'Lee Wuornos

‘Lee Wuornos

  • Professional Call Girl turned serial killer who murdered seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990.
  • Thrown out of her home as a teen, she was sexually abused by her grandfather and had sexual relations with her brother.

This article on Aileen Carol Wuornos is what the American media deemed as America's first female serial killer, not true obviously. Below is her entire life as a very much abused child to becoming a mentally ill woman.Her story tragically and dramatically demonstrates the inequity that existed and still exists today in current American society and how one person can fall through the gaps in the larger western world. Her execution still sends a ghostly echo throughout our society and the ripples of that echo can still be felt today.


Aileen Carol Wuornos had an awful childhood, one of the worst that this writer has ever read about, born in 1956 her father a child molesting schizophrenic was arrested for sodomizing an 8-year boy, Wuornos never even met her father who would go on to hang himself in prison. Her mother abandoned Aileen and her brother Keith when Wuornos was just four years old, leaving them with her Parents, Wuornos’ and Keiths grandparents. From an early age, Wuornos claimed that her alcoholic grandfather would sexually assault her, it was also rumoured that her grandfather was her biological father, as well as sexually abusing Wournos’s mother before her mother ultimately left. Moreover, having these sexual assaults happen to her and learning that sex was no big deal from her grandfather, she would often offer sexual services as young as 9, giving the neighbourhood boys oral sex for cigarettes. Even at this young age, Wuornos was known for her intense temper tantrums. This is a major cause of speculation that this was what had at least partially been caused by the very intense punishment sessions from her grandfather who would beat her and Keith on their bare bottoms with a razor belt. Keith and Wuornos would be forced to clean the belt afterwards. This lack of nurturing was probably what caused Wournos’s borderline personality disorder, (BPD). Her brother Keith was the only person Wuornos could emotionally latch on to, indeed they began a sexual relationship when she was only 11. This writer remembers a documentary about Wuornos where the female speaker states that she watched Wuornos and Keith having sex, but it was so innocent that it could hardly be called sex.


Having so few ties with everyone around in her in the community, all of the other kids called her a whore and a slut and even threw rocks at her, Wuornos on top of everything else was raped by her grandfather's friend and became pregnant at the ripe old age of 14, while pregnant she was shipped off to a home for unwed mothers ultimately having her baby adopted out. It was at about this time her grandmother died of liver failure, yet another terrible thing to happen to Wuornos. Her grandfather kicked Aileen out of the house when she was 15, so Wuornos was forced to live in the woods in her small Michigan Rochester community, a place known as the pits, she lived in the Michigan woods for 2 years. There she used the only tool that she knew how, her sexuality, so she dropped out of school and became a prostitute What obviously needs to be asked here is where were social services when all of these negative events were taking place? Child protective services? With such an absolutely awful childhood, Wuornos would have been better off in a foster family than with her alcoholic grandmother and also alcoholic, pedophiliac grandfather? As Broomfield points out in his documentary ‘Aileen, Life, and Death of a Serial Killer,’ and who is also a very good example of ‘cinema verite.’ Broomfield goes on to state, ‘the idea that of a woman killing a man, a man-hating lesbian prostitute who would tarnish the reputations of all of her victims brought Aileen Wuornos a special kind of hatred.’


Broomfield also says that because Wuornos was betrayed by all of those closest to her, he felt a certain sympathy for this serial killer. Wuornos never had a friend, mentor or lover, without sinister intentions. That lack of nurturing, the ability to trust someone, anyone at all, died permanently when her brother Keith tragically died of cancer of the esophagus, she was left with no emotional ties to anyone, completely alone in a seemingly constant brutal world. Sleeping in the woods with one blanket in winter, Wuornos actually shows her hands to Broomfield in ’Aileen, Life, and Death of a Serial Killer,’ and they definitely look like someone who has slept in the rough, Wuornos's hands looked discoloured and partially frostbitten.


