Ten years ago, when jurors convicted lesbian former prostitute Aileen Wuornos of murdering six men who picked her up on central Florida highways, she shouted back a claim of self-defense: "I'm innocent. I was raped! I hope you get raped!" The denials are long past for Wuornos, who is scheduled to die Wednesday by injection. One of the nation's few female serial killers has now admitted, "I have hate crawling through my system." And in a letter to the Florida supreme court she wrote, "I'm one who seriously hates human life and would kill again." The court agreed in April to allow her to fire her attorneys and end her appeals.
Lawyers who have represented Wuornos question her sanity, but state attorney John Tanner, who watched psychiatrists interview her for 30 minutes last week, said she was cognizant and lucid. "She knew exactly what she was doing," Tanner said. "She is pretty bright, very quick, and very deliberate--even now." If Wuornos is executed, she will join Judy Buenoano as the only women Florida has executed since reinstating the death penalty in 1976. Fifty-one men have been executed by Florida during that period.
Wuornos's case has inspired movies, an opera, and several books. Her story began December 13, 1989, when the body of Richard Mallory, 51, a Clearwater electronics shop owner, was found in a Volusia County junkyard. Wuornos, 46, said she had decided to rob a customer because she feared she was about to lose her lesbian lover and needed to raise $200 so they could rent an apartment. Mallory picked her up on a rainy night. They drank, drove into the woods, and fell asleep. When she awoke, she took out her gun, woke Mallory up, and robbed him. Then she started shooting. After killing Mallory, Wuornos lay low for several months until mid 1990, when she murdered and robbed her second victim on another rainy day. Over the next few months of Florida's rainy season, she killed four more men. Wuornos, who also claims to have killed a seventh man, said she killed and robbed while it was raining because it made her "nasty-looking" and because she couldn't make enough money as a prostitute. She pawned some of her victims' possessions.
Her five-county killing spree ended January 9, 1991, at the Last Resort, a Daytona Beach biker bar, where a plaque describing her arrest now hangs on the wall.