Araceli Vazquez Araceli Vázquez
Araceli Vazquez pictured in Lady of Silence: The Mataviejitas Murders courtesy of Netflix

Araceli Vázquez is serving a 42 year prison sentence for robbery and murder. But the Mexican woman once accused of being the “Mataviejitas” or “Little Old Lady Killer” has always maintained that while she is guilty of theft, she’s not a murderer.

If you’ve seen Lady of Silence: The Mataviejitas Murders on Netflix, you may be wondering what happened to Araceli Vázquez — the first suspect captured in the years-long hunt for the serial killer who began murdering elderly women all over Mexico City in 1998.

Araceli Vázquez Says She’s Innocent of Her Murder Charge

Vázquez has been behind bars since 2004. In an interview from prison shown in the Netflix documentary, she says she’s long been waiting to be exonerated of her murder charge.

She expected police to realize that she wasn’t the killer when the murders continued to happen after she was put behind bars. Her hope was renewed, albeit briefly, when they captured Juana Barraza in 2006.

48-year-old Juana Barraza was arrested while fleeing the scene of her final crime, during which she strangled 82-year-old Ana Maria de los Reyes Alfaro with a stethoscope. She denied having been responsible for any of the other Mataviejitas murders except for Alfaro’s — but she was ultimately convicted of 16 murders and 12 burglaries, according to the Netflix doc.

Barraza was given multiple life sentences totaling 759 years in prison and is currently serving her time in Mexico — ironically, in the same prison facility as Vázquez, according to Spanish-language newspaper El País, which adds that the two women have a “cordial” relationship.

Naturally, when news of Barraza’s capture went public, Vázquez assumed she would be cleared of her murder charge and released. She has already served the entirety of her 17 year, 9 month sentence for burglary.

Also Read: 9 Eye-Opening Documentaries on Netflix That Aren’t About Murder

But Vázquez remains in prison serving an additional 23-year sentence for the 2004 murder of Margarita Aceves, which she says she did not commit.

“I always stole, but I had nothing to do with that situation,” Vázquez says. “I just want to clarify that I did not kill those people. All the evidence is there. I’ve been silenced for 18 years.”

At the time that Vázquez was arrested, there was immense pressure on Mexican law enforcement to stop the Mataviejitas killer. And Vázquez isn’t the only one who says she was accused of a crime she did not commit. Jorge Mario Tablas Silva was also arrested and charged with some of the murders in the years before Barraza was caught.

“They said that Mario Tablas was linked to four murders, then seven, then nine. And apparently, he didn’t do them. Just like Araceli, he said, “My fingerprints were not there,'” journalist Antonio Baranda says in the documentary.

“We read in the official report that one of the homicide cases for which Mario had actually been sentenced actually matched Juana Barraza’s fingerprints at the crime scene. When we asked him why the prosecutors filed those murder charges, he said, ‘They fabricated guilty people.'”

Baranda explained that Tablas Silva died in prison while serving a sentence of nearly 70 years for the murder of two elderly women. He always maintained his innocence.

Former deputy attorney general Renato Sales says that he didn’t remember the details of Vázquez’s conviction, but that if a mistake was made, it should be corrected.

“If a judicial error occurred, it should be rectified in a timely manner. This responsibility lies with the current Office of the Attorney General and falls under the jurisdiction of the Judiciary. Mechanisms are in place to address such issues,” Sales says in the documentary.

“It is unfortunate that errors may occur during investigations, and it is important to acknowledge and rectify them. However, sometimes this may not happen due to media and political considerations. Nevertheless, it is crucial to be able to admit one’s mistakes.”

Veronica Rizo, the daughter of Mataviejitas murder victim Gloria Rizo, confirmed that the finger print found on a drinking glass at the scene of her mother’s murder turned out to be from Barraza rather than Vázquez, as police had previously told her.

“They never mentioned Araceli Vazquez again. And they never said to me, ‘We’re gonna release her.’ Nothing,” Rizo says. “I didn’t have any contact with her or anyone else. I assumed that if they found Juana [Barraza], that the other one, Araceli, was going to be released immediately. But no, that didn’t happen.”

Lady of Silence: The Mataviejitas Murders is now streaming on Netflix.

Main Image: Araceli Vázquez pictured in Lady of Silence: The Mataviejitas Murders courtesy of Netflix