A Killer and a Victim | Aileen Wuornos
In The Episode
Trevor Young 00:03
You're listening to Facing Evil, a production of iHeartRadio and Tenderfoot TV. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are solely those of the individuals participating in the show, and do not represent those of iHeartRadio or Tenderfoot TV. This podcast contains subject matter which may not be suitable for everyone. Listener discretion is advised.
Rasha Pecoraro 00:27
Hello, everyone, welcome back to Facing Evil from Tenderfoot. TV and iHeartRadio. We are your hosts. I'm Rasha Pecoraro.
Yvette Gentile 00:36
And I am Yvette Gentile. And here as always, with our amazing producer, Trevor Young.
Trevor Young 00:42
Hey there, how's it go?
Rasha Pecoraro 00:42
Aloha, Trevor. Oh, my God. Okay. So I have to tell you two about what I hope, pray, beg for the two of you and all of our listeners to binge watch immediately. And again, we're not sponsored, but if you want to sponsor us, please tell us Amazon Prime, but A League of Their Own the reimagined series from creator Abbi Jacobson, and she's also one of the stars in it. She's the co-creator. But it's so incredible. I have to tell you a little bit about this series. And why, of course, as the card holding lesbian that I am, of course, I want to watch, you know, the reimagining of a baseball, you know, female baseball players, you know, baseball show, but there's two reasons that I want all of our listeners and for the two of you to watch it. One in Penny Marshalls original movie in the 90s she only alluded to the fact that there were African American women that played baseball during that time, right, but they weren't allowed to play in the All American, you know, girls professional baseball league, which is what this series is based on. It took place I believe in 1943. She like did like a little nod to it just like one scene, but she didn't allude at all to the queer scene of that time. And in the new series, they allude not only allude, they slap you in the face with it beautifully. They bring in beautiful characters and people of color. And it's absolutely, brilliantly, incredible. Laughing, crying all the things so please, please, please, please, please, please watch it.
Yvette Gentile 02:27
Absolutely. And what did you say it was on again, Netflix?
Rasha Pecoraro 02:29
Amazon. No, Amazon Prime.
Yvette Gentile 02:30
Oh. Amazon Prime. Okay. Yeah, I can't wait to watch. It's so interesting that you say that because I was just on a plane to New York. And I just watched for the first time 42.
Rasha Pecoraro 02:41
Yvette Gentile 02:41
Various Voices 02:42
Yvette Gentile 02:43
And you know the story about Jackie Robinson and that was amazing. And just to think about, you know, what, you know, Jackie endured during that time, and I could imagine the same for those those women back then.
Rasha Pecoraro 02:57
Yvette Gentile 02:58
I mean, you had to be fierce, you know, just the insults and the the heat that was being thrown out there. So yeah, I can't wait to watch that. But 42 is amazing as well.
Rasha Pecoraro 03:11
Yvette Gentile 03:12
Alrighty, well, Trevor, will you please take us through today's case.
Archive Clip 03:19
But now a story of unnatural violence the case and confessions of a female serial killer.
speaker 1 03:25
She was tired of being in the spotlight. She was tired of reporters and police and lawyers, everyone making a career off of her.
Now many people who abused these children who were raped. They don't pick up a gun and kill.
No, I wasn't born bad. You guys got it. Same time tell your men, they lie. They lied so bad to you all.
Trevor Young 03:50
Aileen Wuornos, was a Florida based serial killer who murdered seven men between 1989 and 1990. Aileen had a troubled upbringing. At the age of four, she was abandoned by her parents and adopted by her maternal grandparents. Her grandparents were alcoholics and known to be abusive, both verbally and sexually. At age 11, Aileen reportedly engaged in sexual activity at school for drugs and cigarettes. And at age 15, she was thrown out of the house by her grandfather. She survived through sex work and frequently got into trouble with the law. Then, in November of 1989, she committed her first murder. According to Aileen, she shot the man because he had raped her. Over the next year, she would kill six more men in a similar fashion. Aileen was eventually captured and sentenced to death for the murders, and in October of 2002, she died by lethal injection. The following year, a biographical film called Monster premiered, which revealed a new layer to Aileen depicting her not just as a killer, but also as a victim of the circumstances in which she was brought up. And so who was Aileen Wuornos? What drove her to murder seven men? And to what degree was she just as much a victim as the people she killed?
Yvette Gentile 05:16
This is such an incredibly wild story. I mean, I think the case of Aileen Wuornos is so important because it really brings up a question of who the victim really is, in a case like this.
Rasha Pecoraro 05:31
Right? Like everyone, I believe, during that time was so quick to think that Eileen was this man hating lesbian, cold blooded killer who went on this murder spree right. But in reality, let's face it, she was, I believe, truly a victim herself. Of course, the people that she took the lives of were victims as well. But I think that both can be true. And I think not enough people actually talk about that.
