Aileen Wuornos' Chilling Motivation To Kill

People who take the life of another person have an array of motives. Some will kill for revenge or financial gain, while others will dispose of another human life because it brings them a perverse form of pleasure. But no matter the motive, the killers that walk among us that fit the criteria for a serial murderer usually have the same motive and modus operandi for each of their unfortunate victims.

Infamous Florida serial killer Aileen Wuornos took the lives of at least six men during a year-long killing spree. While she confessed to killing seven, only six of her victims' bodies were ever found, according to WFLA. Wuornos had motives that at first pointed to robbery (per Daily Mail). But as investigators learned more about the woman that they brought into custody, they began to unravel the real reason why this wayward sex worker would take the lives of the men she met on Florida's highways. 

Her childhood was torture

While many serial murderers have childhood traumas that are never overcome, it can be said that what Wuornos had to endure during her youth makes that of her contemporaries pale in comparison. She grew up in a poor household in the suburban Detroit community of Troy, Michigan. Her father was incarcerated for child molestation when she was a small child. He later killed himself in prison (via Biography). Unable to care for Wuornos or her brother, her mother sent them to live with their grandparents. The grandmother was a reported alcoholic, who turned a blind eye to her husband raping the young Wuornos. According to the Daily Mail, her grandfather began letting his friends solicit Wuornos for sex.

Wuornos became pregnant in her early teens but gave the child up for adoption. She claims that soon after, she was forced out of her grandparent's home and resorted to living in the woods. She began to provide for herself by hitching rides around the country while soliciting herself as a sex worker. She eventually settled in Florida in the mid-1970s, where she began to amass quite the record for both petty offenses and minor assaults. The list of crimes grew more violent as Wuornos got older, earning her convictions for felony assault and robbery in the early 1980s. It wasn't until the end of that decade that she committed her first murder.

Self-defense or a deep seeded hatred?

Regularly earning money by selling her body along the highways of Florida, Wuornos was picked up by electronics store owner Richard Mallory in December 1989 (via WFLA). A male friend had advised that she always keep a pistol with her if she were out looking for clients, and she had hers on her that night. Claiming that Mallory was physically and sexually assaulting her, she fired off several rounds in self-defense. Afraid that she would be implicated in his death, she fled.

Over the next 12 months, Wuornos killed at least five other men whom she claimed were assaulting her. By the time she was apprehended in early 1991, the authorities had already developed a strong case against her. To seal her fate, police had Wuornos' girlfriend bait her into a confession during a recorded phone call.

Initially claiming self-defense against all of the murders, Wuornos eventually recanted and stated that her shooting of Mallory was the only one in which she needed to defend herself. The others, she claimed, were rooted in her deep hatred for men, making that her motivation to kill them.

Wuornos was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in the state of Florida. She died by lethal injection in October 1992.