Aileen Wuornos was an American woman who killed seven men in Florida by shooting them at point blank range. She said that she killed all of them because they either raped her or tried to, while she was working as a prostitute, and that they were all killed in self-defense. But the courts didn’t agree, and she was sentenced to die for six of the seven murders. She committed her first murder when she was 33 years old.

Aileen was born to her 16-year-old mother, Diane Pitman in February of 1956. Her father left while her mother was pregnant with her, and she never met him. Her parents got married when her mother was just fourteen. Her father Leo Pitman was later diagnosed with mental illness and was convicted of having sex with children, committing sodomy on kids as young as 10-years-old. He served time in mental hospitals and in prison, finally killing himself by hanging in his prison cell.

When Aileen was born, she already had a one-year-old brother named Keith. Diane wasn’t able to take care of two infants so she ran away and left the kids with her own parents who legally adopted them. Diane’s parents’ last name was Wuornos, so that’s how Aileen got that name. They lived in Michigan. Lauri and Britta Wuornos told the kids that Diana was their sister instead of her mother, and after a while, they never saw her again. Lauri, the dad/grandfather, was an alcoholic who beat his wife Britta. He beat the two kids with a belt, telling them they were evil. He had been in the army and believed in punishing the kids and made Aileen strip naked before he beat her.

They all lived in a cramped home with little heat, and Lauri made them keep the curtains closed. They couldn’t have friends over to play. Lauri would often have temper tantrums, and Britta started drinking, too, mostly in secret, as the kids were growing up. Britta was miserable being married to Lauri. Among other things, he only let her make one phone call a week.

Aileen was abused and was not fed enough so she had trouble in school. She also couldn’t see well or hear well. She and her brother started making fires for fun, and they used lighter fluid to get them going. When she was six, she accidentally set herself on fire, and her face was permanently scarred. Even before she was a teenager, she traded sex for food and drinks. When she was a teenager, she traded sex for cigarettes and booze. She even had sex with her brother. When she was fourteen, she got pregnant by one of her grandfather’s friends. Aileen had a baby boy and gave the kid up for adoption. Shortly after that, she dropped out of school, around the same time her grandmother died of liver disease. Then, her grandfather threw her out of the house, and she lived in the woods nearby for a while and made money by being a hooker.

After that, Aileen got arrested for DUI, assault, disturbing the peace, armed robbery, forgery, theft of a gun and ammunition, car theft, resisting arrest, and obstruction of justice. She was in and out of jail.

In June of 1986, Aileen Wuornos was questioned about pulling a gun on a man in his car and demanding money. About this time, she met a woman named Tyria Moore at a gay bar in Daytona Beach, and they started living together. Wuornos supported them by being a prostitute. In July of 1987, the two were accused of assault and battery with a beer bottle. Less than a year later, she accused a bus driver of assaulting her and said he pushed her off the bus. Moore was her witness.

The first man Aileem Wuornos killed was Richard Mallory, age 51, in November of 1989. He was a convicted rapist who she said she killed in self-defense. His car was found two days later, but his body wasn’t found until the middle of December, in the woods. He had been shot multiple times. This was her first murder conviction, in 1992, and she was sentenced to death. She was convicted after Moore gave evidence to the police.

Later that year, Wuornos admitted to killing three men. David Spears, age 43, was killed in May of 1990. He was a construction worker whose naked body was found on the side of a road after being shot six times. Troy Burress, age 50, was a sausage salesman whose body was found in the woods along a state road in Florida after being shot twice in July, 1990. Then, she killed Dick Humphreys, age 56, a retired US Air Force Major, a former child abuse investigator and a former chief of police, on September 11, 1990. His body was also found in Florida after being shot six times in his head and body. She pleaded “no contest’ to these murders because she said she wanted to “get right with God.” She got three more death sentences.

In June of 1992, Wuornos pled guilty to killing Charles Carskaddon, age 40, on May 31, 1990. He was a part-time rodeo worker. On June 6, 1990, his body was found. He had been shot nine times. For this murder, she got her fifth death sentence.

Walter Antonio, age 62, was a trucker who also worked in security and was on the police reserves. On November 19, 1990, his nearly naked body was found near a rarely used road in Florida. He had been shot four times. She pleaded guilty to this murder in February of 1993.

Wuornos was never charged for the murder of Peter Siems, age 65. He was a retired sailor who devoted most of his life to a Christian ministry. In June 1990, he began a trip from Florida to Arkansas by car, and his car was found in July, also in Florida. His body was never found, but Moore and Wuornos were seen abandoning the car. Wuornos’ palm print was found inside the car. Aileen admitted to this murder at one time.

In her defense, Aileen Wuornos said that all seven men had raped her but then said that didn’t really happen. She said she actually robbed them and didn’t want any witnesses, and that was why she killed them. Once, when she was being interviewed and thought she was off camera, she said she really did kill the men in self-defense and wanted to die. She insisted that she was not crazy, that she knew what she was doing and would do it all again if she was let go.  She was executed on October 9, 2002, by lethal injection, asking for a cup of coffee as her last meal.

She led a sad life as an abused child and later as a prostitute, with so much anger, and she was thought to be deeply disturbed. In addition to documentaries, books and an opera, her story was depicted in the 2003 film Monster. She was the first woman ever to fit the FBI profile of a serial killer.

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