Due to Charlize Theron’s Academy Award for playing Aileen Wuornos in 2004, most of us may be familiar with who she is. I wanted to talk about Aileen today, as she is one of the few serial killers that I actually have sympathy for. Now before you all drag me under the bus, let me also state, I don’t think that what she did was right, and that she certainly should have been held responsible for her actions. I don’t feel she was wrongly convicted, but I do have sympathy for her to a degree, and maybe you do as well.
**Reader discretion is suggested.**
Aileen was born February 1956, and her life was anything but ideal. Never knowing her father, and being abandoned by her mother at the age of four, Aileen and her brother Keith were raised by their maternal grandparents. At the age of 11, Aileen was engaging in sexual activities at both school and at home. She was sexually active with her brother and her grandfather beat and assaulted her. At the age of fourteen, she was raped and became pregnant by an associate of her grandfathers.
Aileen gave birth to a baby boy in 1971, the child was put up for adoption. Shortly after the birth of her son, she dropped out of school, her grandmother died, and her grandfather kicked her out of the house. She began supporting herself as a sex worker and lived in the woods near her old home.
From 1974 – 1989 Aileen was arrested several times for minor crimes and misdemeanors. She eventually made her way to Florida from Michigan and had gotten married to Lewis Gratz Fell, which was annulled nine weeks later.
Aileen also met the love of her life in 1986, Tyria Moore, whom she would be with until her execution in 2002.
- The Murders:
- In November 1989, Aileen was working as a sex worker in Florida and she claimed to have killed Richard Charles Mallory in self-defense. Richard was a convicted rapist, and she claimed he had sodomized and beaten her. He had died from two bullets to the chest, puncturing his lung.
- May 1990, David Andrew Spears, he had been shot six times.
- May 1990, Charles Edmund Carskaddon, he had been shot nine times. He had been wrapped in an electric blanket and his body was decomposing when it was found in June. Aileen was in possession of his car, and pawned some of his belongings.
- June 1990, Peter Abraham Siems. His car was abandoned, and witnesses say they saw Aileen and Tyria abandoning the car, Aileen’s palm print was found on the door handle. His body has never been found.
- July 1990, Troy Eugene Burress. His body was found in August in a wooded area. He had also been shot twice.
- September 1990, Charles Richard “Dick” Humphreys. His body had been found the next day, he was fully clothed, but had been shot six times in the head and torso.
- November 1990, Walter Jeno Antonio, was found near a remote logging road. He had been shot four times, and his car was found five days after he was discovered.
Tyria testified against Aileen at trial.
In a year’s time, seven men were dead. Aileen was arrested in January 1991, at The Last Resort bar. Tyria was located in Pennsylvania the next day. She agreed to get a confession from Aileen in exchange for immunity from prosecution. She had placed numerous phone calls to Aileen begging her to help clear her name. Three days later, Aileen confessed to the murders. She claimed that they were all in self-defense as the men were all trying to rape her.
Aileen was sentenced to death, she had been convicted of only the first murder, the others she pleaded no contest, as she wanted to “get in right with God.” On October 9, 2002, Aileen Wuornos was executed. Her body was cremated, and her ashes were spread in Michigan. She had requested that the song, Carnival, by Natalie Merchant be played at her funeral. Natalie Merchant agreed to have the song play at the end of the documentary about Aileen Wuornos.
When asked why she allowed the song to be played, Natalie Merchant said this:
“Aileen Wuornos led a tortured, torturing life that is beyond my worst nightmares. It wasn’t until I was told that Aileen spent many hours listening to my album Tigerlily while on death row and requested “Carnival” be played at her funeral that I gave permission for the use of the song. It’s very odd to think of the places my music can go once it leaves my hands. If it gave her some solace, I have to be grateful.”
That is an extremely brief overview of Aileen Wuornos, and it doesn’t do her or her victims justice. Like I said at the beginning, I am sympathetic to Aileen, not for what she did, but for what she survived. I do hope that the families of her victims have found peace, and that where ever they all are, that they have paid for their own sins.
Tyria may not have pulled the trigger to end the lives of those seven men, however, I personally think she was also responsible and knew what Aileen was doing, regardless of what she may have been told. In my opinion, she too should have faced some consequences and had she spoken up, maybe some of the victims would still be alive.