The Machete Killer


Juan Vallejo Corona, a labour contractor, hired migrant workers in California. He was born on 1934 in Mexico City and moved to Yuba City, California in the 1950’s as a types of machetes

  produce field-worker. Even with schizophrenia, he was able to climb the ranks and in the 1970’s, he became a contractor. He married, had four children and he had a reputation as a tough person amongst the people he hires. He offered his workers housing on the Sullivan Ranch where the migrant workers worked daily for very little pay and Corona had control over almost all their basic needs.

His killings started in 1971 and lasted six weeks, selecting men to rape and murder, which was all very easy since nobody was taking notice of men suddenly vanishing on the Sullivan Ranch as it was a common occurrence. His pattern was to pick his victims, sexually assault them, stab them to death, then hack their heads with a machete post-mortem and then bury their bodies in pre-dug sites.

In May 1971, a ranch owner discovered a seven-foot freshly dug hole which was filled the following day when he returned. He called the authorities and uncovered the hole where they found the corpse of Kenneth Whitacre sexually assaulted, stabbed and head cut open. This started the investigation and by June 4, 1971, 25 graves where uncovered, all with the same modus operandi. In the victims’ pockets they found receipts with Corona’s name and with probable cause, they searched his home and found a hatchet, meat cleaver, stained wooden club, a ledger with the victim’s names and dates of murders, a pistol, machete and bloodstained clothing. He was then sentenced in 1973 to 25 life sentences with chance of parole and in 1978 he appealed and tried to plead insanity and also pointed to his brother as the real killer, but no evidence was found to support this and his original verdict was held.

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