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article imageFamily of 8 murdered in Mexico over $115 debt, suspects detained

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By Scott Tuttle     Nov 22, 2013 in Crime
Juarez - Days ago, eight people who were part of an extended family were found stabbed to death in their home in the border city of Ciudad Juarez. The victims included three small children.
Initially, the motive was unclear and the evidence suggested that the killer(s) knew one or all of the victims prior to the murders, as the knife used in the slaying appeared to be taken out of the victims' kitchen and the materials used to bound the unfortunate family seemed to come from around the house. The killer(s) not bringing these supplies also suggests that the original intent when going to the Ciudad Juarez house may not have been to kill the family.
With the recent arrest of two suspects, Jesús "El Tomate" Mendoza Hernandez, 21, and Edgar Lujan Guevara, 31, Juarez officials have discovered much more as to the details and circumstance related to the killings. Perhaps equally disturbing to the murders themselves was the motive behind the massacre.
Head of the household, Maximo Romero Sanchez, 27, owed the suspects 1,500 pesos (about $115). Some sources say that this was gambling debt after Romero's pit bull terrier lost in a dog fight while others say that the debt was a stud fee for using the suspects' male pit bull to breed with Romero's female dog.
According to the testimony of one of the suspects, they went to Romero's house to collect this debt which Romero had previously been unable to pay. When still unable to pay the debt last weekend, a fight broke out between Romero and Lujan while the other suspect, Jesús Mendoza stood guard outside the front door.
Other victims in the house included Rosa Maraa Castaneda, 30, María del Carmen Castaneda, 28, Maria del Carmen Morales, 60, Jose Antonio Lares, 39, and three small children: Daniel Romero Castaneda, 6, Janet Abril Romero Castaneda, 4, and Valeria Lizeth Lara Castaneda, 4. Their corpses were found bound and gagged with tape over their mouths and riddled with stab wounds.
After killing Romero in the fight, it is still unknown why Lujan went on to kill the others, including the children. Officials believe that it was likely because they did not want to leave witnesses. This would explain why the only one spared in the house was a three-month-old baby still too young to talk.
Prosecutors believe that at least two more individuals were involved in the killing, but Mendoza insists that he and Lujan operated alone. So far, Mendoza is the only one to have offered a testimony which he gave to the press rather than to the police as police corruption is legendary in Ciudad Juarez, and confessions are often extorted from suspects via torture.
According to Mendoza, Lujan did all of the killing while he stood watch outside the front door. Afterward, he and Lujan looted their victims' pockets and left the house with 2,500 pesos (about $193).
Until all suspects are apprehended and the truth is completely known, the streets of the neighborhood where the Romero house stands remain deserted and people's homes continue to be locked and bolted.
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