, three top investigators on her case retained their own lawyer to field offers from Hollywood, cringing with embarrassment when their unseemly haste to profit on the case was publicly revealed.

Why might not be annoying: Her teenage parents separated months before she was born, father Leo Pittman moving on to serve time in Kansas and Michigan mental hospitals as a deranged child-molester. Mother Diane recalls Aileen and her older brother Keith as crying, unhappy babies, and their racket prompted her to leave them with her parents, Lauri and Britta Wuornos, in early 1960. At age six, she suffered scarring facial burns while she and Keith were setting fires with lighter fluid. After her grandmother died her grandfather threatened to kill her and her brother if they weren't removed from his house, so at age 15 she became a ward of the court. She soon dropped out of school and started hooking. Defenders and Florida prosecutors alike had failed to unearth any criminal record for Richard Mallory, her first victim, that would substantiate Aileen's claim of rape and assault. But a newspaper reporter had no apparent difficulty finding out that Mallory had served ten years for a violent rape in another state, facts easily obtained by checking his name through the FBI's computer network. She is in an elite group. Less than 3% of convicted serial killers are women.

Credit: Tim Howard


"Wuornos," by Carla Lucero. World Premiere June 21-24, 2001. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, California. (Synopsis, Cast of Characters, Cast Bios, Creative Team, Producers, Promotional services, Press Info)

Wuornos v. State of Florida, 19 Fla. Law W. S 455 (September 22, 1994). (Mallory)


We have on appeal the judgment and sentence of the trial court imposing the death penalty upon Aileen Carol Wuornos. We have jurisdiction. Art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const.

On December 1, 1989, a deputy in Volusia County discovered an abandoned vehicle belonging to Richard Mallory. His body was found December 13, several miles away in a wooded area. Mallory had been shot several times, but two bullets to the left lung were found to have caused hemorrhaging and ultimately death. The medical examiner also determined that Mallory had been drinking at the time of his death, though it was not clear whether he was legally intoxicated.

Tyria Moore and Aileen Wuornos lived together as lovers for about four and a half years. Moore worked as a maid, while Wuornos worked as a prostitute along Central Florida highways. Wuornos drank substantial amounts of alcoholic drink while working as a prostitute and at other times, and she also carried a gun for protection.

On December 1, 1989, after several days working along the roadways, Wuornos returned to a Volusia County motel where she and Moore were living. Wuornos was intoxicated and told Moore that she had shot and killed a man early that morning. She said she sorted through the man's things, keeping some, discarding others. Wuornos said she abandoned the man's car near Ormond Beach, and left his body in a wooded area.

Several months later, Moore began seeing media reports that law officers were looking for two women suspected of being involved in a series of murders. Moore became afraid, left Wuornos, and returned to her home up north. Florida law officers later contacted her in Pennsylvania, and Moore agreed to return to Florida in an attempt to clear herself of any wrongdoing. Moore then tried to extract a confession from Wuornos, ultimately succeeding.

Wuornos gave taped confessions to a Volusia sheriff's investigator. When she first indicated she wanted to talk to law officers, she also expressed a desire to speak with an attorney. A lawyer from the public defender's office was summoned, who strongly advised Wuornos against confessing both before and during her comments to law officers. She stated that she did not want to follow her attorney's advice and then made her confession.

The different statements Wuornos made, however, are inconsistent with each other on major points. In the earliest confession to law officers, Wuornos said that Mallory picked her up while she was hitchhiking, and they later went into a secluded wooded area to engage in an act of prostitution. She and Mallory then began disagreeing because he wanted to have sex after only unzipping his pants. Wuornos said she felt Mallory was going to "roll her" (take her money) and rape her. At this point, she grabbed a bag in which she kept a gun, and the two began struggling over possession of the bag.

Wuornos said she prevailed, pointed the gun at Mallory, and said: "You son of a bitch, I knew you were going to rape me." Wuornos said that Mallory responded: "No, I wasn't. No, I wasn't."

At this point, Wuornos told law officers she shot Mallory at least once while he still was sitting behind the steering wheel. Mallory then crawled out the driver's side and shut the car door. At some point he was able to stand again. Wuornos said she ran around to the front of the car and shot Mallory again, which caused him to fall to the ground. While he was lying there, Wuornos said she shot him twice more, then went through his pockets, and finally concealed the body beneath a scrap of rug. Later, she drove off in the victim's car.

Wuornos also told law officers she had given Moore inconsistent stories about what had happened. In one version, Wuornos stated she told Moore that she had found a dead body hidden under a scrap of rug in the woods. In another, she confessed to the killing.

Wuornos' confession changed considerably in later versions. Wuornos later said she had offered to perform an act of prostitution with Mallory and that he then drove to an isolated area. There, the two drank, smoked marijuana, and talked for about five hours. Wuornos described herself as "drunk royal." Around 5 a.m., Wuornos disrobed to perform the act of prostitution. She asked Mallory to remove his clothes, but he said he only wanted to unzip his pants and didn't have enough money to pay her fee. Wuornos said she then went to retrieve her clothes, but Mallory whipped a cord around her neck and threatened to kill her "like the other sluts I've done." He then tied her hands to the steering wheel, Wuornos said.

According to Wuornos's later version of the case, Mallory violently raped her vaginally and anally, and took pleasure from Wuornos' cries of pain. Afterward, she said that Mallory cleaned blood from his penis with rubbing alcohol, then squirted alcohol onto her torn and bloody rectum and vagina.

