Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Aileen Wuornos: Killer Who Preyed on Truck Drivers

Drifting into Life of Crime

According to Michael Reynolds in Dead Ends, Aileen, known to friends as Lee, dropped out of school, left home and took up hitchhiking and prostitution.

In the next few years, Keith died of throat cancer at the age of 21, Lauri committed suicide, and Aileen headed for Florida. Manners writes that when Aileen was 20, she was hitch-hiking when a wealthy 69-nine-year-old yacht club president named Lewis Fell picked her up. He fell in love with her instantly. When they married in 1976 the news was actually printed in the society pages. This was a real stroke of luck for her, but she was too wild and destructive to understand when she had it good. She treated Fell badly, got into bar fights and was sent to jail for assault. Needless to say, in a month or so after the marriage Fell realized his mistake and had the marriage annulled.

For the next decade, she lurched from one failed relationship to another, engaging in prostitution, forgery, theft and armed robbery. Along the way, she tried to commit suicide. Emotionally and physically, she was a mess from the drinking and doping and self-destructive lifestyle. When she met 24-year-old Tyria Moore at a Daytona gay bar in 1986, Aileen was lonely and angry and ready for something new.

For a while it was great. Ty loved her and didn't leave her; she even quit her job as a motel maid for a while and allowed Lee to support her with her prostitution earnings. Their ardor cooled, though, and money ran short — still, Ty stayed with Lee, following her from cheap motel to cheap motel, with stints in old barns or in the woods in between. Lee's market value as a prostitute, never spectacular, fell even more. Their existence, meager though it was, became ever harder to maintain. Clearly, something had to change.


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