PSY-310-H5687 Criminal Psychology 23EW5: 7-1 Final Project: Executive Summary


In this task, you will submit your final project assignment. You have completed drafts of the summary, crime assessment, and profile sections of the final project. You will finalize your revisions and implement the feedback provided. Upon submission, be sure to include all sections of the final assessment. This should include the conclusion and investigative use sections.

Submit your assignment here. Make sure you’ve included all the required elements by reviewing the guidelines and rubric.

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Summary of the case

Aileen Wuornos is the subject of the case; she is a prominent serial killer who rose to popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was born on February 29, 1956, in Rochester, Michigan, and died from execution in 2002. One of the critical facts and demographic information about this serial murder case is that between 1989 and 1990 in Florida, along the Interstate 75 corridor, she was accountable for the deaths of seven men (Wuornos, 2017). Also, during that period, Wuornos was a prostitute, and the men she allegedly had contact with were middle-aged and looking for sex. Additionally, using a. 22-calibre pistol, she also shot the victims at close range. Finally, when attempted sexual assaults occurred, Wuornos claimed the homicides were committed in self-defence.

Initial hypothesis

According to the available information, the initial hypothesis on her possible motive shows that Aileen Wuornos was motivated to commit the crime by self-defence. As a sex worker, Wuornos probably dealt with customers in unsafe and possibly violent settings. It is conceivable that she used lethal force to defend herself from imagined threats (Wuornos, 2017). She may have taken drastic measures to ensure her survival since she thought her life was in immediate danger, as evidenced by her self-defence claims during the investigation. Wuornos’s first justification for the killings, self-defence, is insufficient to explain why he committed them (Pearson, 2007). She may have been more violent as a result of underlying psychological concerns. It is crucial to consider the probability that Wuornos endured severe trauma and abuse throughout her life, resulting in a warped awareness of risk and a distorted perception of self-preservation. These psychological variables might have increased her hostility and motivated her to go after people she deemed dangerous to her safety.

It is important to note that the subsequent homicides deviated from immediate self-defence, even though the reason for the crimes may initially appear to be founded in self-defence (Wuornos, 2017). This viewpoint shows that additional factors, such as psychological trauma and warped views, may have influenced Wuornos’s prolonged involvement in the killings. These factors most likely fueled a spiralling cycle of violence that went beyond acts of self-defence and into a pattern of serial killing. Moreover, Aileen Wuornos committed crimes categorized as serial killings because they characterize an extended time to occur and frequent cooling-off periods between each murder (Pearson, 2007). This term applies to Wuornos because she quickly targeted and killed seven men. The systematic structure of the killings and the predictable selection of victims point to a planned and intentional pattern of violence.

  1. Crime Assessment

Comparison of data and evidence of similar crimes

Aileen Wuornos and Robert William Fisher have infamous criminal histories, particularly in serial murder cases. While the nature of their crimes differs, examining their cases can reveal trends and motives frequently present in similar crimes. Between 1989 and 1990, Aileen Wuornos murdered several people in Florida and was found guilty of killing seven men who, according to her, had either assaulted or attempted to assault her (Wuornos, 2017). While working as a prostitute, Wuornos sought out her victims and enticed them to isolated areas where she shot them. Her case demonstrates a pattern of specifically chosen victims and a methodical style of crime commitment. As a result, a pattern of premeditation and a desire to assert control over her surroundings are suggested by the similarities between her method of operation and the intended demographics of her victims.

In contrast, a crime involving Robert William Fisher portrays some similarities and differences with Wuornos, even though they are serial murder cases. After his wife and two children were killed in Scottsdale, Arizona, 2001, the fugitive Fisher rose to prominence (FBI, 2010). Fisher does not seem to have murdered his family repeatedly; instead, he seems to have targeted them with a single, profoundly personal act of violence. The incident reveals a history of domestic abuse and unresolved conflict in the home. It is worth noting that the initial hypothesis suggests that Fisher’s crime was motivated by marital and financial issues, a desire to avoid taking care of personal duties, or perhaps even a mental illness.


