Saturday 27 December 2014

American Monsters Volume 8

Another 12 Tales of America’s Most Terrifying Serial Killers, including;

Aileen Wournos: female serial killer who gunned down seven men and was mythologized in the Academy Award-winning movie, "Monster."

Arthur Gary Bishop: A sickening pedophile who murdered five young boys, snatching them from the streets before bludgeoning and strangling them to death.

Ted Bundy: charming, articulate and deadly. Bundy cut a swathe of destruction across the country, raping, killing and committing necrophilia on his young victims.

Juan Corona: a California labor broker with a penchant for hacking his workers to death with a machete.

Richard Trenton Chase: the notorious 'Vampire of Sacramento,' Chase literally tore his victims apart, before consuming their flesh and blood.

The Briley Brothers: a trio of deadly siblings who carried out one of the most bloody killing sprees in Virginia history

William Suff: serial killer and keen chef. But did Suff feed the flesh of his victims to unwitting work colleagues?

Belle Gunness: a deadly female Bluebeard who sent as many as 42 suitors to their graves, before disappearing with a fortune.

George Russell: Russell had a problem with rejection, as three unfortunate women discovered to their cost.

Michael Ross: serial rapist and strangler of young women, Ross was the first man executed in Connecticut in almost half a century.

Randall Woodfield: known as the I-5 Killer, Woodfield was once a draftee to the Green Bay Packers before turning his attention to a far more deadly pursuit.

Charles Starkweather: James Dean wannabe who, together with his 13-year-old girlfriend, murdered 11 people during a bloody spree.

Click the "Read More" link below to read the first chapter of

American Monsters Volume Eight

Aileen Wournos

Deadly Damsel

“I'm someone who seriously hates human life and would kill again.” Aileen Wournos

Contrary to popular belief, Aileen Wuornos was not America’s first female serial killer. Female serial killers have been around almost as long as their male counterparts. However, their victims are usually family members or acquaintances, and their method of choice is most often poisoning. Where Wuornos is unique is that she killed with a gun, murdered strangers and had a cooling off period in between her crimes.

In this regard, she more closely matches the FBI definition of a serial killer than other femme fatales.   

Like most serial killers, both male and female, Wuornos had a terrible start in life. Born in Rochester, Michigan on February 29, 1956, she was the daughter of Leo Dale Pittman, a psychopathic pedophile who hanged himself in prison in 1969. Her mother, Diane Wuornos, was fifteen when she married Pitman. She bore him two children before deciding that the responsibilities of parenthood were too much for her. In 1960, Diane abandoned Aileen and her older brother, Keith, to the care of their maternal grandparents, Lauri and Britta Wuornos.

Lauri and Britta raised the children as their own and Aileen did not discover the truth about her parentage until she was twelve. By then, she was already a deeply troubled and rebellious child, something Lauri tried to remedy with severe beatings. Aileen was sexually promiscuous at a very young age and, by 14, she was pregnant, the child given up for adoption at birth in 1971.

In July of that year, Britta Wuornos died of liver failure and not long after Aileen dropped out of school and started working as a prostitute. Within the next few years, Keith died of throat cancer aged just 21. Then Lauri committed suicide, leaving Aileen alone in the world.

She drifted to Florida where, in 1976, she met and married a wealthy 69-year-old yacht club president named Lewis Fell. It was probably the first stroke of good fortune in her entire life, but Aileen’s self destructive side soon surfaced. She treated her husband badly, abusing him both physically and verbally. After she got into a bar fight and was sent to jail for assault, Fell had had enough. A little over a month into the marriage, he had it annulled. 

For the next decade, Aileen’s downward spiral continued. She went from one failed relationship to another, engaged in prostitution, forgery, theft and armed robbery. She tried to commit suicide. Her, once pretty, face was ravaged by drinking and doping. She was lonely and angry, an emotional wreck. When she met 24-year-old Tyria Moore at a Daytona gay bar in 1986, it must have seemed like a godsend.

For once Lee (as Aileen was known to her friends) had someone who seemed to love her unreservedly. Ty quit her job as a motel maid and they moved in together. They stayed in a succession of cheap motels, with Lee picking up the bills through her prostitution earnings. But those earnings were meager. Lee was by now a haggard thirty-something turning tricks for a pittance. Something had to change.

Nobody knows when exactly Aileen Wournos decided to commit murder for profit, or even if it was a conscious decision. What is known is that, on December 13, 1989, two men walking along a dirt road close to Interstate 95 in Volusia County, Florida discovered the body of a man, wrapped in a rubber-backed carpet runner. Fingerprints lifted from the corpse identified him as Richard Mallory. He had been killed by three .22 caliber bullets.

