Aileen Wuornos


Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos mug shot
Background information
Birth name: Aileen Carol Pittman
Also known as: [1] Sandra Kretsch
Susan Lynn Blahovec
Lee Blahovec
Cammie Marsh Greene
Lori Kristine Grody
Aileen Carol Wournos
Born: February 29, 1956(1956-02-29)[1]
Rochester, Michigan, United States
Died: October 9, 2002 (aged 46)
Cause of death: Lethal injection
Conviction: 6 counts 1st degree murder
Killings
Number of victims: 7
Span of killings: November 30, 1989–November 19, 1990
Country: United States
State(s): Florida
Date apprehended: January 9, 1991

Aileen Carol Wuornos (February 29, 1956 – October 9, 2002) was an American serial killer who killed seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990, later claiming they raped or attempted to rape her while she was working as a prostitute. She was convicted and sentenced to death for six of the murders, and executed via lethal injection on October 9, 2002.

Contents

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Early life

Childhood

Wuornos was born as Aileen Carol Pittman in Rochester, Michigan. She had one older brother named Keith, who was born in February 1955. Her mother, Diane Pratt, was 15 years old when she married Leo Dale Pittman on June 3, 1954. Less than two years into marriage and two months before Wuornos was born, Pratt filed for divorce. Pittman was a child molester who spent most of his life in and out of prison. Wuornos never met her father, as he was imprisoned for the rape and attempted murder of an eight-year-old boy[citation needed] at the time of her birth. Leo Pittman was strangled in prison in 1969.[1][2] In January 1960, Pratt abandoned her children, leaving them with their maternal grandparents – Lauri and Britta Wuornos. They were legally adopted on March 18, 1960 by the Wuornoses and took their surname.[2]

From a young age, Wuornos engaged in sex with multiple partners, including her own brother. At the age of 13, she became pregnant, claiming the pregnancy was a result of being raped by an unknown man.[3] Wuornos gave birth at a Detroit home for unwed mothers on March 23, 1971. The child, a son, was placed for adoption.[2] On July 7, 1971 Britta Wuornos died of liver failure, after which Wuornos and her brother became wards of the court. At age 15, Wuornos’ grandfather threw her out of the house, and she began supporting herself as a prostitute.[2]

Early criminal career

On May 27, 1974, Wuornos was arrested in Jefferson County, Colorado for drunk driving, disorderly conduct, and firing a .22-caliber pistol from a moving vehicle. She was later charged with failure to appear.[4]

In 1976, Wuornos hitchhiked to Florida, where she met 70-year-old yacht club president Lewis Gratz Fell (June 28, 1907 — January 6, 2000). They married that same year, and the news of their nuptials was printed in the local newspaper’s society pages. However, Wuornos continually involved herself in confront
ations at their local bar and was eventually sent to jail for assault. She also hit Fell with his own cane, leading him to get a restraining order against her, after which she returned to Michigan.[5][6] On July 14, 1976, Wuornos was arrested in Antrim County, Michigan and charged with assault and disturbing the peace following an incident in which she threw a cue ball at a bartender’s head.[7] On July 17, her brother Keith died of throat cancer and Wuornos acquired $10,000 from his life insurance. Wuornos and Fell divorced on July 21 after nine weeks of marriage.[8]

On May 20, 1981, Wuornos was arrested in Edgewater, Florida for the armed robbery of a convenience store. She was consequently sentenced to prison on May 4, 1982 and released on June 30, 1983.[9] On May 1, 1984, Wuornos was arrested for attempting to pass forged checks at a bank in Key West. On November 30, 1985, she was named as a suspect in the theft of a revolver and ammunition in Pasco County.[9]

On January 4, 1986, Wuornos was arrested in Miami and charged with grand theft auto, resisting arrest and obstruction by false information (she provided identification with the name Lori Grody, her aunt). Miami police found a .38-caliber revolver and a box of ammunition in the stolen car.[10] On June 2, 1986, Volusia County deputies detained Wuornos for questioning after a male companion accused her of pulling a gun in his car and demanding $200. Wuornos was found to be carrying spare ammunition and a .22 pistol was discovered beneath the passenger seat she occupied.[11]

