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Serial Killer

20060130: Mexican judge orders serial-killer suspect held over for trial Mexico City Serial Killer News
A Mexico City judge ordered a female wrestler to stand trial on homicide charges for the Jan. 25 strangulation killing of an 82-year-old woman; authorities suspect her in about 10 other killings, but have not yet brought formal charges in those cases.

The trial will apparently be held in a courtroom at Mexico City's Santa Martha Acatitla prison, where suspect Juana Barraza, 48 – who prosecutors describe as the “Mataviejitas,” or “Little Old Lady Killer” – is currently being held, the government news agency Notimex reported.

Prosecutors have suggested Barraza acted out of anger, apparently because her mother abandoned her as a young girl to a man who allegedly sexually abused her; but they have also said she was conscious of, and responsible for, her acts.

The homicide charge – equivalent to the most serious form of the crime, implying premeditation – usually carries a maximum sentence of around 50 years. Multiple sentences are usually served concurrently in Mexico, where there is no death penalty or formal life imprisonment.

Police say the short-haired, robust Barraza – whose physique originally led police to question transvestites in the case – may have been acting out of anger against her own mother, around the same age as the victims.

Barraza has described on the tape how she gained access to her last victim, Ana Maria Reyes; she was arrested shortly after leaving Reyes' house when a neighbor tipped off a passing police patrol car.

Prosecutors said she has confessed to four killings, and her fingerprints match those in a total of 10 cases.


20060128: Serial killer a member of death cult Mexico City Serial Killer News

A FORMER female wrestler, accused of killing 11 elderly women in the Mexican capital, had an altar to the skeletal, scythe-wielding Santa Muerte death cult figure in her home, newspapers said.

Police searching the home of Juana Barraza, 48, after her arrest this week found a statue of Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, who is popular with thieves and drug smugglers, Reforma newspaper said.
She has confessed to several murders, police said.

Barraza, accused of being the feared "Mataviejitas," or "Little Old Lady Killer," sought by police for years, left offerings for the figure and also had a dead snake preserved in a jar in her home, papers said.

Barraza was arrested on Wednesday after she was spotted fleeing the home of an 82-year-old woman who had been strangled with a stethoscope. Barraza has been charged in the woman's death.

Police say fingerprints link her to the murders of 10 other old women in the capital since 2000 and say she may have murdered another 30 people, most of them elderly women.

Santa Muerte is a centuries-old pagan cult which has seen a resurgence in interest in recent years and now claims some two million faithful in Mexico. Followers range from elite politicians to kidnappers and gangsters.
The Catholic Church frowns on the cult.

A muscular woman with short ginger hair, Barraza once fought professionally as a wrestler under the name The Silent Lady.

She had recently worked as a popcorn vendor at the wrestling shows.


20060128: Police: Mexican serial killer suspect acted out of anger at mother, childhood sexual abuse Mexico City Serial Killer News

A suspected female serial killer who terrorized Mexico City for two years apparently acted out of anger because her mother abandoned her and handed her over to a man who sexually abused her, police said Friday.
The two city policemen who arrested Juana Barraza, 48, told reporters they thought she was a male transvestite even at the moment of her arrest, comments that angered the gay community.

The two officers caught Barraza fleeing a house Wednesday where an 82-year-old woman had been strangled with a stethoscope. Prosecutors said they have evidence implicating Barraza as the notorious “Mataviejitas,” or “Little Old Lady Killer,” suspected in the slayings of at least 10 elderly women.

“We thought she was a homosexual, because of the strength she had,” said arresting officer Ismael Alvarado Ruiz.

His partner, Marco Antonio Cacique, said “she ran like a man,” adding: “I thought ... she was a transvestite.”

The short-haired, robust Barraza – who once worked as a professional wrestler and wrestling promoter – told investigators that anger was the motive for the crimes. She has admitted to four killings, and is linked by fingerprints to a total of 10 cases.

