Posts Tagged ‘murder’

Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos was a tragic case of American history gone wrong, a female serial killer whose troubled life spiraled out of control into multiple murders. The Florida coast experienced a streak of chilling killings through the mid to late eighties. Cold case after cold case piled up when the woman prostitute assaulted victims as she stood by the highway assessing the next murder. The thirty-something blonde woman with the harsh brown eyes and stringy blonde hair would only be arrested after seven men were found dead.

Aileen Carol Wuornos

Aileen Carol Wuornos claims to have killed men out of a need to make money, but surely someone as risk taking as she was might have avoided murder if she wished. Wuornos maintained that the killings simply rounded out a robbery modus operandi, and perhaps did not acknowledge herself how damaged psychologically she was in order to do that to them. Wuornos communicated to the court and in her trial testimony in a lucid, almost transparent manner about her serial crimes.

The Wuornos case is a bellwether that proves how the image and stereotype of the serial killer can mask the real criminals in the population at large. Born in Michigan in 1956, Aileen Carol Pittman certainly received more than her share of life’s rocky twists and turns. Aileen Wuornos was far from the typical psycho killer, she was an emotionally distraught woman who viewed murder and robbery as her only pathway to day to day security. It is indicated that even from her first suicide attempt she never received adequate psychological counseling. That said, FBI profiling did help nab Wuornos before she could kill anyone else.

The fact remains that seven men died by the violent hand of Aileen Wuornos, men who might have been able to live after meeting her and/or helping her. They were not given the choice to live. Aileen Wuornos acted alone in her crimes, executing men for money albeit with possible suspicion by her lover, Tyria Moore. The claim of self-defense may have been true emotionally for Wuornos but not criminally, and the court decided in 1992 she was guilty of murder. Wuornos may have stumbled upon a way to bring in cash and exploit her antagonistic violence and hatred of men in positions of power. The murders continued until Wuornos was in a car accident and fled the scene. Medical personnel noted the license of the stolen car and the description of the women in it (Wuornos and Moore).

Wuornos had been isolated and alone most of her life, assuming the life of highway off-ramp prostitute out of a need to make money. Her uneven childhood had resulted in a unstable adolescence spent in bars and random households. Her “mantrap” of corralling her victims via the envelope of a prostitution pose classifies her killings as those of a sexual predator. Using a .22 caliber gun, Wuornos defined her encounters as self-defense, yet not all the men had violent histories. A trail of petty crimes followed in her wake, her repeated use of aliases signaled criminal behavior. Her lesbian relationship with Moore was presumed by many to be less lesbian than opportunistic in nature.

Wuornos’s childhood was a nightmare of rejection, abandonment, and inappropriate sexual relations with first her younger brother and then young neighborhood men. Wuornos grew up under the iron hand of her maternal grandfather, who would kick her out while in her young teens. A harsh, ill-tempered man, he later committed suicide. Wuornos grew up in a climate where the only rhythm she knew was a chaotic mesh of random acts and alcohol abuse. Wuornos took on the life of roadside prostitution after getting kicked out of her home which occurred shortly after the death of her grandmother.

Aileen Wuornos was an emotionally threadbare woman whose life has never been stable, and the murders for many people set her somewhat apart from the accepted idea of a serial killer as a lone male often fixated on sexual deviance. The tough thirty-something killer was an evolution of the runaway girl who never really fit into “normal” family life. The suggestion of physical sexual abuse by her grandfather and perhaps others is credible. Her legacy of violent mood swings from her sex-offender father gives legitimacy to heritability of the criminal state of mind.

Wuornos had killed seven men in first degree murder and robbery, men whose common denominator was mostly that they thought she was in roadside distress or a prostitute available for hire. Aileen was acknowledged by psychiatrists and law enforcement as a somewhat trouble woman, instead of a sociopathic killer bent on enjoying bloody tableaux. Her legal defense campaign hinged around her assertion that her killings were uniformly the result of defense against assaults was treated as false and rejected.

Authorities had been led astray investigating the killings. Bodies and cars found miles apart made no sense to them. Sure, they had a serial killer, but for what reasons the men died and why was a puzzle. How did the victims tie the modus operandi and the killer together, they wondered. Law enforcement collected evidence, but they were limited by Wuornos’ thoroughness in separating the corpse form vehicle, stumping police.

The repeated manner in which Wuornos hid the bodies worked against her at trial. Wuornos had married a much older man briefly in Florida, securing some continuity to her way of living. Yet after eight weeks the man filed for divorce, alleging Wuornos had hit her with his cane. The streak of uncontrollable temper in Wuornos, contrary to her self-interest, evidenced itself in barroom brawls and arrests in Colorado and Florida, and threatening letters and vandalism occurred more than once.

