At 51, Richard Mallory was a temperamental loner, with a penchant for strip bars and an ongoing beef with the Internal Revenue Service.
Aileen Carol Wuornos, 34, was a prostitute with a checkered past, as bitter as she was lonely.
Somewhere between Daytona Beach's seedy strip of bars along U.S. 1 and the deserted stretch of Interstate 4 leading out of Tampa, Mallory and Wuornos met each other for the first -- and last -- time.
That was Nov. 30, 1989. Mallory's body was found 13 days later in woods near Ormond Beach. A scrap of scarlet carpet shielded his decomposed, bullet-riddled torso. The pockets of his trousers had been turned inside out.
Whatever happened the day that Mallory's and Wuornos' lives became permanently entangled may be sorted out starting today, when Wuornos goes on trial in DeLand in his murder. It will be the first of five trials if Wuornos is prosecuted for all of the slayings in which she has been indicted.
For anyone who hasn't seen her featured on "A Current Affair," "Inside Edition" or any of the many other tabloid television shows that have profiled Wuornos' case during the past year, she is being sold by authorities as the first true female serial killer.
After Mallory, police say, came David Spears, 43, a construction worker; Charles Carskaddon, 40, a part-time rodeo worker; Troy "Buddy" Burress, 50, a sausage truck driver; and Dick Humphreys, 56, a child-abuse investigator. Although she has not been indicted in two others, Wuornos also is a suspect in the deaths of missionary Peter Siems, 65, and reserve Deputy Sheriff Walter Gino Antonio, 60.
All the victims picked up Wuornos while she was hitchhiking, police say. All were then robbed and shot several times. Their bodies littered rural Central Florida highways, with the exception of Siems', whose body has never been recovered.
Mallory's death in November 1989 was the first; the last, Antonio's, came a year later.
Barring last-minute motions, Judge Uriel Blount Jr. was to oversee jury selection today. The defense has asked that the trial be moved because of pretrial publicity. But Blount has said he will wait and see if an unbiased jury can be seated in Volusia County first.
"We still don't think it can be done," Assistant Public Defender Billy Nolas said late last week.