Aileen had a difficult childhood that was filled with physical and sexual abuse. Her father would die by suicide in prison after being convicted of sex crimes against children, Aileen would never meet him.
Early on Wuornos would trade sex for money, cigarettes and food. At the age of fourteen Aileen would be raped and became pregnant. She would give birth at a home for unwed mothers and the child was put up for adoption.
At the age of fifteen Aileen was thrown out of the house and she turned back to prostitution in order to life. She would be arrested at eighteen for DUI, disorderly conduct and for firing a gun from a moving vehicle. Aileen would add on more charges for failing to appear at a court hearing.
In 1976 Wuornos would marry a man who was almost seventy years old, the marriage would be annulled within nine weeks as Aileen physically assaulted the man. Aileen would be arrested several times over the next couple of years with charges ranging from DUI to Armed Robbery to Assault
In 1986 Aileen Wuornos would meet Tyria Moore and the two would live off money that Aileen made working as a prostitute. Soon after the murders began
In 1989 Aileen would murder a man who picked her up for sex. Aileen told police the man attempted to rape her and she was defending herself. The first victim had been previously convicted of sexual assault
The second murder victim body would be found six months later and he had been shot multiple times
The third murder victim body was found a few days later and again he had been shot multiple times
The fourth murder victim disappeared a month later and his vehicle was seen being driven by Aileen and Tyra. His body has never been found
The fifth murder victim was found a month later and he had been shot multiple times
The sixth murder victim was found soon after the fifth and similarly he had been shot multiple times
The last murder victim was found a few weeks later and again he had been shot multiple times
Aileen Wuornos was ultimately arrested and while speaking to Tyra she would confess to the murders over the phone. Aileen would be convicted and sentenced to death.
Aileen maintained that all of the victims tried to sexually assault her and she acted in self defence however this may be true on one or two of the cases but not all six.
Wuornos attorneys tried to get her sentence commuted to life in prison without parole due to her diminished IQ level and mental illness however this would not happen. Aileen Wuornos would be executed by the State of Florida on October 9, 2002 by lethal injection.
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The present case involves three separate murder convictions against Aileen Wuornos. The first of these was of Charles Humphreys, who was reported missing by his family on September 11, 1990. The following day two young boys discovered his body in an isolated area. Law officers investigating the scene found that Humphreys’ pockets were turned inside-out, and his wallet and car were missing. His wallet and identification later were found some fifty miles away, and the car was located behind an abandoned gas station on U.S. 90 at Interstate 10. An autopsy showed that Humphreys died of seven gunshot wounds in a pattern consistent with someone twisting or turning while standing or lying on the ground.
The second murder was of Troy Burress, a delivery truck driver who vanished while making deliveries on July 30, 1990. His truck was found the next day at the intersection of State Roads 40 and 19. The keys were missing and so were Burress’s delivery receipts. On August 4, Burress’s body was found about eight miles away from the place where the truck had been abandoned. His wallet, credit cards, and receipts were found, but his cash was missing. An autopsy showed he had died of two gunshot wounds to the chest and back.
The third murder was of David Spears, whose badly decomposed body was found in June 1990. The body was nude except for a hat, and a used condom was found nearby. A forensic anthropologist concluded that Spears died of six gunshot wounds. The victim’s truck was found at a separate location, abandoned with a flat tire. Spears’ toolbox, clothing, a ceramic panther, the vehicle tag, and keys were missing.
Aileen Wuornos later was arrested. While in custody, she waived her rights and gave detailed confessions. At later times, she also confessed. The various confessions differed in substantial ways.
In early 1991, Aileen Wuornos was indicted for the three murders and three related armed robbery charges. On March 31, 1992, Aileen Wuornos pled no contest on all counts with advice of counsel, signing a waiver of rights form so indicating. The plea was accepted as valid and voluntary. A penalty phase then was held in May 1992.
During the penalty phase, the State introduced evidence about the circumstances surrounding the three murders. Aileen Wuornos introduced her taped confession to law officers and the testimony of her new adoptive mother, Arlene Pralle. Pralle testified that her relationship with Wuornos began after the latter prayed to God to send her a good Christian woman. As a result, said Pralle, Jesus told her to write to Wuornos in prison. Pralle later adopted Wuornos.
Pralle related hearsay information about Aileen Wuornos’ childhood, which Pralle had obtained from Wuornos’ family and a childhood friend. This information portrayed Wuornos’ childhood as one in which she was abandoned by her parents only to be adopted by an abusive grandfather. According to Pralle, Wuornos was raped and impregnated and sent to a house for pregnant teens. Her grandparents forced her to give up the baby for adoption. Later, Wuornos ran away and entered a life of prostitution. Pralle stated she did not believe Wuornos was a serial killer.
The State introduced evidence that Pralle “screened” media requests made to Aileen Wuornos *1016 and had received a $7,500 fee to appear on a broadcast show about the murders. Other rebuttal witnesses stated that Wuornos did not suffer an abusive childhood, had threatened to kill another man who had given her a ride in his car: He had seen her gun and tricked her into leaving, then sped away as she brandished her weapon. Other evidence indicated that Wuornos had professed a religious conversion during an earlier incarceration in 1982. Another law officer stated that, while being transported between prisons, Aileen Wuornos had threatened him and described a plan in which she would start a revolution and kill police officers.
The jury recommended death by a vote of 10 to 2. The trial court concurred. In his written order, the judge found that there were four aggravating factors in the murders of Burress and Spears: (a) prior violent felony; (b) pecuniary gain; (c) witness elimination; and (d) heightened premeditation. In the murder of Humphreys, the trial court found these same four plus the factor of heinous, atrocious, or cruel. In mitigation, the court found that Wuornos had shown evidence of remorse and a religious conversion, and had suffered a deprived childhood.
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Frequently Asked Questions
- When Was Aileen Wuornos Executed
Aileen Wuornos was executed on October 9, 2002 by lethal injection
- Why Was Aileen Wuornos Executed
Aileen Wuornos was convicted of a series of murders