1789: Rachel Wall, female pirate 1923: Susan Newell, the last woman hanged in Scotland

2002: Aileen Wuornos, Monster

October 9th, 2009 Headsman

“Thanks a lot, society, for railroading my ass!”
-Aileen Wuornos

On this date in 2002, the tragically, horrifically iconic serial killer Aileen Wuornos checked out at Florida’s Starke Prison (and into an afterlife as an Academy Award-winning role) with the appropriately bizarre last words,

“I’d just like to say I’m sailing with the rock, and I’ll be back like Independence Day, with Jesus June 6. Like the movie, big mother ship and all, I’ll be back.”

Her sensational FBI-bestowed reputation as America’s “first” female serial killer rests on exaggeration,* but there’s something of the larger-than-life about prostitute/manslayer Aileen Carol Wuornos.

Heck, Aileen herself sold rights to her story within weeks of her arrest. So did investigators who worked the case. A year before our day’s perp faced lethal injection, her surname titled “the world’s first opera about a lesbian prostitute serial killer survivor of child abuse who is now on death row.” (Here’s the opera’s home page.)

That’s not the sort of legacy usual for a seven-time murderer. But there wasn’t much usual about Aileen Wuornos.

Wuornos — “Lee,” to her friends — projects for all her trail of bodies an irrepressibly humanity; Charlize Theron played her in Monster as the most sympathetic serial killer ever put to celluloid, her crime spree a desperate and impossible cry after human love that her life’s many travails had warped but never drained.

Still professing love for the lover who had sold her out and thereby ducked prosecution, Wuornos resigned her appeals and went her own way out this date in 2002.

Books and Films about Aileen Wuornos

* Or, if you like, a precision of definition not likely shared by the majority of her headline-reading public. What made Wuornos distinctive was killing strangers in a pattern over time; the stereotypical female multiple-murderer kills in a single spree, and/or for distinct pecuniary motives, and/or kills family members or other intimates.

Part of the Themed Set: Women Who Kill.

Also on this date

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,21st Century,Arts and Literature,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Diminished Capacity,Execution,Florida,Hanged,Infamous,Lethal Injection,Murder,Popular Culture,Ripped from the Headlines,Serial Killers,Sex,USA,Women

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6 thoughts on “2002: Aileen Wuornos, Monster”

  1. mellie says:

    man, the way you write is ridiculously hard to read.

  2. Colleen S. says:

    I know Aileen’s murder’s were horrible, and of course she should have been punished, I’m not saying that I think she should have been executed, but I’m sorry, this poor woman had a hard, sad life. Ever since she was a child, every single person that she ever counted on turned their backs on her and people just discarded her and her feelings like she was nothing and I think that is so sad. She had nobody, not even a mother to give her just a little love and affection even as a child, and I really hope that the people that turned their backs on her, dream of her all the time and at least pray for her, especially the one true love of Aileen’s life, Tye, who should feel horrible for deserting her and selling her out especially when she spent a lot of the money from the robberies and she knew what was going on, she is a piece of trash and I truly believe that payback is a Bitch!!

  3. zara says:

    Tiriya Moore looks like a centaur. In general, a feeling of disgust. Monster is Tiriya! Uornos, unhappy woman who was pushed to commit these crimes Tiriya-centaur with an insatiable womb. A “justice” poor tortured to madness Eileen, put on a show of her misery and cruel punishment mentally ill person.

  4. S M Sigerson says:

    The securocrat establishment / corporate media characterization of Wuornos as “serial killer” expresses an agenda to inaccurately demonize women who kill in self-defense. The vast majority of women in prison for murder killed a male sexual partner / mate in self-defense, usually after years of physical abuse, often including death threats / murder attempts. Wuornos was sexually abused as a child, trained to perform as a prostitute by the age of 9, and illegally deprived of family shelter, made homeless, at the age of 13, as punishment for becoming pregnant by some one of the numerous men who exploited her as a child. She slept in a car, and lost two of her toes to frostbite. Many in her small town knew of this child’s plight. No one intervened. She spent the rest of her life as a homeless prostitute. None of the sex she had as a child was by any standard truly consensual. Therefore it was a form of rape. For decades she endured unwanted sex with men as the only livelihood within her reach. She never finished grammar school, due to her abusive home life. Due to repeated experience of violence from male customers, and complete absence of any effective state protection for women in sex industries, she began going to work armed. She repeatedly maintained that she killed only customers who became violent toward her. (Although, under pressure from police & prosecutors, who promised plea bargaining deals in exchange for changing her story, she did change it more than once. But self-defense was her first story & the story she told most continually maintained.)
    “Serial killers” don’t kill in self defense.
    Wuornos is an indictment of our treatment of children, women, sex workers. Society can hardly complain when someone in her position takes the law into their own hands.
    I have been an admirer of your website, and of your many fascinating articles, shedding light, insight, & sympathy on many forgotten tragedies of history.
    But I must say I’m quite disappointed by your superficial treatment of Wuornos’ story, and your willingness to chime in with corporate media’s shallow sensationalist demonization of this clearly very complicated and tragic story.

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