“She said it was out of anger,” Bernardo Batiz, the city's attorney general, said Thursday “She had a very difficult life, her mother gave her away when she was little, and the man who took her in had sex with her and she had a daughter.”

Barraza later had several other children.

Batiz said psychological studies were still pending, but that Barraza was responsible for, and fully conscious of, the consequences of her acts. Formal homicide charges were expected to be lodged against her Friday.

Police had suspected the killer was a man dressed as a woman and spent months detaining, questioning and fingerprinting transvestites.

Jaime Montejo, spokesman for Brigada Callejera, an advocacy group for women, transvestites and prostitutes, demanded Friday that the city's attorney general publicly apologize for an Oct. 14 round up of dozens of transvestites as part of their search for the “Little Old Lady Killer.”

“The attorney general should apologize, since he was the one who suggested that transvestites were responsible for the killings,” Montejo said.

He accused the city's police department of having “a homophobic attitude.”


20060126: Suspected 'Little Old Lady' Serial Killer Arrested Mexico City Serial Killer News

One is a female wrestler who allegedly earned the trust of elderly women, then strangled them. The other is a former soldier accused of luring gay men from bars and killing them.

Mexico City police had two suspected serial killers in custody Thursday, saying they have solved the capital's infamous "Little Old Lady Killer" case and have broken another string of murders.

Authorities said Juana Barraza, 48, was caught fleeing a house Wednesday where an 82-year-old woman had been strangled with a stethoscope. Prosecutors said they have evidence implicating Barraza as the notorious "Mataviejitas," or "Little Old Lady Killer," suspected in the slayings of at least 10 elderly women in the past two years.

Another suspect, Raul Osiel Marroquin, 29, was arrested Monday in the killings of four homosexual men in the capital, police said. 
Both suspects confessed to killing at least some of the victims when they were paraded in front of the media, a tradition in Mexico where police and prosecutors have faced withering criticism for failing to investigate, let alone solve, most crimes.

At a news conference Thursday, Marroquin coldly described killing four gay men. Although there had been some reports of an increase in attacks against gays, the announcement of Marroquin's arrest was the first confirmation of a serial killer targeting homosexuals.

Police did not give details about what led to his arrest.

"I snuffed out four homosexuals that in some way were affecting society," Marroquin said. He told reporters he would kill again, if given the chance, but would "refine his methods."

Police said Marroquin tortured his victims before hanging or choking them, and carved a star into the forehead of one man. They also accused him of kidnapping two other gay men, but said he let them go for ransoms of up to $11,500.

Unlike Marroquin's case, which was little known until his arrest, news of the "Little Old Lady Killer" grabbed headlines, frightening residents for two years.

Police had suspected the killer was a man dressed as a woman and spent months detaining, questioning and fingerprinting transvestites. Female serial killers are rare in any country, making up only 8 percent of all serial assassins in the United States.

Mexico City Attorney General Bernardo Batiz said Thursday that they have enough evidence to pin at least 10 deaths on Barraza, a stocky former professional wrestler.

Barraza was arrested Wednesday night as she fled a house where Ana Maria Reyes, 82, had just been strangled with a stethoscope. Neighbors called police.

She told police and reporters she did kill Reyes, but not the others.

"Yes, I did it," she said, smiling at the television cameras as she was being taken away by police. She quickly added: "Just because I'm going to pay for it, that doesn't mean they're going to hang all the crimes on me."

But Batiz told the Televisa network that Barraza's fingerprints match those at the scene of 10 homicides as well as one attempted murder. He also said Barraza has admitted to killing four of the 10 victims, including Reyes.

Barraza also resembles police composite drawings and a sculptured rendering of the suspected serial killer based on descriptions by witnesses -- even including a similar haircut and facial mole.

"My partner and I caught her by the arms and took her back to the patrol car," officer Ismael Alvarado Ruiz said of the arrest. "We went back to the house, and everything was scattered all around."

