At Least 3 American Mothers and 5 Children Killed by Mexican Cartel; 12 More Kidnapped

Three mothers and several children, including a baby, have been shot and killed by members of a Chihuahua cartel, say the women's family members and the Salt Lake Tribune.

The women were found shot to death at the side of a road in the town of Bavispe in the border state of Sonora, Mexico. The perpetrators, according to Lafe Langford Jr., a relative of some of the victims, are a Chihuahua-based cartel who had encroached on another cartel's territory.

The women and their children were simply caught up in a crossfire that had nothing to do with any of them, mistaken for the cartel's rivals. The women were members of a branch of the Church of Latter Day Saints who carry dual American/Mexican citizenship and have encouraged members to marry Mexican citizens.

The remains of the three women were found in several different locations. Maria Rhonita Miller and the bodies of four of her children—12-year-old Howard Jacob, 10-year-old Krystal and 6-month-old twins Titus and Tiana—were found at a roadside in northern Mexico.

The bodies of Dawna Ray Langford, 43, and Christina Marie Langford, 31, as well as the latter's baby daughter Faith Marie Johnson, were found in another location later in the day.

gun stock photo
The women were found shot to death at the side of a road in the town of Bavispe in the border state of Sonora, Mexico. Getty

It's unclear if the women were the victims of a failed kidnapping attempt that succeeded when it came to nine of the women's children. Apparently the killers tried to make contact with the women's American family members before executing them; a relative reported receiving a phone call in which they could hear the women screaming and men talking loudly in the background.

The kidnappers are allegedly still holding nine of Dawna Ray Langford's children: Kylie, 14; Devin, 13; Trevor, 11; Mckenzie, 9; Cody, 7; Jake, 6; Xander, 4; Rogan, 3; and 10-month-old Brixon. All of these children remain missing at press time.

KSL reports that another woman and four children may be among the kidnapped. Another man related to the group said, according to KSL, his aunt and another woman had been killed, but six of her children had been found at the side of a road alive. There is no word if the kidnappers have made any demands or requested a ransom.

"All we care about is finding our missing," said Lafe Langford Jr. to the Salt Lake Tribune. "That's all we care about right now."

Photos posted to family social media accounts—specifically Maria Rhonita Miller's father-in-law's Facebook—show a van belonging to the Langford family filled with bullet holes, its windshield smashed and its body still ashen from being set aflame. In the caption of the photo, the relatives claim that the families were ambushed.