Notorious female serial killer Aileen Wuornos took the lives of her victims as violent revenge for the horrific sexual abuse she suffered as a child, a new documentary claims.
Wuornos, a prostitute, was sentenced to death after being convicted of the murder of six men who she picked up on the highways of Florida in 1989 and 1990, each of whom she shot multiple times before dumping their bodies.
Police believe she was also responsible for the deaths of two further male victims.
The murderer, dubbed the Damsel of Death, initially claimed she had acted in self-defence, but later admitted she did it simply because she hated men and wanted to steal their money.
Now criminal experts have re-examined audio recordings of Wuornos to offer fresh insight into the motives for her crimes.
Speaking on CBS documentary Voice Of A Serial Killer, they explain how they believe Wuornos was ‘projecting’ on to her victims the sense of ‘anger’ she had harboured since she was abused by her grandfather as a young girl.
Wuornos was born to an unstable mother and a child molester father who spent much of his life in prison, before being sent to live with her grandparents, where she was sexually abused and pimped out by her grandfather.
Commenting on how her ‘disturbing’ early experiences shaped the rest of her life, forensic psychologist Mike Berry explained: ‘I think without a doubt she projected on to these men her sense of betrayal, her anger, at being abused.
‘They were the men, the [men in their] 50s and 60s, they were the age group who abused her earlier in her life. Whether they actually abused her or not is debatable, but we’re looking at her perception.
‘Her perception was that these are abusers: ”I need to protect myself” and at the same time, get revenge on society for what society’s allowed to happen to her as a child.’
Violent revenge: A gallery of Aileen Wuornos’s six male victims
Aileen Wuornos was convicted of the murders of six men – Richard Mallory, David Spears, Charles Carskaddon, Peter Siems, Troy Burress, Charles Humprheys and Walter Jeno Antonio – in Florida between December 1989 and November 1990, making her one of America’s first known female serial killers.
Wuornos became one of America’s first known female serial killers when she was convicted of the murders of six men – Richard Mallory, David Spears, Charles Carskaddon, Peter Siems, Troy Burress, Charles Humprheys and Walter Jeno Antonio – across Florida between December 1989 and November 1990.
Each of the men were shot multiple times and their bodies dumped. Police believe she might have been responsible for the deaths of two more men.
At the time Wuornos was working as a prostitute to support herself and girlfriend Tyria Moore.
Wuornos, dubbed the Damsel of Death by tabloids, first claimed she had killed all of her victims in self-defence after they assaulted her, but later admitted she lied. Her only motive was robbery and a loathing of men, she said.
Murders that sparked a media frenzy
The sordid story of Wuornos’ life and crimes captivated the media in the early 1990s and has gone on to inspire films, books and songs.
In 2004 actress Charlize Theron won a Best Actress Academy Award for her portrayal of Wuornos in film Monster.
The murders and subsequent trials have also been the subject of a number of television documentaries.
She was put to death by lethal injection in October 2002 after volunteering for execution and waiving all appeals. Her story was told in 2003 film Monster, for which Charlize Theron won the Academy Award for her portrayal of Wuornos.
The new documentary explains how Wuornos was abused by her father from early childhood.
She and her siblings were abandoned by her mother when she was just four-years-old, and sent to live with their grandparents. Her father took his own life in prison.
Wuornos’ grandfather was also sexually abusive and even ‘rented’ her out to his friends.
Aged just 10 or 11 Wuronos started to prostitute herself to local boys for money to buy cigarettes, which led to her becoming pregnant and giving her child up into care.
Clarkson explains in the show: ‘It’s horrific stuff and very disturbing for a child, and without doubt it warped her mentality.
‘It made her lose track [of] any moral compass whatsoever, and possibly with reality because her life was horrendous.’
After her grandfather kicked her out of home as a teenager Wuornos moved to Florida, where she met Tyria Moore, and went on to kill.
Voice of a Serial Killer continues on Wednesday on CBS
Timeline of Wuornos’ killing spree
December 1989: Body of electronics store owner convicted rapist Richard Mallory, 51, found on December 13, several days after his abandoned car was found by a Volusia County deputy sheriff. He had been shot several times.
May 1990: Naked body of construction worker David Spears, 43, is found along Florida State Road 19 in Citrus County. He had been shot six times.
June 1990: Part-time rodeo worker Charles Carskaddon, 40, is found dead in Pasco County on June 6. He had been shot nine times.
Retired merchant seaman Peter Siems, 65, left Jupiter, Florida, for Arkansas.
July 1990: On July 4 Peter Siems’ car is found in Orange Springs, Florida. Moore and Wuornos were seen abandoning the car, and Wuornos’ palm print was found on the interior door handle. Moore was never convicted of the murder but later admitted she was responsible. Siems’ body was never found.
Sausage salesman Troy Burress, 50, is reported missing on July 31.
August 1990: Body of Troy Burress found in a wooded area along State Road 19 in Marion County. He had been shot twice.
September 1990: Body of former Chief of Police Charles ‘Dick’ Humphreys, 56, is found on September 12 in Marion County. He was fully clothed and had been shot six times in the head and torso.
Last beer: Wuornos was arrested at biker bar Last Resort, pictured, in January 1991
November 1990: Trucker and police reservist Walter Jeno Antonio, 62, was found dead on November 1990. His nearly nude body was found near a remote logging road in Dixie County. He had been shot four times.
January 1991: On January 9, Wuornos was arrested on an outstanding warrant at biker bar The Last Resort.
January 10 – Police located Moore the next day in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She agreed to elicit a confession from Wuornos in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
January 16 – Wuornos confessed to the murders but initially claims they were carried out in self-defence.
January 1992: Wuornos was convicted of Mallory’s murder with help from Moore’s testimony
February 1992: Wuornos is sentenced to death
March 1992: Wuornos pleads no contest to the murders of Humphreys, Burress, and Spears. She confesses that while Mallory had raped her the others had not, as she had initially claimed.
May 1992: Wuornos is given three more death sentences.
June 1992: Wuornos pleads guilty to the murder of Carskaddon
November 1992: She receives her fifth death sentence
October 2002: Wuornos is executed by lethal injection in prison