Juana Barraza: The Old Lady Killer

For nearly three years an unknown serial killer, dubbed La Mataviejitas by the press, targeted women between the ages of 64 and 79 years old in Mexico City, Mexico.

Eyewitness testimony and fingerprints would eventually point to aspiring female wrestler Juana Barraza, better known as La Dama del Silencio (The Silent Lady); what led her, reportedly shy and quiet, to violently murder these women?

Early Life

Juana Barraza was born in Hidalgo, a rural area north of Mexico City, in 1957 to Justa Samperio and Trinidad Barazzo. According to some sources, the nineteen-year-old Barraza met Justa when she was a thirteen-year-old prostitute.

They were together for around five years and had two daughters (Angela and Juana) together. He reportedly came home from his job as a Police Commander one day and found Justa and Juana gone. He raised Angela but never went to look for Juana, his other daughter.

Justa left Juana’s father, to be with her stepfather, a man named Refugio Samperio. They eventually married, and from all reports, Samperio cared a great deal for his new stepdaughter Juana.

Justa was reportedly an abusive alcoholic and sold Juana to a man named José Lugo for three beers when she was twelve years old. Barraza never learned to read or write, and never went to school. She was abused by José for four years and became pregnant by him twice before leaving when she was seventeen.

Juana married multiple times throughout her life and had a total of four children with different men. My research shows that many of the men she lived with were abusive, and none of her relationships lasted long.

At some point, in the 1980s or 1990s, Juana became intrigued by Mexican Lucha Libre wrestling, adopting a ring persona, La Dama del Silencio (The Lady of Silence), and touring the wrestling circuit. She has since stated that she chose the name because it fit her shy and quiet nature.

Juana was moderately successful as a luchador, for a time, but retired in 2000 when she was forty-three. She was still involved in the circuit, but only as a promoter for other fighters.

Even before her retirement, Juana struggled to make ends meet. Initially, she worked in factories and sold items on the street to support herself and her children, but this proved to be impossible, and Juana turned to crime to make money.

Barazza began her criminal career in 1995, stealing from shops and eventually breaking into people’s homes for money and valuables. In 1996 she began working with a partner, Araceli Martínez, to rob older community members; the two women used disguises to gain access to homes and stole from these vulnerable people effortlessly.

The Murders

Barraza started her career as a serial killer sometime between 1998 and 2002. There are conflicting reports as to when she killed her first victim, but the earliest proven murder was that of María de la Luz González Anaya in 2002.

Three months after María’s murder, the number of victims attributed to “El Mataviejitas” increased sharply, culminating in a total victim count between 11 and 48.

Barraza strangled the older women in their homes, using many different disguises to gain access. She physically abused many of her victims before killing them, and always stole something from each of them.

She sometimes used an object that she brought with her to strangle her victims, but would use something from their homes just as frequently. The list of murder weapons includes cables, wires, stethoscopes, and other items.

The Investigation

There is a large amount of criticism regarding the early days of the investigation into Barraza’s crimes, with many sources claiming that authorities in Mexico City spent years denying that a killer was on the loose.

Once authorities acknowledged that the murders were linked, and finally interviewed eyewitnesses, many recalled seeing a masculine-looking woman, or perhaps a man in women’s clothing. This testimony led police to focus their investigation on “transvestite prostitutes” and “disturbed men.”

Authorities found the perpetrator’s fingerprints at many of the crime scenes, along with other physical evidence. They finally announced to the public in 2005 that a prolific serial killer was on the loose.

They profiled the killer as a man, most likely a homosexual, who had suffered physical abuse at the hands of a woman. They were also confident that the killer was intelligent and was likely well-educated.

Caught

On January 24th or 25th, 2006, the police caught a significant break in the case. Barazza murdered an eighty-four-year-old woman named Ana María de Los Reyes Alfaro.

Another tenant, known only as Joel, saw Barraza leaving Ana’s apartment, and went in to check on the woman. After finding the body, Joel ran back outside and chased after Juana, who was heading for the nearby subway station.

Seeing that he would not catch his quarry, he began to yell and caught the attention of two patrolling officers. Once they understood the situation, they quickly apprehended Barraza and placed her under arrest.

News spread of the arrest and authorities announced in a press conference that they were charging Barraza with the murders.

When they searched her home, they found many news clippings regarding the murders along with small trinkets belonging to the victims. The discovery of the news clippings was of particular interest to authorities since Juana was utterly illiterate.

She reportedly told police that she would sit and hold the clippings and trinkets, contemplating, and perhaps reliving her crimes.

Trial and Sentence

Authorities claim that they can conclusively link Barraza to at least forty deaths, the actual number may be as high as forty-eight.

Prosecutors charged Juana Barraza with eleven counts of aggravated murder and five counts of robbery. She was found guilty on all sixteen counts and sentenced to a total of 759 years and 17 days in prison.

Since Mexico has a maximum prison term of 60 years, Juana will be eligible for parole in 2056; she would be ninety-nine years old.

Sources:

https://escritoconsangre2.blogspot.com/search?q=Juana+Barraza (In Spanish, Graphic Images present.)
http://www.cronica.com.mx/notas/2006/223996.html (In Spanish)
https://murderpedia.org/female.B/b/barraza-juana.htm (Graphic Images in Galleries)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juana_Barraza
https://criminalminds.fandom.com/wiki/Juana_Barraza

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