Netflix viewers show sympathy to serial killer Aileen Wuornos

Netflix viewers voice ‘PITY’ for serial killer prostitute Aileen Wuornos and insist she was ‘let down by society’ as gruesome reality of her ‘horrible family life’ is laid bare in new true crime docuseries

  • Aileen, who was born in Rochester, Michigan, murdered seven men in Florida in 1989 and 1990
  • She claimed her victims had tried to hurt her, and that all of the homicides were committed in self-defense
  • She was eventually found guilty and was sentenced to death. She was executed by lethal injection on October 9, 2002
  • She was sexually assaulted and beaten by her grandfather as a child. At 14 years old, she was kicked out of her house and supported herself through sex work
  • Netflix has covered the gruesome events in the second episode of their new show, Catching Killers, but some people think Aileen was treated unfairly
  • ‘Not Netflix painting a [cop] perfect-picture while making Aileen Wuornos be the monster whose side of the story is not even shown,’ one viewer wrote
  • Another person said that Aileen was ‘let down by society’ and that she ‘needed help’

Netflix viewers are showing sympathy to serial killer and prostitute Aileen Wuornos, and have accused the streaming service of unfairly telling her story in their new crime documentary series, Catching Killers.

Wuornos, who was born in Rochester, Michigan, shot and murdered seven men in Florida in 1989 and 1990 while they were soliciting sex from her. At the time Wuornos was working as a prostitute to support herself and girlfriend, Tyria Moore. She claimed her victims had tried to hurt her, and that all of the homicides were committed in self-defense.

She was eventually found guilty for killing six out of the seven men – – Richard Mallory, David Spears, Charles Carskaddon, Peter Siems, Troy Burress, Charles Humprheys and Walter Jeno Antonio – and was sentenced to death. She was executed by lethal injection on October 9, 2002.

Now, Netflix has delved deeper into the gruesome events surrounding Wuornos’ crimes in the second episode of its latest true crime show, which currently sits at number six on their Top 10 list.

But after watching the episode, which is called Manhunter: Aileen Wuornos, many people took to Twitter to share their thoughts, and they think Wuornos, who was dubbed the Damsel of Death, may have been treated unfairly. 

Netflix viewers are showing serial killer Aileen Wuornos sympathy, and have accused the streaming service of unfairly telling her story in their new crime doc, Catching Killers 

Wuornos, who was born in Rochester, Michigan, murdered seven men in Florida in 1989 and 1990. She claimed the victims had tried to hurt her, and that it was self-defense

Wuornos was sexually assaulted and beaten by her grandfather as a child. She is photographed at 11 years old

At 14, she was kicked out of her house and began supporting herself through sex work while living in the woods

Wuornos never met her father, who was in prison at the time of her birth. He had been convicted of sex crimes against children and was also diagnosed with schizophrenia. He committed suicide in prison when Wuornos was 13 years old.

Wuornos’ mom abandoned her when she was only four years old, so she went to live with her maternal grandparents, who were both alcoholics. She later claimed that her grandfather sexually assaulted and beat her when she was a child.

When she was 14 years old, she became pregnant after she said she was raped by an accomplice of her grandfather’s. She gave birth to a baby boy on March 23, 1971, who she put up for adoption.

Soon after, her grandmother died of liver cancer and she was then thrown out of her house by her grandfather. She dropped out of school and began supporting herself through sex work, while living in the woods behind her house. 

‘She had a horrible family life,’ the detective sergeant who worked on her case, Brian Jarvis, said in the Netflix series. 

‘She didn’t have a mother or father figure. Her father was a career criminal.

‘She went out on her own. By the age of 13, 14, she was prostituting herself for cigarettes.

‘She lived in a car in the woods for a while. At one point, she bought a gun and was going to rob a convenient store but got arrested for that.’

In the years before the murders, Wuornos was arrested multiple times – for disorderly conduct, assault, armed robbery, car theft, resisting arrest, and more.

The Netflix series covered the police’s investigation and how they caught Wuornos, but fans felt that it didn’t focus enough on her traumatic childhood. One person said on Twitter that they felt her side of the story was not told in the docuseries. 

‘Not Netflix and Catching Killers painting a [cop] perfect-picture while making Aileen Wuornos be the monster whose side of the story is not even shown,’ they wrote. ‘And of course, the system hasn’t got a flaw there.’ 

Wuornos eventually confessed to the murders in an attempt to protect her girlfriend, Moore.

‘I’m the one that did the killing. I know that I don’t want my girlfriend involved. She did not do anything and I’m trying to make this clear, that’s why I’m confessing,’ she could be heard saying during an interview with the police.

She continued: ‘I don’t understand why I did it. I should have never done it. See, most of the times, I was drunk as Hell, and I was a professional hooker.

‘They were bad. They were gonna hurt me. This person was either gonna physically beat me up, rape me, or kill me. I don’t know which one. I just turned around and did my fair play before I would get hurt.’