Yvette Gentile 05:59
Exactly. But you know, there is no denying that she, she was a killer. But however, she also lived a life of abuse and neglect. Aileen was a woman who was mistreated from the very first day like, I mean, all the way until the end of her life. She was born into a violent lifestyle where she literally had to fight to survive.
Rasha Pecoraro 06:28
Yeah, but you know, like you said, she also murdered at least seven men. And no matter what we say today, it's an incredibly complicated case, people are on both sides in the middle all over the place. But, you know, we're going to dig into all the sides today. And one quick note, before we get going, one of the accounts of Aileen Wuornos's life that sheds so much light on her victimhood is the phenomenal, sometimes hard to watch, because it's so intense, but the phenomenal film 2003's Monster. It is an absolutely incredible film that truly captures who Aileen was as a person and as a human being. And the director of that film is the great, the most phenomenal, one of the most phenomenal humans I've ever met in my entire life. Patty Jenkins and Patty is going to be joining us for an interview on the next episode of Facing Evil.
Yvette Gentile 07:36
Yes, we are so excited to talk to Patty. And for those who don't know, Patty is our ohana. She is the one who brought our mother's life story to fruition. And we have always wanted to talk to her about Aileen Wuornos. So definitely you must, you must look out for this episode.
Rasha Pecoraro 07:59
Absolutely. It's going to be incredibly fantastic. And even though we've known Patty for years, we've never talked to her about Aileen. So with that said, stay tuned for that, but we're gonna start talking about Aileen right now. And let's learn about Aileen's early life.
Trevor Young 08:15
Yeah. So Aileen was born in Rochester, Michigan on February 29 of 1956. And her mother, Diane was only 16 at the time of giving birth to Aileen. Her father was Leo Pittman, and he was 19 at the time of her birth, so her parents had been married when Diane was only 14, which is kind of wild. They also had a son named Keith, who was born before Aileen.
Rasha Pecoraro 08:43
Trevor Young 08:44
Yeah. So Diane was super young when she was having kids.
Yvette Gentile 08:47
Trevor Young 08:48
But the couple of divorce two months before Aileen was even born. So this was already kind of a tumultuous situation, potentially, a recipe for disaster. And Leo was supposedly a pretty troubled guy, reportedly, he had issues with alcohol. So as you can imagine, Diane, as a teenager, you know, just aged 16 wasn't really prepared to deal with children and an alcoholic husband. So they divorced. And then she was just kind of all alone with these kids.
Yvette Gentile 09:18
Yeah. And then Diane, actually, she abandoned both of her children.
Trevor Young 09:24
Yvette Gentile 09:24
There's this one story where Diane left Aileen and Keith, with a babysitter for one night. And then she called later to say that she wouldn't come back. Can you imagine? Can you guys imagine being...
Trevor Young 09:37
Yvette Gentile 09:37
The babysitter on the other line and you have two kids and the parent says, I'm not coming back.
Rasha Pecoraro 09:44
I'm surprised she called at all.
Yvette Gentile 09:46
That's just wild.
Rasha Pecoraro 09:47
Yvette Gentile 09:48
But eventually Aileen and her brother were adopted by Diane's parents.
Trevor Young 09:53
Yeah, I mean, so both of her grandparents where she now lived. They were both incredibly abusive. They were also both alcoholics. Diane Wuornos, Aileen's mom would say the both of her parents were very verbally abusive to her and to Aileen. And Aileen would also say that her grandfather at some point, sexually assaulted her.
Rasha Pecoraro 10:14
So she never had a chance.
Yvette Gentile 10:15
Trevor Young 10:16
Yeah. I mean, she's a kid. And she's already dealing with all this right.
Rasha Pecoraro 10:19
Sadly, you know, it started to catch up with her. And at the tender young age of 11, you know, she reportedly started having sex with her classmates in exchange for food, drugs and cigarettes. So she basically became a sex worker at the age of 11.
Trevor Young 10:38
Yvette Gentile 10:38
It's all heartbreaking and just horrible.
Rasha Pecoraro 10:41
You know, Aileen also struggled with behavioral problems, everything ranging from truancy, not going to school to fight at school. She was also diagnosed with different disabilities. And that had to have had a huge impact on all of the other issues. And in fact, during middle school, Aileen was diagnosed with hearing and visual problems. And they tested her IQ and she only scored 81, which is technically considered borderline intellectual functioning. And basically, so many things were stacked up against Aileen.
Trevor Young 11:19
Yeah,I think a lot of people don't know about that.
Rasha Pecoraro 11:21
No.I don't think so.