Around this time, Wuornos met Tyria Moore, a hotel maid, at a Daytona gay bar. They moved in together, and Wuornos supported them with her prostitution earnings.[12] On July 4, 1987, Daytona Beach police detained Wuornos and Moore at a bar for questioning regarding an incident in which they were accused of assault and battery with a beer bottle.[13] On March 12, 1988, Wuornos accused a Daytona Beach bus driver of assault. She claimed that he pushed her off the bus following a confrontation. Moore was listed as a witness to the incident.[13]

Murders

  • Richard Mallory,[1] 51 – November 30, 1989: Wuornos’ first victim was an electronics store owner in Clearwater, a convicted rapist whom she claimed she killed in self-defense. A Volusia County deputy found Mallory’s abandoned vehicle on December 1, 1989. Mallory’s body was not found until December 13, several miles away in a wooded area. He had been shot several times, but two bullets to the left lung were found to have caused his death.
  • Charles “Dick” Humphreys,[1] 56 – May 19, 1990: Humphreys was a retired Air Force major, a former child abuse investigator for the state of Florida and former police chief. His body was found on September 12, 1990 in Marion County. He was fully clothed, and was shot six times in the head and torso. His car was found in Suwannee County.
  • David Spears,[1] 43: Spears was a Winter Garden construction worker whose nude body was found on June 1, 1990, along Highway 19 in Citrus County. He had been shot six times.
  • Charles Carskaddon,[1] 40 – May 31, 1990: Carskaddon was a part-time rodeo worker. His body was found June 6, 1990, in Pasco County. He had been shot nine times with a small caliber weapon.
  • Peter Siems,[1] 65: Siems left Jupiter, traveling to New Jersey in June 1990. His car was found in Orange Springs on July 4, 1990. Tyria Moore and Aileen Wuornos were identified as being the persons who left the car where it was found. A palm print belonging to Wuornos was found on the interior door handle. His body was never found.
  • Troy Burress,[1] 50 – July 30, 1990: Burress was a sausage salesman from Ocala. He was reported missing on July 31, 1990 but was not found until August 4, 1990 in a wooded area along State Road 19 in Marion County. He had been shot twice.
  • Walter Jeno Antonio,[1] 62 – November 19, 1990: Antonio’s nearly nude body was found on November 19, 1990 near a remote logging road in Dixie County. He had been shot four times. His car was found in Brevard County five days later.

Justice system

Apprehension and sentencing

Wuornos and Moore abandoned Peter Siems’ car after they were involved in an accident on July 4, 1990, after which Wuornos’ palm print was found. Witnesses who had seen the women driving the victims’ cars provided police with their names and descriptions, resulting in a media campaign to locate them. Police also found some of the victims’ belongings in pawnshops and retrieved fingerprints, which matched those found in the victims’ cars and on Wuornos’ arrest record.[2]

On January 9, 1991, Wuornos was arrested on an outstanding warrant at The Last Resort, a biker bar in Volusia County.[14] Police located Moore the next day in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She agreed to get a confession from Wuornos in exchange for prosecutorial immunity[15] Moore returned with police to Florida, where she was put up in a motel. Under police guidance, Moore made numerous telephone calls to Wuornos, pleading for help in clearing her name. Three days later, on January 16, 1991, Wuornos confessed to the murders. She claimed the men had tried to rape her and she killed them in self-defense.[16][17]

Wuornos went to trial for the murder of Richard Mallor
y on January 14, 1992. Prior bad acts are normally inadmissible in criminal trials, but under Florida’s Williams Rule, the prosecution was allowed to introduce evidence related to her other crimes in order to show a pattern of illegal acts.[1] Wuornos was convicted for Richard Mallory’s murder on January 27, 1992 with help from Moore’s testimony. At her sentencing, psychiatrists for the defense testified that Wuornos was mentally unstable and had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. She was sentenced to death on January 31, 1992.[17][18]

