The families rolled into Arizona Saturday, nearly a week after hitmen killed nine family members in a roadside ambush. Three women and six children were killed along a rural road near the Mormon community of La Mora on Monday, their three SUVs found riddled with bullets.
On Saturday evening the families were seen at a gas station in Douglas, near the port of entry. Gas tanks were filled, tires were checked for air and food was bought before the group got back on the road – heading toward Tucson and Phoenix.
The trucks were loaded with boxes and bags, a bicycle and spare tires – all the possessions the families owned. The families were leaving a community they had called home since the 1950s.
Bryce Langford was on his way to visit his brother at a hospital in Tucson. Bryce’s mother, Dawna Ray Langford, 43, was found dead in the front seat of a Suburban, along with the bullet-riddled bodies of her sons, ages 11 and 2. She is survived by 11 children and her husband, Bryce Langford told the Arizona Daily Star reported.
One of Langford’s brothers hid six children in some brush and walked back to La Mora to get help. “We’re very proud of him,” Langford told the newspaper. “To be able to make those kinds of decisions, under those circumstances, is something not a lot of people can say they can do.”
The families come from a spread-out community of two hamlets in Mexico’s Sonora state: La Mora and Colonia LeBaron. There are more residents in the community who plan to leave in the coming days. The community traces if origins to the end of polygamy over a hundred years ago by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The ruling forced many families with multiple wives to establish offshoot groups elsewhere. Bryce Langford, who was raised in La Mora but now lives in North Dakota, says the decision to move from Mexico was not an easy one for the families.
“The assets that they’ve acquired down there are tremendous,” he said. “And to have to up and leave from one day to the next and leave all that behind, there’s definitely a lot of sad people here.”