Yvette Gentile 11:23
I remember there's a story that one of the school officials spoke to her grandparents and they were urging her to get her special counseling, but her grandmother refused to provide any treatment. They were asking or telling, I should say, you know, can you help you know, your granddaughter? And they said, No. And so the school went as far as to give Aileen, a mild tranquilizer, but I guess is that normal for like back then where they gave kids tranquilizers? I don't know.
Rasha Pecoraro 11:55
Trevor Young 11:56
I don't think you'd get away with that today, but.
Yvette Gentile 11:58
Definitely not today. But that didn't work either. I mean, she was clearly showing problems, and nobody was helping her.
Trevor Young 12:09
Yeah. So anyways, there are some other unfortunate things that happen. In 1970, Aileen is reportedly raped by a friend of her grandfather's. So this is a much older man.
Yvette Gentile 12:22
Trevor Young 12:23
And at the age of 14, as a result of this, Aileen became pregnant. So during her pregnancy, she was actually sent to a home for unwed mothers. And then, on March 21st of 1971. Aileen gave birth to a son. And that child was placed up for adoption, and Aileen then dropped out of school entirely. I don't think we know who that son is...
Yvette Gentile 12:49
Trevor Young 12:49
Or what happened to him. And I don't think Aileen ever met him.
Various Voices 12:52
No, I don't believe so.
Rasha Pecoraro 12:53
Either. But can you imagine?
Trevor Young 12:56
Yeah, the getting sexually assaulted like that, and then having to deal with that at 14.
Rasha Pecoraro 13:01
And she was sent to an unwed mothers home. And you know, we've heard that story before because our own grandmother...
Yvette Gentile 13:07
That's our mother's story.
Trevor Young 13:08
Rasha Pecoraro 13:08
Yeah, our grandmother, Tamara Hodel, was sent to an unwed mothers home when she got pregnant with our mother at the age of 15.
Yvette Gentile 13:11
She was actually 14.
Trevor Young 13:17
Yvette Gentile 13:17
She was 14 gave birth at 15.
Rasha Pecoraro 13:20
Trevor Young 13:21
That's a really interesting parallel.
Rasha Pecoraro 13:22
Yeah, I think that's what they did during that time, right.
Yvette Gentile 13:24
Rasha Pecoraro 13:25
Although this was this was 1971. But what happened to Tamara was 20 years earlier, so 1951. But, whew yeah.
Trevor Young 13:33
So the idea being there is that like, when women you know, something shameful happens to them or something like that. You just kind of shuffle them off and like hide them away.
Rasha Pecoraro 13:42
Until they have the baby.
Yvette Gentile 13:43
And then they get placed up for adoption.
Rasha Pecoraro 13:46
Yeah. And so later that very same year in 1971, Aileen's grandmother died of liver failure. And then her grandfather kicked Aileen out. So she was left to fend for herself at the age of 15. And she took up sex work to survive. She even lived in the woods.
Trevor Young 14:05
That's what she knows, right?
Rasha Pecoraro 14:06
Yeah. She just went back to what she'd been doing from the time she was 11. And according to the Tampa Bay Times here, and this is a quote, at 15, Aileen was left to fend for herself. She spent nights sleeping in abandoned cars, or seeking the refuge of homes in the area, family and neighbors told investigators. Yeah.
Yvette Gentile 14:06
Yep. That's like, you know, when you think about that, like, they just left her out to be a wild anima.
Rasha Pecoraro 14:30
Yvette Gentile 14:31
Anyhow, Aileen left Michigan, and rightfully so. But she sort of becomes a vagabond, like she's traveling. And she's hitchhiking across the country. We know that on May 27th, 1974. Aileen was arrested in Colorado for a DUI. And she was also arrested for disorderly conduct for firing a pistol out of a moving car. And so she was then charged with a failure to appear in court. So obviously she never showed up for that. Right?
Rasha Pecoraro 15:04
Yvette Gentile 15:04
So she's, you know, hitchhiking across country. She's handling guns and getting into trouble with the law. I mean, this, this all just seems like a bad situation getting worse.
Trevor Young 15:19
Right. Yeah, things are definitely starting to spiral at this point. And eventually she makes her way down I-75 all the way to Florida. And this is where really most of the story takes place. This is where Aileen lives when she eventually murders seven men, and we'll get into that right after we take a quick break.
Rasha Pecoraro 15:41
So, I want to point out a few more notable things that happen with Aileen before her murdering spree begins. First in 1976, she met and married a 69 year old man named Louis Gratz Fell. During their marriage, Aileen beat Lewis with his very own cane. And Lewis ended up getting a divorce from Aileen and even took out a restraining order against her and he would be quoted as saying, "Wuornos has a violent and ungovernable temper and threatened to do bodily harm." What do we think about this?
Trevor Young 16:20
It's weird. I mean, this marriage clearly doesn't last very long, for good reason.
