Aileen Wuornos: American Boogeywoman, a film portraying the early life of the Florida serial killer who killed seven men between November 1989 and November 1990, hits Netflix later this month.
But the fictionalised story of her early years can’t compare with the chilling real-life interview featured in documentary-maker Nick Broomfield’s interview with Wuornos.
She had given conflicting reasons for the seven murders, describing them as self-defence after the men had raped her, and on another occasion simply as robberies gone wrong.
But when Broomfield asked her directly why she had killed the men, she simply said: “because the cops let me keep killing them”.
In 2001 Wuornos applied to the Florida Supreme Court, demanding that they carry out the death sentence.
“I killed those men,” she wrote, “robbed them as cold as ice. And I’d do it again, too. There’s no chance in keeping me alive or anything, because I’d kill again.
“I have hate crawling through my system,” she said.
“I am so sick of hearing this ‘she’s crazy’ stuff. I’ve been evaluated so many times. I’m competent, sane, and I’m trying to tell the truth.”
Insisting that she knew exactly what she was doing at the time of the murders, she contradicted her lawyers’ insistence that she wasn’t mentally fit to make decisions about her appeal: “I’m one who seriously hates human life and would kill again,” she said.
Wuornos was the daughter of a sex offender who hanged himself in prison. She was raised by her alcoholic grandparents – her grandfather sexually abused her and is she is also known to have engaged in incest with her brother by the time she was 11 years old.
Pregnant by the age of 14, Wuornos was thrown out of the family home and began to support herself with sex work.
At age 20, she met and married 69-year-old yacht club president, Lewis Gratz Fell. It’s this period in her life that’s covered by the new Netflix release.
She was arrested more than once for assault during her brief marriage to Fell, on one occasion hitting with his own cane, leading Fell to apply for a restraining order against his young wife within weeks of the marriage.
Wuornos’s life spiralled into even more chaos, with a catalogue of assaults and drink-drive offences throughout the 1980s.
At the end of that decade she embarked on her murder spree. She was convicted of six murders. The body of the seventh victim, 65-year-old Peter Abraham Siems, was never found and while Wuornos had been driving his car at the time of her arrest, prosecutors chose not to pursue a charge against her for that killing.
Wuornos was executed by lethal injection at Florida State Prison on October 9, 2002. Her last words were: “I’’ll be back”.