Imagine hearing the word serial killer, what is the first profile that comes to mind? For many people that image is of a male who killed a series of women. But what really makes a person a serial killer? Oxford Dictionary defines a serial killer as; “A person who commits a series of murders, often with no apparent motive and typically following a characteristic, predictable behaviour pattern”. In 1989 the image everyone had on serial killers would forever be changed when Aileen Wuornos a prostitute killed seven men at cold blood. Wuornos would become was believed to be the first female serial killer in history (Broomfield).
As a child, Aileen Wuornos, lived a hard and tragic life. Even before she entered this world she was already sustaining abuse in her mother’s womb at the hands of her father. When her mother was three months pregnant with Aileen, her father left to the army and Aileen’s mother began to face the life of a single mother of one and one on the way (A&E Networks). After giving birth to Aileen, her mother attempted to raise her children on her own for about one year . It wasn’t long before she returned to her parents house only to then abandon her children(Arrigo,384); Aileen was only three months old (Broomfield). Aileen would later be adopted and raised by her grandparents alongside her older brother Keith, aunt, and uncle whom she believed were her siblings. Aileen was a child whom attracted much trouble, “described as incorrigible, possessing a fighting temper” (Arrigo,384) .By the age of ten she began having sexual relations with her brother Keith and multiple neighborhood boys. Aileen quickly learned that she could use her body to get both material and monetary rewards from these boys. During this same year, Aileen’s father, whom she never meet, was arrested and convicted of raping a seven year old girl. He would later commit suicide while in jail ( A&E Networks).
Aileen’s life with her grandparents wasn’t necessarily smooth sailing. Her grandfather was an alcoholic who would beat Aileen. “Aileen described sadistic abuse committed by her grandfather. She recounted numerous beatings with a leather strap on her bare buttock” (Arrigo,383). Both her grandparents were also oblivious to the fact that Aileen had began prostituting. It wasn’t until the age of thirteen when Aileen became pregnant that they realized the troubles she was in. At that time there began to be rumors about whom the father of her unborn child was. Some believed that it was her own grandfather whom had not only reportedly raped Aileen but also her mother. Others believed it was the town’s pedophile. Nevertheless, Aileen was forced to put her child up for adoption (Broomfield). Shortly after the birth and adoption of Aileen’s child, Aileen’s grandmother passed away and her grandfather made the decision that he no longer wanted to raise either Aileen or Keith. It was then that Aileen fully took on prostitution as a form of maintaining herself (A&E Networks).
Aileen began wondering the eastern United States until she arrived in Daytona Beach Florida at the age of twenty. It was the prefect place in her eyes where she could sleep out on the warm Florida beaches and continue to prostitute her body. Daytona Beach brought both positive and negative events into Aileen’s life. Two years after arriving in Daytona beach Aileen got news that her brother Keith had passed away. She took the news so badly that she tried to commit suicide why shooting herself in the abdomen , her attempt was unsuccessful (A&E Network).
A few years after her attempted suicide Aileen found something she didn’t ever think she would, love. Love was something that Aileen never had much of as a child, and definitely none of while hooking on the highways of central Florida. This love would also come in an unexpected form, another woman, Tyria Moore. Tyria and Aileen meet while at a bar and quickly hit it off, it quickly became a relationship that Aileen would do anything to protect, even kill (A&E Network). Throughout their relationship money was always a huge problem. During one of her interviews with Mr. Broomfield Aileen talked about how she was making a minimal amount of money hooking and Tyria always demanded more. The feeling of having to be the sole provider in the relationship would lead to Aileen robbing and killing her Johns (Broomfield).
Throughout the course of a year Aileen would rob and kill seven men whom picked her up on the side of the road, becoming the first woman serial killer in history. Her routine was always the same; she would get picked up, go into the woods, shot the victim and rob them of their belongings and their vehicle.Aileen would use the victim’s vehicle and later dispose it at a different location from the body. Police had believed that she was able to commit so many of these murders without being detected by authorities because of her “feminine touch” to the murders (A&E Networks). She put thought into how she was going to commit and cover up the crimes which would later come back to haunt her in her trials.
On January 9.1991 Aileen’s luck would run out when she was arrested at a bar in Florida. At this time Tyria had left Aileen and returned home to Ohio after leads on the murders were released. Following Aileen’s arrest Tyria did the unthinkable and betrayed Aileen becoming the state’s prime witness against her. Aileen then confessed to the murders that she claimed were “self defence”. This confession would start a lengthy road to execution (Broomfield). Because there was so many murders the judge dismissed the idea of Aileen acting in self defence and continued with the trials. Once the trials concluded Aileen would be charged with six counts of murder in the first degree and have six consecutive death sentences (A&E Networks). “She was executed by lethal injection at Broward Correctional Institution outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida” (Arrigo,383)
Although the motives for Aileen’s killings was the martial possessions,her childhood was a primary cause to all of Aileen’s angry and aggression. During Aileen’s trials it was visible that she continued to have the “fighting temper”(Arrigo,384) she had as a child. She demonstrated violent mood swings both on and off the stand. At one point she was even labeled as a person with borderline personality disorder by experts (A&E Networks). She had so many unresolved issues from her childhood like her rape and attachment issues that is was only a matter of time until she snapped.Nevertheless Aileen became a human monster through her killing spree.
According to Cohen in order to be characterized as a monster you must fit into at least one of his theses, which Aileen certainly did fit into multiple theses. To begin with she was child raised with “inconsistent care, as well as emotional, physical, and possible sexual abuse at the hands of one of her primary attachment figures” (Arrigo,386) that contributed to her attachment problems. In the hands of her grandparents she became a monster, which fits into Thesis I: The Monster’s body is a Cultural Body as well as Thesis VII: The Monster Stands at the Threshold of Becoming. Culture views children as sweet and innocent not troubled the way Aileen was. Once she began committing the murders she was able to get away with each one for a period of time until they all caught up to her a year later. This was a prime example of Thesis II: The Monster Always Escapes. If she wouldn’t have escaped punishment for her first murder they may have not been seven victims. Aileen’s alternative lifestyle was not one that is normal pre-say by cultures point of view. If she wouldn’t have had to live the life of a prostitution to survive she wouldn’t have become a monster, but because that was not the case her life falls into Thesis IV: The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference. Her life as a prostitute was also something different, something that is not maybe times seen landing into Thesis V: The Monster Polices the Borders of the Possible. And lastly as much as culture wants to dem her as a bad person they still desired her by making multiple films such as; Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story (1992) and Monster (2002). The films “explodes the myth that prostitution is a victimless or glamorous crime” (Bryan & Miller, 85) yet they felt the need to make a second film about the same thing a decade later demonstrating Thesis VI: The Fear of the Monster Is Really a Kind of Desire.
Whether Aileen Wuornos’ murders were just for the robberies or unresolved issues from her childhood, there’s one thing that is for sure, seven men lost their lives at the hands of this monster. Seven families were forever changed due to Aileen’s actions, and at least there were not more. Afterall Aileen did say “there was no point in keeping her alive because she would kill again, because she had hate crawling through her system”(A&E Networks).
A&E Networks Television. “Aileen Wuornos.” Biography.com., 28 Apr. 2017. Web. 06 Dec. 2017.
This biography is a production by A&E Networks on the life of Aileen Wuornos. It talks about Aileen’s childhood and life before her time in jail. It also covers the case where she was convicted of killing seven men in central Florida. This biography will help me in supporting monster culture thesis to Ms. Wuornos.
Broomfield, Nick, director. Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer. Performance by Aileen Wuornos, and Nick Broomfield, Amazon Video.
This documentary follows the case of Aileen Wuornos once she is originally arrested. The person conducting the documentary (Nick Broomfield) meets with Ms. Wuornos legal defences which is a musician turned lawyer and with her newly adopted mother. Mr. Broomfield is trying to gather his own information about why Ms. Wuornos committed the killings and understand relationships in her life. This video gives good examples of the people that were in Ms. Wuornos life and her lack of connections to any human beings. I will use it in my paper to better understand her social/psycho.
Broomfield, Nick, director. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer. Performance by Aileen Wuornos, and Nick Broomfield, Amazon Video.
This documentary is the follow up documentary of “Alieen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer” which follows the case of Aileen trail which she was being charged with death by a florida judge. It also follows her appeal process eleven years after her original trail while on death row. This documentary is rather interesting because it has actual interviews with Aileen and family members. This documentary will be useful in my paper because the director examined Aileen to great depth. There is a great deal of information about Aileen’s childhood which may be what lead her to becoming a “monster”.
Jenkins, Patty, director. Monster. Performance by Charlize Theron, Amazon Video .
Screen Media Studios created it’s own filmic adaptation of Aileen Wuornos story. This adaptation took information gained from Aileen’s actual trail and turned it into film. This film looked as if it was taking place from Aileen point of view when in reality it was Aileen’s girlfriend whom sold the rights to the film. This film will help me support monster theses II, III, VII in my paper.
Arrigo, Bruce A. and Ayanna Griffin. “Serial Murder and the Case of Aileen Wuornos: Attachment Theory, Psychopathy, and Predatory Aggression.” Behavioral Sciences & the Law, vol. 22, no. 3, May 2004, pp. 375-393. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1002/bsl.583.
This article takes a look at women who kill in practically Aileen Wuornos. They use evidence to prove that she was a cold blooded murder and not a victim as she called herself during the trials. She claimed to act in self defence and this article shuts that down. This article will be helpful in paper when proving how Aileen was a monster for committing all those murders.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).” Monster Theory: Reading Culture, University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
Cohen’s chapter about monster culture and the theses surrounding monsters in the bases of my evaluating monster paper. The chapter discusses the thesis of how monsters are viewed. This chapter will be useful in my paper because it will help me analyze the monster I have chosen and place her into these categories to justify why she’s a monster.
“Serial Killer | Definition of Serial Killer in English by Oxford Dictionaries.” Oxford Dictionaries | English. Oxford Dictionaries, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2017.
I will be using this definition to elaborate what a serial killer is defined as. Then I will use the definition to back up that Aileen was a serial killer.
Bryan, Laura & Miller,Bobbi.“The Making Ofa Monster”.” Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, vol. 16, no. 1, Mar. 2004, pp. 83-85. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=15986321&site=ehost-live.
This article is about the way that Aileen Wuornos was protrayed in the film Monster. It will be used in my paper to help support Cohen’s Thesis I: The Monster’s body is a Cultural Body. Media portrayed Ms. Wuornos the way they wanted “hooker with a heart of gold.” vs whom she really was a “serial killer”.