On March 31, 1992, Wuornos pleaded no contest to the murders of Dick Humphreys, Troy Burress and David Spears, saying she wanted to “get right with God”.[1] In her statement to the court, she averred, “I wanted to confess to you that Richard Mallory did violently rape me as I’ve told you. But these others did not. [They] only began to start to.”[1] On May 15, 1992, Wuornos was given three more death sentences.[1]

In June 1992, Wuornos pleaded guilty to the murder of Charles Carskaddon and received her fifth death sentence in November 1992.[1] The defense made efforts during the trial to introduce evidence that Mallory had been tried for intent to commit rape in another state, and that he had been committed to a maximum security correctional facility in Maryland which provided remediation to sexual offenders.[19] Records obtained from that institution reflected that from 1958 to 1962, Mallory was committed for treatment and observation resulting from a criminal charge of assault with intent to rape, and received an overall eight years of treatment from the facility.[19] The judge refused to allow this to be admitted in court as evidence and denied Wuornos’ request for a retrial.[17][19][20]

In February 1993, Wuornos pleaded guilty to the murder of Walter Jeno Antonio and was sentenced to death again. No charges were brought against her for the murder of Peter Siems, as his body was never found. In all, she received six death sentences.[1]

Wuornos told several inconsistent stories about the killings. She claimed initially that all seven men had raped her while she was working as a prostitute then later recanted the claim of self-defense. During an interview with filmmaker Nick Broomfield in which she thought the cameras were off, she told him that it was in fact self-defense, but she could not stand being on death row — where she had been for 12 years at that point — and wanted to die.[21]

Execution

Wuornos’ appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied in 1996. In 2001, she announced that she would not issue any further appeals against her death sentence. She petitioned the Florida Supreme Court for the right to fire her legal counsel and stop all appeals, saying, “I killed those men, robbed them as cold as ice. And I’d do it again, too. There’s no chance in keeping me alive or anything, because I’d kill again. I have hate crawling through my system…I am so sick of hearing this ‘she’s crazy’ stuff. I’ve been evaluated so many times. I’m competent, sane, and I’m trying to tell the truth. I’m one who seriously hates human life and would kill again.”[22] A defense attorney argued that she was in no state for them to honor such a request. [1]

Florida Governor Jeb Bush instructed three psychiatrists to give Wuornos a 15-minute interview. The test for competency requires the psychiatrist(s) to be convinced that the condemned person understands that they will die and for which crime(s) they are being executed. All three judged her mentally fit to be executed.

Wuornos later started accusing the prison matrons of abusing her. She accused them of tainting her food, spitting on it, serving her potatoes cooked in dirt, and her food arriving with urine. She also claimed overhearing conversations about “trying to get me so pushed over the brink by them I’d wind up committing suicide before the [execution]” and “wishing to rape me before execution.” She also complained of strip searches, being handcuffed so tightly that her wrists bruised any time she left her cell, door kicking, frequent window checks by matrons, low water pressure, mildew on her mattress and “cat calling … in distaste and a pure hatred towards me.” Wuornos threatened to boycott showers and food trays when specific officers were on duty. “In the meantime, my stomach’s growling away and I’m taking showers through the sink of my cell.”

Her attorney stated that “Ms. Wuornos really just wants to have proper treatment, humane treatment until the day she’s executed,” and “If the allegations don’t have any truth to them, she’s clearly delusional. She believes what she’s written”.[23]