Various Voices 16:25
Trevor Young 16:26
It's I guess the first case we have of Aileen being incredibly violent, you know.
Rasha Pecoraro 16:32
Trevor Young 16:32
Especially to somebody she's supposedly romantically involved with.
Rasha Pecoraro 16:37
I wonder how much of that was just survival, right?
Trevor Young 16:40
Rasha Pecoraro 16:41
And, you know, things proceeded to go even more downhill from there. And in 1978, at the age of 22. I leave Aileen attempted suicide by shooting herself in the stomach.
Yvette Gentile 16:54
That's just crazy.
Rasha Pecoraro 16:55
That wasn't even her first suicide attempt. I think it was her sixth suicide attempt, and her first time that she had tried to kill herself. She was only 14 years old.
Trevor Young 17:03
Yeah. And then at that point, it was just seemingly crime after crime that she was caught for throughout the years. Just a couple of notable examples. She robbed a convenience store in 1981. She tried to cash forged checks at a bank. She was also arrested in Miami in 1986 for car theft and for resisting arrest. And then also that year she robbed a man at gunpoint, demanding $200 So this is unfortunately, Aileen's life now, it seems like,
Rasha Pecoraro 17:33
Well, it's been that way forever, It feels like.
Yvette Gentile 17:36
Trevor Young 17:37
She's like, now she's resorting to like violence, right?
Rasha Pecoraro 17:40
Crime and violence, yeah.
Trevor Young 17:41
Rasha Pecoraro 17:41
Yeah, it's definitely gone to the next step.
Yvette Gentile 17:43
Yeah and everything is spiraling out of control with her, right. But then, she meets someone who is very, very important in this story. She meets a hotel maid named Tyra Moore. And for anyone who hasn't seen Monster, she is portrayed by the great Christina Ricci. And this character that Christina Ricci plays her name is Selby.
Rasha Pecoraro 18:11
In the movie
Yvette Gentile 18:12
In the movie monster. But this is really the beginning of a love story when she meets Tyra.
Rasha Pecoraro 18:18
I mean, I don't know but it might have been the only like, glimmer of of light and Aileen's life. And the two of them, you know, begin a very enduring but very tumultuous and difficult relationship. And Aileen was 30 and Tyra was 24 years old at this point. They moved in together not long after meeting like the typical lesbians, I can joke about that because hello, we do that, we Uhaul really fast. So they of course, you know, we're living together and the only way that Aileen could support Tyra was by doing sex work. And that's how they survived. You know, I'm sure this was hard on them as a couple. But to be honest, I'm I'm just glad that Aileen had Tyra for however brief a time.
Trevor Young 19:10
As you alluded to, though, Rasha this doesn't last very long, because in 1989, the murders begin. And let's go through them in order rather quickly. So on November 30th, a 51 year old man named Richard Charles Mallory picked up Aileen in his car, and supposedly this is for Aileen to provide him with sexual services. So Aileen would claim that Mallory tied her to the steering wheel of his car and raped her. And then after this assault, she pulls out her gun and shoots him multiple times. So two of those shots punctured his left lung, killing him. Aileen then dumped his body in the woods nearby. The police wouldn't discover the body until December 13. A few weeks later, and this is officially Aileen's first killing.
Rasha Pecoraro 20:01
Yeah, I want to say that Aileen did this first one in self defense. But as much as I want to defend Aileen, for everything that she's been through, this happens six more times. Not once, not twice, six more times.
Yvette Gentile 20:18
Trevor Young 20:18
And we only have her account.
Rasha Pecoraro 20:19
Trevor Young 20:19
Like we don't have anybody else to...
Rasha Pecoraro 20:21
Trevor Young 20:22
Bring the story up or say that something else happened you know, so.
Rasha Pecoraro 20:26
Yeah, just Aileen's testimony right, just Aileen's recollections of this. So on June 1st, of 1990, police discovered the naked body of 47 year old David Andrew Spears, who had also been shot to death. And just a few days later, on June 6, they found the body of 40 year old Charles Edmond Carcharodon, wrapped in an electric blanket. In both of these cases, investigators determined that they had been killed with a 22 caliber gun. Aileen was later spotted driving Carcharodon's car, and she had also pawned a gun that was in his name.
Yvette Gentile 21:06
Crazy. It just seems like she's not covering any tracks. I mean.
Trevor Young 21:11
Yeah, I don't think she really had any concept of covering her tracks. You know, I think she was just in these very probably desperate situations and just reacted. I mean, that said, like, she could have had the, I don't know, the thought to throw evidence away, and maybe not like, drive that person's car around.
Rasha Pecoraro 21:27
Trevor Young 21:27
I don't know so anyways, the next victim is Peter Abraham Sims. And on July 4th police find his car, but they never find his body. To this day, they've actually never found his body. But Aileen and Tyra had been spotted leaving his car a few days earlier. And they also find Aileen's handprint on the inside door handle.
