Juan Ignacio Blanco  


  MALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  FEMALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z




Murderpedia has thousands of hours of work behind it. To keep creating new content, we kindly appreciate any donation you can give to help the Murderpedia project stay alive. We have many
plans and enthusiasm to keep expanding and making Murderpedia a better site, but we really
need your help for this. Thank you very much in advance.









Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Human sacrifices to the Santa Muerte - Motivated by delirious ideas
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: 2009 - 2012
Date of arrest: March 2012
Date of birth: 1968
Victims profile: Cleotilde Romero Pacheco, 55 / Martín Ríos Chaparro, 10 / Jesús Octavio Martínez Yánez, 10 (her grandson)
Method of murder: Beheading
Location: Nacozari, Sonora, Mexico
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment
photo gallery

Silvia Meraz Moreno (born 1968) is a Mexican serial killer who was active from 2009 to 2012, in Nacozari, Sonora, Mexico. Three people were murdered in human sacrifices to the Santa Muerte.


Motivated by delirious ideas, she orchestrated the murder with the complicity of her family to buy Santa Muerte´s favor.

The first victim was Silvia Meraz´friend, Cleotilde Romero Pacheco, a 55 year-old-woman who was found dead in December 2009. Silvia Meraz attacked her with an ax.

In June 2010, the cult murdered Martín Ríos Chaparro, 10-year-old-boy, son in law of a the sect member. The last murder was the sacrifice of Meraz´grandson, 10-year-old Jesús Octavio Martínez Yánez. The children were beheaded in rituals.


The cult buried the bodies in the city periphery. The state police discovered the bodies during an unrelated investigation. Later investigations led to the detention of Silvia Meraz Moreno and seven other people, all Meraz relatives, including the husband of Silvia Meraz, her son, father of the last victim and a minor.


Killing in the Name of Santa Muerte

By Kristal Hawkins -

August 15, 2013

They call her Santa Muerte, or Holy Death. Sometimes this female Grim Reaper gets the affectionate nicknames Flaquita (Skinny Girl) or Huesuda (Bony Lady). She’s depicted as a skeleton, usually wearing a loose robe and carrying a scythe. Her cult blends Catholicism with pre-Colombian and African traditions — but, even if her popularity is catching up to that of Saint Jude or the Virgin of Guadalupe, she isn’t a saint that the Catholic church officially recognizes.

Her home is the streets, not the cathedrals. She has many working- and middle-class adherents, and she’s the topic of a film produced by Eva Aridjis and narrated by Gael Garcia Bernal, but many of her followers come from Mexico’s — and the States’ — poorest of the poor, and she’s established a prison following that any evangelist would envy.

Several crimes allegedly perpetrated by her followers have grabbed international headlines. In January 2011, one of her “bishops,” David Romo, was accused of kidnapping and money laundering. And in April 2012, Silvia Meraz and her family were accused of sacrificing three human victims to buy Santa Muerte’s favors.

Border Saint

Roadside shrines to Santa Muerte have multiplied on both sides of the US-Mexico border, offering the lady of death cigarettes, alcohol, spare change and — it’s rumored — ever greater sacrifices in return for her protection and rewards. Her figurines, candles and prayer cards are available at botanicas in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

Her cult seems to have sprung up along the Gulf of Mexico, then flourished in Tepito, (Mexico City’s roughest barrio) and in the Sonoran border towns before spreading throughout North and Central America. It’s not an uncommon occurrence within Mexico’s religious history: local folk heroes, Aztec deities and Afro-Cuban traditions have long been worshipped alongside the dominant framework of Catholicism. But Santa Muerte isn’t a saint the Catholic church recognizes; indeed, some Catholic leaders in Mexico have condemned Santa Muerte worship, and many of her disciples consider her worship a religion of its own.

In 2003, Mexico’s Interior Ministry added Santa Muerte to its list of registered religions. But in 2005 the Ministry changed its mind, alleging that the loosely organized religion wasn’t upholding its own statutes. Stripping Santa Muerte of its national recognition means that the church isn’t allowed to raise money or own property in Mexico. In 2009, officials acted on this ban: City workers and the army bulldozed dozens of shrines in and outside Nuevo Laredo.

That crackdown isn’t stopping her followers, of course. Neighborhood bodegas sell videos on how to worship Santa Muerte, and her legion of followers insists she’s answered their prayers when no one else would, granting them love and riches, and saving them from despair, financial ruin, dangerous neighborhoods — protecting them from each other and even from the cops. National Geographic recounted the tale of a young murder who believes that Santa Muerte prevents his jailers from seeing the contraband he smuggled into his cell.

