Devin Langford was travelling with eight of his siblings and his mother in one vehicle. His mother, Dawna Langford, was killed along with two of his brothers.

By Ian Horswill

Posted on November 7, 2019

Amazing stories of survival have emerged as investigations continue into the horrific mind-numbing murders of three mothers and their six children travelling in a convoy in Sonora state, northern Mexico.

Thirteen-year-old Devin Langford took charge of the situation after the convoy was ambushed and the women and children were shot dead, eventually walking about 23 km (14 miles) in six hours back to La Mora, the settlement where they lived, to ask for help.

“After witnessing his mother and brothers being shot dead, Devin hid his six other siblings in the bushes and covered them with branches to keep them safe while he went for help,” Kendra Lee Miller told the Associated Press. “When he took too long to return, his nine-year-old sister left the remaining five to try again.”

That girl, Mckenzie Rayne Langford, walked for hours in the dark before she was found several hours after the other children were rescued. She was listed as missing for a while.

The children were on their own from about 1 pm, when the ambush began, until about 7.30 pm, when they were rescued. Relatives from La Mora tried to reach them before that but were turned back by gunfire.

Twins Titus and Tiana Miller
Eight month olds twins Titus and Tiana Miller were killed.

Sonora state in northern Mexico is being fought over by two rival gangs, La Línea, which has links to the larger Juárez cartel, and Los Chapos, which is part of the Sinaloa cartel.

The group of three mothers and their 14 children set off in three cars from La Mora in Sonora state on Monday morning. The mothers and children travelling together “for safety reasons” were all heading to see family: one to pick up her husband, another to meet her husband and move to North Dakota and the third to visit family in the neighbouring state of Chihuahua, Kendra Lee Miller, a relative told CNN.

Shortly after leaving, all three of their cars were at different points ambushed by gunmen near Bavispe.

At one point, one of the cars got a flat tyre, Kendra Lee Miller said. The driver, Miller’s sister-in-law Rhonita Maria Miller, left the car behind and went back with the others to get another family car to continue the drive. Kendra Lee Miller said her brother Andre was on the mountain road near La Mora when he saw a fire in the distance where the caravan of three cars was attacked.

“My brother was fixing Rhonita’s broken-down vehicle, saw a fire, didn’t think anything of it,” Kendra Lee Miller said.

“Then (he) saw the explosion, went to check it out, saw it was my mother’s vehicle, full of bullet holes, completely ablaze.

“My dad, Andre and couple of uncles and relatives went to check up on the vehicle. All they found was charred remains, ash and bones,” Kendra Lee Miller said.

“There were remains inside and outside of the vehicle.”

Devin Langford was travelling with eight of his siblings and his mother in one vehicle. His mother, Dawna Langford, was killed along with two of his brothers in the attack.

Rhonita Maria Miller, 30, and her eight-month-old twins Titus and Tiana, 12-year-old Howard Jr and 10-year-old Krystal died after their car was targeted by gunmen. At some point, the vehicle caught fire and exploded.

Christina Langford Johnson, 31, was also killed in a third vehicle. Her seven-month-old baby, Faith Langford, was found on the floor of the vehicle in her baby seat and survived.

Christina Langford Johnson reportedly got out of the vehicle with her hands raised to ask the attackers to stop shooting. She was gunned down.

Five of the surviving children sustained gunshot injuries, including nine-month-old Brixon Langford, who was shot in the chest, and four-year-old Xander Langford, who was shot in the back. All five have been transferred to the US for treatment.

The victims were related to the LeBaron family, whose members have clashed with drug traffickers in Mexico previously. Benjamin LeBaron was murdered by the cartels in 2009 after he founded neighbourhood patrols against them and was kidnapped, held for ransom and then killed.

Mckenzie Langford Dawna

Miller said the family was told that if the bullet had gone a quarter of an inch deeper into Brixon’s chest, he would have been killed. The family is also worried about eight-year-old Cody Langford, who was shot in the jaw.

“His jaw is actually broken. He has fragments in his face,” Miller said. “He is actually in a more serious condition than they thought.”

Miller said Devin and his six-year-old brother Jake, who both escaped without injuries, are now back home with their family in La Mora.

“[They] are pretty calm,” Miller said. “Last night, Devin was in shock, a little bit confused and just exhausted after a horrible, long day. Under the circumstances, I think they are being champs.”

Homeland Security Undersecretary David Glawe told a Senate panel on Tuesday (local time): “The attacks in Northern Mexico on American citizens, including women, children, and infants, is a stark example of how these brutal organisations operate on a daily basis.

“The violence and disregard for human life displayed by these criminal organisations is as barbaric and gruesome as any terrorist organisation we see around the globe.”

“It’s devastating,” relative Leah Staddon said on Tuesday (local time). “It’s incomprehensible, the evil. I don’t understand how someone could do that.”