From the late ‘90s to 2006, an estimated 16 elderly women were murdered by a then-unknown assailant in Mexico City, Mexico. The killer was dubbed La Mataviejitas (The Little Old Lady Killer) by the Mexican media, who were especially critical of law enforcement’s seemingly lazy response to the high-profile case.
However, police weren’t well-equipped to handle such an occurrence. Their first mistake? Falsely assuming the killer was a man.
Who Is Juana Barraza?
Did you know that the first female Serial Killer ever in Mexico (Juana Barraza) was a female luchador named “La Dama del Silencio” pic.twitter.com/IK0q3qf8vT— Sam Adonis (@RealSamAdonis) December 26, 2020
Now the subject of a Netflix documentary, Juana Barraza is the killer behind the above-mentioned slayings. But what led to her becoming La Mataviejitas?
Born in 1957, Barraza’s childhood is so daubed in legend that it is hard to know what is true and what isn’t. But according to the most common iteration of her story, she was born to an alcoholic mother, who, in exchange for three beers, gave her to a man, who would repeatedly sexually assault her.
She reportedly gave birth to the man’s son.
Despite her traumatic upbringing, she managed to make a name for herself in the world of lucha libre, Mexican masked professional wrestling. She used the ring name La Dama del Silencio (The Lady of Silence).
Why Did Juana Barraza Kill? And How Did She Gain Victims’ Trust?
From 1998 to 2006, Juana Barraza Samperio, an ex-lucha libre fighter and nurse, terrorized Mexico City after over 50 elderly women were murdered. The details of her gruesome killings have coined her Mexico's "most dangerous serial killer." https://t.co/4FPJadzJLn— we are mitú (@wearemitu) July 19, 2023
Juana Barraza was able to gain the trust of her victims by posing as a person of authority, such as a doctor or social worker. Her preferred method of murder was bludgeoning or strangling. After each murder, she would rob the victim’s home, keeping with her “trophies,” mainly ornaments or religious items.
It is still debatable as to why she (or really any serial killer) had such a sinister urge. From a psychological perspective, she may have seen the killings as a sort of symbolic revenge upon her mother, who would have been around the ages of her victims.
How Was Juana Barraza Caught?
Barraza was not caught until 2006, when her final victim’s neighbor called police to alert them of a strange person leaving the woman’s home. They arrived soon enough to discover Barraza walking only a few blocks away from the crime scene; she was still donning her faux social worker garb. She was arrested on the spot.
Because she never wore gloves when killing, fingerprint data connected her to all of her previous murders. Currently, she is in prison, where she will spend the remainder of her life.
Since her imprisonment, she has begun working as a gym instructor. She has even gotten married and divorced while serving her sentence.