Wuornos said Mallory eventually untied her and told her to lie down. Believing he intended to kill her, Wuornos said she began to struggle. Mallory, she said, told her, "You're dead, bitch. You're dead." At this juncture, Wuornos said she found her purse and removed her gun. Mallory grabbed her hand, and the two began fighting for the gun's possession. Wuornos won the fight, then shot Mallory. Wuornos said Mallory kept coming at her despite her warnings, so she shot him two more times.

Wuornos also confessed that she took some of Mallory's property and pawned it. Some of his property later was found in a rented warehouse unit used by Wuornos. More than a year later, she took the murder weapon and threw it into Rose Bay south of the motel where she was staying at the time. Moore later showed law officers where to find the gun. Grooves in the gun were similar to markings found on the fatal bullets, though an expert testified that the particular grooves were fairly common and could be found in other weapons.

Wuornos said that she had begun her career as a prostitute at age 16. At about age 20, she settled in Florida, and began working as a highway prostitute at least four days of the week. Her job was dangerous, she said. On some occasions she had been maced, beaten, and raped by customers.

At trial, the State was allowed to introduce similar crimes evidence about Wuornos' alleged involvement in several other murders. These were:

Humphreys. On September 12, 1990, officers in Marion County found the body of Charles Richard Humphreys. The body was fully clothed, and had been shot six times in the head and torso. Humphreys' car was found in Suwannee County.

Siems. In June 1990, Peter Siems left Jupiter, Florida, heading for New Jersey. Law officers later found Siems' car in Orange Springs on July 4, 1990. Witnesses identified Tyria Moore and Aileen Wuornos as the two persons seen leaving the car where it ultimately was found. A palm print on the interior door handle matched that of Wuornos. Siems' body has never been found.

Antonio. On November 19, 1990, the body of Walter Jeno Antonio was found near a remote logging road in Dixie County. His body was nearly nude, and had been shot four times in the back and head. Law officers found Antonio's car five days later in Brevard County.

Burress. On August 4, 1990, law officers found the body of Troy Burress in a wooded area along State Road 19 in Marion County. The body was substantially decomposed, but evidence showed it had been shot twice.

Spears. On June 1, 1990, officers discovered the body of David Spears in a remote area in Southwest Citrus County. Except for a baseball cap, Spears was nude. He had died of six bullet wounds to the torso.

Carskaddon. On June 6, 1990, officers discovered the body of Charles Carskaddon in Pasco County. The medical examiner found nine small caliber bullets in his lower chest and upper abdomen.

For the five bodies that were recovered, the bullets all bore similar characteristics. As noted above, the grooving pattern was fairly common and could have come from weapons other than the one Wuornos used. A variety of items that once belonged to Mallory were traced to Wuornos. A camera from Mallory's automobile was found inside the rented warehouse unit, which was opened with a key taken from Wuornos' possession. Wuornos had rented the unit under an alias. Other items from Mallory's car had been pawned or given away to others by Wuornos.

The trial jury found Wuornos guilty of first-degree murder and armed robbery with a firearm. Her penalty phase commenced January 28, 1992. Three defense psychologists concluded that Wuornos suffered borderline personality disorder at the time of her crime, resulting in extreme mental or emotional disturbance. The psychologists said her ability to conform her conduct to the requirements of the law was substantially impaired, and that Wuornos exhibited evidence of brain damage.

One expert, Dr. Krop, testified that Wuornos lacked impulse control and had impaired cognition. Dr. Toomer said that Wuornos believed she was in imminent danger at the time of the murder, and that the remorse she exhibited revealed she did not suffer antisocial personality disorder. The State's expert psychologist, Dr. Bernard, agreed that Wuornos had borderline personality disorder, but also found that she suffered antisocial personality disorder. Dr. Bernard also agreed that she had an impaired capacity and mental disturbance at the time of the crime, but believed the impairment was not substantial and the disturbance was not extreme. Dr. Bernard agreed there was evidence of nonstatutory mitigating evidence including Wuornos' mental difficulties, alcoholism, disturbance, and genetic or environmental deficits.

In the penalty phase, the defense introduced evidence about Wuornos' background. Her parents were divorced when she was born, and her biological father hanged himself in prison, where he was serving time for rape and kidnapping. Her mother abandoned her, and Wuornos was adopted by her grandparents. However, her grandfather was an alcoholic, and later committed suicide. Her grandmother also drank a good deal and died of a liver disorder. Wuornos' brother died of cancer at age 21.

During junior high, Wuornos began exhibiting hearing loss, vision problems, and trouble in school. Her IQ was established at 81, in the low dull-normal range. School officials urged that Wuornos receive counseling and tried to improve her behavior by administering a mild tranquilizer. At about age 14, Wuornos was raped by a family friend. She waited six months before revealing that she was pregnant, and her grandparents blamed her for the pregnancy. Her grandfather later forced her to give up the child for adoption.

Some evidence indicated that Wuornos' life with her grandparents was physically and verbally abusive. Wuornos left home, but when she tried to return her grandfather refused to take her back. She then went onto the streets and began a life of prostitution and alcohol and drug abuse. The State introduced a rebuttal witness as to Wuornos' background. Wuornos biological uncle (also her adoptive brother), Barry Wuornos, said that his family had a "normal lifestyle" and was a "straight and narrow family." Barry acknowledged that his father (Aileen's biological grandfather) "laid down rules" but was someone you could look up to. Barry said he never saw his father beat Aileen, although the girl sometimes was spanked; and the discipline may have become more "tight" when Aileen was around 10 years of age. Barry agreed that Aileen's biological father was abusive and "a criminal-type."

The jury recommended death by a vote of 12 to 0. The trial court found five aggravating circumstances and one mitigating factor, then sentenced Wuornos to death on the murder charge and ten years for the armed robbery. The aggravating factors were: (1) Wuornos previously had been convicted of a felony involving the use or threat or violence (a 1982 robbery conviction): (2) The murder was committed during a robbery; (3) murder committed to avoid arrest; (4) The murder was heinous, atrocious, or cruel; and (5) The murder was cold, calculated, and premeditated, without pretense of moral or legal justification. The mitigating factor found by the trial court was that Wuornos suffered borderline personality disorder.

As her first issue, Wuornos argues that certain information and documents were withheld from her during pretrial discovery, contrary to the rule of law in Richardson v. State, 246 So.2d 771 (Fla. 1971), and its progeny. Wuornos contends that she was not told that law officers had interviewed and taped a conversation with Jacqueline Davis, Mallory's girlfriend. Wuornos believes that this testimony would have established a prior violent disposition toward women when Mallory was in his late teens.

The record, however, sufficiently supports the conclusion that Davis's name and her taped statement had been furnished to Wuornos' original defense team within the time limits of the Richardson rule.*fn2 In any event, the trial court allowed the defense to proffer Davis's testimony: Other than hearsay, Davis stated that to her personal knowledge Mallory always had been gentle toward women. Moreover, after the proffer of Davis's testimony, the defense chose to rest its case and not call Davis to the stand in the presence of the jury. This happened even though the trial court said it would permit her to testify within the requirements of the evidence code. We conclude that there was no actual discovery violation with regard to Davis's testimony, and hence there was no need for a Richardson hearing.

On a related point, Wuornos argues that law enforcement witnesses brought to the witness stand notes outlining their recollection of the events surrounding the murder investigation. These notes were afforded to defense counsel immediately prior to the testimony in question. Wuornos concludes that this procedure also violates Richardson. We find that it does not. The notes in question constitute the kind of "reports" or "summaries" mentioned in State v. Gillespie, 227 So.2d 550, 556 (Fla. 2d DCA 1969), which are not discoverable unless and until they actually are used to refresh a witness's memory at trial.

Wuornos also complains that she was not afforded proper pretrial discovery regarding evidence the State intended to introduce pursuant to the rule of law established in Williams v. State, 110 So.2d 654 (Fla.), cert. denied, 361 U.S. 847, 80 S. Ct. 102, 4 L. Ed. 2d 86 (1959). This evidence related to some of the other murders with which Wuornos was charged. On this point, the trial court concluded that Wuornos' counsel either had been afforded the discovery in question or had failed to exercise opportunities to review or copy the materials. The record provides sufficient support for this conclusion. While Richardson affords much to the defense, it does not mean the State must perform the defense's discovery for it. In sum, we find no discovery violation here that would have required a Richardson hearing in the first instance.

Second, Wuornos argues that the extensive Williams rule evidence presented by the State unlawfully prejudiced her case. While it may be true that similar crimes evidence should not be used if it amounts to needless "overkill," see United States v. Beechum, 582 F.2d 898 (5th Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 440 U.S. 920, 99 S. Ct. 1244, 59 L. Ed. 2d 472 (1979), we cannot say that such was the case here. Wuornos' own testimony at trial portrayed her as the actual victim here. She claimed Mallory viciously abused her and then engaged in actions suggesting he intended to kill her. This was the only eye-witness testimony of the actual murder and, within itself at least, was consistent.*fn3 Had the jury believed this testimony, it might have concluded that Wuornos lacked premeditated intent and thus should be convicted of some lesser degree of homicide or acquitted.

In other words, the State relied on the similar crimes evidence to rebut Wuornos' claims regarding her level of intent and whether she had acted in self-defense. This was a proper purpose under the Williams rule. Williams v. State, 621 So.2d 413 (Fla. 1993); Goldstein v. State, 447 So.2d 903, 906 (Fla. 4th DCA 1984); Villar v. State, 441 So.2d 1181 (Fla. 4th DCA 1983), review denied, 451 So.2d 851 (Fla. 1984).

We also do not agree with Wuornos' contention that the nature of the similar crimes evidence was so disturbing that its relevance was outweighed by the potential for prejudice. See § 90.404(2)(a), Fla. Stat. (1989). All evidence of a crime, including that regarding the murder in question, "prejudices" the defense case. The real question is whether that prejudice is so unfair that it should be deemed unlawful. We cannot say that this was the case here. The nature of the various crimes was relevant in establishing a pattern of similarities among the homicides. This, in turn, was relevant to the State's theory of premeditation and to rebut Wuornos' claim that she was the one attacked first. Relevance clearly outweighs prejudice here; and the similar crimes evidence was fair within the requirements of the law.

Wuornos urges that the Williams rule evidence here also contained improper victim impact material. This included information about the religious activities of some victims, and the fact that one victim was a retired police officer, among other details. While some of the evidence at first blush may appear to have exceeded what is proper under Burns v. State, 609 So.2d 600 (Fla. 1992), we also find that any possible error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt in light of the entire record. This is true as to both the guilt and penalty phases. Id. at 606-07. Much of the information was anecdotal material associated with matters that clearly were relevant. Other details, such as the religious activities of one victim, were directly relevant because one of Wuornos' confessions identified one victim as "the Christian guy." When a confession opens the door to such information about the victim, there is no Burns violation.

