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La Mora Mexico murders
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Utah woman grew up in La Mora, Mexico. Now, her family is fleeing

People attend the funeral of Dawna Ray Langford, 43, and her sons Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 2, who were killed by drug cartel gunmen, at a family cemetery in La Mora, Sonora state, Mexico, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. Three women and six of their children, all members of the extended LeBaron family, died when they were gunned down in an attack while traveling along Mexico's Chihuahua and Sonora state border on Monday. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Emily Langford grew up in the small religious community of La Mora, Mexico. Four months ago, she got married and moved to southern Utah.

She told KSL NewsRadio’s Dave & Dujanovic Show that her father, David Langford, had no choice but to flee the town after his wife, two of his sons and six other women and children were killed by gunfire at the hands of members of a Mexican drug cartel last week.

“There’s honestly not another option. Everyone is too scared to stay there,” said Langford.

The family buried their loved ones and packed up as many of their belongings as they could. Then they fled to the U.S.

“Right now no one knows where they’re going to go,” Langford said.

Leaving La Mora

A caravan of 18 vehicles, carrying 100 townspeople left the tiny farming community that was settled in the 1800s, a place that’s almost impossible to find on a map. They drove into Arizona, where the children who survived last week’s gunfire had been hospitalized.

“Most of the little siblings have been released,” said Langford. But she noted that one of the boys, who was shot in the mouth, faces more surgery.

When asked if the family would eventually make its way into Utah, Langford said it’s too soon to know.

“Right now my dad is just with his kids. All he’s focused on and worried about is their safety,” she said.

She explained that with follow-up doctor visits on the horizon the focus is on the surviving children.

“He doesn’t know where he’s going to go,” she said. “None of us do. None of us have decided. Right now, it’s just about those children being safe and out of the hospital before we make any big decisions.”

Langford: this was no accident

She described La Mora as a beautiful place, full of residents who have dual citizenship and travel freely back and forth across the U.S.-Mexico border.

But recently, according to other family members, the cartel has become more and more violent in the area.

“I don’t think it’s possible for this to be an accident. I think it was definitely a targeted attack. It’s no accident that it was women and children murdered at point-blank. Anyone who says otherwise that’s just ridiculous to me,” Langford said. “It was a planned murder.”

Langford says the family will be leaning on the FBI for more details. As is standard protocol, the FBI awaited the Mexican government’s invitation to join the ongoing investigation into the massacre. Both the FBI and Mexican authorities have confirmed the FBI’s involvement.

For now, Langford says one thing is certain. She’s too traumatized by the killings to ever return to the tiny town in Mexico she once called home.

“I will never go home again unless it is safe. And I don’t see it being safe again.”

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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