Her parents were married when her mother was fourteen and then divorced and she never met her father. Wuorno’s father was arrested for assault and killed himself in prison. Wuornos herself had given birth as an unwed mother, her grandparents discovering her pregnancy at age fourteen from “activities” with neighborhood boys. Sexual profligacy paired with exigent circumstances might have created in Wuornos the conclusion that sex was her only means to making a living. The killings might have been considered opportunistic if they had not occurred seven times the same way.

Wuornos was without a single positive personality in her life that could have actively enforced a better way of living. Her younger brother died of throat cancer in 1976. Cast out of the family home in her teens, Wuornos aged badly during those years on the road. Further still, Britta Wuornos, her grandmother, may have been in fact murdered by her harsh grandfather. Murder and assault did tend to run in the family. The grandfather’s threats to kill both Aileen and her brother were on record and the children became wards of the court in 1971.

Six counts of first degree murder and seven total victims made Aileen Wuornos the first media-era convicted woman serial killer, a shocking symbol of male-female relations and woman’s liberation. The story of the Wuornos arrest and Death Damsel killings grew to sensational fame and produced two films. Charlize Theron notably portrayed a gritty realization of Wuornos in the film “Monster”. The film depicted the slayings as the work of a woman who allowed her violent rage toward the men in her life free rein as it happened to be expedient to complete the task of robbing them.

Wuornos had a strong character and was noticeably hardheaded and even stubborn to observers. Her life was spent in a largely homeless and migratory manner, and her killings were purposed to capture money and items to lawn for the realization of cash. Her need for transportation and money drove the murders, according to late confessions by Wuornos. The means to live and the cars to move about in required the killing of the men the resources belonged to. Wuornos would later in jail become a born-again Christian and detail her crimes, of which her murders were only a part. Childhood sexual activity and her relationship with women were claimed as violations of God’s law.

Put to death at 46, on October 9, 2002 Wuornos died by lethal injection at Florida State Prison. Her crimes would not be the most numerous with respect to the number of victims but the manner of her killing and the blatant misanthropy evidenced by her testimony shocked many of the public. Wuornos was a female serial killer and that her final letters spoke of remorse and acknowledgment of her transgressions, she became even more of a rarity among convicted serial killers.

Article by Roy Whyte. Visit his Google+ page for more.

For further reading about Aileen Wuornos I recommend Dear Dawn: Aileen Wuornos in Her Own Words.

Edmund Kemper

One of the astonishing serial killer stories to come out of the 1960’s and 1970’s of American Criminal History was Edmund Kemper. One of the earliest serial killers, Kemper suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and murdered his own mother as the culmination of a string of intensive and fatal attacks. Often posing as a police officer, Kemper picked up women looking for a ride who were too young and inexperienced to turn him down.

Kemper’s story was a strange one, with traditional serial killer colorations of maternal domination and later serial murders. But the first killings of Edmund Kemper were his own grandparents when he was just 15. This hardly matches the later modus operandi of young female students he murdered later. The initial married couple and the intermittent coeds, then his mother and her friend, then a group of eight random victims represent the body of Kemper’s victim list.

Why did Edmund Kemper want to kill young women? Because it was the only way he felt he could connect to them and “own” them. But Kemper also had been marginalized from normal society early by his institutionalization. Possibly these were unconscious rehearsals for the killing of his mother that was his real aim all along. Once Kemper’s head cleared, perhaps he was done and was ready to meet with the consequences.

What association could he possibly have for the college age women? Unable to get into college himself, was Kemper killing genders “others” who had outpaced him academically? Kemper’s turbulent relationship with his mother underscores the link between her in his mind as a college employee and the co-ed girls he killed.

The Co-Ed killer was even more of a serial killer than his official record reflects. Kemper murdered his grandparents when he was fourteen, and as soon as he could get his slate wiped clean and the record expunged he went out and got a gun. The immediate killing spree to follow took eight lives. Kemper even murdered his own mother and then a family friend.

But it was the classic serial killer mentality that drove Edmund Kemper. Mental disease, psychological instability, early (albeit self-caused) bereavement and unsteady emotional influences formed a character seriously deficient in basic humanity. His eagerness to kill and rob other humans of life resulted in multiple innocent, violent, senseless deaths.

Kemper did not begin with co-eds or young women. He killed his grandmother and grandfather when he was 14 because it occurred to him to do so. His record was sealed but attempted more murders when he was released from his asylum commitment. Kemper promptly began killing again once the fantasy had taken hold. Kemper was assessed at almost a genius I.Q.

Serial killers usually groom an idea or concept of their killings in the mind before performing them. Possibly Kemper had fantasies while spending his adolescence in the psychiatric facility at Atascadero, but if so why did the focus remain both maternally based and targeting young women? Kemper formed no relationship or affiliation and did menial jobs.