During the final stages of the appeal process she gave a series of interviews to Broomfield. In her final interview shortly before her execution she claimed that her mind was being controlled by “sonic pressure” to make her appear crazy and described her impending death to being taken away by angels on a space ship.[24] When Broomfield attempted to get her to speak about her earlier claims to have killed her victims in self-defense, Wuornos became livid, cursed Broomfield, and terminated the interview. She began her attack on Broomfield by saying, “You sabotaged my ass, society, and the cops, and the system. A raped woman got executed, and was used for books and movies and shit.”[25] Her final words on camera were “Thanks a lot, society, for railroading my ass.”[26] Broomfield later met Dawn Botkins, a childhood friend of Wuornos’, who told him, “She’s sorry, Nick. She didn’t give you the finger. She gave the media the finger, and then the attorneys the finger. And she knew if she said much more, it could make a difference on her execution tom
orrow, so she just decided not to.”[27]

Wuornos was executed by lethal injection on October 9, 2002.[28] She was the tenth woman in the United States to be executed since the Supreme Court lifted the ban on capital punishment in 1976,[29] and the second woman ever executed in Florida. She declined a last meal and instead was given a cup of coffee. Her final statement before the execution was “Yes, I would 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, I’ll be back.” [1]

After death

After her execution, Wuornos was cremated. Her ashes were taken by Dawn Botkins to her native Michigan and spread beneath a tree. She requested that Natalie Merchant’s song “Carnival” be played at her funeral. Natalie Merchant commented on this when asked why her song was played during the credits of the documentary Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer:

When director Nick Broomfield sent a working edit of the film, I was so disturbed by the subject matter that I couldn’t even watch it. Aileen Wuornos led a tortured, torturing life that is beyond my worst nightmares. It wasn’t until I was told that Aileen spent many hours listening to my album Tigerlily while on death row and requested “Carnival” be played at her funeral that I gave permission for the use of the song. It’s very odd to think of the places my music can go once it leaves my hands. If it gave her some solace, I have to be grateful.[30]

Broomfield later stated:

I think this anger developed inside her. And she was working as a prostitute. I think she had a lot of awful encounters on the roads. And I think this anger just spilled out from inside her. And finally exploded. Into incredible violence. That was her way of surviving… I think Aileen really believed that she had killed in self-defense. I think someone who’s deeply psychotic can’t really tell the difference between something that is life threatening and something that is a minor disagreement; that you could say something that she didn’t agree with, she would get into a screaming black temper about it. And I think that’s what had caused these things to happen. And at the same time, when she wasn’t in those extreme moods, there was an incredible humanity to her.[31]

About Wuornos

Movie poster for Monster

Books

FBI profiler Robert K. Ressler mentioned Wuornos only briefly in his autobiographical history of his 20 years with the FBI. Writing in 1992, he said he often does not discuss female serial killers because they tend to kill in sprees instead of in a sequential fashion.[32] He noted Wuornos as the sole exception.[32] Ressler, who coined the phrase serial killer[33] to describe murderers seeking personal gratification, does not apply it to women killing in postpartum psychosis or to any murderer acting solely for financial gain, such as women who have killed a series of boarders or spouses.

Documentaries

Filmmaker Nick Broomfield directed two documentaries about Wuornos:

  • Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (1994)[34]
  • Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)[21]

Wuornos was the subject of an episode of the documentary TV series Biography.[35]

Film

The 2003 film Monster, starring Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci, tells Wuornos’ story from the moment she met Selby Wall (based on Tyria Moore) until her first conviction for murder. Theron received the 2003 Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal.[36]

Jean Smart portrayed Wuornos in the 1992 TV movie Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story.

Opera

An operatic adaptation of Wuornos’ life events premiered at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on June 22, 2001. Entitled Wuornos, the opera was written by composer/librettist Carla Lucero, conducted by Mary Chun, and produced by the Jon Sims Center for the Performing Arts.[37]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Aileen Carol Wuornos“. The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney. Archived from the original on 2008-09-2
    7. http://www.webcitation.org/5b8tAvzil. Retrieved 2008-09-26.
     