It is clear from comparing these cases that Wuornos and Fisher demonstrated control- and situation-related tendencies. Wuornos’ selection of victims and her justification of each act as self-defence point to her wish to take charge of her own life by eliminating ostensible threats. Conversely, Fisher’s conduct can be seen as a desperate attempt to regain control of his life and escape his parental obligations (FBI, 2010). Both cases show the harmful results of people trying to exert power violently, despite the differences in their acts’ goals and effects.


Inferences can be reached about these individuals’ motivations based on the evidence and comparisons to these similar crimes. Both cases display psychological distress related to past trauma or present challenges. Fisher’s involvement in domestic violence events and Wuornos’ history of murder point to underlying problems that may have influenced their behaviour. The motivation behind their acts, whether a need for control or an attempt to calm their internal turmoil, can be considered maladaptive coping mechanisms

  1. Profile

Demographic summary

Aileen Wuornos was a female serial murderer who operated in Florida in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Wuornos was born on February 29, 1956, in Rochester, Michigan. She grew up in a chaotic and dysfunctional environment where she struggled to get along with her family because her parents divorced when she was a young girl (Wuornos, 2017). The turbulent childhood Wuornos led and these early encounters probably shaped her decision to become a criminal. Besides, her primary target for crimes were men who, as a hitchhiker, she would pick up as her prey, have sex with them, and then shoot them. It is worth noting that Wuornos’s murder crimes are majorly motivated by monetary gain, self-defence, and a pervasive loathing of men.

Additionally, Wuornos only attended a few formal schools, limiting her education. From an early age, she left high school and got involved in several illicit pursuits, including sex work. Due to her upbringing, she got into crime due to unstable chances and a chaotic lifestyle. It is important to remember that Aileen Wuornos dealt with severe personal struggles. Ideally, she has a history of tumultuous relationships and substance misuse issues. She probably had mental health problems and unpredictable conduct due to her rough background and horrible experiences working in sex.

After being apprehended in 1991 and later found guilty of killing seven individuals, Wuornos’ atrocities stopped. She became a divisive figure after her trial, with some calling for her execution and others pleading for mercy, given her complicated past (Pearson, 2007). Her trial garnered significant media coverage. Wuornos finally received a death penalty verdict in the end, and on October 9, 2002, he was put to death by lethal injection.

Impact of biological factors

Biological factors in Wuornos’ case might have influenced her behaviour and helped her develop into a serial killer. A person’s conduct can be influenced by genetics, and certain people may be predisposed to committing aggressive or illegal behaviours. Even though it is crucial to emphasize that biology cannot explain criminal behaviour independently, certain parts of her biology may have impacted her behaviour. Her genetic makeup is one possible biological component that might have affected Wuornos. Research has demonstrated that impulsivity and aggression are only two examples of the many behavioural traits that can be influenced by genetic variables (Hagan, 2018). Wuornos likely had some hereditary traits that affected her behaviour. Some people may have a natural propensity to participate in aggressive or criminal activities.

The possible effects of neurological disorders or brain abnormalities must also be considered a critical biological aspect. It is well established that brain abnormalities can impact someone’s ability to manage emotions, impulses, and decision-making. These elements may affect a person’s capacity for social situation processing and appropriate social response. Neurological or brain disorders could have impacted Wuornos’ judgment, emotional stability, and inclination for violent behaviour (Hagan, 2018). In addition, hormonal abnormalities may also influence behaviour. For instance, violent and impulsive conduct has been linked to hormonal imbalances in serotonin or dopamine (Wuornos, 2017). These hormonal imbalances and others could have affected Wuornos’ predisposition for violence and her inability to restrain her impulses.

Impact of developmental factors

Developmental factors most likely substantially influenced her conduct and the course of her life. Her problematic background, marked by a turbulent home environment, may have significantly impacted how she behaved and felt about herself. Feelings of abandonment, neglect, and a lack of positive role models may have been caused by the absence of solid familial support and the prevalence of dysfunction, which can significantly impact a person’s development (Pearson, 2007). Wuornos was probably exposed to various negative experiences and potentially damaging influences due to her early involvement in illicit activities, such as performing sex work, from a young age. These events may have further affected her worldview, self-perception, and interpersonal connections, potentially resulting in a cycle of destructive actions.

