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Role of Psychopathy and Sexuality in a Female Serial Killer

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 50 Issue: 3 Dated: May 2005 Pages: 652-657
Wade C. Myers M.D.; Erik Gooch D.O.; J. Reid Meloy Ph.D.
Date Published
May 2005
6 pages
This study explored the presence of psychopathy and sexuality or sexual sadism as confounding factors in the serial murders of seven men by Aileen Wuornos.
Arguably there are only two cases of women who independently committed serial sexual murder; one of these cases is the Aileen Wuornos case, which ended in her execution in Florida for the murder of seven men. The current study analyzed her case to determine her degree of psychopathy and to explore whether sexuality or sexual sadism was a motivating or gratifying factor in the murders. The authors determined that there was sufficient evidence of a psychopathic personality and that Wuornos met DSM-IV-TR criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. In terms of the influence of sexuality or sexual sadism in the commission of the murders, ambiguous evidence existed that would point toward the crimes being sexually motivated or gratifying. Moreover, her personal history and her method of committing serial murder left no convincing evidence that her murders were sexually motivated. Other factors are discussed as influencing the eventual murders, including childhood attachment disruptions, severe psychopathy, personality disorder psychopathy, and a traumatic abuse history. Wuornos herself denied gaining sexual gratification from her crimes and instead attributed her motive to robbery and the elimination of the victim/witness. Tables, references