Netflix’s ‘The Lady of Silence: The Mataviejitas Murders’ chronicles the story of Juana Barrazza, Mexico’s most prolific serial killer.
Described by some outlets as “the best true crime documentary of the year,” Netflix’s The Lady of Silence: The Mataviejitas Murders chronicles the journey and victims of Mexico’s most prolific serial killer, Juana Barraza. Barraza is believed to have killed over 40 older women since the mid-’90s before she was finally caught in 2006.
As The Lady of Silence gives us some insight into what happened and why, we’re finally learning more about La Mataviejitas’s (which translates to The Old Lady Killer’s) victims. Barraza’s lore has stretched so deep in Mexico that there’s even a song about her. But one crucial question remains—where is serial killer Juana Barraza now?
Now, Juana Barraza is serving her 759-year prison sentence in the Santa Martha de Acatitla prison.
Luckily for us, Juana Barraza is safely locked away, most likely for the rest of her life. However, Mexico does prison sentences a little differently than the United States. The maximum prison sentence for any crime is just 60 years (which could be considered progressive), and many sentences are typically served simultaneously.
Barraza received multiple long sentences, which adds up to 759 years if served consecutively, but if they are served simultaneously, it’s possible she wouldn’t spend more than 60 years in prison. This is the highest sentence ever given to a criminal in Mexico. Even still, she was sentenced at 51 years old, so it’s highly unlikely she’d be alive after 60 years behind bars.
In 2015, thanks to one of the prison’s several rehabilitation programs, Barraza married fellow inmate Miguel Ángel, a 74-year-old man who was serving a sentence for murder in the men’s sector of the Santa Martha de Acatitla prison. The marriage lasted only a year after they met just three times. “When we saw each other, love vanished,” she told a deputy (via El País).
According to reports, Barraza now sells tacos in the prison courtyard to support her family and works as a gym instructor. Ironically, one of her main activities at the prison is walking older women around. Before getting caught, she had four children with three different men, although her eldest died in a mugging gone wrong. “I can be whatever they want, but above all, I am a good mother,” Barraza told researcher Susana Vargas (via El País).
A mother, ex-wife, and former professional wrestler, it took years before Juana Barraza was caught.
Given the nickname La Mataviejita, Barraza would dress up as a nurse from social services and feign assistance to her future victims. She would then murder and rob them. During the police’s hunt for the killer, who they thought was a male cross-dresser until they arrested Barraza, they first wrongfully accused Araceli Vázquez García and Mario Tablas.
But police finally landed on Barraza when one of her many murders went awry. She decided to attack 89-year-old Ana María de los Reyes Alfaro without realizing that Alfaro had a tenant. Although the police weren’t quick enough to stop Barraza from strangling Alfaro with a stethoscope, Alfaro’s tenant helped them catch Barraza.
Barraza confessed to three of the murders, although police suspect she is responsible for killing over 40 women, and she’s been convicted of 17 murders total. “I hated the women because my mother mistreated me, hit me, and she always cursed me and gave me to an older man,” Barraza once said.
Vargas suspects that La Mataviejita often associated her victims with her abusive mother. She operated as a serial killer for almost a decade before getting caught.
The Lady of Silence: La Mataviejita is now available to stream on Netflix.