The family is not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the mainstream church with 16 million adherents that is headquartered in Utah. When the LeBaróns first arrived in Mexico, they practiced polygamy, but that has now largely faded from the community, the family says. The Church of Latter-day Saints prohibits the practice. It has also abandoned the name Mormon, while the LeBaróns continue to use it.
How did the attack start?
The family was traveling in three separate vehicles from La Mora, in the state of Sonora, to Colonia LeBarón, in the state of Chihuahua, when they were set upon by gunmen.
One of the victims, Rhonita LeBarón, was headed to Phoenix to pick up her husband, who works in North Dakota and was returning to celebrate the couple’s anniversary. Her car broke down, Julian LeBarón said, and the gunmen “opened fire on Rhonita and torched her car.”
She was killed, along with her four children, he said: an 11-year-old boy, a 9-year-old girl and twins who were less than a year old.
About eight miles ahead, the two other cars were also attacked, and the two other women were killed, he said. A 4-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl were also killed, he said.
Are there any suspects?
No suspects have been named, but Alfonso Durazo, Mexico’s security minister, said Tuesday that “there were serious advances in the investigation.” The family suspects that the gunmen were members of an organized crime group. The Sinaloa Cartel, which was once led by Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as El Chapo, is active in the area.
Was it a targeted attack?
The massacre came a decade after two members of the LeBarón family who confronted local drug cartels were kidnapped and murdered. But things had been peaceful in recent years and there seemed to be a sort of truce, said Ruth Wariner, Rhonita LeBarón’s aunt.