  2. ^ a b c d e Howard, Amanda; Martin Smith (2004). River of Blood: Serial Killers and Their Victims. Universal-Publishers. pp. 332. ISBN 9781581125184. 
  3. ^ Reynolds, Michael (2003). Dead Ends: The Pursuit, Conviction and Execution of Female Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, the Damsel of Death. Macmillan/St. Martin’s. pp. 256. ISBN 9780312984182. http://us.macmillan.com/Book.aspx?isbn=9780312984182. 
  4. ^ Reynolds, Michael (2003). Dead Ends: The Pursuit, Conviction and Execution of Female Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, the Damsel of Death. Macmillan/St. Martin’s. pp. 116. ISBN 9780312984182. http://us.macmillan.com/Book.aspx?isbn=9780312984182. 
  5. ^ Russell, Sue (2002). Lethal Intent. Pinnacle Books. p. 97. ISBN 0786015187. http://books.google.com/books?id=I1Nvvccs7TYC. 
  6. ^ Griffin, Ayanna M.; Dr. Bruce Arrigo. “The Phenomenon of Serial Murders and Women“. McNair Dispatch: An Online Research Journal. University of North Carolina at Charlotte. http://www.mcnair.uncc.edu/Ayanna.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  7. ^ Reynolds, Michael (2003). Dead Ends: The Pursuit, Conviction and Execution of Female Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, the Damsel of Death. Macmillan/St. Martin’s. pp. 116–117. ISBN 9780312984182. http://us.macmillan.com/Book.aspx?isbn=9780312984182. 
  8. ^ Notorious Crime Profiles Aileen Wuornos“. Biography.com. http://www.biography.com/notorious/crimefiles.do?catId=259456&action=view&profileId=262833. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  9. ^ a b Reynolds, Michael (2003). Dead Ends: The Pursuit, Conviction and Execution of Female Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, the Damsel of Death. Macmillan/St. Martin’s. pp. 117. ISBN 9780312984182. http://us.macmillan.com/Book.aspx?isbn=9780312984182. 
  10. ^ Reynolds, Michael (2003). Dead Ends: The Pursuit, Conviction and Execution of Female Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, the Damsel of Death. Macmillan/St. Martin’s. pp. 117–118. ISBN 9780312984182. http://us.macmillan.com/Book.aspx?isbn=9780312984182. 
  11. ^ Reynolds, Michael (2003). Dead Ends: The Pursuit, Conviction and Execution of Female Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, the Damsel of Death. Macmillan/St. Martin’s. pp. 118. ISBN 9780312984182. http://us.macmillan.com/Book.aspx?isbn=9780312984182. 
  12. ^ Ventura, Varla (2008). The Book of the Bizarre: Freaky Facts and Strange Stories. Weiser. pp. 132. ISBN 9781578634378. 
  13. ^ a b Reynolds, Michael (2003). Dead Ends: The Pursuit, Conviction and Execution of Female Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, the Damsel of Death. Macmillan/St. Martin’s. pp. 119. ISBN 9780312984182. http://us.macmillan.com/Book.aspx?isbn=9780312984182. 
  14. ^ Kennedy, Dolores; Robert Nolin (1994). On a Killing Day: The Bizarre Story of Convicted Murderer Aileen Lee Wournos [sic]. S.P.I. Books. pp. 48. ISBN 1561712930. 
  15. ^ The legal term is transactional immunity, meaning complete immunity for crime or crimes committed. This is in contrast to what is known as use immunity which prevents prosecutors from using self-incriminating testimony before a grand jury.
  16. ^ Dwyer, Kevin; Jure Fiorillo (2007-11-06). True Stories of Law & Order: SVU. Penguin Group/Berkley. pp. 53–54. ISBN 9780425217351.
    http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,0_9780425217351,00.html
    .
     