Unable to tolerate the cold winters of Michigan Wuornos set her sights on the much warmer climate of Florida, becoming a hitchhiking prostitute, however, she was briefly married to Lewis Gratz Fell, a man she met in Florida, he was 76 years old and president of the Keystone coal company, moreover, the marriage was quickly annulled when Wuornos beat Fell with his own cane, when he wouldn’t give her any spending money. So that inner rage of Wuornos had always been there. Individuals with BPD often illustrate exaggerated emotion, for example, if it’s rage then it’s extreme rage.

Later she would run into trouble, that of Richard Mallory, a sex offender. This man had spent 10 years in prison for intent to rape. In Broomfield’s documentary, ‘Aileen the Selling of a Serial Killer,’ Wuornos tells a horrific tale of being sodomized by Mallory and of him tearing her up inside in her vagina and rectum and then pouring alcohol in these wounds to torture her further, then spurted some alcohol up her nose, which you would expect to hurt very much, a total act of sadism, he was then claiming that the big finale was going to pour the alcohol into her eyes. This is some extremely compelling footage and if an act by Wuornos, her performance should get an Oscar. Basically, this incident would lead to Wuornos snapping and, becoming a total psychopath and Wuornos's insanity would have very grisly consequences because after this incident Wuornos began to kill her clients.

What is difficult about Wournos’s claims is that when she initially confessed, she said all of her clients were going to get ‘rough’ with her and either ‘beat her or screw her in the ass,’ however, this is not true, as portrayed in the film “Monster,’ Wuornos killed her victims because at least one got violent, but the rest were simply for the cash that they had on them and pawned any items that they may own, which would lead to her being caught because she left a thumbprint in a pawn store, that the police were able to track through her many previous arrests.

A Marxist critique of Wuornos suggests that this woman never stood a chance. The American belief that anyone can attain the American dream through hard work and desire is totally fallacious. This idea is almost played for laughs by the film ‘Monster,’ here we see Wuornos attempting to get a straight job, however as a ‘professional call girl,’ as Wuornos claims to be, she is barely educated and has no experience in the conventional working environment. So she is trapped in her dark prostitute world, the bars were all around her but made starkly visible within the environment that surrounded her. Michael McCarthy’s Freudian interpretation of her murders also does not work for this writer at all. That she was killing her father or grandfather every time she pulled the trigger on her hapless victims. Give us all a break, please. That is way too simplistic a reason for Wuornos murdering these men.

The victims of Aileen Wuornos.
The victims of Wuornos, the cars they drove, and where they were found.

Another thing that annoys the viewer is Wournos’s mother, who Broomfield manages to track down and interview, Wuornos's mother, who goes on to state how Wuornos was a frank breech birth, that is, she came out feet first and that is meant to explain Wournos’s behaviour? Yeah, right. It is because of this woman’s neglect of Wuornos, that Wuornos, was forced to sleep in the ice and the snow, the massive abuse that Wuornos was forced to endure due to this woman's total neglect of her. How can a mother totally neglect her child like this? Not even checking in on her to make sure that her child is alright? This kind of outright neglect just baffles. Moreover, Wuornos's mother asks Wuornos to forgive her, obviously, Wuornos does not ultimately forgive her mother, yet who can blame her? Although, the late neurologist Dr Jonathan Pincus, who helped create the homicidal triad, states that if the individual has specifically, frontal lobe brain damage, child abuse, and a major mental disorder, such as bipolar or schizophrenia, then you have a very dangerous individual, perhaps Wournos's impulsivity, and erratic violent behavior stemmed from frontal lobe brain damage.However, this would be difficult to prove because she has already been diagnosed with BPD, where impulsivity and erratic behaviour are characteristics of this personality disorder.

However, when Wuornos meets up with Broomfield again she obviously wants to die. After 12 years of being on death row, she is obviously fed up with being on it and obviously wants to be killed. For example, saying that the murder of Mallory was not actually self-defence that she needed his vehicle and he had the ‘right’ amount of money needed for Wuornos, however, how did Wuornos know about the amount of money that Mallory had on him? This story is largely thought to be a phoney. Wuornos in her final court hearings on death row objects to her own witnesses and is deliberately sabotaging her own defence. Wuornos also threatens her lawyer with dismissal after he said he would fight to keep Wuornos from execution.

