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Mauricio Rodriguez SILVA






A.K.A.: "The Monster"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Born with "gigantism" which enlarges features and spur uncontrollable rages
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: 1978 / 1984
Date of arrest: May 28, 1984 (surrenders)
Date of birth: 1960
Victims profile: Troy Covella, 18 / Walter P. Sanders, 16 / Monique Michelle Hilton, 16 / Martha Kitzler, 17 (his half-sister)
Method of murder: Shooting / Strangulation
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Status: Convicted of manslaughter in 1978. Paroled on May 7, 1984. Sentenced to life in prison without parole on three counts in 1985

Supreme Court of California


opinion S004727


Mauricio Silva was sentenced to death on August 11, 1986 for shooting to death two 16-year-old runaways, Walter P. Sanders and Monique Michelle Hilton, and strangling and stabbing his 17-year-old half-sister, Martha Kiztler on May 22, 1984.

Silva was born with "gigantism," which enlarges features and can spur uncontrollable rages. In May 2001, the California Supreme Court found that the prosecutor had improperly used peremptory challenges to dismiss five prospective Latino jurors. "His true IQ falls within the range of 74-83," according to a 1999 test.


Mauriio Silva

Born with a cleft palate and chronic hormonal imbalance, Mauricio Silva started life with two strikes against him. Strike three was his temper, which led to the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old boy in 1978. 

Initially charged with murder, Silva struck a plea bargain for manslaughter and served five years in prison, including time added for his violent assault on a fellow inmate. Paroled on May 7, 1984, he wasted no time in killing again.

On May 18, while riding a bus in Los Angeles, Silva met 16-year-old Walter Sanders, somehow convincing the youth to join him on a drive through the barren Mojave Desert. 

Five miles east of Pearlblossom, they left the car and Silva took a shotgun with him, firing five rounds at close range to be certain the young man was dead. On May 24, he picked up a teenaged hitchhiker, Monique Hilton, and drove into the desert east of Palmdale, California, using the shotgun again in a ritualistic form of execution. 

Four days later, Silva switched to strangulation, invading the home of his own half-sister, 17-year-old Martha Kitzler, with whom he had stayed periodically since his parole. The crime led police to their man, and this time there would be no plea bargains as Silva faced three counts of first-degree murder. 

Tried for his crimes in Los Angeles, Silva was convicted April 17, 1985, on two counts of first-degree murder (Sanders and Hilton), with one count of second-degree (Kitzler). Prosecutors sought the death penalty, while Silva's defender played on the theme of a traumatic childhood, describing the prisoner as a child of unfeeling parents, with "no house to call his home." 

After thirteen days of deliberation, the jury split seven to five in favor of execution, their deadlock leaving Silva with a mandatory sentence of life without parole.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans


Portrait of 'The Monster' on Death Row

"Are you afraid?" Mauricio Silva asks before his cell door opens. He's been in prison for 31 years for the murder of 4 teenagers, including his 17-year-old sister whom he strangled with his bare hands.

He knows that his 7-foot-tall frame, 335 pounds and enormous hands, which are still growing due to a hormonal imbalance called gigantism that he was born with, intimidate anyone who stands next to him. The other inmates on San Quentin's death row call him "The Monster."

Mauricio looks for the best way to position his long legs in the tight metal cell where the interview takes place. He wears jeans and brown boots, size 16.

Next to him, other inmates talk to their families, hugging them. Mauricio observes it all out of the corner of his eye. Although he’s lived in San Quentin for decades, he rarely goes to the visitors' room.

"Ask me anything, I'll tell you. I know that outside, people might say, 'Just do the interview so he doesn't die,' but it's not like that. I regret everything I did, but killing me won't bring back to life anyone who I killed. I know I have to pay, but I suffer more by living, with shame inside, here and here," he says, pointing with anger, almost hatred, to his heart and his head.

Police records indicate that on May 28, 1984, Silva knocked on the door of the Templeton Sheriff’s Department in San Luis Obispo County and confessed to agent Marie Jones that he had killed 3 people. He recounted that in less than 2 weeks, he had stabbed and strangled his half sister, Martha Kitzler, shot Walter P. Sanders 5 times, and taken the life of Monique Michelle Hilton, a young woman he had picked up at a bus stop on Santa Monica Boulevard.

"She [Monique] was a good girl who had left home to come to Hollywood because she wanted to meet Michael Jackson. During the trial, her family showed me humility and that hurt me even more. I would have preferred that they yelled at me that I'm the worst criminal, a monster like everyone tells me," he said.

