Juana Barraza

Juana Barraza

Juana Barraza
Birth name: Juana Barraza
Also known as: Mataviejitas (Sp. “Old Lady Killer”)La Dama del Silencio (Sp. The Silent Lady)
Born: 1957 (age 51–52)
Number of victims: 11+
Span of killings: Late 1990s–January 25, 2006
Country: Mexico
State(s): Mexico City
Date apprehended: January 25, 2006

Juana Barraza (b.1957) is a Mexican serial killer dubbed Mataviejitas (Sp. “Old Lady Killer”) sentenced to 759 years in jail for killing eleven elderly women [1][2]. The first murder attributed to Mataviejitas has been dated variously to the late 1990s and to a specific killing on 17 November 2003.[3] The authorities and the press have given various estimates as to the total number of the killer’s victims, with estimated totals ranging from 24 to 49 deaths.[4][5] Prior to her arrest, Barraza was a professional wrestler under the ring name La Dama del Silencio (The Silent Lady).


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All the murderer’s victims were adult women aged 60 or over, most of whom lived alone. Murder was by bludgeoning or strangulation, and the killer invariably robbed the victims. In a number of cases, police said, evidence of sexual abuse was also found[citation needed].

Bernardo Bátiz, the chief prosecutor in Mexico City, described Mataviejitas as having “a brilliant mind, [being] quite clever and careful”,[6] and probably struck after a period spent gaining the trust of an intended victim. Officers investigating the killer’s modus operandi suspected that Mataviejitas posed as a government official offering the chance to sign up to welfare programmes.

The search for Mataviejitas was complicated by conflicting evidence. At one point the police hypothesised that two killers might be involved, and attention was also drawn to the odd coincidence that at least three of the killer’s victims owned a print of an 18th century painting, Boy in Red Waistcoat, by the French artist Jean-Baptiste Greuze.[7]


The authorities were heavily criticised by the media for dismissing evidence that a serial killer was at work in Mexico City as merely “media sensationalism” as late as the summer of 2005. Soon after setting an investigation in motion, the police incurred further criticism by launching what one journalist described as a “ham-fisted” and unproductive swoop on Mexico City’s transvestite prostitutes.[5]

By November 2005, the Mexican authorities were reporting witness statements to the effect that the killer wore women’s clothing to gain access to the victim’s apartments. In one case a large woman in a red blouse was seen leaving the home of a murdered woman. Two months later, police began checking the fingerprints of bodies in the city’s morgues in the apparent belief that Mataviejitas might have committed suicide[citation needed].

A major breakthrough in the case occurred on 25 January 2006, when a suspect was arrested fleeing from the home of the serial killer’s latest victim, Ana María de los Reyes Alfaro, who lived in the Venustiano Carranza borough of Mexico City. Alfaro, 82, had been strangled with a stethoscope[2][8].

To the surprise of many Mexicans, who had supposed the killer to be male, the suspect detained was Juana Barraza, 48, a female wrestler known professionally as The Silent Lady. Witnesses at previous murder scenes had described a masculine-looking woman[9] and police had previously looked for a transvestite although they later admitted that the former wrestler, who went by the name “La Dama del Silencio” (“The Silent Lady”), resembled composite images of the suspect. [8] Barraza closely resembled a model of the killer’s features, which showed Mataviejitas with close-cropped hair dyed blonde and a facial mole, and was carrying a stethoscope, pension forms and a card identifying her as a social worker when she was detained.

Mexico City prosecutors said fingerprint evidence linked Barraza to at least 10 murders.[10] of the as many as 40 murders attributed to the killer[1][2]. The wrestler is said to have confessed to murdering Alfaro and three other women, but denied involvement in all other killings[8][11]. She told reporters she had visited Alfaro’s home in search of laundry work.

Trial and verdict

Barraza was tried in the spring of 2008, the prosecution alleging she had been responsible for as many as 40 deaths. She admitted one murder, that of Alfaro, and told the police her motive was lingering resentment regarding her own mother’s treatment of her. On 31 March she was found guilty on 16 charges of murder and aggravated burglary, including 11 separate counts of murder. She was sentenced to 759 years in prison. Since sentences imposed in Mexican courts are generally served concurrently, however, she is likely to have to serve a maximum of 50 years behind bars. She will be eligible for parole, if she survives, at age 100.[12]


There is still doubt in Mexican circles whether Barraza is the killer.


  1. ^ a b Life for Mexico’s Old Lady Killer“. BBC. 2008-04-01. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7323821.stm. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  2. ^ a b c Mexico’s “Little Old Lady Killer” gets life term“. Reuters. 2008-04-01. http://uk.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUKN3122188820080401. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  3. ^ Tuckman, Jo: “‘Old lady killer’ set to strike again”, The Guardian, November 21, 2005.
  4. ^ Salgado, Agustín: “Del mataviejitas, 24 de 32 asesinatos: Renato Sales”, La Jornada, November 17, 2005.
  5. ^ a b Servín, Minerva and Salgado, Agustín: “De 1998 a la fecha, 49 asesinatos de ancianos”, La Jornada, January 26, 2006.
  6. ^ Fernández, Rubelio and Cancino, Fabiola: “Bátiz define a “mataviejitas” como brillante y muy hábil”, [[El Universal (Mexico City)|]], October 11, 2005.
  7. ^Mexico police hunt serial killer”, BBC News, October 11, 2005.
  8. ^ a b c Woman held in Mexico killer hunt“. BBC. 2006-01-26. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4650930.stm. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  9. ^ The lady killer“. The Guardian. 2006-05-19. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/may/19/gender.mexico. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  10. ^ Police nab two in serial killings case“. USA Today. 2006-01-26. http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-01-26-mexico-serial-killer_x.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  11. ^ Little Old Lady Killer handed 759 years in a Mexican prison“. The Guardian. 2008-04-02. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/02/mexico?gusrc=rss&feed=global. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  12. ^‘Life for Mexico’s Old lady killer’”, BBC News, April 1, 2008.

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