As her third issue, Wuornos contends that law officers improperly tricked her into confessing and in doing so also violated her right to counsel. It is true that Wuornos' former lover, Tyria Moore, encouraged Wuornos to confess and did so in part because of Moore's own fears of being prosecuted as an accomplice. The exchanges between Wuornos and Moore may have contained misstatements and exaggerations by both parties, but this is consistent with the emotional nature of the exchanges. Viewed as a whole, we cannot agree that Wuornos' will was overborne by any official misconduct. She freely waived her rights and confessed, contrary to advice of counsel both before and during the first confession and later. For the same reason, there was no violation of her right to counsel. See Traylor v. State, 596 So.2d 957 (Fla. 1992).

Fourth, Wuornos contends that the trial court improperly denied a change of venue and allowed jurors to be chosen contrary to law. We disagree. The record shows that the parties were able to select jurors who all agreed that any pretrial publicity would not bias them and would not interfere with their ability to honor the trial court's instructions. We find that this was legally sufficient, and that the denial of the request for a change of venue was within the trial court's discretion. There also was no error in denying the excusal of several jurors for cause. All indicated they could abide by the trial court's instructions to the degree required by law. See Walls v. State, 19 Fla. Law Weekly S377 (Fla. July 7, 1994).

As her fifth issue, Wuornos argues several errors in the penalty phase. She contends that the jury was not properly instructed on improper "doubling" of the aggravating factors of murder committed for pecuniary gain and murder committed during a robbery. It is true that our subsequent opinion in Castro v. State, 597 So.2d 259 (Fla. 1992), requires such an instruction. However, we find that Castro was intended to have prospective effect only, as we have held in analogous contexts.*fn4 See Gilliam v. State, 582 So.2d 610, 612 (Fla. 1991), decision reaffirmed by Groover v. State, 19 Fla. L. Weekly S249 (Fla. May 5, 1994). Thus, we find no reversible error in light of the fact that the trial court's sentencing order properly avoided doubling.

Next, Wuornos challenges the trial court's instruction regarding cold, calculated premeditation. We recently held the standard instruction on this aggravator invalid. Jackson v. State, 19 Fla. L. Weekly S215 (Fla. April 21, 1994). That instruction also was given here, over defense objections. However, in Walls we held that the error is harmless if the murder could only have been cold, calculated, and premeditated without any pretense of moral or legal justification even if the proper instruction had been given. Walls, 19 Fla. L. Weekly at S378 (citing State v. DiGuilio, 491 So.2d 1129 (Fla. 1986)). We therefore must consider whether the four elements of cold, calculated premeditation were sufficiently established here.

The first element is that the murder was "cold." Jackson, 19 Fla. L. Weekly at S217. The State's theory of the case here, which was supported by the similar crimes evidence, was that Wuornos coldly and calmly planned this killing and did not act out of emotional frenzy, panic, or a fit of rage. We recognize that Wuornos' own testimony was to the contrary. However, judge and jury were entitled to reject that testimony as self-serving, unbelievable in light of Wuornos' constantly changing confessions, contrary to the facts that could be inferred from the similar crimes evidence, or contrary to other facts adduced at trial. Walls, 19 Fla. L. Weekly at S378. Thus, the record establishes coldness to the requisite degree.

The second element is that the murder was the product of a careful plan or prearranged design to commit murder before the fatal incident. Jackson, 19 Fla. L. Weekly at S217 (quoting Rogers v. State, 511 So.2d 526, 533 (Fla. 1987), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1020, 108 S. Ct. 733, 98 L. Ed. 2d 681 (1988)). On this question, the State's theory of the case was that Wuornos had armed herself in advance, lured her victim to an isolated location, and proceeded to kill him so she could steal his belongings. By definition, this sequence only could be the product of a careful plan or prearranged design. Judge and jury would be within their discretion in rejecting Wuornos' testimony to the contrary, so this element also exists and is sufficiently supported by the record.

The third element is that there must be "heightened premeditation" over and above what is required for unaggravated first-degree murder. Walls, 19 Fla. L. Weekly at S379. We have found this factor present when the prevailing theory of the case established "deliberate ruthlessness" in committing the murder. Id. at S379. The State's theory of the case, especially that relying on the similar crimes evidence and Wuornos' initial confession, established this type of heightened premeditation to the degree required by law. Accordingly, the third element exists here.

The fourth and final element is that the murder must have no pretense of moral or legal justification. Jackson, 19 Fla. L. Weekly at S217 (quoting Banda v. State, 536 So.2d 221, 224-25 (Fla. 1988), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1087, 109 S. Ct. 1548, 103 L. Ed. 2d 852 (1989)). A "pretense" of the type required here is any colorable claim based at least partly on uncontroverted and believable factual evidence or testimony that, but for its incompleteness, would constitute an excuse, justification, or defense as to the homicide. Walls, 19 Fla. L. Weekly at S379 (footnote omitted). An incomplete claim of self-defense would fall within this definition provided it is uncontroverted and believable. Id. at S379 (citing Christian v. State, 550 So.2d 450 (Fla. 1989), cert. denied, 494 U.S. 1028, 110 S. Ct. 1475, 108 L. Ed. 2d 612 (1990)); Cannady v. State, 427 So.2d 723 (Fla. 1983). While Wuornos' factual testimony advanced an incomplete self-defense claim, we believe that claim was largely controverted by the facts of the murder and the similar crimes evidence together with the items of property Wuornos had taken from her various victims, including Mallory.

