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The Little Old Lady KillerThe Sensationalized Crimes of Mexico's First Female Serial Killer$
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Susana Vargas Cervantes

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479876488

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479876488.001.0001

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Framing the Serial Killer

Framing the Serial Killer

El Mataviejitas

(p.25) 1 Framing the Serial Killer
The Little Old Lady Killer

Susana Vargas Cervantes

NYU Press

This chapter focuses on the difficulties the Mexican police, press, and public had in conceptualizing a serial killer, and how this affected the search for El/La Mataviejitas. It opens with a discussion of Mexico’s cultural beliefs concerning serial killing—that it is a product of anomie; it can happen only in a society deficient in moral values. The chapter then shows how from official discourses to popular culture, Mexicans conceive of their society as strongly grounded in traditional family values and how this belief influenced the search for a serial killer. The chapter closes with an analysis of the construction of "infamous" serial killers internationally and the impact of these constructions on the conceptualization of El/La Mataviejitas. The analysis focuses on the police assumption that the serial killer of elderly women must be a man, based on international patterns. This stereotype of the serial killer took on a distinctly local flavor once the police authorities modified their belief that El Mataviejitas was a “he” to include the possibility that he was a “travesti”—a local gendered identity linked to sex work, which police equated with sexual perversion and upon which it is culturally easy to build criminality.

Keywords:   travesti, serial killing, anomie, identity, stereotype

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