In the first in a brand new series, Keren takes us on a journey delving into Female Serial Killers throughout history, this week she looks at Juana Barraza, noted for being Mexico’s first female serial killer.
TW – Rape, miscarriage
Following on from my first post, I thought I’d look into some of the more notorious female serial killers from the past that, personally, would make great TV. Juana Barraza’s case is the perfect example of this.
In The Beginning
Juana Barraza was born on 27th December 1957 in Hidalgo, Mexico and raised by an alcoholic mother who left Juana’s father when she was three months old. Juana never learnt to read or write and had a very rocky relationship with her mother. At the age of twelve, her mother allegedly ‘pimped’ her daughter out to a man called José Lugo for three beers. Lugo abused Juana for four years and impregnated her on two occasions, once when she was thirteen and when she was sixteen. Both pregnancies resulted in miscarriages. Juana finally moved to Mexico City after her mother died. She went on to have several failed marriages and four children. Unfortunately her first-born son was killed in a gang shooting at the age of 24.
During the 80s and 90s, Juana had a variety of jobs and the most interesting one included touring central Mexico as a female luchador named: La Dama del Silencio (The Lady of Silence). Unfortunately I cannot find any records of her time as a wrestler, apart from the fact that she retired in 2000, but this could definitely be elaborated on when it comes to a TV series.
Throughout the years, Juana struggled to make ends meet and began stealing from shops, eventually escalating to burglarizing homes. In 1996, Juana and a friend planned to steal from the elderly, they dressed in white clothing and pretended to be nurses to gain access to the homes. It turns out that her friend was in a relationship with a corrupt Federal Police Officer, who extorted Juana for 12,000 pesos in return for her freedom.
Brutal murders started in 1998, with the police and press speculating that the serial killer was a man dressed in women’s clothing, dubbed El Mataviejitas, and a number of people were imprisoned for these murders. Juana’s first reported victim, María de la Luz González Anaya, was murdered on 25th November 2002. After she had gained access to the home, González started to make derogatory comments; Juana became infuriated and beat González before fatally strangling her with her bare hands. After her first kill, Juana would not strike again for another three months later. She continued to murder elderly woman between 2002-2005.
Juana’s resentment towards her mother fuelled her attacks on these elderly women. Using them as surrogates for her rage due to her mother passing away. This ‘MO’ resulted in her being dubbed ‘The Little Old Lady Killer’. She would gain access to their homes by dressing in all white and pretending to be a city council nurse or social worker. She later acquired a genuine nursing uniform to help dupe her victims. Juana would start by beating them, using moves she had learnt during her wrestling career, before strangling them with either her bare hands, stethoscope, pantyhose, curtain cords; telephone cables. She would then rob the victims for personal gain and to obtain a trophy.
The actual number of Juana’s victims is unknown, as she has only admitted to four of the killings, and she is known as Mexico’s first female serial killer. After being arrested in January 2006 she was tried for thirty murders, but only found guilty of sixteen as well as twelve robberies. Following her trial, she was sentenced to 759 years in prison and will be eligible for parole in 2058. Juana will be 100 years old by then. When she was arrested, Juana was quoted to say:
“I know it’s a crime, I did it and I will pay for it. But just because I’m going to pay for it, that doesn’t mean they’re going to hang all the other crimes on me.”
As I said in the beginning, Juana’s case would make for great TV! I mean, who doesn’t want to watch a show about a female Luchador who went on to murder multiple people over three years? I certainly would! It pushes two of my favourite types of TV together – Wrestling and true crime! So if anyone knows any TV writers out there, hit me up because I think we’re on to a winner!!
You can also buy Susana Vargas Cervantes’ book called The Little Old Lady Killer: The Sensationalized Crimes of Mexico’s First Serial Killer on Amazon.