Colt Case

A deep-dive into Troy High’s very own serial killer.

On the off chance that you ever search up Troy High School on Wikipedia, and scroll down to the alumni list, you’ll find a very … diverse mix of people who have attended Troy High. We have everything from NBA players (Bud Acton and Henry Akin) to actors (Sutton Foster and Ellen Hollman), but as you continue to scroll through the list– you may pause, because right above Steven Yeun, from Minari and The Walking Dead, there’s the name Aileen Wuornos, “serial killer”.

Aileen “Lee” Wuornos, known for being America’s most notorious female serial killer, was once a former student at Troy High School, class of 1974.

She was born on Feb. 29, 1956 in Rochester, Michigan. Aileen, her older brother Keith, and her older sister Lori, grew up with their grandparents after being abandoned by their mother, months before Aileen’s fourth birthday.

However, her grandparents failed to provide a healthy upbringing for Aileen and her siblings, as her grandmother was a known alcoholic and their grandfather an abuser. She never knew her father, as he was arrested for child molestation before she was born, and subsequently took his own life in prison. She was the youngest of three siblings.

Wuornos was kicked out of her home after her grandmother died, and resorted to prostitution in order to support herself. Bouncing from home to home, she managed to make enough to keep herself afloat.

While some administrators and counselors may have known pieces of Aileen’s story, most of the staff and students at Smith Middle School (where Aileen attended until 1970), were only made aware of what truly happened when her case started to make the news in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

According to former Smith Middle School teacher, John Bancroft, the teachers at the time were not aware of the events occurring in the Wuornos home:

“There are a lot of people — teachers, counselors, administrators — that worked there then, that feel so bad, because we didn’t know what was going on in her life,” he said. “The teachers didn’t know it, the principal didn’t know it. Or else they would have done something. As a teacher, you want to protect your students. And when it didn’t happen correctly, for no good reason, it still bugs you.”

As to her behavior in school, Bancroft shared, “She was not a bad student, she wasn’t trouble in class, but she had a real short fuse.” The sentiment regarding Wuornos’ short temper was also shared by Dawn Botkins, Wuornos’ closest friend.

Through her sister, Lori Wuornos, Aileen Wuornos first met Dawn Botkins. Botkins would soon become a close friend of Aileen Wuornos and would remain in touch with Wuornos until the day of her eventual execution. In a recent Chariot interview with Dawn Botkins, Botkins explained how Wuornos was treated in society and more specifically in school.

“They just judged her and put her down, and she knew nobody really cared for her,” Botkins shared. “But she knew when her and I hung out during the day, I was her number one.”

Dawn further elaborated on Aileen’s interactions with her peers: “None of the kids would have anything to do with her,” she explained, citing the fact that people spread rumors about Aileen and her private life. “I never asked her, ‘Did you really have a baby?’ or ‘Are you really a prostitute?’ Of course not, why would I say that? [Because] If you treated her right, she treated you right, too. Guess nobody treated her right but me.”

According to the Troy High School student records that Chariot reporters obtained, Aileen loved to watch television and was known for drawing her own comics, but was introverted and kept mostly to herself. Aileen was often ridiculed and ostracized by her peers for having a baby at the age of 14, conceived as the result of a rape by her grandfather’s friend.

After dropping out of High School, Aileen hitchhiked from Michigan to Colorado to Florida. During her time in Florida, Aileen killed seven men from 1989 to 1990. Similar to other serial killers, Aileen targeted the same type of people, middle-aged white men.

Her first murder victim was a man by the name Richard Mallory, the owner of an electrical shop, who was found several miles away from his abandoned vehicle. Like all of her future victims, he was killed with numerous shots to the chest from a handgun.

David Spears and Charles Carskaddon were both found within five days of one another in June of 1990, the former being discovered nude with the exception of a baseball hat.

In the same month, Peter Siems was also killed by Wuornos, according to her own confession, although his body was never found.

Troy Burress, in late July of the same year, was reported missing. He was later found in early August in Marion County, partially decomposed, but the evidence of two bullet holes was still apparent. Charles “Dick” Humphreys, a former police chief, was also found in the same county as Burress in September of 1990. The body of Walter Jeno Antonio was found in November, mostly nude. However, differing from previous victims, Antonio was shot in the head as opposed to the chest area.

The commonalities between the murders eventually led to Aileen Wuornos’ arrest on Jan. 9, 1991. It was only seven days later, on the 16th, that she confessed to one of the murders, with the initial claim that it was self-defense. However, Aileen later contradicted herself in court stating, “I robbed them, and I killed them as cold as ice, and I would do it again, and I know I would kill another person because I’ve hated humans for a long time.”

One year later, in Jan.1992, Wuornos was tried and convicted for the murder of Richard Mallory. She would later confess to five additional murders.

Aileen would receive her death sentence Jan. 31, 1992.

Botkins still recalls the last visit she ever had with Aileen as one of their favorites.

“That was our best visit ever,” Botkins recalled, “for four hours, we just laughed.” Aileen Wuornos was executed on Oct. 9, 2002. Despite being faced with her own death, however, Botkins describes Aileen’s final night as peaceful, happy, and unusual.

“I mean, how many people have to be woken up for their own execution? Most people can’t sleep,” Botkins said.

In 2021, with details of her story reemerging with the new movie “Aileen Wuornos: American Boogeywoman,” starring Peyton List, and the recent anniversary of her death, the interest in her grows. The blue link, reading Troy High School, on her Wikipedia page will forever lead her back to her Troy roots, and re- mind the Troy community of all we have lost at the hands of Aileen Wuornos.