  17. ^ a b c Timeline Of Aileen Wuornos’ Crimes“. Local 6 News. Archived from the original on 2008-10-03. http://www.webcitation.org/5bI2YtmO0. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  18. ^ Dwyer, Kevin; Jure Fiorillo (2007-11-06). True Stories of Law & Order: SVU. Penguin Group/Berkley. pp. 54–55. ISBN 9780425217351. http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,0_9780425217351,00.html. 
  19. ^ a b c AILEEN C. WUORNOS v. STATE OF FLORIDA“. Florida Supreme Court. 2004-11-19. Archived from the original on 2008-10-02. http://www.webcitation.org/5bGdvORWZ. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  20. ^ Dwyer, Kevin; Jure Fiorillo (2007-11-06). True Stories of Law & Order: SVU. Penguin Group/Berkley. pp. 55. ISBN 9780425217351. http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,0_9780425217351,00.html. 
  21. ^ a b Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer“. Archived from the original on 2008-09-27. http://www.webcitation.org/5b8vaARvx. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  22. ^ Zarrella, John (2002-10-15). “Wuornos’ last words: ‘I’ll be back’“. CNN. Archived from the original on 2008-10-02. http://www.webcitation.org/5bGafqK0R. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  23. ^ Wilson, Catherine (2002-07-13). “Aileen Wuornos says prison guards abusing her“. News Chief. http://www.polkonline.com/stories/071302/sta_wuornos.shtml. Retrieved 2007-11-13. 
  24. ^ Broomfield, Nick. “Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (Film Summary). http://www.aileenfilm.com/summary.php. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  25. ^ Stewart, Helen. “Monstrous end to tragic story”. The Scotsman. 9 May 2004
  26. ^ Cheshire, Godfrey. “Charlize Theron’s career-making performance anchors a harrowing tale”. Independent Weekly. 14 Jan 2004
  27. ^ Fuchs, Cynthia (2004-02-12). “A Lot of Illegalness Going On“. PopMatters. Archived from the original on 2008-10-02. http://www.webcitation.org/5bGbl3kEM. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  28. ^ Execution List: 1976 – present“. Florida Department of Corrections. Archived from the original on 2008-09-27. http://www.webcitation.org/5b8tZ3SJc. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  29. ^ Hall, K, ed. The Oxford Guide to the Supreme Court of the United States. pages 323-4. Oxford University Press.
  30. ^ News: Aileen Wuornos Documentary“. NatalieMerchant.com. Archived from the original on 2008-10-02. http://www.webcitation.org/5bGc5pSby. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  31. ^ Transcript interview Nick Broomfield on Paula Zahn NOW“. CNN. 2004-02-26. Archived from the original on 2008-10-02. http://www.webcitation.org/5bGcGsAcy. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  32. ^ a b Ressler, Robert K. and Tom Schachtman. Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Hunting Serial Killers for the FBI. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992, at p. 83. ISBN 0312078838.
  33. ^ The Serial Killer Files by Harold Schecter ISBN 978-0-345-46566-5
  34. ^ Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer“. NickBroomfield.com. Archived from the original on 2008-10-03. http://www.webcitation.org/5bICUSn4H. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  35. ^ A&E Biography: Episode Guide“. A&E. http://www.aetv.com/biography/bio_episode_guide.jsp?episode=135526. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  36. ^ Monster (2003)“. IMDB. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0340855/. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  37. ^ Welcome to the operatic world of Wuornos!“. Archived from the original on 2008-10-02. http://www.webcitation.org/5bGcuOhsb. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 

Bibliography

  • Reynolds, Michael (2003). Dead Ends: The Pursuit, Conviction and Execution of Female Serial Killer Aileen Wuornos, the Damsel of Death. St. Martin’s True Crime Library. ISBN 0312984189. 
  • Russell, Sue (2002). Lethal Intent: The Shocking True Story of One of America’s Most Notorious Female Serial Killers. Pinnacle. ISBN 0786015187. 
  • Wuornos, Aileen; Christopher Berry-Dee (2004). Monster: My True Story. John Blake. ISBN 1844542378. 

External links

Persondata
NAME Wuornos, Aileen
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Pittman, Aileen Carol
SHORT DESCRIPTION Serial killer
DATE OF BIRTH February 29, 1956
PLACE OF BIRTH Rochester, Michigan, United States
DATE OF DEATH October 9, 2002
PLACE OF DEATH Florida, United States

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Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aileen_Wuornos