Looking into Mallory’s background police discovered that he ran an electronics repair business in Clearwater, Florida and had served time for sexual assault. He was known to frequent prostitutes, sometimes disappearing for days on sex and booze binges. Several leads were followed in the investigation, one involving a stripper named Chastity. None of them got investigators close to the killer. Eventually, the case went cold.

Then, on June 1, 1990, another naked male corpse was found, this one in the woods of Citrus County, Florida, some 40 miles north of Tampa. He’d been shot several times with a .22. The victim was identified as David Spears, 43, a native of Sarasota, Florida. Spears had worked as a heavy-equipment operator and had last been seen alive on May 19. On that day, he had told his boss that he was going to Orlando. He never made it. His truck was later found on I-75, the doors unlocked and the license plate missing.

Meanwhile, thirty miles south in Pasco County, another body had been discovered near Interstate 75. It was so badly decomposed that medical examiners could not obtain fingerprints or estimate time of death. There was little doubt about the cause of death, though. There were nine .22 caliber bullets in the corpse.

On July 4, Rhonda Bailey, was sitting on her porch, just off State Road 315 near Orange Springs, Florida, when she saw a car careen off the road shudder to a halt in the brush. Two women emerged from the vehicle and promptly got into a raging argument. Then they spotted Bailey and the more vocal of the two approached her and begged her not to call the police. Shortly after, they got back into the vehicle and drove off. The car had sustained damage in the crash though, and it didn’t make it very far. The women then abandoned the car and started walking. When Hubert Hewett, a volunteer firefighter who’d been called to the scene, stopped and asked if they’d been involved in the car wreck, one of the women became angry. She said they knew nothing about the accident and told him to leave them alone. 

Marion County deputies ran a check on the vehicle, a 1988 Pontiac Sunbird, and discovered that it belonged to Peter Siems, who had disappeared on June 7 after leaving his home in Jupiter, Florida. Siems was a 65-year-old retired merchant seaman who devoted most of his time to a Christian outreach ministry. Police were not confident of finding him alive.

Another disappearance occurred on July 30. Troy Burress was a delivery driver for Gilchrist Sausage and on that day he failed to complete his route. Burress’ boss, Johnny Mae Thompson, went out looking for him and when his search turned up nothing he alerted the police. Meanwhile, Burress' wife had also reported him missing. At 4:00 a.m. Marion County deputies found the truck parked on the shoulder of State Road 19, twenty miles east of Ocala. It was empty and the keys were missing.

Five days later, on August 4, a family picnicking in the Ocala National Forest came across the decomposing body of a man. It was Troy Burress. He’d been killed by two .22 caliber bullets, one to the chest and one to the back. 

The next to die was Dick Humphreys, a former Alabama police chief, now working as an investigator for Florida's Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, specializing in child abuse cases. Humphreys disappeared on September 11. His body was discovered on the evening of September 12, shot seven times with a .22 caliber weapon.

Just over a month later, on November 19, the nude body of Walter Gino Antonio was found on a logging road in Dixie County. Antonio was 60 years old, a trucker and sometime security guard, and a member of the Reserve Police. He'd been shot four times with a .22.

By now, investigators from Marion, Pasco and Citrus counties had pulled together to form a multi-agency task force. The consensus among the investigators was that the prime suspects were the two women who had crashed Peter Siems’ car. In late November, Reuters ran a story about the killings, which was picked up by newspapers across Florida. The story included composite sketches of the two suspects and it didn’t take long before leads started pouring in.

A man from Homosassa Springs reported that the two women had rented a trailer from him and that their names were Tyria Moore and Lee. A woman in Tampa said the women had worked at her motel. Their names, she said, were Tyria Moore and Susan Blahovec. An anonymous tipster identified the women as Ty Moore and Lee Blahovec. 

Then Port Orange police reported that Lee Blahovec and Tyria Moore had been staying at the Fairview Motel in Harbor Oaks, Blahovec using the alias Cammie Marsh Greene. A computer check revealed that neither Tyria Moore, nor Cammie Marsh Greene, had a criminal record.  Susan Blahovec had one arrest, for trespassing. Investigators also discovered that Cammie Marsh Greene had pawned a camera and a radar detector, leaving the requisite thumbprint on the receipt. These items had belonged to Richard Mallory. In addition, she’d pawned a set of tools that matched the description of those taken from David Spears' truck.