But there's more to the story. Silva had been out of prison for less than a month when he killed Troy Covella, an 18-year-old he shot 9 times, a crime that got him 6 years in prison in Soledad, Calif.

Crack. The pencil point breaks. Mauricio reaches out his hand, takes the pencil from the reporter and starts to file it down with his nails. Each nail is as big as a walnut.

In July 2007, "The Monster" tried to get his death sentence changed to life in prison, but a judge on the Los Angeles Supreme Court decided that executing him was the appropriate punishment for the cruelty of his crimes.

"I don't want them to kill me. I'm going to fight for life in prison," he says pensively.

The statement may give the impression that he’s a convict who loves life, but "the Monster" knows that's not the case.

"The Bible says it doesn't matter who you are, each day counts, and the day I stop fighting for my life will be like committing suicide, and there is no relief for suicide, right? Look, here, where am I going in life? To see the wall of my cell every day. In the system, we're like turkeys on Thanksgiving. They fatten us up in order to kill us. But what I'm afraid of isn't death, but what comes after," he explains.

A few weeks ago, thanks to the sound of his neighbors' TV and the news clippings that come to the prison, Silva learned that California had reactivated executions at San Quentin.

"The photos of the room where they say they're going to kill us now look immaculate, funny, like a medical center. For us it's another cell, cold, but clean and organized," he says between laughs, and in an impulsive move, covers his mouth with his hands.

"I've had everything broken. In jail when you're really big, when you go to lie down first, they hit you with anything they can find," he explains about his teeth, or what remains of them.

Although his criminal record indicates 31 years behind bars, the reality is that Mauricio has spend nearly his entire life in correctional facilities, foster homes and orphanages in Mexico and the United States.

His father, David Silva, a native of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, was a tall, handsome man and a womanizer, a sin that took his life when a jealous coworker killed him in 1968 in Alaska.

His mother Myrna Rodríguez, from Nicaragua, also suffered from gigantism and mental problems. After separating from David, she became her boss's mistress, and they had a daughter: Martha Kitzler, a beautiful, blond girl who dreamed of becoming a model.

"She [my sister] died because of the problems I had. She didn't know anything about my life, she laughed at me with her friends, but she wasn't guilty of anything, how would she know it hurt me?" the convict says.

Mauricio was born with a cleft palate and other physical defects. From the beginning, his father's rejection was imminent and his mother, in her mental limbo, left him in the care of relatives and friends.

Before he was 4 years old, Silva and his little brother David, both born in Los Angeles, were sent to live with their grandmother in Mexico City. Court records show that their grandmother once left them locked inside with a big pumpkin that they ate for days, even though it was rotten. The boys went to the hospital with stomach infections.

Mauricio ran away from his grandmother’s house and joined a gang of street kids, where he huffed glue and ate scraps of garbage.

The psychological analysis presented in court recounts Silva's difficulties acknowledging the sexual violations he suffered at the hands of adults.

"It happened to me and I saw it many times. Once on a bus in Mexico City, they raped a girl I knew, she was mute and I kept quiet out of fear," he says, his face reflecting his shame.

"I didn't tell the psychologist because I don't like talking about it. I'm telling it because I think maybe some parents will read the story and talk about it. And if a kid this is happening to is walking by and hears them, there's a chance he'll be inspired to talk. I'm 51 now and I see that everything that hurt me as a kid made me into a monster," he recalls.

Silva lived in more than 5 foster homes and by age 15 he still didn’t know how to write. According to his record, when he went to White Memorial Hospital to have his cleft palate operated on, he was so scared that he wet his pants. He was young, and no one had ever worried about his health.

"The whole time I've been in jail, that family stuff is something I've only seen on TV," he says.

For 26 years, San Quentin has been his home, and his neighbors have been criminals like Cary A. Stayner, who raped and murdered 4 women in Yosemite national park, or Martin James Kipp, who took the lives of 2 women.

"When you think you've seen the worst of the worst, someone arrives who's even worse. This year 22 new ones got sentenced. It's not my business what they did. Here we know we're all criminals," he says.

It's 5:00 and the guards tell us the interview is over. "The Monster" is ordered to disinfect his chair. While he does, he says, "I hope my story helps other people so they don’t end up here," and he blames the disinfectant for his eyes, which are surprisingly red.

New American Media



MO: Shot three teenagers and strangled his own halfsister.

DISPOSITION: Convicted of manslaughter, 1978 (paroled 1984); life without parole on three counts, 1985.



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