Additionally, accumulating traumatic events, such as physical and sexual abuse, can profoundly influence a person’s development. Such events may result in the emergence of several psychiatric conditions, such as complex trauma, emotional dysregulation, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Hagan, 2018). One’s capacity to establish healthy relationships, manage stress, and control emotions may be impacted by these elements, potentially raising the chance of acting violently or criminally.

Impact of environmental factors

The environment where Wuornos resided and worked as a prostitute most certainly impacted how she behaved. In her line of work, she was constantly exposed to risk, aggression, and exploitation, which could have made her feel helpless and forced her to defend herself. Her susceptibility may have been made worse by the temporary nature of her lifestyle and the absence of social support and financial security, which may have fueled her desperation and violence (Wuornos, 2017). Wuornos may have been driven to commit crimes by a combination of her past, the environment in which she lived, and the risks involved in her line of work.

Application of theories

Various theories can offer insights from various angles when examining the motivation behind Aileen Wuornos’ behaviour. According to theories on genetic predisposition or neurobiological causes, Wuornos may have had innate characteristics or abnormalities in her brain that contributed to her aggressive behaviour (Hagan, 2018). Psychological theories like psychodynamic or personality theory may investigate underlying problems like unresolved childhood trauma, personality disorders, or a skewed self-perception that influenced her behaviour. Social theories could highlight the role of social and environmental factors on her conduct by looking at the impact of her childhood, exposure to violence, and experiences in the sex business (Hagan, 2018). Finally, theories of criminal violence that focus on routine behaviour or rational decision-making may highlight the contextual elements, opportunity structures, and logical thought processes that influenced Wuornos’ decision to target her male victims. One can understand Wuornos’ complex motivations more deeply by looking at these many theoretical vantage points.

  • Conclusion and Investigative Use

Global Summary

Aileen Wuornos, a female serial murderer, rose to fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s after killing seven men in Florida. Wuornos initially justified his actions by claiming self-defence. He then targeted middle-aged males looking for sex. Her following homicides, too, showed a departure from overt acts of self-defence, pointing to more subtle psychological causes at play (Rosenbaum, 2021). Her lengthy involvement in the killings was probably fuelled by psychological trauma and a misguided sense of self-preservation. Due to their systematic structure and predicted victim selection, Wuornos’ acts were categorized as serial homicides. The demographic profile of Wuornos suggests a chaotic upbringing, involvement in sex work, and a prevalent dislike of men. Biological causes such as hereditary susceptibility and probable neurological diseases could have affected her behaviour. Uncertainty in the family setting and exposure to traumatic experiences are two developmental elements that probably had a big impact. She might have been more violent due to environmental variables, such as the dangers and exploitation of her sex business.

Future Behaviour and Intervention Strategies

Predictive analysis suggests that Wuornos might continue to exhibit violent behaviour without intervention. Intervention strategies should address underlying psychological issues, provide trauma-informed care, and facilitate reintegration into society (Rosenbaum, 2021). Therapeutic interventions, counselling, and support programs can help mitigate future criminal behaviour by addressing the root causes of her violent tendencies and promoting positive behavioural change.


The gaps in the data prevent a complete comprehension of Wuornos’ early trauma and information concerning her psychological assessment. Dependent on the sources and their integrity, the data under evaluation must be valid and reliable.

Capture, understanding, and prosecution

The information collected contributed to capturing, understanding, and prosecuting Wuornos by providing insights into her motivations, behavioural patterns, and demographic background. It helped build a case against her and informed decisions regarding her trial, conviction, and subsequent punishment.




FBI. (2010). Robert William Fisher. FBI.

Hagan, F. E. (2018). Introduction to criminology: Theories, methods, and criminal behaviour. Sage Publications.

Pearson, K. (2007). The trouble with Aileen Wuornos, feminism’s “first serial killer.” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 4(3): 256–275. doi:10.1080/14791420701472791.

Rosenbaum, J. (2021, August 26). Aileen Wuornos: The selling of a serial killer. Chicago Reader.

Wuornos, A. (2017). Biography.