How ‘La Mataviejitas,’ Juana Barraza, Became Mexico’s Most Notorious Serial Killer
From Ted Bundy to Jeffrey Dahmer, serial killer stories have haunted and intrigued millions since the tales of Jack the Ripper.
Hundreds of documentaries offer insight from psychoanalysts, interviews and theories behind what drives their merciless killings, driving terror to those who live in fear of them and intrigue among those fascinated by their stories.
In the late 1990s, Mexico City’s elderly population was subject to the horror of one particular serial killer: La Mataviejitas. Juana Barraza Samperio, an ex-lucha libre fighter, killed more than 16 elderly women from 1998 to 2006.
Lying low for nearly a decade, Samperio has become one of Mexico’s most notorious criminals. Known by her luchadora name “La Dama del Silencio,” her horrific crimes still haunt Mexicans. In fact, Filiberto Cruz Monroy coined her as Mexico’s “most dangerous serial killer.”
Juana Barraza Samperio had a troubled childhood filled with violence and alcoholism
Before becoming “La Mataviejitas,” Samperio suffered at the hands of her mother. Born in Pachuca de Soto, Hidalgo in 1957, her father left on the day she was born. According to Infobae, soon after, she moved with her mother to Mexico City, where she grew up.
Her mother remarried and had two other children. However, she was an alcoholic. Samperio was both physically and verbally abused by her mother, to where she traded Samperio to a man for three beers.
“When I was 11 years old my mother told a man I was young, but I was 11 and he was a 26-year-old man,” she detailed in an interview. “‘Give me some beers and you can take my daughter’…When he abused me, he had to tie me to the bed to touch me.”
She became pregnant from that experience, saying it was why she became a serial killer later in life.
“I hated old women, because my mom abused me, beat me, always cursed me and gave me away to an older man,” she said during her arrest.
She was a nurse and professional lucha libre fighter known as “La Dama del Silencio”
Before killing 17 elderly women, Samperio held a series of jobs, had seven children and was a professional lucha libre fighter known as “La Dama del Silencio.”
She studied nursing, something she used to her advantage during her killings, as she disguised such. But one of the most interesting facts about her is her professional lucha libre career. She wore a butterfly mask as part of her costume.
According to La Vanguardia, her “modus operandi” was very similar throughout her assaults. She would dress as a nurse or social worker to gain the trust of elderly ladies. Once they would let her into their home, she would beat them, stab them and sexually abuse them, occasionally. To ensure they were dead, she would strangle them with her stethoscope.
Finally, she would rob their home without leaving a trace. Mexican police set out an investigation thinking the killer was a man disguised as a woman. However, several testimonies described the killer as a woman with “masculine appearance, blonde hair and strong features, that wore red clothes.”
On January 25, 2006, due to an error, police discovered her.
“La Mataviejitas” is caught
On January 25, 2006, the serial killer strangled an elderly woman in her home after she refused to give her work ironing and washing clothes.
As she left the home, the man living there saw her rushing out as he returned. He immediately called the police. Investigators found her fingerprints throughout the home, the man’s description fit the police’s robotic model as well.
During trial, the court found her guilty of 17 homicides and aggravated theft. Sentencing her to 759 years in prison.
A New Netflix documentary will detail the gruesome story of “La Mataviejitas” and her victims
“The Lady of Silence: The Mataviejitas Murders” directed by María José Cuevas is bringing the full story to life, featuring exclusive interviews with those involved in the hunt and capture of Samperio.
“In January 2006, after more than 40 murders, several failed arrests, and multiple contradictions, a woman is detained in broad daylight. Her name: Juana Barraza,” the synopsis reads.
Adding, “Known in the world of lucha libre as ‘The Lady of Silence’ and baptized by the media as ‘The Old-Lady Killer,’ a nickname that is to become part of Mexico’s dark history as well as its incomparable pop culture.”
The documentary streams on July 27.
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