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The "Damsel of Death" Aileen Wuornos violently killed strangers, all men, along Florida highways over 13-months in 1989 and 1990, while working as a prostitute. One prosecutor described her at the 1992 trial as a "homicidal predator," saying she was, "like a spider on the side of the road, waiting for prey-men." Suspected of at least 7 murders, she was sentenced to die for 6 murders. Initially she claimed she murdered in self-defense after being raped and sodomized, but she later withdrew these claims. She robbed and killed one victim for $200, to rent an apartment for her and a lover.
Born in Michigan, her mother abandoned her as an infant. Her father, a convicted child molester, committed suicide in prison. She was raised by her grandparents. A former neighbor, Annie Smith, of Troy, recalls her as a nervous child, mistreated by her grandparents. "She had a rotten childhood. I think that does have something to do with it ... The grandparents were very private people. They wouldn't associate with anyone. She had a miserable life on this earth. People can only do as they're treated," Smith said.
Pregnant at 14, the result of a rape, she was forced to give up her child. She dropped out of Troy High in the 9th grade and became a prostitute at 15, as she began abusing alcohol and drugs. Drifting from state to state, she used different aliases. She was arrested for disorderly conduct, driving under the influence and a weapons charge between 1974 and 1977, in Colorado.
Her first murder victim was Richard Mallory, a Clearwater electronics shop owner found in 1989 in Volusia County. After standing trial for Mallory's death, Wuornos pleaded guilty to 5 other murders in Florida. Wuornos claims to have killed a 7th man.
Billy Nolas, who represented Wuornos in her 1992 in Daytona Beach trial, said she suffered from borderline personality disorder as a result of neglect and sexual abuse as a child. He described her as "the most disturbed individual I have represented."
"I'm one who seriously hates human life and would kill again," she told the Florida Supreme Court.
Raag Singhal , Fort Lauderdale attorney, wrote to the Florida Supreme Court with "grave doubts" about her mental condition. Three state-appointed psychiatrists determined she was "cognizant and lucid," and ready to be executed after interviewing her for 30 minutes. They rejected arguments she was "borderline psychotic." Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed her death warrant on October 2. No connection was made between her past and violent, psychopathic behavior.
She was a "volunteer" for execution, one of a growing number of death row inmates who choose death over death row.
A Troy, Michigan native, at age 46, she was executed by lethal injection in Florida on Wednesday, October 9th, 2002, at 9:47 a.m. after dropping her appeals, firing the lawyers who argued she was crazy and petitioned the state for an execution as soon as possible.
She was described as in a "good mood" during the final hours she awaited her death.
The 52nd person executed in Florida since their reinstatement of the death penalty, and the second woman, her final words were, "I'd just like to say I'm sailing with the Rock and I'll be back like 'Independence Day' with Jesus, June 6, like the movie, big mother ship and all. I'll be back." The Rock is a Biblical reference to Jesus.
Her ashes were scattered in Fostoria in Tuscola County among walnut trees by a childhood friend, Dawn Botkins. They became friends when they were 15 year old high school dropouts in Troy. Dawn visited Aileen the night before her execution, then brought her ashes back to Michigan to scatter the in the yard of her home.Aileen Wuornos: America's First Female Serial Killer -- In the only interview given in 7 years, since sentenced to death, she claims love drove her to criminal activity. She believes she is a victim of her life not a predatory prostitute. Her defense attorney states she operates at the emotional level of a 2-3 year old.
In Depth: Aileen Wuornos -- Additional photos, documents and video.
Timeline -- Aileen Wuornos' Crimes
Aileen Wuornos -- Killer Who Preyed on Truck Drivers - She gave a detailed confession at the behest of her lesbian ex-lover. During her trial she was legally adopted by a woman who claimed to receive instruction from God. She awaits execution on Florida's death row, the recipient of 6 death sentences.
The Story of Aileen Wuornos -- Aileen "Lee" Wuornos says all of the men raped or attempted to rape her.
September 3, 2005
Kari & Associates
Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2006
Murderers: Women Who Kill