Was Kemper projecting his murderous feelings onto young women who might have been sexual partners if his upbringing had been less scarring, or was he trying to remotely activate murderous feelings upon a substitute for his mother? Kemper’s mother worked at a local college.

Born in California in 1948, Kemper came of age in an era when neither drugs nor medical knowledge to deal with his disorder except with commitment. Kemper was dissatisfied with his childhood and early life and had few skills or resources to eradicate years of emotional abuse. Once his mother was out of the way, a few more murders happened and the smoke cleared. Kemper’s teleological journey was complete and he called police to pick him up.

Kemper’s childhood was spent in feelings of inadequacy fueled by isolation and paranoia. Kemper’s two sisters used him as a doll like playthings which reinforced his feelings of early powerlessness, coupled with domination by his mother, this crystallized into a forceful emotional antipathy toward women. Kemper may have exercised a suppressed aggression against young women or women in general. Kemper may have viewed women as power figures which his killings served to transfer control of to him.

Kemper’s adolescent early disturbed behavior landed him in Atascadero, and when he was released he was 21 years old. Against the wishes of his doctors Kemper was released into the custody of his mother, a historical trigger to his psychological unease. Kemper was almost seven feet tall by this time, but his mother’s attitude dwarfed him into a doll sized ego. Kemper had little to no professional skills and no visible means of support.

Kemper had killed a family cat and beheaded it, and eviscerated his sister’s dolls in childhood. But his graduation to real human killing would happen in young adulthood. Hanging around a bar where policemen hung out, Kemper learned to imitate their mien and adopt their lingo. Kemper claimed in testimony to be compelled to kill the coeds, but may not have understood his own reasoning for doing so.

Rejected (ironically) for law enforcement for his size, Kemper was marginalized to near-freak status by looks alone. But Edmund Kemper would have been screened out by the psychological tests before attaining active patrol duty, a fact nobody pointed out to him. Dubbed the “Gentle Giant” by the media, Kemper’s string of murders fizzled out almost as if after killing his mother the rage slowly cycled out of him with the few subsequent killings.

By 1972, Kemper had moved out of his mother’s house into an apartment in Alameda. Kemper used a car to cruise the streets and pick up young female college students from the nearby campuses. His killing spree resulted from a desire to become a police officer and Kemper utilized his car and a fake police badge to intimidate and secure coed passengers on their last dark ride. Kemper was able to purchase a gun in his own name and use it against about eight women before he turned his attention to his real target.

By 1973, Kemper had moved back in with his mother. The pattern of removing coeds form their daily rounds and giving the “rides home” continued. This toxic resumption of a corrosive relationship had a predictable result: Kemper finalized his killing machine on his mother but didn’t stop there. Years of resentment festering without an escape valve left Kemper a senseless repetition of killing mania waiting to happen.

Kemper’s final murders flowed with a strange sense of emotional remove and black comedy. He trailed into another state and then had to convince local police regarding his identity. But Kemper had toyed with hiding bodies and even buried a woman victim facing his mother’s bedroom so she could “look up” to her.

Nothing illustrates Kemper’s necrophilia and mania for killing like his matricide. Kemper’s hatred of his mother and antisocial behavior was almost iconic. He decapitated his mother with a clawhammer and beheaded the corpse, then performed a sexual act upon the head. Kemper then killed one of her friends as well. Kemper’s ugly streak and postkilling practices were at their worst with his mother’s corpse.

Kemper then tried to dispose of her vocal cords in the garbage disposal. “That seemed appropriate,” Kemper noted after his arrest, “as much as she’d bitched and screamed and yelled at me over so many years”. Many of the co-ed sexual assaults and murders could be viewed as rehearsals for his matricidal act. The sexual activity with the corpses almost encapsulated a romantic love for death fused with the death of the female “other”. Since Kemper would associate all women with the most dominant one in his life, perhaps all of his murders were vicarious experiences of the murder of his mother he dreamed about.

Kemper flirted with various drop off spots for his pickup victims and left notes for police when he had killed his mother. But when he was finally brought into custody there was no redemption or rehabilitation possible. The childhood pyromaniac who tortured animals and killed his grandparents was incarcerated despite his insanity plea at Vacaville, California. In all Kemper – The Co-ed Killer – killed 10 people between 1964 and 1973.

Article by Roy Whyte. Visit his Google+ page for more.

Rodney James Alcala

Rodney Alcala is a convicted serial killer whose raping and tortured killings of four women has resulted in a death sentence. Rodney Alcala raped one woman with a claw hammer. Yet the spurious criminal justice system that rewards convicted killers with lifetime jail sentences has upset many members of the general, let alone the victims and their friends and families. Rodney Alcala was sentenced in 1980 for the killing of a Huntington Beach woman. Additional victims of Rodney Alcala have stretched legal court proceedings to the present day.

