Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Aileen Wuornos: Killer Who Preyed on Truck Drivers

Aileen's Defender

Into this tumult came Arlene Pralle, a 44-year-old "born-again" Christian who ran a horse breeding and boarding facility near Ocala. She had seen Wuornos's picture in a newspaper and wrote her a letter. "My name is Arlene Pralle," she began, "I'm born-again. You're going to think I'm crazy, but Jesus told me to write you." She provided her home telephone number, and on January 30 Wuornos called her (collect) for the first time. Almost immediately, Pralle became her ardent defender and helpmate. Pralle advised her that her public defenders were trying to profit from her story, as was everyone else. Wuornos asked for and got new attorneys. Pralle spoke with reporters, describing her relationship with Wuornos to a Vanity Fair reporter as, "a soul binding. We're like Jonathan and David in the Bible... It's as though part of me is trapped in jail with her. We always know what the other is feeling and thinking." To another reporter she said, "If the world could know the real Aileen Wuornos, there's not a jury that would convict her."

Throughout 1991, Pralle appeared on talk shows and in tabloids, talking to anyone who would listen about what she perceived as Wuornos's true, good nature. She arranged interviews for Wuornos with reporters she thought would be sympathetic, and in this forum Wuornos continued to tell and embellish her fantastic story. Both Wuornos and Pralle emphasized Wuornos's troubled upbringing, and both leveled accusations of corruption and complicity at anyone who was handy-the agents proffering the book and movie deals, the detectives, the attorneys and, especially, Tyria Moore. And just when it seemed things couldn't get any weirder, they did. On November 22, 1991, Arlene Pralle and her husband legally adopted Aileen Wuornos. Pralle said God had told her to.


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