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Juana Barraza

Dec 27, 1957

Juana Dayanara Barraza Samperio is a Mexican serial killer known as "La Mataviejitas" (The Little Old Lady Killer). She was sentenced to 759 years in prison for the killing of 16 elderly women. Sentences imposed in Mexican courts are generally served concurrently, but the maximum sentence under Mexican law is 60 years.

The first murder attributed to Mataviejitas has been dated to the late 1990s and to a specific killing on 17 November 2003.

Barraza’s crimes remained unsolved for a significant period, and her modus operandi led the authorities to believe that the killings were the work of multiple perpetrators. The chief prosecutor in Mexico City initially profiled the killer as having “a brilliant mind, being quite clever and careful and suggested that the killer struck after gaining the trust of the intended victim. Investigating officers suspected that the killer posed as a government official, offering victims the chance to sign up for welfare programs. At one point, the police hypothesized that two killers might be involved.

There was never any consideration that the killer was a female.

There are various estimates as to the total number of the Mataviejitas victims, with estimates ranging from 42 to 48 deaths.

Barraza gained access to the homes of single elderly female victims by posing as a government social or a nurse or simply offering to help carry items into a home. Once inside, she would strangle her victims with a stethoscope or other ligature. She would steal valuable belongings, much of which was silver, and quietly leave the building.

Mexico’s silver abundance made it an important form of currency. Silver working guilds gained prestige and power in creating coins, silverware, religious medallions, crosses, liturgical items and decorations.

Barraza’s stolen silver was sold or pawned for profit.

In 2006, she strangled an 82-year-old woman with a stethoscope. As she was leaving the home, a woman who was renting a room arrived, and she called the police. Barraza was found guilty of the murders of 16 elderly women - it is suspected that the actual number of her victims might be 49.

After Juana Barraza's arrest, the Mataviejitas case was officially closed despite more than 30 unresolved cases.

Juana Barraza Samperio was born in Epazoyucan, Hidalgo, a rural area north of Mexico City. She made a name for herself as a luchadora (wrestler/fighter), a popular Mexican sport.

Her hatred appears to be from her treatment in a broken home. Her father, who was in law enforcement, died when she was young. Her mother, Justa Samperio, was an alcoholic sex worker. As a child, her mother gave her away, for the first time, when she was 12 years old, for three beers, to an old man who repeatedly raped her - and fathered the first of her four children. She had four children in total - her eldest son died from injuries sustained in a mugging.

She moved to Mexico City, where she worked as a popular professional wrestler under the ring name of La Dama del Silencio (The Lady of Silence). She had a strong following in lucha libre, a form of Mexican masked professional wrestling.

She associated her elderly victims with her mother and believed that she was helping society by killing them. All of Barraza's victims were women aged 60 or over, many of whom lived alone. Barraza bludgeoned or strangled them before robbing them.

Barraza has been married and divorced, has children, and has been portrayed in a Netflix TV series called Mujer, Casos de la Vida Real and many other types of media–none of which have fully explained her involvement with Mexican silver.

Last Updated on: 2024-02-28