Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Aileen Wuornos: Killer Who Preyed on Truck Drivers

The Hunt for Wuornos

The Last Resort bar (Getty Images)
The Last Resort bar (Getty Images)

The hunt for Wuornos began in earnest on January 5, 1991. Pairs of officers, including two undercover as "Bucket" and "Drums," drug dealers down from Georgia, hit the streets hoping to track her down. On the evening of January 8, Mike Joyner and Dick Martin, in their roles as "Bucket" and "Drums," spotted her at the Port Orange Pub. They meant for their takedown to develop gradually, as they wanted an airtight case, but Port Orange police entered suddenly and took Wuornos outside. Mike Joyner frantically phoned the command post at the Pirate's Cove Motel, where authorities from six jurisdictions had come to work the case. This development wasn't because of a leak, they surmised; these were just cops doing their jobs. Bob Kelley of the Volusia County Sheriff's Office called the Port Orange police station and told them not to arrest Wuornos under any circumstances. The word was relayed to the cops in the nick of time, and Wuornos returned to the bar. Joyner and Martin struck up a conversation with her and bought her a few beers. She left the bar at around 10:00, declining an offer for a ride. Once again, the cautious takedown was almost ruined. Two Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers pulled up behind Wuornos as she walked down Ridgwood Avenue, following her with their lights off. Officers at the command post made a call and got the FDLE officers off the street and Wuornos made it to her next destination, a biker bar called the Last Resort. Joyner and Martin met her there for a while, drank more beers, shot more bull. They left just after midnight. Wuornos didn't leave at all. She spent her last night of freedom sleeping on an old car seat in the Last Resort.

The following afternoon, Joyner and Martin were back at the Last Resort as "Bucket" and "Drums," talking Wuornos up and wearing transmitters that kept the police apprised of everything that went on. They had planned on making their collar later that night, but the Last Resort was gearing up for a barbecue, and bikers would start pouring in any second. The decision was made at the command post to go ahead with the arrest. Joyner and Martin asked Wuornos if she'd like to get cleaned up at their motel room. She accepted their offer and left the bar with them. Outside on the steps, Larry Horzepa of the Volusia County Sheriff's Office approached her and told her she was being arrested on the outstanding warrant for Lori Grody. No mention was made of the murders, and no announcement was made to the media that a suspect had been arrested. Their caution was wise: as of yet, they had no murder weapon and no Tyria Moore.

 

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