Moreover, that testimony also could be rejected as self-serving, untrustworthy in light of Wuornos' inconsistent statements, or inconsistent with the facts--questions that go to the believability of the testimony. Accordingly, the finders of fact would have been entitled to reject the claim and conclude that there was no pretense of moral or legal justification here, which is sufficiently supported by the record.

For these reasons, we conclude that the facts surrounding Wuornos' crime would have established cold, calculated premeditation under any definition. Therefore, the error in not giving the Jackson instruction is harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Walls, 19 Fla. L. Weekly at S379.

Wuornos also argues that the trial court erred in instructing the jury on the factor of murder committed while engaged in the commission of a robbery. She contends the evidence does not support giving the instruction. We disagree. At the very least a jury question existed, in part because items once belonging to Mallory were found in Wuornos' warehouse unit or had been pawned or given away by her. The similar crimes evidence, moreover, tended to bolster the State's theory of the case, which judge and jury clearly believed. We find that a proper jury question existed, which made the instruction proper. Next, Wuornos states that the jury should not have been instructed on the factor of witness elimination. We disagree. A law officer testified that Wuornos confessed that she wanted Mallory to die because she could not afford to be arrested, which would have resulted in her inability to continue working as a prostitute. As a result, a jury question existed as to whether witness elimination was a dominant motive for the killing. Walls, 19 Fla. L. Weekly at S379-80.

Wuornos also objects to the instruction on the factor of heinous, atrocious, or cruel, although she concedes that the reformulated instruction was given here. We have upheld the use of that instruction, Walls, 19 Fla. L. Weekly at S378, and do so again here today. Also, the evidence on this factor clearly meant that a question existed to be resolved by the finder of fact, especially in light of the inconsistent confessions made by Wuornos and the similar crimes evidence. Next, Wuornos contends that the trial court improperly permitted the State to introduce evidence reflecting a lack of remorse by the defendant. One guilt-phase witness stated that Wuornos had laughed while discussing the murder and had said she sometimes felt guilty, and sometimes felt happy, about the murder. However, these ambivalent statements were part of yet another confession Wuornos gave to an officer, which clearly was admissible.*fn5 The fact that a defendant has confessed in a way that can be construed as showing a lack of remorse does not give rise to error, without more. Likewise, in the penalty phase Wuornos argues that the State asked a defense expert whether Wuornos had shown guilt or a conscience with respect to the murder. The expert answered no, because Wuornos felt she had acted in self-defense. This testimony, however, was part of the State's effort to show that Wuornos suffered an antisocial personality disorder, meaning she lacked a conscience. Moreover, this testimony was introduced to rebut the defense's contention that Wuornos suffered only from a "borderline personality" disorder that would explain why Wuornos did not subjectively "lie" in her various inconsistent confessions, among other reasons. Once the defense argues the existence of mitigators, the State has a right to rebut through any means permitted by the rules of evidence,*fn6 and the defense will not be heard to complain otherwise. There was no error.

Next, Wuornos alleges that the trial court improperly allowed the State during the penalty phase to introduce evidence of Wuornos' collateral murders. This occurred after a defense expert testified that Wuornos' borderline personality disorder explained why her inconsistent confessions should not be considered "lying" or "changing stories." The State then asked the expert whether, for example, the serious inconsistencies in Wuornos' statements about the Carskaddon murder indicated at least some deliberate untruthfulness. The expert said he could not answer the question and that Wuornos' actions may or may not be indicative of truthfulness, in light of her borderline personality disorder. We find that the defense opened the door to this line of questioning by calling witnesses who testified essentially that Wuornos was not "lying" in a subjective sense because of borderline personality disorder. There was no error in the State's cross-examination. Moreover, the defense experts' vision of psychological science may include the fine distinctions they drew, but the law does not necessarily require the same conclusion. In gauging admissibility in this context, the trial court need be concerned only with the fact that inconsistent statements were made; it is for the finder of fact to determine what motivated the inconsistency. To that end, qualified experts certainly should be permitted to testify on the question, but the finder of fact is not necessarily required to accept the testimony. As we stated in Walls, even uncontroverted opinion testimony can be rejected, and especially where it is hard to square with the other evidence at hand, as was the case here. Walls, 19 Fla. L. Weekly at S380 & n.8.

Next, Wuornos contends that the jury's role was improperly diminished by jury instructions and prosecutorial comments. This issue was waived for lack of a proper objection and, even if not waived, would be meritless. Combs v. State, 525 So.2d 853 (Fla. 1988); Grossman v. State, 525 So.2d 833 (Fla. 1988), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1071, 109 S. Ct. 1354, 103 L. Ed. 2d 822 (1989). Wuornos also argues the State committed various forms of prosecutorial misconduct in the penalty phase. They are that the prosecutor: (a) improperly argued the presence of the pecuniary gain aggravator along with the aggravating factor of murder committed during a robbery; (b) misstated the burden of proof regarding heightened premeditation; (c) improperly argued lack of remorse; (d) improperly diminished the importance of nonstatutory aggravating factors, either factually or legally; (e) improperly argued sympathy should play no role in the jury's recommendation; and (f) improperly equated mental mitigators with insanity. We find all of these claims to be poorly supported by the record and of minor consequence singly or in their totality. Any error would be harmless and clearly was cured by the trial court's instructions to the jury.

