Dear Dawn: Aileen Wuornos in Her Own Words

Catapult
17
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“Condenses ten years of obsessive correspondence into a fragmented, sometimes funny, sometimes nightmarish, often paradoxical portrait of Wuornos.” —Muzzle Magazine
 
Between 1989 and 1990, Aileen Wuornos, a hitchhiking prostitute, shot, killed, and robbed seven men in remote Florida locations. Arrested in 1991, she was condemned to death on six separate counts and executed by lethal injection in 2002.
 
An abused runaway who turned to prostitution to survive, Wuornos has become iconic of vengeful women who lash out at the nearest target. She has also become a touchstone for women’s, prostitutes’, and prisoners’ rights advocates. Her story has inspired myriad books and articles, as well as the 2003 movie Monster, for which Charlize Theron won an Academy Award. But until now, Wuornos’s uncensored voice has never been heard.
 
Dear Dawn is Wuornos’s autobiography culled from her ten-year death row correspondence with beloved childhood friend Dawn Botkins. Authorized for publication by Wuornos and edited under the guidance of Botkins, the letters not only offer Wuornos’s riveting reflections on the murders, legal battles, and media coverage, but go further, revealing her fears and obsessions, her rich humor and empathy, and her gradual disintegration as her execution approached. A candid life story told to a trusted friend, Dear Dawn is a compelling narrative, unwaveringly true to its source.
 
“It is both empowering and heartbreaking, because Wuornos represents the fury of a wronged girl-gone-wild, whose rage was unleashed on men.” —The Rumpus
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About the author

Lisa Kester has worked as a book designer, both freelance and for small presses, for over ten years and is a personal friend of Dawn Botkins. She lives in Oakland.

Daphne Gottlieb has published four poetry collections (Pelt, Why Things Burn, Final Girl, and Kissing Dead Girls) and edited two anthologies (Homewrecker and Fucking Daphne). She lives in San Francisco.

Aileen Wuornos was born in Michigan in 1956. Abandoned early by her parents and expelled from her abusive grandfather’s home when she was fourteen and pregnant, she lived in the woods before hitchhiking her way to Florida. In 1986, Wuornos began a relationship with Tyria Moore and supported them both through prostitution and theft. In 1986 she served a thirteen-month sentence for armed robbery. In 1989 she first shot and killed a john who picked her up hitchhiking. She later stated that she acted in self-defense, but the john’s history as a violent sex offender was not allowed into evidence at her trial. Wuornos went on to shoot and kill at least six men between 1989 and 1990 and was arrested in 1991, then tried, convicted and sentenced to death. On the advice of a lawyer, she pled “no contest” for five other murders, receiving a total of six death sentences by February 1993. She was famously if inaccurately dubbed “America’s first female serial killer.” While on death row, Wuornos was legally adopted by Arlene Pralle, a born-again Christian, in 1991, and was championed by many who believed her claims of self-defense. A documentary by Nick Broomfield, Aileen: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1992), portrayed Wuornos as a victim of both sexual abuse and media manipulation. As her execution neared, an increasingly unstable Wuornos retracted her self-defense claims, claiming she needed to go to her death with a clean conscience. Florida Governor Jeb Bush ordered a psychiatric exam, after which Wuornos was deemed mentally competent and executed by lethal injection on October 9, 2002. Thanks to the feature film Monster (2003), and the second Nick Broomfield documentary, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2004), she has become even more famous after her death.

Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at City University of New York. An author, psychotherapist, and expert courtroom witness, her thirteen books include Women and Madness; Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman; The Death of Feminism; and The New Anti-Semitism. She is the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women's Health Network and is a charter member of the Women's Forum. She has lectured and organized political, legal, religious and human rights campaigns worldwide and has appeared on The Today Show, The O'Reilly Factor, Oprah, Nightline, CSPAN, NPR, MSNBC, and many others. She has been published and interviewed in The Washington Post, The International Herald Tribune, The Times of London, Il Foglio, Ha'aretz, The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, The London Guardian, Muslim World Today, and many more. Her full biography can be found on her website, www.phyllis-chesler.com. She lives in New York City.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Catapult
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Published on
Jun 1, 2011
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Pages
370
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ISBN
9781593764593
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Language
English
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Genres
True Crime / Murder / Serial Killers
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Stevie Cameron turns her renowned analytical eye from the "crooks in suits" of her previous books to the case of Vancouver's missing women and the man who has been charged with killing 27 of them, who if convicted will have the horrific distinction of being the worst serial killer in Canadian history.

It's a shocking story that may not be over anytime soon. When the police moved in on Pickton's famous residence, the "pig farm" of Port Coquitlam, in February 2002, the entire 14-acre area was declared a crime scene -- the largest one in Canadian history. Well over 150 investigators and forensics experts were required, including 102 anthropology students from across the country called in to sift through the entire farm, one shovelful of dirt at a time.

A woman who is considered by many to be this country's best investigative journalist, Cameron has been thinking about the missing women of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside since 1998, when the occasional newspaper story ran about families and friends of some of the 63 missing women agitating for action -- and being ignored by police and politicians. Robert William "Willie" Pickton has been on her mind since his arrest, that February five years ago, for the murders of two of the women, Mona Wilson and Sereena Abotsway, both drug-addicted prostitutes from the impoverished neighbourhood where all the missing women had connections.

Living half-time in Vancouver for the last five years, Stevie Cameron has come to know many of the people involved in this case, from families of the missing women to the lawyers involved on both sides. She writes not only with tireless investigative curiosity, but also with enormous compassion for the women who are gone and the ones who still struggle to ply their trade on the Downtown Eastside.


"We had no idea [in 2002] how massive the investigation would be. We had no notion that the police would sift every inch of dirt on the Pickton farm, a process that lasted from the spring of 2002 to late 2004. We did not foresee the broad publication ban that would prevent any word printed or broadcast of what was being said in court in case it influenced a potential juror. We couldn't know that there would be, by 2006, 27 charges of first-degree murder against Pickton and that the police would continue to investigate him on suspicion of many other deaths. And we didn't know that the police and other personnel involved in the case, under threat of ruined careers, were forbidden to talk to reporters. In blissful ignorance, all I could do was begin…"
--Excerpt from The Pickton File
The chilling true story of female serial killer Aileen Wuornos, whose violent crimes shocked the nation—and inspired the Academy Award–winning film Monster.
 
When police in Florida’s Volusia County were called to investigate the murder of Richard Mallory, whose gunshot-ridden body had been found in the woods just north of Daytona Beach in December 1989, their search led them to a string of dead ends before the trail went cold six months later. During the spring and summer of 1990, the bodies of six more middle-aged white men were discovered—all in secluded areas near their abandoned vehicles, all but one shot dead with a .22 caliber pistol—and all without any suspects, motives, or leads.
 
The police speculated that the murders were connected, but they never anticipated what they’d soon discover: The killings were the work of a single culprit, Aileen Wuornos, one of the first women to ever fit the profile of a serial killer. With the cooperation of her former lover and accomplice, Tyria Moore, the police were able to solicit a confession from Wuornos about her months-long killing spree along Florida’s interstate highways. The nation was quickly swept up in the drama of her trial and the media dubbed her the “Damsel of Death” as horrifying details of her past as a prostitute and drifter emerged.
 
Written by the Reuters reporter who initially broke the story, Dead Ends is a thrilling firsthand account of Wuornos’s capture, trial, and ultimate sentencing to death by lethal injection, that goes beyond the media frenzy to reveal the even more disturbing truth.
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