Police said Barraza was carrying a bag with a stethoscope, pension forms and a card identifying her as a social worker. Police have long believed the killer gained access to victims' homes by offering to sign them up for pensions or other social programs.

But Barraza said she went to the victim's home seeking work doing laundry.

"That's a lie. I wasn't carrying the documents they have there," she said. She did not offer a motive, but told reporters, "You'll know why I did it when you read my statement to police."

One of Reyes' neighbors, 73-year-old Lourdes Medina, remembered the victim as a tidy, hardworking woman.

"This is very sad. It's not fair," Medina said. "This could have happened to me. I'm scared to walk on the street."


20060117: Serial Killer Stump Mexico City Police Mexico City Serial Killer News

The killer is either a cross-dressing man or a robust woman who strangles elderly women with stockings or telephone cables.

Mexican police believe the so-called "Mataviejitas," or "Little Old Lady Killer," has killed at least seven elderly women in the country's bustling capital of 20 million, although they are investigating whether 22 other slayings of older Mexico City women since 2003 are also related.

The slayings have captured the imagination of tabloid-style papers and news stations in recent months, while terrorizing older residents in a city already plagued by kidnappings and crime. They have also brought fresh criticism of a police department and justice system that leaves the vast majority of crimes unsolved and unprosecuted.

Police say the killer struck most recently in October. Witnesses have described a masculine figure in a dress near the scene of some of the crimes, indicating the killer may be mimicking another serial killer in France _ the Monster of Montmartre, a transvestite who strangled or bludgeoned to death 21 elderly Parisian women between 1984 and 1987.

Investigators believe the killer probably tricks his or her way into the victims' homes by posing as a nurse or government worker, then kills the women and ransacks their places. In most cases, only small objects such as crucifixes and rings have been stolen _ perhaps as trophies, a feature common with serial killers, police say.

Another clue linking the killer to France is that three of the victims all had copies of the same painting _ an 18th century portrait called "Boy in Red Waistcoat" by French artist Jean-Baptiste Greuze. The canvas, which was popular in Mexico in the 1970s, shows a feminine-looking boy in a frilly red tunic.

Criminologist Miguel Ontiveros, who constructed a psychological profile of the killer, said he believes the paintings are no coincidence.

"The feminine boy in the waistcoat could be connected to a murderer who has a sexual identity crisis," Ontiveros said.

Ontiveros also believes the killer has a hatred for old women, probably stemming from a bad childhood experience, such as sexual abuse.

With all of the media attention, Mexico City police have been under increasing pressure to solve the case, even turning to their Parisian counterparts for training on how to protect evidence and seal off crime scenes.

"He or she acts with a lot of skill, gaining the confidence of the victims and leaving few clues," Mexico City Attorney General Bernardo Batiz said of the killer, who he characterized as having "brilliant intelligence."

But some experts blame corruption and ineptitude among Mexican law enforcement officials for their inability to catch the killer.

"The bungling of this investigation sends a message to the public that the police do not protect you and you better be worried," said Rene Jimenez, an expert on social violence at Mexico's National Autonomous University.

Some Mexican officers simply don't know how to protect crime scenes, said Jose Luis Perez, who directs the Mexico City detective training center where the French police gave their courses.

"There are police who touch things and leave prints and then we waste time investigating false leads," Perez said.

Authorities have handed out 1 million fliers to elderly residents in the city, warning them to keep their doors closed to strangers. Many residents fear the killer will strike again.

Maria Teresa Torres, 81, said she recently installed an eyehole in her door so she could see who was calling.

"Why does this beast want hurt to us?" asked Torres, who lives alone, like about 10 percent of the 500,000 elderly women in Mexico City. Patting her pet terrier she added, "My peluza will defend me."


20060110: City response to serial killer flat-footed Mexico City Serial Killer News
It´s a new year, and capital authorities are still struggling to catch the "little old lady slayer."

Vicious criminals are nothing new to this bustling and often violent metropolis of 20 million people.