Wuornos next contends that the trial court erred in not giving a variety of special instructions requested by the defense. All of these instructions went beyond the approved standard jury instructions, and there was no obligation for the judge to give any of them. See Walls.

As her sixth point, Wuornos argues that the trial court erred in imposing the death penalty based on allegedly invalid aggravators, and without considering valid mitigators. She urges, first, that there is no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that this murder was committed during a robbery. We find no error. One reasonable interpretation of the facts and testimony is that this murder was motivated by a desire to rob the victim of his car and other belongings. Wuornos' own testimony to the contrary reasonably could have been rejected as untrustworthy in light of her inconsistent statements.

Wuornos next contends that the evidence did not support the factor of witness elimination beyond a reasonable doubt. We disagree. In her initial confession to law officers, Wuornos stated that she killed to eliminate Mallory as a witness. At a minimum, this created a question for the finder of fact to resolve in light of Wuornos' later inconsistent statements. Walls, 19 Fla. L. Weekly at S378-80. The trial court resolved that question against Wuornos, and its decision to this effect is sufficiently supported by the record and cannot be set aside on appeal. On a related point, Wuornos states that cold, calculated premeditation has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. For the reasons noted earlier in this opinion, we hold to the contrary. Cold, calculated premeditation was established beyond a reasonable doubt under any definition. Walls.

Next, Wuornos contends that this murder was not heinous, atrocious, or cruel beyond a reasonable doubt. Wuornos' initial confession to law officers detailed a sequence in which she first struggled with Mallory for no reason other than his refusal to remove his clothes. After winning the struggle, she pointed the gun at him and announced that she "knew" he was going to rape her. Despite Mallory's protestation that he had no intent to rape her, she shot him anyway. Mallory still was conscious and able to walk from the car. In spite of seeing this, Wuornos then ran around to where Mallory was standing, and shot him several more times.

We believe the protracted nature of this killing together with the mental suffering it necessarily would entail created a question for the finder of fact to resolve, especially in light of the similar crimes evidence. Walls, 19 Fla. L. Weekly at S378. That question has been resolved against Wuornos, and the resolution is sufficiently supported by the record.

As to the mitigating evidence, we do agree that the trial court should have found and weighed Wuornos' alcoholism and the large and largely uncontroverted body of evidence about the difficulties Wuornos faced as a child, as well as Wuornos' suffering some degree of nonstatutory impaired capacity and mental disturbance at the time of the murder. All experts essentially agreed on these points, including the State's. However, we find no other mitigating factors that the trial court should have considered. In light of the entire record, the failure to find these non-statutory factors in mitigation is harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, because their weight is slight when compared with the case for aggravation. Even had the error been corrected, there is no possibility of any other outcome.

Seventh, Wuornos argues that the trial court should have granted a motion for judgment of acquittal. As grounds, she alleges that her testimony at trial was uncontroverted and must be accepted as true. As stated above, her testimony clearly was controverted by her own prior inconsistent statements, as supported by the similar crimes evidence and other evidence. Accordingly, the finder of fact was entitled to reject her testimony as unbelievable. There was no error here.

In her eighth and final argument, Wuornos urges this Court to find Florida's death penalty statute unconstitutional on its face or as applied. The statute clearly is constitutional, Thompson v. State, 619 So.2d 261 (Fla.), cert. denied, 114 S. Ct. 445, 126 L. Ed. 2d 378 (1993), and its application to Wuornos comported with all constitutional requirements. This argument is without merit. Moreover, we have reviewed the entire record for other errors, including cumulative error. Finding none, we hold that the judgment and sentence are affirmed. It is so ordered.

GRIMES, C.J., OVERTON, SHAW and HARDING, JJ., and McDONALD, Senior Justice, concur.

KOGAN, J., concurs specially with an opinion.

The facts here present two quite different pictures of Aileen Wuornos. One of these pictures is of a woman who has lived a horrible life of victimization, violence, and little help from anyone, who later lashed out at one of her victimizers. The other is of a cold-blooded killer who lured men to their deaths to steal their property. Because there is sufficient evidence consistent with the latter view as to this murder, the jury and trial court below clearly were within their lawful discretion in recommending and imposing the death penalty here.

In too many ways our society has yet to confront a serious problem arising from women who are forced into prostitution at a young age. Such women typically enter into prostitution as the only possible means of escaping an abusive home environment. The tragic result is that early victimization leads to even greater victimization. And once the girl becomes an adult prostitute, she is labeled a criminal and often is forced into even more crime, as the only means of supporting herself. Few escape the vicious cycle. See Report of the Florida Supreme Court Gender Bias Study Comm'n, 42 Fla. L. Rev. 803, 892-908 (1990).

Aileen Wuornos obviously is an extreme case, but her general life history itself is not rare. I agree with the majority that the similar-crimes evidence was admissible because it supported the State's theory of premeditation, and because it tended to refute Wuornos' claims relating to self-defense. There also is a question as to whether cold, calculated premeditation existed here. On this issue I believe that Wuornos' later statements to law officers and in-court testimony, viewed alone, established a colorable claim of self-defense to the extent outlined in Cannady v. State, 427 So.2d 723 (Fla. 1983). However, the believability of Wuornos' statements is seriously undermined by her initial confession and other inconsistent statements. Moreover, even if cold, calculated premeditation were disallowed, I do not believe the remaining case for aggravation could do anything but outweigh the case for mitigation here. Accordingly, I agree with the majority on this point.

