Photo: AP Photo
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Northern California serial killer Juan Corona, who murdered at least 25 men before police apprehended him in 1971, is dead.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Monday that Corona died of natural causes in a hospital outside Corcoran State Prison, where he had been incarcerated. He was 85.
Corona immigrated to California in the 1950s, where he witnessed the deadly flooding along the Yuba River in 1955. Coupled with what doctors would later diagnose as schizophrenia, Corona’s severe stress reaction to the tragedy manifested in the belief that everyone he encountered was dead, merely ghosts wandering through the valley.
“He believed that everyone in this area has drowned in the flood,” his brother Natividad wrote in a 1956 petition for Juan’s institutionalization. “He reads the Bible and writes all the time.”
Corona was committed to a mental institution in Auburn in 1956. There, he underwent dozens of shock therapy treatments and was released after doctors deemed him “cured.” After his release, he returned to farm work in the Yuba City area. By the early 1970s, Corona was contracting migrant workers for farms around the region. From this group, he picked his targets: single men who were unlikely to have close family to notice their absence.
Corona raped and stabbed his victims, sometimes also using a machete to hack the men’s heads.
In 1971, the first body was found, buried in a shallow grave in a peach orchard along the Feather River. Twenty-five more dead men were eventually found, buried in and around orchards where Corona had been working. Along with the bodies, police found several receipts and bank deposit slips signed by Corona.
He was arrested at his Yuba City home and convicted of all 25 murders in 1973. He was sentenced to 25 concurrent life sentences for 25 counts of first-degree murder. Corona was denied parole eight times; his next hearing was set for 2021.
His victims were:
John J. Haluka
Warren Jerome Kelley
Paul Buel Allen
William Henry Kemp
Edward Martin Cupp
John Henry Jackson
Lloyd Wallace Wenzel
Four bodies were never identified.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/juan-corona-death-victims-yuba-sutter-13661607.php.