Tabloid pages routinely display gruesome photos of the victims of botched robberies and domestic or drug-related violence. And the Mexican capital´s legendary kidnapping industry has spawned such figures as "the ear-lopper" and the "finger-cutter" - men who would send those body parts to victims´ families to coerce payment.

But now a new criminal has emerged, grabbing headlines and shocking even the hardened citizenry of the Americas´ largest metropolitan area. Popularly known as the "mataviejitas," or little-old-lady killer, for the age and gender of his victims, this murderer represents a breed relatively unknown in Mexico: the serial killer.

Investigators say the perpetrator is a man dressed in women´s clothing, at least 35 years old, who talks his way into the homes of solitary elderly women by presenting himself as a social worker, nurse, city government employee or masseuse.

Once inside, he strangles his victims - at least two dozen over the past three years - with an article of their own clothing and makes off with a household item as a "souvenir" of the crime.

Elderly rights groups say the killings have shed light on a little-discussed social problem: that even in a family-centered society like Mexico, many elderly people are left to live alone.

And citizens groups and analysts say the killer has underscored a more widely recognized concern: that Mexico City´s police force is ill-equipped to deal with the capital´s rampant crime problem.

"A serial killer - especially one that victimizes elderly women - is certainly new and very shocking," said José Antonio Crespo, president of the private-sector Citizen Council for Public Safety. "But Mexico City is a violent city with a high degree of ineffectual prosecution, corruption and even police collusion in crime. So it is fertile ground from which new figures such as this can arise."

Mexico City law enforcement officials, while occasionally able to bring some criminals to justice - the ear-lopper is now behind bars - have appeared unprepared, overmatched, and at times uninterested in the hunt for the mataviejitas.

In fact, it took more than a year of murders and public pressure before officials admitted they had a serial killer on their hands.

"They may have had political reasons for not wanting to recognize what was happening," said Ana María Salazar, a political analyst and security expert. "It angered a lot of people when the city attorney general´s office insisted that this was not a serial killer."

Now, police have concluded that 24 unsolved murders dating back to February 2003 are, indeed, the work of a serial killer. Others, however, suggest that the real number may be closer to 60 and could extend back to the 1990s.

And, despite the insistence of law enforcement officials that such a move is unnecessary, some groups are demanding that the city name a special prosecutor to investigate the killings - following the model that has been created in the border city of Ciudad Juárez, where more than 350 women have been murdered over the past decade.

While police have managed to assemble a detailed profile of the killer´s modus operandi, clues to his identity and motive have been slow in coming.

In October, investigators received their first major break in the case when a person matching the suspect´s description entered an elderly woman´s home and handled an X-ray negative during the course of a conversation. When one of the woman´s sons arrived, the individual fled, leaving a complete fingerprint on the negative.

After that print was matched with five partial prints collected from other crime scenes, police rounded up 50 transsexuals and transvestites, packed them into buses and took them into stations for fingerprinting and photographing. Several of the detainees alleged police brutality during the round-up, and no matching prints were found.


Other clues have simply confounded investigators. They say that three of the most recent victims had prints of "Boy in Red Waistcoat," a painting by the 18th-century French painter Jean-Baptiste Greuze, in their homes. But they admit they do not know what to make of the coincidence.

With no further developments in the case, officials announced in December that they were investigating the possibility that the killer, silent since October, might have committed suicide.

There was no specific evidence to suggest such an outcome, Mexico City Attorney General Bernardo Bátiz admitted. But investigators had been studying serial killers in other parts of the world and had noticed that they occasionally take their own lives.

Earlier in 2005, a frustrated Bátiz called the killer "´brilliant." But Renato Sales Heredia, a lead investigator on the case, disagreed with the assessment.

"You don´t need a lot of intelligence to take advantage of a vulnerable social group," he said in an interview with EL UNIVERSAL. "His victims are essentially abandoned."