Running the thumbprint, officers found a match to a Lori Grody and found that it also matched a bloody print lifted from Peter Siems’ car. All of this information was sent to the National Crime Information Center and responses soon came in from Michigan, Colorado and Florida. Lori Grody, Susan Blahovec and Cammie Marsh Greene were all aliases for Aileen Carol Wuornos.

The hunt for Aileen Wuornos began in earnest on January 5, 1991. Two undercover officers using the aliases “Bucket” and “Drums,” and posing as drug dealers from Georgia, tracked Wournos to a Port Orange bar. The officers, Mike Joyner and Dick Martin, struck up a conversation with her and bought her a few beers. She left the bar at around 10 p.m., declining their offer of a ride. Wuornos next went to a biker bar called the Last Resort, where Joyner and Martin again met her, bought her a few more drinks and engaged her in conversation. They left at around midnight while she stayed inside, spending the night. 

The following afternoon, Joyner and Martin returned to the Last Resort and again struck up a conversation with Wuornos. They were planning on arresting her that night, but the Last Resort had a barbecue planned, and with bikers streaming in, they decided to move their plans forward. Joyner and Martin asked Wuornos if she wanted to take a shower at their motel room before returning for the barbeque. She agreed and left the bar with them. Once outside, Volusia County detective Larry Horzepa arrested her on an outstanding warrant for Lori Grody. At this stage no mention was made of the murders. Detectives first wanted to find Tyria Moore.

Moore was located living with her sister in Pittston, Pennsylvania. On January 10, Jerry Thompson of Citrus County and Bruce Munster of Marion County flew to Pennsylvania to interview her. Moore denied any direct involvement in the murders, but admitted that she’d known about them since Lee had come home with Richard Mallory's Cadillac. Lee had talked openly about the killings, but Moore said she hadn’t wanted to know about them and had told Lee as much. She was afraid that Lee might at some point kill her if she knew too much.

The next day Moore accompanied Munster and Thompson back to Florida. The officers were determined to get a confession out of Wuornos and enlisted Moore’s help to do so.

On January 14, they had Moore phone Wournos, who still believed she was only being held for the Lori Grody weapons violation. As instructed by the police, Moore told Wournos that the police had questioned her about the murders, and that she believed they were trying to pin them on her. Wournos told her to stay calm, insisting that the police didn’t suspect either of them.

Three more calls followed, with Moore becoming more and more insistent that the police were after her. But Wournos wasn’t stupid. At one point she even said that she knew the police had put Moore up to tricking her and were taping the conversation. “Just go ahead and let them know what they need to know,” she told Moore. “I will cover for you, because you're innocent. I'm not going to let you go to jail. If I have to confess, I will.”

And Wournos was true to her word in that regard. On January 16, she gave a full confession to detectives Larry Horzepa and Bruce Munster.

Serial killers often seek to justify their actions, and Aileen Wournos was no different. None of the murders were her fault. All of the killings were committed in self-defense. Each of the victims had, either, assaulted her, threatened her, or raped her. She’d reacted when the men had become aggressive, killing them out of fear. Not that she seemed particularly interested in saving her own skin.   Several times her public defender advised her to stop talking, before Wuornos chastised him, “They want to hang me, and that's cool, because maybe, man, I deserve it. I just want to get this over with.”

Wuornos went to trial for the murder of Richard Mallory on January 14, 1992. The evidence against her was damning, especially when the state’s attorney invoked the Williams Rule. This quirk of the Florida legal system allows evidence relating to other crimes to be admitted, if it helps to demonstrate a pattern. Information regarding the other murders was therefore presented to the jury and Wuornos' claim of having killed in self-defense went out the window. Then Wournos herself insisted on taking the stand, against the advice of her defense team. Her testimony was riddled with lies, inconsistencies and wild exaggeration and prosecutor John Tanner had a field day tearing her credibility apart. By the time the matter went to the jury on January 27, there was little doubt as to the outcome.

And so it proved. The jurors deliberated for just two hours before finding Wournos guilty. Her response was to explode with rage, shouting, "I'm innocent! I was raped! I hope you get raped! Scumbags of America!" Four days later the sentencing phase was completed with a unanimous vote for the death penalty.

Wuornos did not stand trial for any of the other murders. Instead, she pled guilty to each charge and received an additional five death sentences. No charges were brought in the murder of Peter Siems, as his body was never found.

Although there was talk of a new trial in the Mallory murder, it never materialized and Wournos also petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to stop all appeals on her behalf. “I'm someone who seriously hates human life and would kill again," she wrote. 

Aileen Wuornos was executed by lethal injection at 9:47 a.m., on Wednesday, October 9, 2002.

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