Killer with a machete. Juan Corona murdered 25 workers and went to hell in prison

When we say corona today, most people think of a virus. In the 1970s, however, in some US states, the pronunciation of the word evoked completely different connotations. The surname Corona was worn by a serial killer. Originally Mexican Juan Corona killed twenty-five men. In 1971, when he was arrested, he became the worst killer in American history with that number of victims. Although this unflattering primacy was later taken away from him by other assassins, he is still one of the most brutal.

He was sometimes nicknamed the Machete Slayer. “The murders he committed shook the quiet agricultural town of Yuba City, California, a community of 14,000 located about 100 miles northeast of San Francisco. Corona also lived here with his wife and four daughters. He made a living by arranging work for thousands of agricultural workers, mostly from Mexico. They were to work in the fields in California. Twenty-five of them were abducted and stabbed by Corona, “recalls The Washington Post.

American Dream

The paradox was that Corona was killing a man with a very similar fate to himself. Although he was born in Mexico, at the age of sixteen he crossed the border of the United States of America in the search for a better life. “He moved from Jalisca, Mexico, to the U.S. region of Sutter in the early 1950s with two older brothers,” according to the Los Angeles Times. To make a living in their new homeland, they all worked as field workers on California farms.

In the United States, Corona married twice. He married Gloria’s second wife in the late 1950s and they stayed together until Coron’s conviction, when his wife divorced him. Together they had four daughters.

However, his life in America was not always easy. In the 1950s, he began to experience mental problems. “He must have been hospitalized in a psychiatric ward after claiming to see ghosts,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Despite being released from the hospital after electroconvulsive therapy and reportedly improving his condition, he was hospitalized again within a few years. “He was admitted to the hospital twice more and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He even went to psychiatry just a year before the first murdered bodies were discovered, “says The Washington Post. Despite repeated problems, he was never considered dangerous and was always released without any problems after the end of treatment.

A horrible find under peaches

Although Corona was violent from time to time and had mental health problems, those around him considered him a reliable worker. From the mid-1960s, he made a living as a contractor – he hired immigrant workers for farmers as cheap labor. It never occurred to any of his loved ones that a brutal killer was hiding in him.

It all exploded in the spring of 1971. “A farmer in Sutter County discovered a dug hole in his peach orchard. The farmer, who had a contract with Corona to supply the workers, returned to the strange find the next day and saw that the pit was buried. It seemed suspicious to him, so the local sheriff’s report reported the whole thing, “the Los Angeles Times describes.

A horrible sight awaited the police in the hole. “On May 19, 1971, they discovered a man’s pierced body in a grave among the trees. The head was cut off, “the Los Angeles Times reported. The corpse was later identified as agricultural worker Kenneth Whitacre.

Although the murder was clearly brutal, it was not until the events of the coming days that investigators took their breath away. “After six days, a second body was discovered in a shallow grave on a nearby farm. A third grave with a corpse was then found in quick succession near the River Feather, “says The Washington Post.

It was the third victim discovered that investigators tracked Juan Corona. “Police found two receipts with Coron’s name near the third corpse,” recalls The Washington Post.

When police searched the area for six more corpses in a peach alley, the then 37-year-old Coron was arrested. Within two weeks, the number of bodies found had risen to twenty-five. “In all cases, these were men who were last seen in Coron’s company before they disappeared, or who he hired to work in the fields,” CNN said. Coron’s detriment was also evidenced by the fact that bank deposit slips with his signature were also found in the other two graves.

Machete killer

The manner in which the men killed died clearly showed that the murders were the work of one man. “Except for the only victim who was shot, all the men were brutally stabbed and chopped with a machete. They had deep injuries to their chests, “reports The Los Angeles Times.

All clues led to Coron. A house search confirmed to the investigators that they had detained the right person. “In Juan Corona’s house and truck, police found a machete with an 18-inch blade, a meat cleaver, a double-edged ax and a wooden stick. A book was also found in which Corona had the names of thirty-four hired workers, many of whom belonged to the victims, “the Washington Post describes the evidence.

Due to the method of murder, he earned the nickname Machete Killer from the Corona press. The trial began with him in 1973. Corona has always claimed to be innocent. Although the judge found the prosecution’s preparation for the trial to be inadequate, there was a comprehensive body of circumstantial evidence against Coron. “After a long trial and a forty-five-hour hearing, the jury found Corona guilty of killing twenty-five people. He was sentenced to 25 consecutive life sentences. It was such an unusually harsh verdict that there was a sharp sigh in the courtroom when the judge handed it down, “the Los Angeles Times reports.

Judicial scramble

Corona was certainly not happy with the verdict. He tried his first appeal in 1978. At that time, the Court of Appeal returned the case for consideration. “He justified this by saying that Coron’s lawyer was completely incompetent in the original trial and turned the hearing into a farce. For example, he did not call any witnesses to the trial, “the Los Angeles Times describes. However, when the court reconsidered the matter, it upheld the original sentence.

For the second time, Corona tried to be fired in 1982. “Corona was defended by a completely new team of lawyers and they came up with a new strategy. Coron’s older brother, who left the States for Mexico a few years ago, was accused of murder, had not reported on himself for a long time, and was considered dead. Coron’s lawyer said his brother had seizures caused by sexual frustration. Corona also testified in court and again denied any allegations against him, “The Washington Post summed up.

The trial in 1982 lasted seven long months, the court heard over two hundred witnesses, and the cost of the trial climbed to more than five million US dollars. “It simply came to our notice then. Juan Corona was found guilty of twenty-five murders and was sentenced to twenty-five life sentences, “said The Washington Post.

In 2011, Corona tried to be released for parole. “But the court ruled that Coron’s condition would be a threat to society,” CNN writes.

Coron’s life in prison was not easy. “In the first year after his conviction, he was stabbed by fellow prisoners in Vacaville State Prison, taking thirty-two stab wounds from the incident. He lost one eye in the attack. He also suffered three heart attacks. In 1974, his wife also divorced him, “summarizes The Washington Post.

Juan Corona died in prison in 2019 at the age of eighty-five. He suffered from dementia in the last years of his life. Four of his victims have not yet been identified. The title of serial killer with the highest number of victims was taken from him in the late 1970s by the killer of young boys John Wayne Gacy and a mad killer with dozens to hundreds of women killed for guilt Ted Bundy.

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