Caught raping an eight year old girl in 1968, Alcala served thirty four months. The nature of Alcala’s crimes are savagely violent, premeditatively abusive, and sexually motivated in origin. Alcala struck down men, women and children in his twisted lust for episodes of torture, rape and abduction. Channeling a rage or lust unknown except in the most vicious of serial killers, Alcala’s propensity for murder was matched by his cunning in enticing victims. Alcala’s “shtick” was the use of a camera and the pose as a photographer to capture the attention of victims and build enough trust to lead them astray.

The March 2010 sentencing of Rodney Alcala for the Orange County murders stems from killings from the 1970’s. Common to the cases of serial murderers in America of this era, development of legal DNA evidence brought Alcala’s career at large to a halt. Alcala is suspected in the strangulation death and disappearances of many other victims. Alcala’s habits make law enforcement professionals dread the existence of other undisclosed victims both as bargaining tools and further proof of his serial killing deeds. Even among the most brutal and vicious serial killers, Rodney Alcala stands apart.

Like many secretive killers with a method for concealing the bodies, Alcala may be waiting for bargaining room in the appeals phase of his trial proceedings to proffer knowledge and proof of additional deaths. Historically serial killers have negotiated proof of additional murders for tradeoffs in sentencing and incarceration conditions.Yet Alcala may have over thirty additional murders to reveal. As Alcala furnishes material an argument for his appeals to his current and most recent sentence, news media and the law enforcement community will be listening closely for hints of further proof of serial killings.

Alcala may be guilty of thirty or more murders. Lack of forensic sophistication in crime scenes, casual evidence gathering techniques by American law enforcement, aging witnesses and evidence, and the mores of the times allowed for many people to disappear into the web of Rodney James Alcala. Apprehended in the late 1970’s, Alcala is still defending himself in law courts in legal proceedings today.

This era in American history remains the ‘golden era” of serial killers. Rodney Alcala is thought by some investigators to be possibly among the most prolific of American serial killers because he was smart enough to shield his activities and elude the law. Alcala “warned” the jury in his recent trial that sentencing would cost the state and public a huge amount of money due to planned appeals and additional legal processes.

Alcala is one of many American serial killers whose reign of terror went largely unnoticed in the United States of the 1970’s. Development of DNA evidence coupled with exacting legal proceedings are a element in many American serial killer histories. In the typical celebrity phase of many serial killers, a penned letter attributed to Alcala has been put up recently for sale on Ebay. Profilers of serial killers note the similarity to other murderers like the Green River Killer and Ted Bundy.

Rodney Alcala once appeared on the American television show ‘The Dating Game’ and has manifested an eagerness to self-substantiate an identity as a notorious serial killer. Alcala’s favorable rulings to shield his prior sexual criminal history from new case trials and his “career” as a celebrity defendant has made segments of the American public sensitive to Alcala’s evasion of a jail sentence or death penalty.

The day after the jury voted for the death penalty for serial killer Rodney James Alcala, more than a hundred photographs of Alcala’s were released. The female women and children pictured in 1970’s era photo poses and shots were of individuals composed by Alcala. Law enforcement officials found these photos among materials more than 30 years ago in a storage locker of Alcala’s. Circumstances show Alcala rented it just as police were closing in on him for killings in 1977-1979. Continued legal setbacks to Alcala’s incarceration and execution have vexed victim’s families and opened new scrutiny into the American legal system.

Alcala is thought to be an intelligent man, crafty enough to legally represent himself yet not smart enough to dispose of the kind of trophy photographs sociopath killers are known to keep. Trophy jewelry from multiple suspected victims found among Alcala’s belongings helped convict him of the murders. Alcala was the first man in a dozen years to represent himself for a death penalty trial. Alcala was born in 1943, and is self-possessed enough at 66 to argue his own cases in front of juries. Yet despite a newly announced death penalty sentence, Alcala’s path to justice for his culpability for his serial killings is far from over.

Photos hidden by Alcala may point to more killings. Media release of photographs of a putative series of killing victims has launched an investigation by law enforcement into unknown or unidentified victims of Alcala not previously linked to him. It is now suggested that Alcala may have murdered three women in New York City in the 1970s. But legal proceedings for these crimes and allowing Alcala more time in the courtroom spotlight is a troublesome matter. Court trials and extradition would be excessive and complex, freeing a clever killer from everyday incarceration to entertain more jury members representing himself. And like the families of victims and the general public, prosecutors may elect to leave Alcala to his death sentence without further circus acts.

While convicted to date for only five murders, Alcala may be responsible for as many as 100 murders during his killing spree.

Article by Roy Whyte. Visit his Google+ page for more.