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The 90s have been shocked this time by a woman who will later be called the first female serial killer in America. Aileen Wuornos, born in Troy, Michigan, murdered during 1989-1990 seven men in Florida while working as a prostitute. In this essay, I am going to focus on the actions that led to her execution in October 2002.
According to Shipley Stacey in ‘The female homicide offender: Serial murder and the case of Aileen Wuornos’, Aileen was born in 1956 in a dysfunctional family. Her mother was only 14 when she married her husband in 1954, the next year giving birth to Aileen’s older brother. Aileen has never met her father and at 4 years old she was left in the custody of her grandparents. The treatment received there was one of a pedophile, her grandfather abusing her. As a result, at the age of 11, she was already involved in exchanging sex for cigarettes, drugs, and food. Aileen also had an incestuous relationship with her brother.
In 1970, at 14 she remained pregnant with one of her grandfather’s accomplices giving birth the next year to a child who will be placed for adoption. The same year, she is thrown out of the house and starts supporting herself through prostitution.
As we can see, this woman has a past of child abuse, maltreating, and ignorance from the others. Her own mother left her and her own grandparents took advantage of her situation leading to many problems, physical and psychological. All of these led to her first arrest at the age of 18 when she was caught driving under the influence, bad conduct, and firing a pistol. After two years, she moved to Florida where she married a 69-year-old yacht club president whom she assaulted with his own cane. From now on, she will be implied in an early criminal activity that eventually led to the murders that made her the first female serial killer in the United States.
According to Wikipedia, the murders began at the end of November 1989 and ended a year later in November 1990. All seven men were killed at point-blank range with cold blood. By 1993, she received six death sentences. Even though she claimed she killed those men in self-defense because they raped or attempted to rape her, this did not change the verdict of the jury. Also, Aileen scored 32/40 on the Psychopathy Checklist. Scores between 25 and 40 are associated with psychopaths.
She was incarcerated on Florida Department of Corrections death row for women, then transferred to Florida State Prison for execution. In 1996, she made an appeal to the Supreme Court which was denied, and then she showed a paranoiac behavior that made her look as a crazy woman. Aileen accused the prison of mistreatment and started to confess the murders: ‘I killed those men, robbed them as cold as ice. And I’d do it again, too. There’s no chance in keeping me alive or anything because I’d kill again. I have hate crawling through my system…I am so sick of hearing this ‘she’s crazy’ stuff. I’ve been evaluated so many times. I’m competent, sane, and I’m trying to tell the truth. I’m one who seriously hates human life and would kill again’.
Her execution took place on October 2, 2002, 10 years later after her sentence and she became the tenth woman to be executed in the United States and the second in Florida.
The case of Aileen Wuornos was highly mediated, People wanted more and more and she became the main character in books (‘Lethal Intent’, ‘Dear Dawn: Aileen Wuornos in Her Own Words’), songs, but also in movies (‘Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story’ 1992, ‘Monster’ 2003). People argued whether she deserved to be sentenced to death or not. Some did acknowledge the fact that she had been through a lot during her childhood while others only took into consideration the facts (that she killed seven men).
On one hand, the prosecutors dismissed her claim that she killed those men in self-defense because of her tendency to change the story every time she was telling it. The story had different variations. Also, the jury decided that Aileen knew the difference between right and wrong even though she was diagnosed with borderline disorder. Clearly, the mind of this woman was not sane; she can have also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after all the traumatic episodes from her past.
On the other hand, even though the judge had the facts:
It still followed the jury’s recommendation of death. Furthermore, she has put the diagnosis of a psychopath without taking into consideration the fact that she had a girlfriend, Tyria Moore, who eventually betrayed her in exchange for immunity. A psychopath is not capable of loving someone or even caring for it, the thing that Aileen did for Moore.
Her final statement ”You sabotaged my ass, society, and the cops, and the system. A raped woman got executed and was used for books and movies and shit.’ raised many questions. Aileen Wuornos was suffering, she was a victim of society and of the fact that people judge a person for only one bad thing. Nowadays, she was also seen in the light of the #metoo movement that criticized the jury for not taking into account that she was declared mentally unstable and still sentenced to death.
This is the case of Aileen Wuornos, the first female serial killer in the United States, who was incarcerated for 10 years and executed on the verge of her madness in prison. A case that was minutely analyzed and criticized for its finality. A problematic human being lost her life because nobody gave her a chance of recovery and judged her only for the appearances. Nobody tried to understand or even treat her. They just put her in prison which led to her paranoiac episodes just before her execution, thing that cannot be undone.
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