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    Cryptic words, then she dies

    Families of seven victims take comfort in Aileen Wuornos' execution, but some others remain convinced she was insane and should not have died.

    By CHASE SQUIRES, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published October 10, 2002


    STARKE -- Serial killer Aileen Wuornos on Wednesday smiled at witnesses, made a bizarre final statement and then succumbed to a lethal injection at Florida State Prison's death chamber.

    Her last words: "Yes, I'd just like to say I'm sailing with the Rock, and I'll be back. Like Independence Day with Jesus, June 6, like the movie, big mothership and all. I'll be back."

    The execution brought some measure of peace to the families of her seven victims, but left questions for those who doubted her sanity or oppose the death penalty.

    The "Rock" was an apparent reference to Jesus, but the significance of June 6 was a mystery.

    Terri Griffith of Crystal River, whose father was among Wuornos' victims, watched her die and lamented that it was an easy out for a killer.

    "I think she should have suffered a little more," Griffith said, favoring the old method of electrocution. "That would have been enough, for her to kick and smoke come out of her ears."

    Griffith said she wept as she watched the execution of the woman who killed her father, Charles "Dick" Humphreys, 56, of Crystal River. The tears, she said, were for her father, not because the execution upset her.

    "It's been 12 years, but my dad has been with me every day. He was sitting right beside me," she said. "Justice has been served."

    Wuornos, 46, was executed for killing her first victim, Clearwater electronics shop owner Richard Mallory. But she also had been sentenced to die for murdering five other middle-aged men along Florida roads in 1989 and 1990, and admitted killing a seventh.

    When the brown curtains separating witnesses from the death chamber pulled back at 9:29 a.m., Wuornos was strapped to a gurney as a needle entered her extended right arm.

    She lifted her head in apparent surprise, then smiled at the assembled witnesses.

    She put her head back and said something to a guard. A microphone carried her last words.

    The microphone clicked off at 9:30 a.m. and sodium pentothal entered her bloodstream.

    At 9:32 a.m., she made her last visible movement: Her eyelids fluttered, her lips parted.

    Her skin turned dark as minutes passed. Two doctors separately entered the chamber to check her pulse. The second nodded at Assistant Warden Joe Lazenby, who announced the time of death, 9:47 a.m.

    The saga of Aileen Wuornos, one of the nation's few female serial killers, spawned books, movies and an opera.

    Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Wuornos will be portrayed by Charlize Theron in Monster, a movie to be written and directed by rookie Patty Jenkins. It is scheduled to be filmed in January in Florida.

    British documentarian Nick Broomfield filmed a final meeting with Wuornos on Tuesday. He had recorded her story since 1992 and produced a 1994 documentary.

    Broomfield was the last journalist to speak with Wuornos. He said he ended the meeting after 35 minutes as Wuornos obsessed on her theories that police framed her and insisted that prison guards were bugging her cell and using sonic waves to control her.

    "Here is somebody who has totally lost her mind," Broomfield said. "She's completely crazy."

    State psychiatrists, however, had concluded that she was mentally sound enough to be executed.

    Death penalty protesters gathered outside the prison, one carrying a sign that read, "Jeb Kevorkian."

    Gov. Jeb Bush on Wednesday stood by his decision to sign Wuornos' death warrant.

    "Once appeals have been completed, it is a denial of justice to delay justice," Bush said. "That's why I sign death warrants when appeals are exhausted."

    The execution drew nine satellite trucks, reporters from across the state, and Clearwater hobbyist Jennifer SantaLucia, 35, who keeps scrapbooks of serial killers and writes to them.

    "Truthfully, I love serial killers," she said. "There's something wrong with them. They aren't like you and me."

    Wuornos met from 9 p.m. to midnight Tuesday with a lifelong friend, Dawn Botkins, who said she would claim Wuornos' body and scatter her ashes near their Michigan hometown, said Department of Corrections spokesman Sterling Ivey.

    Ivey said Wuornos declined her last meal and spent part of Tuesday night reading the Bible and listening to a Jacksonville oldies radio station.

    She asked to be awakened at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, declined a sedative and was calm and pleasant in the hours before her death.

    -- Information from the Associated Press and Times staff writer Steve Bousquet was used in this report.

    Women executed

    Ten women have been executed since 1976.

    -- Oct. 9, 2002: Aileen Wuornos, 46, by injection in Florida.

    -- May 10, 2002: Lynda Lyon Block, 54, electrocution in Alabama for murdering a policeman.

    -- Dec. 4, 2001: Lois Nadean Smith, 61, injection in Oklahoma for killing her son's ex-girlfriend.

    -- May 1, 2001: Marilyn Plantz, 40, injection in Oklahoma for having her husband killed.

    -- Jan. 11, 2001: Wanda Jean Allen, 41, injection in Oklahoma for killing two women.

    -- May 2, 2000: Christina Riggs, 28, injection in Arkansas for smothering her two small children.

    -- Feb. 24, 2000: Betty Lou Beets, 62, injection in Texas for killing her husbands.

    -- March 30, 1998: Judy Buenoano, 54, electrocution in Florida for killing her son and husband.

    -- Feb. 3, 1998: Karla Faye Tucker, 38, injection in Texas for killing two people.

    -- Nov. 2, 1984: Velma Barfield, 52, injection in North Carolina for poisoning her fiance.

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