Written By: Karla Cortes
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Juan Vallejo Corona was a notorious serial killer who was convicted of killing and raping 25 people. Authorities say the total number of victims is unknown and the number of kills may be higher. All of his victims were migrant male workers who belonged to the rims of society including hobos, convicts, and alcoholics.
Juan Vallejo Corona was born in Autlan, Jalisco, Mexico on February 7, 1934. He illegally migrated to California at the age of 16 and picked produce for a living. At the request of his half-brother Natividad Corona, Corona moved to Yuba City, California and worked on a local ranch with him in 1953.
One of the most catastrophic floods invaded Yuba City in late December of 1955 which flooded 100,000 acres of land and killed roughly 74 people. Due to this incident, authorities forced Corona and other workers to aid in the flood by digging up victims from the mud. Shortly after, Corona began suffering from schizophrenic episodes and his half-brother committed Corona to a hospital on January, 1956. As a result, Corona was diagnosed with “schizophrenic reaction, paranoid type” during this time.
A Violent “Recovery”
Three months and twenty three shock treatments later, Corona was pronounced “recovered” and was immediately deported back to Mexico. In 1962, Corona received his green card and migrated to the US legally. This same year, Corona obtained his license to be a labor contractor and was in charge of hiring workers for local fruit farms.
Although it seemed as though Corona was recovered, the disturbing depths of his mental illness remained alive. Corona had always had anger issues and violent tendencies, but the history of violence also ran in Corona’s family. For example, his brother Natividad was accused of sexually assaulting and then beating a young man at a cafe. As such, Corona was exposed to this kind of behavior.
Sodomy, Rape, and Murder
On May 19, 1971, a Japanese fruit farmer noticed an empty large hole dug on the peach farm’s property. The next day, the hole was filled back up which alarmed the farmer to contact authorities. Police dug up the whole to find Kenneth Whitacre, a vagrant who had been sexually assaulted and stabbed to death.
Soon after, another nearby farmer noticed a freshly dug grave on his property as well. Authorities started to dig up graves around the surrounding area to find more and more men. All of them sodomized, stabbed, and their heads viciously mutilated with a machete. Authorities discovered 25 bodies, each with deep punctures to the chest and a cross engraved in the back of their heads. The bodies were also discovered in the same position with their arms above their heads and shirts pulled over their faces. Some of the bodies were discovered with their lower garments pulled down. Authorities were discovering bodies up to June 4, 1971, even after his arrest.
On May 26, 1971, Juan Vallejo Corona was arrested and charged with first degree murder on all 25 counts. Corona’s carelessness was evidently the cause of his arrest. Receipts and bank slips with the name “Juan V. Corona” were found with some of the bodies. Once arrested, authorities found a machete, a pistol, two bloodstained knives, and blood-stained clothes. Authorities even found work ledgers with 34 names and dates, 7 of which were known victims. This ledger was referred to as the “death list”.
After a year of the murder discovery, Corona finally came to trial. He was found guilty despite denying culpability and was sentenced to 25 terms of life imprisonment on January 18, 1973. A second trial emerged with Corona blaming his brother Natividad for the murders. After failing to persuade the jury, Corona was again convicted and sent back to prison on September 23, 1982. In between trials, Corona was jumped by five inmates. Sources indicate that he was stabbed 32 times resulting in a loss of vision in one eye.
Corona battled self-loathing of his own sexuality mixed with severe mental illness which is most likely what caused his killing outbreak. Psychiatrists’ main theory on Corona’s case is that as the spring deepened, the climate drove Corona into madness compelling him to kill someone each day to satisfy his growing blood lust. It is speculated that Corona killed more than the 25 bodies discovered prior to 1971.
Corona served life sentence in the Sensitive Needs Yard (SNY) in Corcoran, CA, because he had dementia. He was denied parole eight times.
Corona died on March 4, 2019, at the age of 85.
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