Rasha Pecoraro 21:51
Again, not thinking she probably wasn't even thinking about it. She was just trying to survive trying to oh my god, I just killed another person. What do I do next? I mean, I don't know. I'm not a killer. I don't know what her mind was like. But...
Yvette Gentile 22:01
Yeah, I'm just thinking about what you were just saying. And you know, she had to, you know, in the moment, of course, you're not thinking about that in the hype of doing all the things that she's done. But eventually, she has to know that it's going to catch up to her.
Rasha Pecoraro 22:16
Right. Right, you would think. So I think this is where it was a pivotal point in where everything changed for Aileen. And this is depicted so beautifully in the movie Monster by Patty Jenkins. And you're just like, riveted. You're like what is going on? So a witness actually sees Aileen and Tyra in, you know, Peter Sims car, and she sees them get into a car accident. And they don't ask for help from her. They freak the eff out and take off. So this woman is like what just happened. And you see that in the scene in the movie. And it actually happened in real life. So this witness was able to give, you know, full descriptions of Tyra and Aileen to the authorities. And then basically, I mean, we're supposed to say man hunt, but the woman hunt began.
Trevor Young 23:12
So I mean, yeah, exactly.
Rasha Pecoraro 23:13
Trevor Young 23:13
Up until this point, there was not really a big connection between all of these different murders. You know, I think they were sort of figuring out what was going on eventually.
Yvette Gentile 23:22
Trevor Young 23:23
But now they're seeing like, oh, like these women are probably behind this. They had the victim's car, you know. A lot of things are lining up now. So a couple more murders happened before they actually catch her though. So the next victim is 50 year old Troy Eugene Burris. He was found on August 4th of that year. And victim number six is Charles Richard Humphries, who was found on September 12th. And then the final victim was 62 Year Old Walter Gino Antonio. And he was found on November 19th, and this is 1990. So it's now been a full year since Aileen started killing.
Rasha Pecoraro 23:30
Yvette Gentile 24:03
That's just so crazy. All of that in one year. That's seven victims.
Rasha Pecoraro 24:10
Well, you know, it doesn't take police very long to figure out that it is Aileen that has been behind all of these murders, and they do finally track her down. And as we said, I mean, Aileen wasn't covering her tracks very well for that year of all of those murders. She was pawning her, you know, her victim's belongings at pawn shops all around Florida, and her fingerprints were actually found on one of the pawn shop receipts. And then so once they matched up that print that was on the pawn shop receipt, authorities put out a warrant for her arrest finally after that year of her killing,
Trevor Young 24:50
yeah, and of course, at this point, it's just a matter of time, right. So finally on January 9th, of 1991. Aileen is arrested at Last Resort which is a biker bar in Volusia, Florida. So technically police arrested her for an outstanding warrant for something else. She was under the assumption that the warrant was related to one of the many fake names that she had been using going around using.
Rasha Pecoraro 25:15
She didn't think she was getting arrested for murder? Okay.
Trevor Young 25:19
Yeah, I mean, she had no idea that investigators had linked her to these murders at all or that she was under suspicion for them at all. So anyways, she's arrested taken into custody. And then we'll talk about what happens after we take another quick break.
Yvette Gentile 25:38
So after the police arrest Aileen on January 9th, they find Tyra the next day in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where she I guess she was staying with her sister. They don't charge her, but they do question her about Aileen's activities.
Rasha Pecoraro 25:55
So I do want to read this quote from Crime Library about what Tyra told them at that time. And just a side note here. Tyra always called Aileen, Lee. So she's going to be referring to Lee here in this quote. "She had known about the murder since Lee had come home with Richard Mallory's Cadillac, she said, Lee had openly confessed that she had killed a man that day, but Moore told her not to say anything else. I told her I didn't want to hear about it. She had her suspicions, she admitted but wanted to know as little as possible about Lee's doings. The more she knew, she reasoned, the more compelled she would feel to report Lee to the authorities. And she didn't want to do that. I was just scared. She said. She always said she'd never heard me. But then you can't believe her. So I don't know what she would have done"
Yvette Gentile 26:50
We do know, like Tyra, genuinely loved Aileen, you know, and she wanted to protect her. But I don't know. Like, at the same time, she's saying that. You can't believe her. But she's like, I don't know. Right? I'm not 100% Sure.
Rasha Pecoraro 27:12
Cause she knows that she's killed people.
Trevor Young 27:15
Yeah, I don't know if if Tyra really trusts her or not?
Yvette Gentile 27:18
Rasha Pecoraro 27:19
Because you can love someone and not trust them.
