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Wuornos was born as Aileen Carol Pittman in Rochester, Michigan. She had one older brother named Keith, who was born in February 1955. Her mother, Diane Pratt, was 15 years old when she married Leo Dale Pittman on June 3, 1954. Less than two years into marriage and two months before Wuornos was born, Pratt filed for divorce. Pittman was a child molester who spent most of his life in and out of prison. Wuornos never met her father, as he was imprisoned for the rape and attempted murder of an eight-year-old boy at the time of her birth. Leo Pittman was strangled in prison in 1969. In January 1960, Pratt abandoned her children, leaving them with their maternal grandparents – Lauri and Britta Wuornos. They were legally adopted on March 18, 1960 by the Wuornos family and took their surname.

From a young age, Wuornos engaged in sex with multiple partners, including her own brother. At the age of 13, she became pregnant, claiming the pregnancy was a result of being raped by an unknown man. Wuornos gave birth at a Detroit home for unwed mothers on March 23, 1971. The child, a son, was placed for adoption. On July 7, 1971 Britta Wuornos died of liver failure, after which Wuornos and her brother became wards of the court. At age 15, Wuornos' grandfather threw her out of the house, and she began supporting herself as a prostitute.On May 27, 1974, Wuornos was arrested in Jefferson County, Colorado for drunk driving, disorderly conduct, and firing a .22-caliber pistol from a moving vehicle. She was later charged with failure to appear.

In 1976, Wuornos hitchhiked to Florida, where she met 70-year-old yacht club president Lewis Gratz Fell (June 28, 1907 — January 6, 2000). They married that same year, and the news of their nuptials was printed in the local newspaper's society pages. However, Wuornos continually involved herself in confrontations at their local bar and was eventually sent to jail for assault. She also hit Fell with his own cane, leading him to get a...
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