On November 30, 1989, Richard Mallory, a storeowner in Palm Harbor, Florida, is last seen taking a ride with Aileen Wuornos. The following day, his car was found abandoned in a remote area of Ormond Beach. Nearly two weeks later, his body turned up in a Daytona Beach junkyard with three bullets in his chest. Mallory's murder was the first of seven committed by Aileen Wuornos over the next year. Perhaps because she was one of the few women killers to gain widespread fame and notoriety, she has been inaccurately dubbed "America's first female serial killer."
Wuornos had been the victim of abuse and neglect herself. Her parents split before she was born and her father, who had been arrested for child molesting, killed himself while awaiting trial in a mental institution. When her mother abandoned her at a young age, Aileen was sent to live with her grandparents, but she was kicked out of their home when she got pregnant. From 1974 to 1976, Wuornos amassed an arrest record for offenses including DUI, assault, and armed robbery. In 1986, she became romantically and criminally involved with a woman named Tyria Moore.
In late 1989, Wuornos began her infamous killing spree. Five months after Richard Mallory was killed, David Spears was found dead in the woods near Tampa, he had been shot six times. At around the same time, another male body turned up nearby that appeared to have been killed with the same type of gun. Three additional men met the same fate during the summer of 1990. When the seventh victim was found a year later, the media was alerted to the possibility of a serial killer. After receiving numerous tips, police detectives arrested Wuornos at a biker bar in January 1991. With Moore assisting police, Wuornos decided to confess to the killings but claimed self-defense. She eventually found guilty and sentenced to death. She was executed in October 2002.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: