aileen carol pittman

The Childhood of Aileen Wuornos

(Photo: Aileen Wuornos, age 4)

Female serial killer Aileen Carol Wuornos had an appalling childhood, to say the least. She endured abuse, degrading sexual events, and other horrifying circumstances. The childhood of Aileen Wuornos was nowhere near normal, and it certainly wasn’t easy. 

Born Aileen Carol Pittman on February 29, 1956, in Rochester, Michigan, Aileen was the child of Diane Wuornos and Leo Dale Pittman. Diane was just 14 years old when she married Leo Pittman, and they had divorced after less than two years of marriage (approximately two months before Aileen was born). The pair had one child before Aileen; Keith, who was born on March 14, 1955. The children had never met their father as he was incarcerated at the time of Aileen’s birth. Leo Pittman was a diagnosed schizophrenic and had been convicted of sex crimes against children. On January 30, 1969, Leo hanged himself in prison. 

Diane Wuornos soon gave up her children, sending them to live with their maternal grandparents, Lauri and Britta Wuornos. They adopted Aileen and Keith on March 18, 1960. Life with the grandparents was chaotic at best. Lauri, the grandfather, was physically and sexually abusive to the children. To make matters worse, Britta was additionally an abusive alcoholic. Aileen claimed that when she was a child, her grandfather would force her to strip naked before subsequently beating her. Aileen also confessed to engaging in sexual acts with her brother. 

By the young age of only 11 years old, Aileen was participating in sexual acts at school. She would offer blowjobs and other sexual actions in exchange for various items, such as food, cigarettes, and drugs. When Aileen was 12, she found out that Lauri and Britta were actually her and Keith’s grandparents, rather than their parents. This had been kept a dark secret, and discovering this did not make Aileen’s situation any better. 

At the age of 14, in 1970, Aileen became pregnant. This pregnancy was the result of rape, allegedly by either a local pedophile or an accomplice of Aileen’s grandfather. On March 23, 1971, Aileen gave birth to a baby boy at a home for unwed mothers. The child was immediately placed for adoption. Not long after childbirth, Aileen dropped out of school. It was around this time that Britta, Aileen’s grandmother, passed away. She died of liver failure. 

When Aileen Wuornos was only 15 years old, her grandfather kicked her out of the house. Aileen then had to support herself, and she chose to do so by prostitution. She was forced to live in the woods down the road by her old home. Staying at hotels during prostitution jobs was the only way for Aileen to shower and have a warm place to sleep. When forced to sleep outdoors in the woods, she would build makeshift forts. 

These were the main aspects of the beginning of Aileen Wuornos’ life; abandonment, physical and sexual abuse, demeaning sexual acts, young pregnancy, and strenuous survival. From here on out Aileen’s struggle continued, and would later turn into unspeakable violence.