Bad Bishop

The religion’s critics paint Santa Muerte as the patron saint of drug dealers and murderers. A popular candle even shows the skeletal figure warding off a looming policeman. Despite her protective powers, Santa Muerte’s followers don’t always get away with their sins.

In January 2011, Mexico City authorities accused David Romo, a bishop for a gaudy shrine to Santa Muerte in Tepito, of kidnapping and money laundering. They detained three women and four other men with him. Romo had allegedly recruited assistants to launder ransom payments through their bank accounts, transferring the bulk of the money back to him. He’d pay some of the money to the thugs carrying out the kidnappings at his behest, but he allegedly pocketed up to 25,000 pesos (about $1800) of each ransom payment.

His supporters claim that Romo is the innocent victim of religious persecution targeting a defenseless underclass. Rivals within the Santa Muerte cult counter that Romo’s interest in Santa Muerte was purely commercial, and that they’re better off rid of him.

The alleged misdeeds of Romo and his associates are not the worst of the crimes linked to Santa Muerte and her followers.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

When 10-year-old Martin Ríos disappeared from Nacozari de García, a tiny copper mining town near Hermosillo in Mexico’s state of Sonora, in July, 2010, the case didn’t get much attention. His mother and her boyfriend told state police that friends had said that they’d seen him begging on the streets of nearby Agua Prieta, and she promised to fetch him. Authorities never followed up.

When the parents of another area 10-year-old, Jesús Martínez, reported him missing in March, 2011, things started to look suspicious. Both boys were frequent visitors at the home of Jesús’s step-grandmother, 44-year-old Silvia Meraz — a local Santa Muerte leader.

Neighbors felt sorry for Meraz and her family, living in apparent poverty at the edge of town. And authorities had long been suspicious of the household. The unusual number of apparent strangers passing through her home convinced prosecutors that it was being used for prostitution, but they didn’t have real evidence. The search for the missing boys gave them a way in.

In March, 2012, investigators found the body of Jesús Martínez beneath the dirt floor in one of Meraz’s daughters’ bedrooms.

Police immediately arrested Meraz and seven other members of the cult: her father, her son and daughter-in-law, three daughters, and her boyfriend, Eduardo Sánchez (one of Sánchez’s ex-girlfriends turned out to be Martin Ríos’s mother). The family reportedly contradicted each other’s stories, then some of them confessed. Their confessions led police to another young boy’s body on the family property, presumably that of Martin Ríos, and to the grave of Cleotilde Romero, a 55-year-old woman who was friends with Meraz before disappearing from Nacozari in 2009.

The victims’ throats and wrists had been slit, and their blood was smeared across an altar dedicated to Santa Muerte. Investigators say that Meraz and her family believed that these blood sacrifices would bring them riches.

The eight suspects were charged with first-degree homicide, robbery, corrupting minors, illegal burial and conspiracy. One of the defendants is a 15-year-old girl; she’ll be held in custody until she’s 18, and face trial only then.


Cult of the 'Holy Death': Eight arrested in Mexico after woman and two 10-year-old boys are 'ritually sacrificed'

  • The victims blood was found poured round an altar to an idol dressed in robes

  • Pagan/Catholic cult now has two million members

By Paul Milligan -

March 31, 2012

Eight people have been arrested in northern Mexico have over the killing of two 10-year-old boys and a woman in what appears to be ritual sacrifices.

Prosecutors in Sonora, in the north-west of the country have accused the suspects of belonging to the La Santa Muerte (Holy Death) cult.

The victims' blood has been poured round an altar to the idol, which is portrayed as a skeleton holding a scythe and clothed in flowing robes.

The cult, which celebrates death, has been growing rapidly in Mexico in the last 20 years, and now has up to two million followers.

Jose Larrinaga, spokesman for Sonora state prosecutors, said the most recent killing was earlier this month, while the other two were committed in 2009 and 2010.

Their bodies were found at the altar site in the small mining community of Nacozari, 70 miles south of Douglas, Arizona.

Investigations were launched after the family of 10-year-old Jesus Octavio Martinez Yanez reported him missing early this month.

Mr Larrinaga said the murders took place at a ritual during the night, lit by candles.

'They sliced open the victims' veins and, while they were still alive, they waited for them to bleed to death and collected the blood in a container,' he said.

There have been no confirmed killings previously attributed to the cult, which follows a mix of Catholic faith with indigenous and pagan beliefs.

Many of those arrested belonged to the same family, reports said.

Silvia Meraz, one of the suspects, and her son, Ramon Palacios, were allegedly leaders of the cult, according to prosecutors.

Speaking to reporters, she said: 'We all agreed to do it. Supposedly she [one of the victims] was a witch or something.'

She did not comment on the other killings.



home last updates contact