Finally, some might characterize trials such as Wuornos' as social awareness cases, because Wuornos herself unquestionably has been victimized throughout her life. I am aware that some sentiment has arisen to portray Wuornos in this light. Nevertheless, "social awareness" does not dispose of the strictly legal issues, beyond which this Court must be absolutely blind. Whether Wuornos were male or female, the facts remain that the State's theory of this case is sufficiently supported by the record. Therefore, the judgment and sentence must be sustained.

Wuornos v. State of Florida, (September 21, 1995). (Carskaddon)

We have on appeal the judgment and sentence of the trial court imposing the death penalty upon Aileen C. Wuornos. We have jurisdiction. Art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla. Const.

Charles E. Carskaddon was last seen alive on May 31, 1990, when he left home on a trip to Tampa in his Cadillac. His body was found in Pasco County on June 6, 1990, in a secluded area. The remains were covered by an electric blanket and a large amount of uprooted tall grass. His vehicle and its contents were found in a separate location on June 6 or 7, 1990. At this time the car apparently was red-tagged by the Florida Highway Patrol and ultimately was towed away on June 13. Sheriff's officers later recovered it.

The body was badly decomposing when found. The medical examiner determined that Carskaddon had died of gunshot wounds. Eight ".20 caliber" bullets were recovered from the body, and the examiner testified that all eight bullets were in regions that could cause death. She could not say which was the fatal bullet. The true height and weight of Carskaddon at the time of death also could not be determined due to decomposition.

Witnesses had seen Aileen Carol Wuornos in possession of Carskaddon's car. Wuornos had pawned a gun identified as belonging to Carskaddon. She also faced charges in several similar murders involving men found dead along the highways of the Central Florida region.

At trial, Wuornos indicated her desire to plead guilty. She complained of unjust pretrial publicity and continued to claim she had killed all of her victims in self-defense. The trial court explained that a guilty plea would eliminate any possibility of relying on self-defense, but Wuornos said she wanted to plead guilty anyway. She asserted she could not get a fair trial. The trial court accepted Wuornos' plea as knowing, intelligent, and voluntary with assistance of competent counsel. A July 14, 1992, date then was set for the penalty phase of trial.

When that date arrived, defense counsel presented a letter from Dr. Harry Krop stating that Wuornos was delusional and incompetent to proceed with trial. The trial court then ordered Wuornos evaluated by Dr. Donald DeBeato and Dr. Joel Epstein. These last two found that Wuornos was competent to stand trial but that she suffered from a personality disorder. Based on these conclusions, the trial court found Wuornos competent to proceed.

In a later hearing, Wuornos informed the trial court that she intended to waive her right to a penalty-phase jury, the right to present mitigating evidence, and her right to be present. The trial court asked defense counsel what mitigating evidence would have been presented. Defense counsel indicated that there would have been arguable evidence of borderline and antisocial personality disorders, emotional distress, impaired capacity, a colorable claim of self-defense, and various nonstatutory factors.

Nevertheless, Wuornos continued to assert her desire to waive presentation of mitigating evidence. She explained that she already had five death sentences and complained that male serial killers only received about two death sentences. She said she didn't care anymore and just wanted to return to death row. Wuornos also rejected the trial court's recommendation that she allow the presentation of mitigating evidence. Based on these factors, the trial court found that Wuornos had waived her right to present mitigation, to have a trial by jury, and to be present during the penalty phase. The defense also waived any objection to the presentation of collateral crimes evidence. In aggravation, the State presented detailed information about several of the other murders and felonies for which Wuornos had been convicted.

The State urged the trial court to find three aggravating factors: prior violent felonies, murder committed during a robbery, and cold and calculated premeditation. The State waived pecuniary gain and witness elimination as possible aggravators.(1) Defense counsel presented no evidence, in keeping with his client's wishes. But he did make closing argument urging the trial court to consider the evidence already in the record of borderline and antisocial personality disorders, a troubled youth, abuse of drugs and alcohol, being lured into prostitution at an early age, and other factors.

At sentencing, Wuornos complained vehemently and profanely about mistreatment. The trial court ultimately threatened to bind and gag her unless she remained quiet, but she was permitted to address the court. In her statement, Wuornos again complained about the sensationalized publicity surrounding her case and asserted she had acted in self-defense.

The trial court found all three aggravating factors asserted by the State. As to mitigating evidence, the trial court found that none existed, either statutory or nonstatutory, and that even if mitigators existed, the case for mitigation was minimal in comparison with the case for aggravation. The trial court specifically rejected Wuornos' claim of self-defense, then sentenced her to death.

* * * * * Having independently reviewed the record for other errors and finding none, the judgment and sentences are affirmed. It is so ordered.

Wuornos v. State of Florida, 1996.FL.545 (May 9, 1996). (Antonio)

On November 18, 1990, sixty-two-year-old Walter Antonio left Cocoa, Florida, for Montgomery, Alabama. The next day his nude body was found in a wooded area north of Cross City, Florida. Evidence showed he had been shot four times in the back with a .22 caliber gun.

