Aileen Wuornos: Monster?

Aileen Wuornos: Mind of a Monster
Arrow Media, 2020, 1 hr 24 min

4 Stars

Several weeks ago, I was doing my routine, bedtime channel surfing and came across the documentary, “Aileen Wuornos: Mind of a Monster,” on the ID, Investigation Discovery, cable channel.

I had done a lot of reading about Aileen “Lee” Wuornos many years ago, so I watched about 30 minutes of the documentary until I had to go to sleep. The next day, I watched the entire film from start to finish via on-demand.

For those of you who have never heard of Aileen Wuornos, she was America’s first female serial killer. It’s not a pleasant story. Wuornos (b. 1956) turned to prostitution as a teenager in Troy, Michigan. She moved down to Florida in 1976 where she continued “hustling.” Over a one-year period, from November, 1989 to November, 1990, she murdered and robbed seven of the many men who had picked her up as she solicited on the side of the highway. Florida police were finally able to track her down and made an arrest in January, 1991. She was eventually convicted on six counts of murder and was executed by lethal injection in October, 2002 at the age of 46.

How does a person become a serial killer? Wuornos was born into very challenging circumstances. Her mother was married at the age of 14 to an abusive sociopath who eventually committed suicide in prison. The single mother then abandoned Aileen and her older brother when the girl was four-years-old. The maternal grandparents adopted the two children, but both adults were hardcore alcoholics and the grandfather was chronically abusive. At the age of fourteen, Aileen was raped by one of her grandfather’s friends, became pregnant, and the baby was given up for adoption. The grandmother died in 1971 and shortly afterwards the grandfather threw Aileen out of the house at the age of fifteen. She supported herself on the streets for the next twenty years.

While Wuornos was in prison in Florida, a born-again woman reached out to her in friendship and became her legal guardian. Wuornos heard the Gospel. But the media circus that surrounded Aileen was a temptation. The guardian saw dollar signs and changed from an advocate into an opportunist who tried to cash-in on some of the media offers.

Wuornos was a deeply disturbed and violent person and deserved the death penalty for the seven, cold-blooded murders. But she wasn’t a monster. Yes, we’re all responsible for our actions, but Wuornos got her start in a snake pit. In her rambling death-row interviews, she talked about Jesus Christ and going to Heaven, but only God knows what happened to her soul.

This documentary provides an informative overview of the Wuornos case. Several of the detectives, lawyers, and prosecutors who were directly involved are interviewed. The spine of the story is the relationship of Wuornos and her childhood friend, Dawn Botkins, that improbably endured to the end.

23 thoughts on “Aileen Wuornos: Monster?

    1. Thanks, Beth. Yes, it’s a very disturbing story. It’s easy to look down on Wuornos with contempt, but I have murdered in my heart hundreds of times. I also think about the men who picked her up. Their sin found them out as it will everyone who has not trusted in Christ.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Wournos was portrayed in the 2003 movie “Monster” by ‎Charlize Theron‎. In that depiction, she enticed a woman, Selby Wall, her lesbian lover, to accompany her on her escapade through Florida. Wall later testified, with Wournos’s “loving consent,” against her and protected Wall from being seen as an accomplice.

    As I recall, the film portrayed Wournos as the victim of her circumstances.

    What I find tragic is that the movie was a great success in Europe and America–people loved it!

    L-RD Bless you and yours, Tom.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Jonah Z. The documentary does get into some of the details of Wuornos’ lesbian relationship with Tyria Moore and indicates part if not all of Wuornos’ motivation in killing her victims was to rob them of their money in order to support Moore. Yes, Theron’s film was sympathetic to Wuornos and portrays her as killing Richard Mallory, victim #1, in self-defense, motivating her to murder her subsequent victims as somewhat justifiable “revenge” for a lifetime of exploitation suffered. Of course, I’m not buying into any justification for Wuornos’s crimes, but do point out she had an abusive childhood.
      Thank you and Lord bless you as well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Totally agree–not buying into her justification. Lots of people suffer at the hands of abusive people and, while never getting totally over it, move on. Some find the renewal of their lives in Christ and do more than merely moving on.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I need to see it. No warfare is good warfare but trench warfare and being ordered to go “over the top” into a spray of machine gun fire with mustard gas being dropped on you seems especially grim.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Crissy. Some of what she said in her death row interviews seemed to indicate she had understood the Gospel and trusted in Christ, but other things she said not so much. Yes, “wretched” and “miserable” are accurate descriptors of her life.


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