Steve Binegar, the Criminal Investigations Commander on the case, said in the Netflix series: ‘She had a tough life but there’s a lot of people out there who have had tough lives, and they don’t go on a killing spree.’

‘I don’t know if anyone, including her, knows exactly why she did it. Some people, that’s all they want to concentrate on, but that wasn’t really my job.

‘My job was to figure out who committed these murders and put that person where they needed to be, and that was behind bars.’

Brian added, ‘There was something that would flip her off, like a switch going off, to where she went into this mode where she was that aggressor, that predator, and she would be out for the kill.’ 

Wuornos was eventually found guilty and was sentenced to death. She was executed by lethal injection on October 9, 2002

After watching the episode, Twitter was flooded with various reactions, and one person said that although what Aileen did was ‘awful,’ they pitied her

Others claimed that she deserved a better defense attorney and that the trail would have been handled differently if it happened today

Another person pointed out that ‘her crimes were less horrific than most male serial killers’

‘I’ve never felt sympathy for any serial killer at all and I’ve watched more than 20 documentaries but the Aileen Wuornos case made me tear up a li’l,’ another user wrote

After watching the episode, which came out on November 4, 2021, Twitter was flooded with various reactions, and one person said that although what Aileen did was ‘awful,’ they pitied her.

‘I have no explanation but I’m watching Catching Killers and I feel bad for Aileen Warnos. Seems very much like nature vs nurture. Stuff she did was awful. But for whatever reason I pity her,’ they tweeted.

A second Twitter user said that Wuornos was ‘let down by society’ and that she ‘needed help.’ They wrote, ‘Aileen Wuornos was proper let down by society man. She needed help but she deserved to die in the end. #CatchingKillers.’

Others claimed that she deserved a better defense attorney and that the trail would have been handled differently if it happened today.

‘What if Aileen Wuornos had a better defense attorney who could argue she was traumatized and in need of mental health care?’ someone tweeted, with another person adding, ‘Aileen Wuornos’ trial would have been handled entirely differently if it happened today.’

Another person pointed out, ‘This needs to be said. Aileen Wuornos did not get a fair trial or sentence. Her crimes were less horrific than most male serial killers. Gary Ridgway murdered 49 people and is breathing to this day.’ 

‘Does anyone else think that Aileen Wuornos wasn’t that bad? Like how is she in the same category as these other serial killers?’ one message read. 

‘I’ve never felt sympathy for any serial killer at all and I’ve watched more than 20 documentaries but the Aileen Wuornos case made me tear up a li’l,’ another user claimed. ‘I know I’m not supposed to feel sad about a serial killer but idk.’   

‘Aileen Wuornos’ story breaks my heart every time,’ one final viewer wrote after watching the Netflix show. 

Timeline of Wuornos’ killing spree 

December 1989: Body of electronics store owner convicted rapist Richard Mallory, 51, found on December 13, several days after his abandoned car was found by a Volusia County deputy sheriff. He had been shot several times. 

May 1990: Naked body of construction worker David Spears, 43, is found along Florida State Road 19 in Citrus County. He had been shot six times.

June 1990: Part-time rodeo worker Charles Carskaddon, 40, is found dead in Pasco County on June 6. He had been shot nine times.

Retired merchant seaman Peter Siems, 65, left Jupiter, Florida, for Arkansas.

July 1990: On July 4 Peter Siems’ car is found in Orange Springs, Florida. Moore and Wuornos were seen abandoning the car, and Wuornos’ palm print was found on the interior door handle. Moore was never convicted of the murder but later admitted she was responsible. Siems’ body was never found.

Sausage salesman Troy Burress, 50, is reported missing on July 31.

August 1990: Body of Troy Burress found in a wooded area along State Road 19 in Marion County. He had been shot twice.

September 1990: Body of former Chief of Police Charles ‘Dick’ Humphreys, 56, is found on September 12 in Marion County. He was fully clothed and had been shot six times in the head and torso.

November 1990: Trucker and police reservist Walter Jeno Antonio, 62, was found dead on November 1990. His nearly nude body was found near a remote logging road in Dixie County. He had been shot four times.

January 1991: On January 9, Wuornos was arrested on an outstanding warrant at biker bar The Last Resort. 

January 10 – Police located Moore the next day in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She agreed to elicit a confession from Wuornos in exchange for immunity from prosecution. 

January 16 –  Wuornos confessed to the murders but initially claims they were carried out in self-defence.   

January 1992: Wuornos was convicted of Mallory’s murder with help from Moore’s testimony

February 1992: Wuornos is sentenced to death

March 1992:  Wuornos pleads no contest to the murders of Humphreys, Burress, and Spears. She confesses that while Mallory had raped her the others had not, as she had initially claimed. 

May 1992: Wuornos is given three more death sentences.

June 1992: Wuornos pleads guilty to the murder of Carskaddon

November 1992: She receives her fifth death sentence

October 2002: Wuornos is executed by lethal injection in prison

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