Son of a serial killer: “My mother Yiya Murano was a murderer without a soul”

She brought a tray out and opened a small, dark brown box from the kitchen. She scooped something out of the brown box, and I watched as she mixed it with the tea then served it.

  • 9 months ago
  • October 30, 2023
6 min read
Pictured here is famed serial killer Yiya Murano known as the Poisoner of Monserrat. She murdered her victims with cyanide after borrowing large sums of money from them. Pictured here is famed serial killer Yiya Murano known as the Poisoner of Monserrat. She murdered her victims with cyanide after borrowing large sums of money from them. | Photo courtesy of Martin Murano
Martin Murano worked as stunt coordinator and actor until 1997. He created and performed stunts for a large number of national and foreign productions. He worked for several countries and shared the screen with Sam Neill, Robert Young, Isabelle Adjani, and others. For Argentinean television, he participated in Detective de señoras, El precio del poder, Mujercitas, Ricos y famosos and Los ángeles no lloran. During those years, he wrote My mother, Yiya Murano. Today, he works as a bodyguard.
Yiya Murano was one of Argentina’s most famous serial killers of the 20th Century. She operated in the 1970s, borrowing money from anyone she knew and was convicted of murdering three victims to avoid paying the money back. She used to invite her victims over for tea and poison them with cyanide. She died days before her 84th birthday.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina ꟷ Born to a cursed family, the woman who raised me, famed serial killer Yiya Murano, was anything but a mother. We rarely spoke and on my tenth birthday, I believe she contemplated killing me. That day, I walked into the kitchen to find a cake she baked sitting on the counter. From her seat in the living room, she carefully watched my every move. I approached the counter, cut a slice of the cake, and put it on a plate. Just as the fork neared my lips, she rushed from her seat and grabbed it away from me, tossing it into the trash before walking out.

I stared at her, unable to comprehend what just happened. I believe the cake was laced with cyanide – her weapon of choice and the reason for her nickname The Poisoner of Monserrat. In her eyes, I saw no remorse for what could have been. Two years later, at the age of 12, the authorities barged into our house and arrested my mother for the murder of three people. I could barely believe what I was hearing. In Yiya Murano, I saw a strange and cold woman, but I never imagined my mother could be capable of something so sinister.

Yiya Murano used me as a tool to extract money from men

As a boy growing up, my mother never showed me love or affection. Instead, she kept a string of lovers. As she paraded them through my life, she used me as a tool, taking me out to breakfast with them to reveal that I was their son. She lied, again and again, to try and extract money from these unknowing victims and I was her pawn.

The man she had married and whom I believed to be my biological father, lawyer Antonio Murano, served as the sunlight in my unbearable childhood. At 18 years old, a DNA test proved otherwise, but to me Antonio was always my true father. Blinded by love, Antonio refused to see the evil in Yiya Murano. Every Saturday after her arrest, he took me to visit her in Ezeiza Prison. As information came to light about the true depth of her crimes, I watched my father plunge into a deep, dark depression.

Eventually we learned that my mother borrowed money from all her victims and killed them to avoid repayment. It sickened me; and Antonio could not stand the public shame and humiliation she put us through. One sad day, he threatened to kill himself. I stared into his eyes as tears streamed down my cheeks, unable to speak a single word. We moved forward, but I began to think back on my childhood, analyzing everything from a new lens.

She used a tea set in our home to poison her victims

As I reviewed my childhood in my mind, I thought of the tea set my mother always used when special guests came to the house. The last time Nilda Gamba – my mother’s first murder victim – came to our house, I remember Yiya using the tea set. She brought a tray out and opened a small, dark brown box from the kitchen.

She scooped something out of the brown box, and I watched as she mixed it with the tea then served it. I thought nothing of it at the time, unaware of the revelations yet to come. I later learned she used this very method to poison at least three victims we know of.

Yiya Murano not only killed her victims with cyanide, but she had an estimated 250 lovers including famed politicians, businessmen, and athletes. | Photo courtesy of Martin Murano’s Team

Eventually, my father passed away and I decided never to go back to visit Yiya Murano in prison. After her release, she requested I join her for a television taping. I naively believed she wanted to make amends. By that time, her public status skyrocketed, and the media sought to tell her story. When we arrived on set, I soon discovered she used me to cash in on a special, live reunion episode. I felt enraged.

Finding a way forward from the trauma of the past

Yiya Murano died a few days before her 84th birthday. By that time, she lived in a nursing home. Her memory had lapsed and she did not know who she was. I never mourned my mother’s death. Her name and the weight it carried haunted me. I felt the affects of being the son of a serial killer. For years, people avoided me and acted weary when I served food. “Would he poison me the way his mother did,” they seemed to wonder.

After a long time, I began to heal and rebuild my life little by little. One day, when I came across the tea set I remembered from my childhood, I felt a rush of terrible memories resurface. Stepping back, I stared at it in horror. I felt transported right back to the past, so I put the set in a box and sealed it.

Martin shows the tea set that his mother kept at the house throughout his childhood. | Photo courtesy of Martin Murano’s Team

Although I wanted to throw it away, a friend convinced me to auction it off. I decided to donate the proceeds to an animal shelter. It felt incredible and cathartic to do something good with this source of horror and destruction.

The day the police stormed our home, I became the son of a serial killer and one of the most famed murderers of the 20th Century in Argentina. For a very long time, the trauma of that realization followed me. I struggled with addiction and once attempted to take my own life. Now, at 53 years old, my story serves as a testament to resilience and hope. I believe it is possible to emerge from the darkest storms.

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