Trevor Young 27:21
But as the quote kind of says she was willfully ignoring it or like trying not to believe it. Right. Which is, I think, that happens in relationships that involve some sort of like, dark behavior on one part of the relationship. The other person in the relationship tends to kind of like, block it out of their head and pretend it's not a problem. Right?
Rasha Pecoraro 27:44
Trevor Young 27:45
Exactly. So deep down, Tyra knows, but she's trying to like...
Various Voices 27:49
Trevor Young 27:50
Just move along and trust her, but like, deep down knows that like Alieen's probably not trustworthy?
Rasha Pecoraro 27:56
Yvette Gentile 27:57
Trevor Young 27:58
That said police do convince her to speak with Aileen on a recorded phone line, and they persuade her to confess. In exchange for this, they offer Tyra immunity from prosecution. So the first call happens on January 14th, when Ty recalls Aileen, who is in jail, but Aileen does not confess at first. In fact, Aileen was under the impression, as we said before, that she was only in jail for a minor weapons violation and a traffic ticket.
Rasha Pecoraro 28:26
Wow. That's just crazy.
Yvette Gentile 28:28
I also read that Aileen was speaking in code words on that entire phone conversation, which obviously suggests that she knew more about the situation than she let on. I mean, she, she had to have been just playing it cool. She knew.
Rasha Pecoraro 28:45
Yeah, she knew she was being recorded. Yeah. I mean, she knew that it was only a matter of time, right. But on the third day of phone calls, which was January 16th, Aileen finally agreed to confess in order to protect Tyra. So here's another interesting quote from Crime Library, "Moore became more insistent that the police were after her and it became clear that Wuornos knew what was expected of her. She even voiced suspicion that Moore was not alone, that someone was there taping their conversations. But as time passed, she became less careful about what she said she would not let Moore go down with her. Just go ahead and let them know what you need to know what they want to know or anything, she said and I will cover for you because you're innocent. I'm not going to let you go to jail. Listen, if I have to confess, I will."
Trevor Young 29:44
Right so when it comes down to the final decision, Aileen decides to choose Tyra over herself, and she does ultimately confess. So Aileen goes into confess, but there are two big points she insist on while she is confessing. One is that Tyra had nothing to do with any of the murders. And two that none of this was any of her fault Alieen's that is. So she claims that all of these murders were done in self defense that each of the victims had either assaulted her, threatened her or raped her. And this idea becomes essentially the mantra of Aileen during the entire trial and all of this process of her defending herself. It is important to know that investigators during the confession, said that her story kind of seemed to develop as she told him, so when she thought she'd said something that was like kind of incriminating. Like when she caught herself. She would like back up and rewind and be like, no, no, actually...
Rasha Pecoraro 30:44
Trevor Young 30:45
Yeah. And then she would retell it changing little details to kind of like fix it along the way. So it's, again, kind of hard to trust Aileen's account, at least according to the investigators.
Yvette Gentile 30:57
To me, this was clearly self defense, especially for the first one. That's my opinion. She was fighting for her life against violent men who were not trying but who had raped her.
Trevor Young 31:10
But do you think it was self defense after that point? Or, you know, do you think like, she was making up the self defense part, for the ones after the first one? That seems to be a big question in this case?
Yvette Gentile 31:23
You know, that's the difficult thing about this case is like, you don't really know. But I just have to say for me, I feel like the first victim was clearly self defense. The other six? I don't think so.
Trevor Young 31:41
Yeah, so let's talk about the trials then. So Aileen's first trial, which is for the murder of Richard Charles Mallory begins on January 14th, of 1992. So because police had already connected her to the other murders, by this point, prosecutors here were able to bring in all of the evidence from those other cases. And this is something that's kind of unique to Florida law, which says that you can actually pull in evidence from other cases, if you can demonstrate that there's a pattern between all the different cases right or that there's a pattern of behavior evidence in comparing all the cases.
Rasha Pecoraro 32:17
Do we, are we okay with this law? Like I'm like, I'm not really sure. Do you know what I mean because I feel like that first murder was self defense, but I can see why they're allowed to bring in other evidence because they're trying to prove that it was a pattern because it wasn't only Richard Mallory. It was Richard Mallory and six other people but now that the jury knew right about all of those murders that made Aileen's claim of self defense against Richard way less probable because it happened six more times. So to them this look much more like a serial killer, killing spree, right?
Trevor Young 32:56
Well, there was also this to consider. There was the videotaped confession. And to be honest, this didn't really help the whole self-defense case, either.
Rasha Pecoraro 33:07
Trevor Young 33:07
So supposedly, Aileen appears very confident and unbothered by the stories of rape and resulting murder that she was confessing to. So she also made apparently, "easy conversation with her interrogators." And she even told her public defender to be quiet multiple times. So she apparently just seemed very in control of the situation throughout. So I don't really know what to make of that. To me. That's just that account seems very sexist in nature. Like she wasn't emotional enough as a woman about these terrible things. Like they wanted her to be more like, oh, no, such a terrible thing that happened.