Law officers eventually arrested Aileen Carol Wuornos on charges of murdering and robbing Antonio. In a confession, Wuornos said she was engaging in roadside prostitution when she was picked up by Antonio. She asked him if she could "make some money," and he agreed. The pair then proceeded to an isolated wooded area.

At this point Wuornos said Antonio pulled out a false police badge and said he could arrest her but would not do so if she had sex with him for free. Wuornos said she challenged him, contending he was not a law officer. He kept on making his demand for sex, she said, and she then pulled a gun. She said a struggle ensued, during which she shot Antonio twice. According to her confession, Antonio called her a profane name, and she shot him twice more. Wuornos then said she took some of Antonio's personal effects and his car and fled.

Law officers later determined that Wuornos had pawned a ring belonging to Antonio, and they also found a number of his belongings in a mini-warehouse rented by Wuornos. Wuornos' lover, Tyria Moore, cooperated with officers and showed them where Wuornos had tossed Antonio's pocket knife, handcuffs, and flashlights, and the murder weapon into a bay near where Wuornos had lived. Officers successfully recovered these items.

At trial Wuornos eventually entered a guilty plea. A penalty phase then was conducted before a jury, which returned a death recommendation by a vote of seven to five.

In aggravation, the trial court found the following: (1) that Wuornos had nine prior convictions for violent felonies; (2) that the murder was committed during a robbery and for pecuniary gain; (3) that the murder was cold, calculated, and premeditated without pretense of moral or legal justification; and (4) that the murder was committed to avoid lawful arrest.

In mitigation, the trial court found no statutory factors present. However, the judge found the following non-statutory mitigators: (1)that Wuornos suffered antisocial and borderline personality disorders; (2) that she may have been physically abused as a child; (3) that her natural father and grandfather had committed suicide; (4) that her grandmother died an alcoholic; and (5) that her mother abandoned her as an infant.

The trial court then sentenced Wuornos to death on the murder conviction and a consecutive term of seventeen years on the armed robbery conviction.

Habeas Corpus Petition of Aileen Carol Wuornos (April 2001)


"Aileen Wuornos Says Prison Guards Abusing Her," by Catherine Wiloson. (AP July 13, 2002)

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Serial killer Aileen Wuornos, who has dropped her appeals, complained Friday that state prison guards were trying to harass her "to death" and drive her to suicide. In a 25-page handwritten court filing, she accused the prison staff of tainting her food, spitting on it and serving her potatoes cooked in dirt. Outside court, her attorney said she also complained her meals arrived with urine. "Ms. Wuornos really just wants to have proper treatment, humane treatment until the day she's executed," said her attorney Raaj Singhal. Circuit Judge Paul Backman set a hearing Aug. 19 for a full airing of her allegations. The state promised in court to investigate, but a Corrections Department spokesman later rejected the allegations.

Wuornos, 44, one of the nation's first known female serial killers, was convicted of fatally shooting six middle-aged men along the highways of northern and central Florida in 1989 and 1990. Her story has been portrayed in two movies, three books and an opera. Gov. Jeb Bush said Tuesday that he may sign Wuornos' death warrant next. She volunteered for execution last year and obtained Florida Supreme Court permission to fire her appellate attorneys.

Wuornos' liveliest response in court came when Backman raised the question of her mental competency based on reports by previous attorneys that she suffers paranoid delusions. "I'm sick of hearing this 'she's crazy' stuff," Wuornos said. "I'm competent, sane and I'm telling the truth." Singhal suggested that Wuornos' competency may come into question again if the judge rejects her claims of prison abuse. "If the allegations don't have any truth to them, she's clearly delusional," he said. "She believes what she's written."

Maxine Streeter, senior assistant attorney general, asked Backman to delay the hearing because Wuornos' 25-page filing was delivered after business hours Thursday. The hearing was called on the basis of a two-page letter written in January to the clerk of the state Supreme Court. The note ended, "P.S. Happy New Year!" Wuornos, who calls herself a model prisoner, complained about eight sergeants and officers assigned to the women's death row unit at the Broward Correctional Institution after she dropped her death appeals. "Our guards at Broward who work on the wing where she is being housed have not been exhibiting this type of behavior, and the Department of Corrections will firmly deny any of these allegations," said spokesman Sterling Ivey.

Wuornos accused the prison staff of waging psychological and physical warfare against her and wants the eight officers to be transferred "until my X," her shorthand for execution. She also wants the old staff returned. In a list of 17 complaints, the 11th complaint said, "To overhearing conversations in 'trying to get me so pushed over the brink by them I'd wind up committing suicide before the X."' Singhal said the issue of suicide was a real concern because her father hanged himself in prison and a grandfather committed suicide. Wuornos also reported overhearing staff conversations about "wishing to rape me before execution" and "on the way to Starke, in transport or at Starke itself." Death row inmates are executed at Florida State Prison near Starke. Wuornos was raped by a relative.

She also complained of strip searches, being handcuffed so tightly that her wrists bruise any time she leaves her cell, door kicking and frequent window checks by guards, 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 the eight officers are on duty. "In the meantime, my stomach's growling away and I'm taking showers through the cell of my sink," she wrote.

Wuornos told Singhal that conditions improved after he was appointed two weeks ago. In court, she frequently broke into a broad smile. The state Supreme Court has set a hearing Aug. 21 to decide how a U.S. Supreme Court decision affects Florida's death penalty. The nation's high court said last month that juries should have the final say on punishment in death penalty cases. Florida law allows juries to make recommendations that judges can reject. Wuornos' jury recommended death.