‘Machete Murderer’ Juan Corona dies of natural causes at 85, corrections officials say

Serial killer Juan Corona, serving life in prison for the murder of 25 migrant farm workers in Sutter County in 1971, died of natural causes Monday at age 85, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a news release.

Corona, who was serving 25 concurrent life sentences at California State Prison Corcoran, died at 8:15 a.m. Monday at an outside hospital, according to the release.

The bodies of Corona’s 25 victims were found buried in orchards near Marysville in 1971. He was a farm labor contractor at the time of his slayings.

FILE -- Juan Corona, center, is taken from a Yuba County Jail cell at the Sutter County Courthouse for arraignment. Serving life in prison, Corona died Monday, March 4, 2019 of natural causes. Skip Shuman Sacramento Bee file photo

At the time, the death toll made Corona the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history. He was known as the “Machete Murderer.”

Corona was tried in Colusa County and found guilty in January 1973. His conviction was overturned in 1978 and he was re-convicted in 1982. He has been denied parole eight times.

Monday’s news release notes he was stabbed at California Medical Facility in Vacaville in 1973, leaving him without sight in his left eye.

Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.