Others ask how much brilliance is required to evade capture in a city where police corruption is rampant and criminals operate with seeming impunity.

"This is a very handy excuse for the authorities," said Crespo. "But the issue is not the intelligence of the criminal, but what the criminals think of the intelligence of the police and their ability to catch them."


20051222: Tracking Down the Serial Killer of Poor, Elderly Women Mexico City Serial Killer News
"When someone asks how old I am, I say I'm 15, just in case the 'little old lady killer' is listening," said 78-year-old pensioner Beatriz Juárez, her irony masking her fear of a killer on the loose who is blamed for the murders of nearly 50 people in Mexico City.

Police in the Mexican capital acknowledge that they are dealing with a serial killer. According to police reports, in 1998 there were three homicides of elderly women; from 1999 to 2002 there were two or three per year; in 2003 the killings climbed to 12; in 2004 they totalled 17; and 11 have been reported so far in 2005.

The victims are women aged 70 or over, who live alone and belong mainly to the poorer social strata.

The city's office of the attorney general has declared a state of alert for elderly women because of fears that the murderer will strike again. The police have an identikit sketch of the killer based on witness testimony.

According to the police, he is a strongly-built man, 1.70 metres tall, who dresses up as a woman in order to win the confidence of his victims. He is apparently aided and abetted by a woman. He usually passes himself off as a nurse or a representative of some government institution that provides economic assistance or health care to the elderly.

"We must not let strangers into the house, we must avoid walking alone in the streets, we must not tell anybody we live alone, and we have to join the volunteer brigades that do the rounds in apartment blocks, keeping a look out," Juárez said, repeating some of the recommendations set forth by the National Institute for Elderly People.

Rosalba Bueno, head of the Gender Project in the Department of Psychology at the private Iberoamerican University, thought there was still doubt about whether the killer is a man or a woman. She said that police will have great difficulty in capturing the murderer because they lack a scientific method for defining his or her psychological profile.

Bueno, who is also studying the case of the hundreds of women murdered in the northern border town of Ciudad Juárez, in the state of Chihuahua, told IPS that serial killers have always existed, but that they have not been studied in Mexico, least of all when the victims are women, because of gender discrimination in the culture.

More importance has not been put on the elderly women victims in Mexico City and the more than 600 women killed in Ciudad Juárez because women are culturally marginalised, which enables their attackers to go unpunished, Bueno said.

An individual who kills elderly women must have had a childhood relationship with a woman that deeply marked him. That's why he now chooses his victims according to specific physical characteristics. He studies them, gets involved with them, prepares the crime scene as if it were a stage, and then murders them. "He is leaving tracks so that his work may be recognised and so that someone, somehow, will stop him," the psychologist added.

More than 300 police have joined the special team of 100 agents assigned to investigate and solve the case. Víctor Hugo Moneda, executive director of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in the Office of the Public Prosecutor, called on the public to take part in preventive measures, as he recognised that no matter how many police are put on the streets, it will not stop the murders.

Criminologist Miguel Ontiveros, head of the National Institute of Criminal Science, stated that on the basis of the cases analysed, the criminal is a narcissistic egomaniac who was possibly abused as a child and who has a sexual identity problem. He always hangs or beats his victims to death.

Ontiveros warned that the killer might change his disguise, due to the major deployment of police.

He is probably following the news on the media, and "by this time he knows that there is an intensive police operation to capture him. He is a good actor who can change his appearance, and that's why it is so important to take precautionary measures to detect any unusual movements around elderly people," he advised.

The lack of results has led lawmakers from the conservative ruling National Action Party, who are in the opposition in the Mexico City government, to put intense pressure on left-wing Mayor Alejandro Encinas.

PAN legislators are pressing the mayor to dismiss Mexico City Attorney General Bernardo Batiz on grounds of inefficiency. Encina's response is that it is not easy to capture this murderer, and that he is determined to solve this case before his administrative term ends in December 2006.