Rasha Pecoraro 33:49
I wanted to say yeah,
Trevor Young 33:52
I mean, that said, it's also a bit I don't know sociopathic to like, no matter what, who you are to talk about, like murdering people, and it really, like callous and I can see why the jury would hear that and be like, ooh, this person like does not have a lot of remorse for killing. So, you know, I think that's really what the jury saw here.
Yvette Gentile 34:11
Yeah, so unsurprisingly, Aileen, like you just said, with the jury was convicted of first degree murder, for killing Richard Charles Mallory. On January 27th, The jury deliberated for less than two hours before determining she was guilty. And then as she left the courtroom, Aileen exploded into this rageful shouting fit and this is so incredibly hard for me to even say these words, but this is coming from her mouth and she says, I'm innocent. I was raped, and I hope you get raped scumbags of America.
Rasha Pecoraro 34:54
Trevor Young 34:55
Well, the next phase of her trial was the penalty phase. And that's to determine what punishment she gets. The defense argued that Aileen was, "mentally ill and suffered from borderline personality disorder, and that her tumultuous upbringing had stunted and ruined her." So her lawyer basically pleaded to the jury to save Aileen's life by saying that, you know, she was too mentally ill to know what she was doing. However, this argument really didn't have much impact on the jury, they pretty quickly recommended the death penalty. And on January 31st, Judge Gurial Blunt sentenced Aileen to death by electric chair for Mallory's murder. Do you think this was justified, the death penalty?
Rasha Pecoraro 35:38
Is the death penalty ever justifying?
Yvette Gentile 35:41
No, I don't know if we want to go there. But I can go back to like talking about, you know, how she was just thrown away, she was literally thrown out to fend for herself like a wild child. And she, you know, was born on that mentality. Like, either she was going to get killed, or she was going to kill them.
Rasha Pecoraro 36:04
Yvette Gentile 36:04
That was rage that was inside of her. Oh Yeah.
Rasha Pecoraro 36:07
Killing herself killing anyone. I mean, she did attempt to take her own life, you know, half a dozen times. Like, it's heartbreaking to me, but I don't believe she should have been killed, I think she should have been given a chance to get mental health help. So I think this is where I, I'm really torn, right? Because I feel so bad for Aileen, because, you know, we always say on this show, you're not born a victim. But it's almost like she didn't have a chance. You know, I'm surprised she lived as long as she did without killing herself...
Trevor Young 36:48
I want to point out something that I think a lot of people don't think about when it comes to something like Aileen, she's one of the very few female serial killers out there. Right?
Rasha Pecoraro 36:58
Trevor Young 36:59
There's not a ton of precedent for someone like Aileen. So when she's going through this trial, when she's going on the stand, they're not just viewing her as a serial killer. They're viewing her as a woman.
Rasha Pecoraro 37:11
Trevor Young 37:12
And so a lot of their lens is very clouded by perceptions of womanhood, how a woman should act...
Rasha Pecoraro 37:20
Trevor Young 37:21
And that compounds a lot on the, again, the perceptions of the jury. And so I think part of her sentence was, you know, based on a lot of probably misogyny, or at least misunderstanding...
Rasha Pecoraro 37:35
Trevor Young 37:36
Of what women go through, and there was just a lot working against her. And a big part of that was just that people listening to her story, or trying to understand her just had nothing to work with.
Rasha Pecoraro 37:47
Right. And I wonder too, like, with the death sentence, did they do that to make an example of her?
Yvette Gentile 37:54
You know, very valid point that you just made Trevor, and it's like, you know, the jury, the judge, they all have this kind of cookie cutter image of what a woman is supposed to be. Right. And that is not what they were looking at, you know, in their eyes, they weren't looking at, you know, what this woman had endured, you know, her whole life. They were looking at, you know, well, this is a monster.
Trevor Young 38:26
And I do wonder, like, just theoretically like, what if it was only the first murder? What if it had just been Richard Charles Mallory? Like, would she still had been convicted the same way or not? And my theory is that she would have.
Rasha Pecoraro 38:26
Trevor Young 38:42
Wow. Especially especially during that time. You're absolutely right, Trevor. Because I think to that jury, and that judges, it didn't matter if it was one man, didn't matter if it was seven, it didn't matter if it was self defense, didn't matter if it was cold blooded, you know, thrill of the kill. I think to them, a woman who was out of control and who killed who had the lifestyle that she had was already condemned, you know, before she walked in that courtroom.
Rasha Pecoraro 38:47
And in Florida.
Yvette Gentile 38:52
Yep. Absolutely. Right.
