I’d still be killing. I couldn’t stop killing. It got easier each time.

— William Bonin
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Aileen Wuornos Childhood


Aileen Carol Pittman was born in Rochester, Michigan, on 29th February 1956; the product of a troubled marriage between Leo Dale Pittman and Diane Wuornos, a feckless teen mother who married at 15, quite incapable of the responsibilities of motherhood. Diane abandoned Wuornos and her elder brother, Keith, to the care of her parents, Lauri and Britta Wuornos, before she was 4 years old, and they adopted the pair and raised them as their own. One of the few good things in her young life, ironically, was that her biological father never got to know her. Pittman was a psychopathic child molester who hanged himself in prison in 1969.

The Wuornoses raised Aileen and Keith with their own children in Troy, Michigan. They did not reveal that they were, in fact, the children’s grandparents. Aileen discovered the truth at around age twelve, information which did not help an already troublesome situation. Lauri Wuornos was an abusive parent, both physically and sexually, while his wife Britta was an abusive alcoholic. Wuornos claims that sexual contact with both Lauri Wuornos, and her brother, Keith, occurred from a very early age, although there is no firm corroborative evidence for this. But her sexual precocity, from whatever source, is certain: Wuornos fell pregnant, aged 14, claiming that Keith was the father, and she was sent to a home for unwanted mothers. On 23rd March 1971 she gave birth to a baby boy, who was given up for immediate adoption.

Within months of Wuornos returning to the family home, her grandmother died of liver failure, a result of heavy drinking (although years later Wuornos’ biological mother claimed that Wuornos had killed her.) Her husband Lauri insisted that Wuornos and Keith be removed from his house, and they were made wards of the court for a short time, before Wuornos ran away and began a life of hitchhiking, prostitution and crime. In the next few years, Keith died of throat cancer at the age of 21, Lauri committed suicide, and Aileen headed for Florida. When she 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. Fell was horrified; a brawling bride had no place in his high-society lifestyle, and he had the marriage annulled after a few months.

Her destructive streak continued and, over the next ten years, she drifted aimlessly, still working as a prostitute, and committing various crimes that ranged from forgery and theft, to armed robbery and assault. In 1986, Aileen met 24-year-old Tyria Moore at a Daytona gay bar. The couple began a volatile and intense relationship that lasted for four years, and Moore was drawn into Wuornos’ cycle of vandalism, violence and harassment.