Lesbian Prostitute Robs and Murders Seven Men
Known as the first female serial killer, Aileen Wuornos robbed and murdered seven men off of interstates in Florida looking to pay for sex from 1989 to 1991.
The world painted her as a violent killer, but her traumatic upbringing brings some supporters to the conclusion that it was the world that failed her.
Becoming the Damsel of Death
Aileen Wuornos did not have it easy. Born in Rochester, Michigan, Wuornos’ father was a serial child molester, convicted months after her birth, and later committed suicide in prison. Her mother left her and her brother a few years later, leaving her grandparents to raise them. Life with her grandparents was no picnic either; her grandfather repeatedly beat her, while she was emotionally abused by her grandmother, who was an alcoholic. Wuornos began to engage in prostitution at age 11, trading sex for money, alcohol, and cigarettes. She fell pregnant when she was 14 years old, and put the child up for adoption.
After her brother died of cancer, Wuornos moved to Florida to pursue prostitution. Throughout the 1980s, Wuornos racked up a number of charges, including illegal possession of a firearm, forgery, assault, and robbery. In 1986, she met 24-year-old Tyria Moore at the Zodiac Bar in Daytona Beach, Florida, and the two quickly began a romantic relationship.
Pictured above: Tyria Moore’s, Wuornos’ ex-girlfriend who assisted in pawning Wuornos’ victims’ possessions.
Together, the pair pawned stolen items, mainly from Wuornos’ clients. Moore did not approve of Wuornos’ occupation as a prostitute, and she later testified that she did everything she could in order to prevent her from selling her body.
On November 30, 1989, Wuornos came home to Moore and revealed that she had shot and killed a client who had raped and beat her. This man was later identified as Richard Mallory, a 51-year-old engaging in sex for pay. Moore believed her at first, assuming that dealing with rough clients was part of the job. But something didn’t sit right when Wuornos brought home Mallory’s items to pawn.
Mallory’s body was found on December 1 a few miles from his car off of Florida’s Interstate 75 in the woods, where he originally picked up Wuornos. He was found with multiple gunshot wounds in the chest.
Victim #2 was David Spears, a 43-year-old construction worker. His body was also found with multiple bullet wounds in the chest area. From 1989 to 1991, Wuornos killed a total of seven men: the other victims were Charles Carskadon, Troy Burress, Charles Humphreys, Peter Siems, and Walter Antonio. All of her victims were middle-aged white men, and with each victim she claimed that they tried to rape or kill her, resulting in her using her handgun in self-defense.
Catching the Killer from the Inside
Investigators found some of the victims’ possessions in pawn shops in Florida with Wuornos and Moore’s fingerprints on them. Wuornos was officially arrested on January 9, 1991, after being seen inside one of her victims’, Peter Siems’, car. By this time, Moore and Wuornos had split and Moore resided in Pennsylvania with her sister. She agreed to work with authorities to get a confession from Wuornos in exchange for her own immunity.
During Wuornos’ trial, she testified that all seven of her victims were killed only after they tried to rape and beat her. She then changed her testimony, claiming that Mallory was the only one who forced himself on her. While it was not mentioned in the trial, Mallory was a convicted rapist and habitual violent offender. The remaining victims were said to be good men with no previous offenses.
Wuornos was sentenced to death for six of the seven murders, although it is speculated that she killed more than just seven men. She was executed on October 9, 2002, by lethal injection. She was 46 years old.
A Feminist, or just a Cold-blooded Killer?
Pictured above: A popular t-shirt sold online, with Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogan “I’m With Her,” followed by a picture of Wuornos in handcuffs.
Wuornos was known as many things, including ‘The Highway Hooker,’ ‘The Damsel of Death,’ and most notoriously, ‘the first female serial killer.’ People were fascinated at how this lesbian sex worker with a troubled past robbed, killed, and then pawned her victims’ items to make money. Some women see her as a symbol of feminism, strength, independence, and defiance against a world that tends to favor the patriarchical elements. More recently, people on social media, especially women, argue that we should be more compassionate towards her story, and understand her horrible upbringing. Many survivors of sexual and physical abuse stand with Wuornos, and how her upbringing and circumstances severely impacted her ability to become a productive, or ‘normal,’ member of society.
Although, Wuornos’ testimony was contradictory at times. She plead “no contest” to five of the seven murders, along with changing her testimony about the nature of Mallory’s murder.
With America’s newfound exposure to Wuornos, and the pattern of murders, it does leave us wondering whether our courts systematically oppress women, especially when they don’t meet the standards of a victim. Did the justice system fail her, or was the death penalty justified?