In spite of all its modern resources, it has taken the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as long as 10 years to track down certain serial killers in the United States, said criminologist Gabriel Barrón, a member of the FBI who joined the Mexican police investigation in October.

Out of nearly 105 million Mexicans, some 8.2 million are over 60, and 60 percent of the elderly are women who live alone or with a relative. Twenty percent of over-60s live in extreme poverty, according to the National Population Council.

20051218: Serial killings a test for police Mexico City Serial Killer News

Someone has been murdering older women in Mexico City, strangling them in their homes, pocketing a keepsake and vanishing into the city's streets.

But investigators do not know whether the killer is a man or a woman, whether there is an accomplice or how the victims are chosen.

After two years and at least 24 unsolved murders, they have one fingerprint that matches partial prints from five other cases, a modus operandi and a police sketch of a man apparently made up as a woman.

Investigators pieced together much of the killer's technique from evidence at the crime scenes. The rest resulted from a break in July when the son of a potential victim dropped by his mother's house unexpectedly and caught a glimpse of someone fleeing. The person left behind a full fingerprint.

To Mexico City residents and its unbounded suburbs, inured to street violence as they are, the presence of a serial killer is something alien.

Such killers are seen as peculiarly American, a perversity born from a society many Mexicans believe long ago abandoned family ties, one that breeds hostile loners. Even the largely unsolved killings of more than 350 women over the past decade in Ciudad Juárez is seen as distant, a product of the city's closeness to the United States and the fractured families that migration to the United States has left behind.

Mexico City's apparently homegrown serial killer rattles the cultural myth here that older people are protected within the cocoon of loving extended families. The truth is that increasing numbers of older Mexicans live alone in a city where families are dispersed.

Bernardo Bátiz, the attorney general for Mexico City, took a long time to admit that the city was dealing with a serial killer, although newspapers have been referring to the mataviejitas, or "little old lady killer," for almost two years.

"It cost us more than a year for the authorities to take it seriously," said Pedro Borda, director of Mexico's National Institute for Elderly People. "Now we know that the prosecutor feels the pressure."

With the fingerprint offering evidence of a serial killer, the attorney general's office formed a task force and sought help from criminologists at the National Institute of Penal Sciences, which is creating a psychological profile of the killer.

"It's like looking for a needle in a haystack in a city so gigantic where anonymity is the rule, where people don't know each other," Bátiz said.

The criminologists are looking for shared traits among the victims and clues from the crime scenes, and are comparing the profile of this killer with cases documented elsewhere.

"These are not casual victims, they are chosen victims," said Miguel Ontiveros, a criminologist at the institute.

Investigators suspect they can attribute nine homicides over the last two years to one person and that the same person might be responsible for 15 more in the same period.

Others think that the murderer may be responsible for more. Borda said there had been 66 murders of people older than 60 since 1998. They have been spread out all over the city, in middle-class and lower middle-class neighborhoods, in no evident pattern.

Public pressure has grown over the past few months with the killing of María de los Angeles Repper, 92, in the modest central neighborhood of Escandón. She was strangled with her scarf in her ground-floor apartment in October.

But this is a country with little experience in the kind of painstaking police work needed to catch a serial killer, experts say.

Until recently, many prosecutions relied solely on a confession, often extracted under torture. Preserving a crime scene has only recently become standard procedure.


20051201: Police in Mexico searching for a serial killer Mexico City Serial Killer News

Police in Mexico are on the trail of a serial killer who targets elderly women. Authorities suspect the killer is a man who gains his victims' trust by dressing as a woman.

They're senior citizens on a mission, to warn elderly residents in Mexico City to beware of "El Mataviejitas," translation: the little old lady killer. Jovita Cuevas does not need a warning.

"You cannot trust anybody," she says.

Her neighbor was attacked by a suspect described as a woman who fled a home when relatives arrived.

There's trust among women, says a mother of three. Her neighbor was strangled by someone she let into her apartment. She's among 32 elderly women murdered in the past couple of years, the most recent in October.

