One of the most notorious Mexican serial killers is a woman. Her mother terrorized her as a child and was the reason that she suffered the worst ordeal of her life. Juana Barraza murdered her victims who were of a similar age that her mother would have been if she was still living. Were they placeholders for what she really wanted to do to the person who caused her so much pain? Or was she a psychopath as some medical experts believe?
On December 27, 1958, Juana Barraza was born in Hidalgo, a village north of Mexico City. She was raised poor and never learned to read or write. Juana never knew her father when he abandoned her pregnant mother and took their son. Juana lived with her alcoholic mother and stepfather. She told someone who interviewed her in prison that she would see her mother sneak men into the house when her stepfather was gone. Her mother would then threaten her saying that if she told the stepfather, she would kill her. Juana would also get severe beatings from her mother and wonder why her mother hated her so much.
At around 12 or 13 years old, Juana’s mother gave her away to a man. Some say it was in exchange for three beers. This man repeatedly raped and abused her. While this was happening, Juana’s stepfather was looking all over for her. Not knowing that Juana was now living with her abuser, his parents, and other extended family members. She would eventually become pregnant and give birth to a boy. After giving birth, she was found and rescued by her uncle and aunt.
When they took her home and her mother saw her, she started insulting Juana. Her stepfather came out and told Juana to get into the house. He beat her mother severely. Juana’s stepfather was about to kill her mother, but the landlord came and stopped him.
Juana’s anger and rage towards her mother are what criminologists believe is why she targetted women the same age as her mom.
Juana’s mother would die when Juana was 18. The cause was liver cirrhosis. When Juana found out her mother died, Juana says that she felt no emotion. She never forgave for everything she did to her, and she felt great resentment. It was different when her father passed away from the same illness. Juana took his death very hard.
Juana would have four children with three different men. She seems to have been a good mother and kept close to her children. Her oldest son died when muggers attacked him with a baseball bat. Her second-oldest, a daughter, got married young but lived close to her mom. The two youngest, a boy and a girl, lived with Juana until her arrest. They are now staying with their aunt.
Juana was said to be proud of being a good single mother and taking care of her four children. She did this by working multiple jobs like a street vendor, a housecleaner, and doing petty theft crime.
La Dama De Silencio (The Silent Dame)
Juana Barraza started getting interested in Lucha Libre. She liked going since a teenager, but it wasn’t until later when she started seriously training to become a wrestler herself. Juana would decide to name herself “La Dama De Silencio” or in English, The Silent Dame. She had bleach blonde hair and a bright pink costume. Lucha Libre became her passion. She would remain in the bottom tier, but all the wrestlers who crossed paths with her were shocked to hear of her crimes. They said they would never have believed she was a murderer because she was always polite and clean. Before getting caught, Juana would retire from wrestling.
In 1996, Juana started robbing elderly people with a friend of hers. They would dress as nurses and that is how they got the trust of the victims. The robberies got her comfortable enough to target women over 60 who lived alone and didn’t have many family and friends. Similar to KD Kempamma of India who would lurk around temples looking for vulnerable women, Joanna did the same. She would walk around poor towns and target older women who seemed frail and alone. Her alias a social worker trying to help older people with applying for a pension. She even had fake government documents that would help people feel at ease. When the women would take her to their apartments, she would strangle them with cords and even a stethoscope that she would bring with her.
The first suspected victim was Maria de la Luz Gonzalez Anaya who was murdered on November 25, 2002. The two got into an argument which resulted in Juana killing Maria. Juana started her killing spree. A few years later, she met taxi driver Jose Francisco Torres Herrera. They targetted and murdered 82-year old Carmen Camila Gonzalez Miguel, a wealthy woman in Mexico City. This murder caused the police to increase their patrols and even collaborate with French Investigators who had recently caught The Monster of Montmartre.
The police then started targetting transvestites because witnesses said they saw a muscular woman with a wig around the victims.
On January 25, 2006, Juana Barraza, 48 at this time, was fleeing the house of the latest victim, Ana Maria de Los Reyes Alfaro. Even though everyone thought it was a man dressed as a woman, the sketches of the murderer were similar to Juana Barraza. After comparing her fingerprints to the ones from the crime scene, Juana was linked to ten out of the 40 possible victims. Juana would confess to four murders but deny she had anything to do with the others.
During the sentence reading, Juana showed no emotion. Even when they said she was sentenced to 759 years in prison, Juana remained emotionless. When asked why she did it, Juana just said, “I got angry.”
The police thought the media was practicing sensational journalism when they started reporting that they thought there was a serial killer on the loose. This was one of the reasons that Juana was able to murder so many elderly women before getting caught.
Juana had a horrible upbringing with her a terrible mother, but that doesn’t excuse her murdering innocent women just because they were the same age as her mom. I wonder if she will ever admit to the other murders, but at least she will never be out to commit another one.