Rasha Pecoraro 39:13
So on March 31st, it was decided that Aileen would not stand trial again. And Aileen pleaded no contest to the other murders and she pleaded no contest to the murders of Charles Richard Humphreys, Troy Eugene Burris, and David Andrew Spears. In a statement about this Aileen would say "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."
Yvette Gentile 39:48
So yeah, there you go. So that changes the game right there.
Rasha Pecoraro 39:53
Oh, so in total, even though we believe Aileen killed seven men and she ends up with only six total death sentences. And that's because the seventh death sentence couldn't be carried out for the murder of Peter Abraham Seems because his body like Trevor said was never found.
Yvette Gentile 40:16
So Aileen's lawyers spent much of the next decade trying to appeal her sentences. But apparently Aileen wasn't interested in having her sentence changed. In fact, in 2001, Aileen petitioned to have her lawyers dismissed and cancel all of her pending appeals. She just gave up.
Rasha Pecoraro 40:37
Yvette Gentile 40:39
This is a quote, This is what she said. She said, "I killed those men. I 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. That's heavy.
Rasha Pecoraro 40:57
Trevor Young 40:57
Yeah. And one thing that did happen is she requested that her method of execution be changed to lethal injection instead of electric chair. And I think rightfully so. And the Florida Supreme Court did agree to all those requests that you laid out, Yvette so they dismissed the appeals, and her lawyers.
Rasha Pecoraro 41:18
On October 9th, 2002, Aileen Wuornos, was executed by lethal injection at Florida State Prison. She declined a last meal, just asking for one single cup of coffee instead. In her final statement, before her execution, she seemed to accept her fate. And I'll be honest, I Googled it, I tried to look it up. I was trying to decipher this last quote that Aileen left with the world and I couldn't make sense of any of it. But I'm going to read it to you, and maybe you can figure it out. And please tell me if you do, "I'd just like to say I'm sailing with the rock. And I'll be back like Independence Day with Jesus, June 6th, like the movie, big mothership and all I'll be back."
Trevor Young 42:13
So my understanding is that the last few years of Aileen's life, she was not well, mentally.
Rasha Pecoraro 42:20
Trevor Young 42:21
So maybe there is some sense to be made here. But I kind of when I read that I chalked it off to Okay, those are the last semblances of lucidity coming through. So.
Yvette Gentile 42:34
Rasha Pecoraro 42:35
Well, after those words, Aileen was pronounced dead at 9:47 p.m. She was the first woman to ever be executed in the state of Florida, and only the 10th woman to ever be executed in the entire country since capital punishment had been restored in the United States in 1976. She was cremated, and her ashes were spread in Michigan by lifelong friend Dawn Watkins. And the song Carnival by Natalie Merchant was played at Aileen's funeral.
Yvette Gentile 43:11
There's a lot more to talk about here about Aileen's life and the way that she was treated. And we're going to do a deep dive into that on the next episode, when we sit down with our friend our ohana. Miss Patty Jenkins. So please, please stay tuned for that. For this week's Imua, there are two sides to this to think about. First of all, most importantly, we want to remember those whose lives were taken violently, the victims in this terrible case and their families.
Rasha Pecoraro 43:53
But we also want to recognize that Aileen was a victim herself, a victim of generational abuse and generational trauma, that she was undoubtedly a product of the system that she was born into.
Yvette Gentile 44:08
But with proper resources and a more caring upbringing, Aileen might have got the help she needed. But instead she was subjected to physical sexual and emotional abuse. And that set her on the crash course to becoming a monster.
Rasha Pecoraro 44:28
And we hope that people think about the consequences that their actions have on others. Break the cycles of trauma of abuse, and instead of blame try to seek understanding and love. Onward and upward. Imua.
Yvette Gentile 44:46
Rasha Pecoraro 44:52
Well, that's our show for today. Make sure to tune in for our next episode, where we interview the amazing Patty Jenkins.
Yvette Gentile 45:01
Well as always, we'd love to hear what you thought about today's discussion and if there is a case that you would like us to cover.
Rasha Pecoraro 45:08
Find us on social media @facingevilpod or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one request if you haven't already, please find us on iTunes and give us a review and a good rating, if you like what we do. Your support is always cherished.
Yvette Gentile 45:25
Until next time, aloha.
Trevor Young 45:35
Facing Evil is a production of iHeartRadio and Tenderfoot TV. The show is hosted by Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile. Matt Frederick and Alex Williams are executive producers on behalf of iHeartRadio with producers Trevor Young and Jesse Funk. Donald Albright and Payne Lindsey, are executive producers on behalf of Tenderfoot. TV, alongside producer Tracy Kaplan. Our researcher is Claudia Dafrico. Original Music by Makeup and Vanity Set. Find us on social media, or email us at email@example.com. For more podcasts from iHeart Radio or tenderfoot TV, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.