Police suspect the serial killer is really a man who dresses as a woman to win his victims' trust and poses as a nurse or social worker.

Investigators suspect the cross-dressing serial killer approaches some of his victims at parks, and they now believe he probably has an accomplice who helps the killer make a quick getaway.

Authorities just released sketches of the pair and a new 3D facial image of the serial killer linked to 24 murders. There's a new urgency in the warnings. Investigators say they've noticed another pattern: The Mataviejitas usually strikes mid-month. For the past two years, the serial killer has claimed victims during the month of November.


20051029: Transvestites protest Mexico City police roundup in serial killer case Mexico City Serial Killer News
Some transvestites protested against a raid by Mexico City police that forcibly rounded them up, photographed them and took their fingerprints.It was part of a search for a serial killer who allegedly dresses as a woman to gain access to his victims.

Since 2003, Mexico City has been gripped by a series of a least five killings _ and possibly as many as 20 _ of older women living alone.

In many cases, the assailant was described as a man dressed up as a nurse or social worker.

The transvestites and transsexuals, most of whom work as male prostitutes, offered to join efforts to catch the killer _ known as the "Mataviejitas," or "Old Lady Killer."

But those critics said the October 14th raid was misdirected and had violated their civil rights.

20051012: Mexican police seek "old lady" killer Mexico City Serial Killer News
Police in Mexico City are hunting a serial killer who has slain at least 15 elderly women.

The BBC reports the killer now has a nickname 'Mataviejitas' -- 'Little Old Lady Killer.'

Police are looking for a muscular woman -- or a man who dressed up as a woman -- who gained victims` trust, was let into their homes and beat and strangled them.

A witness to the death of an 85-year-old widow in September said a big woman in a red blouse left the victim`s home.

Mexico City chief prosecutor, Bernardo Batiz, called the killer 'brilliantly clever.'

The government has started a mass-awareness campaign to alert elderly residents.


20051011: Mystery of Mexican serial killer Mexico City Serial Killer News

Mexico City: Long used to kidnappers and drug hitmen, Mexico's capital is now in fear of another type of criminal: a serial killer in women's clothes who strangles and batters old ladies in their homes.

Police believe a single murderer is responsible for the unusual killings of four elderly women in the city so far this year and may have committed some of 37 others since 2003.

Bizarrely, three of the four victims had prints of the painting Boy in Red Waistcoat by an 18th century French artist, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, hanging on their walls, but prosecutors say that may just be a coincidence.

The murderer, dubbed the mataviejitas, or "little old lady killer", is either a tall, powerfully built woman or a man who dresses in female clothes, talks his or her way into the victims' houses, then kills with household objects.

"It is a criminal acting alone, who is very careful, is brilliantly clever and acts with a lot of skill, winning the confidence of old people," the city's chief prosecutor, Bernardo Bátiz, said on Monday.

In the four cases that police say are definitely linked, the victims were strangled by women's tights, a curtain cord or a phone cable after they opened their doors to the killer. Detectives think the murderer may have posed as a doctor or nurse.


20050823: Serial killer of elderly in Mexico City? Mexico City Serial Killer News
Mexican authorities are looking for a possible serial killer in the recent slayings of elderly people in the capital, Mexico City Attorney General Bernardo Batiz said Tuesday.

"We have a serious suspicion that there is a serial killer," Batiz was quoted by the Mexican news media as saying. "We have some cases in which the similarity of behavior and modus operandi would indicate to us that this is feasible."

At least 24 elderly people have been slain in this capital of 8 million people since mid-2003, many of them inside their homes, according to the Mexican news media.

Batiz said there were similar patterns in at least four of the homicides.

Although some suspects have been detained, the crimes have continued.

In the coming days, authorities will produce a police sketch of the possible serial killer and will distribute a brochure with recommendations on how the elderly can protect themselves from crime, Batiz said.


Copyright 1995-2006 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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