Moreover, Wuornos is unsurprisingly angry at the media and the police, who in Broomfield’s documentary ‘The Selling of a Serial Killer,' did end up working together to make books and movie deal’s with the entertainment industry. To the point where one policeman was forced out of the police force and several were investigated on corruption charges. Wuornos's lover Tyria Moore, an accomplice, must have known what was taking place and she ran as soon as she found that the cops were closing in. She also became the main witness for the prosecution against Wuornos, Moore became an undercover agent of the police while Wuornos confessed over the phone to Moore. Moore, with the police, had also started to negotiate the film rights of her life with Wuornos. Again Wournos’s closest lover, the woman that Wuornos felt most close and most normal to be around, a nuclear family if you will, Wuornos being the husband and Moore being the wife, ultimately betrayed Wuornos.

Tyria Moore: The girlfriend of Aileen Wuornos.
Tyra Moore (on picture and below) met Aileen in a biker bar and was Aileen's longest relationship

It is not until Wuornos is interviewed by Broomfield that her terrible anger begins to show, it erupts like a volcano, spewing forth with intense hideousness, illustrating her diagnosis of BPD, one cannot help wonder how the victims of this woman felt as she erupted into this terrible ‘monster.’ In prison, her paranoid delusions became much, much worse. Wuornos believed that sonic radio waves were penetrating her cell, that the guards were poisoning her food, obviously, the pressure of living on death row has devolved her mind into paranoid schizophrenia, just like her father. She speaks about how the cops, let her kill her other victims, that she left fingerprints in her first victim, Mallory’s car, which is not true, the police did not find any fingerprints on Mallory's car and assumed it had been wiped down. Also, Wuornos speaks about her delusions, saying that the prison staff had been using sonic pressure on her, crushing her skull. That behind her mirror was a device that was not unlike a computer causing this ‘sonic pressure.’ She also states how the guards were attempting to poison her and she had to wash all of her food off, given to her by the jail. She claims that when she didn’t wash her food off one time that she was sick for 3 weeks and almost died. She then goes on to state how the police were surveilling her the whole time she was out murdering these men. That helicopters were coming out of the sky, deputy sheriffs with decoys were picking her up 4-5 months before her arrest, and that, all of this, of course, was very unsurprisingly covered up.

Aileen Wuornos with her husband Lewis Fell.
69-year-old Florida yacht club president Lewis Gratz Fell, who married Aileen Wuornos in 1972, but canceled their sacrament just after nine weeks.

The Unsound Mind?

Wuornos, is obviously not well, not mentally competent at all, However, what does it take for someone to be diagnosed not mentally competent? Moreover, this is unsurprising that Wuornos was deemed to be termed mentally competent for execution, look at the case of convicted killer Ricky Ray Rector for example, who asked if he could have his dessert saved from his last meal, for when he got back? That case was disgusting and so is this one, where a mentally ill woman, a paranoid schizophrenic, has been executed. What adds insult to injury is that Wuornos was examined by 3 different psychiatrists and was still seen mentally fit to be executed. After Wuornos has her last rant at Broomfield, Broomfield tells Wuornos that he is sorry, indeed, the viewer also feels much pity for this woman, who if it had been different, without the endless sexual abuse and rape that Wuornos had to endure, she could have been a much more productive person in our society. The tragedy of Aileen Wuornos, is a tragedy not only for her and the people who loved her it is a tragedy of the Western legal system and child protection services, How could Wuornos fall through the gaps like this? How many Wournos’s exist in our prisons currently?

Aileen Wuornos.

As Fyodor Dostoevsky pointed out, the degree of civilization of a society can be judged by entering its prisons.

The United States has a long way to go before it can be deemed a civilized society.

•   •   •

Nick Render

Nick lives in Auckland New Zealand as an unemployed writer, where the landlord is constantly banging on his door baying for the rent. He likes women, reading, films, and Xbox. You can follow him on Facebook.

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