Aileen Pittman was born to Diane Wuornos and Leo Dale Pittman on February 29, 1956. Although she initially bore her father’s name, Aileen’s parents divorced while her mother was still pregnant with her. Four years after her birth, Aileen and her older brother Keith were left with Diane’s parents Lauri and Britta, who adopted the siblings and changed their last name to Wuornos.
By many accounts, Lauri was a heavy drinker and frequently beat Aileen with a belt. Their relationship worsened when Aileen found out that Lauri was not her true father, but her grandfather. Not long after this discovery, Leo Pittman was killed in prison, having never developed a relationship with Aileen.
Around the same time that her birth father died, Aileen began engaging in promiscuous behavior. She frequently slept with neighborhood boys and would later claim that she even had sex with her own brother, Keith. She became pregnant at age 14, although the pregnancy was said to have been the result of a rape by one of Lauri’s friends. Aileen’s son was born in 1971 and put up for adoption.
Beginning that same year, Aileen’s family experienced a series of tragedies. Her grandmother Britta died of liver failure in 1971. Lauri threw Aileen out of his home in 1972, and the 15-year-old found herself living on the streets, forced to support herself through prostitution. Lauri later committed suicide and Keith succumbed to throat cancer when he was only 21 years old.
Aileen’s life finally seemed to be looking up in 1976, when she married Lewis Fell. Fell, 49 years her senior, was wealthy and able to provide for Aileen. The relationship was brief, however, lasting only a few weeks. Fell, citing abuse, obtained a restraining order against Aileen and an annulment of their marriage.
After the annulment, Aileen fell back into her old ways, adding crimes such as armed robbery and forgery to prostitution as means of support. She also had relationships with a number of different men, none of which lasted for very long.
In 1986, Aileen ended up in Daytona, Florida, where she met Tyria Moore at a gay bar. Six years her junior, Tyria was an attentive partner who offered Aileen the love and companionship for which she’d been searching her whole life. Over the next three years, the couple moved from motel to motel, eking out an existence on Aileen’s prostitution earnings. Their lives would change forever in November of 1989, when Aileen claimed her first victim, Richard Mallory.