A family of eight Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mexico was brutally murdered last Sunday morning according to reports.
Police arrested two suspects on Tuesday (identified as Jesus Mendoza Hernandez, 21, and Edgar Lujan Guevara, 31) after investigators found traces of blood on their clothing. Further suspects are being sought.
Concerned fellow Witnesses called at the home in the northern Mexico border city of Ciudad Juarez on Sunday after the family failed to show up at the meeting as normal. They found that all eight had been bound with packing tape and stabbed to death.
The Chihuahua prosecutor’s office has confirmed that the victims included two girls, ages 4 and 6; a 7-year-old boy; three women, ages 25, 30 and 60; and two men, ages 30 and 40. A three-month-old girl found in the house was the sole survivor. The family was killed with a knife from their kitchen, and there were no signs of forced entry.
Early reports suggested the murders were connected with an unpaid gambling debt, but it is thought to have been more specifically connected to a stud fee for a dog. The head of the family, Maximo Romero Sanchez, worked as a mechanic – fixing and selling used cars. But it seems he fell into trouble with a criminal gang who called a month previously trying to collect the $115 owed for the dog. At the time he told them he didn’t have the money and the group left.
When the gang returned last Sunday, Sanchez was once again asked for the money. After he failed to produce it, the family members were bound, gagged and stabbed to death. After the brutal murder, it is claimed the gang fled the property with 2,500 pesos ($192), taken from the pockets and purses of their victims.
The funeral for four of the family members took place on Wednesday night at the local Kingdom Hall, with 150 in attendance.
“They, the family, were honorable people, dedicated to the church and to God. They would come to the church’s meetings every Thursday and Sunday. This is something I can’t explain. We are in shock,” elder Ismael Toribio told the media.
Another elder, Daniel Sierra, who gave the funeral talk, told his congregation: “Why (did this happen), you ask? Because Satan is the ruler of this land.”
Ciudad Juarez, which lies across the border from El Paso in Texas, has a reputation as a violent city. 10,000 people have been killed there since 2006.
Reaction from one Jehovah’s Witness
It is hoped that the friends and relatives of those who were so brutally killed will receive the support they need in the wake of this evil act. No person or family deserves to be murdered like this any reason, let alone over an unpaid debt.
Yesterday I had a brief exchange with a professed Jehovah’s Witness on Facebook who was commenting on the killing. I can only hope that he was not speaking for the majority of Witnesses when he coldly remarked: “If this brother got himself into a sticky situation he got what was coming to him. Whereas the poor kids probably had no clue.”
As I pointed out to this so-called ‘brother’ – no amount of gambling or getting into debt can account for someone getting stabbed to death. Sadly, I fear the mentality of punishment and retribution so recurrent in Watchtower ideology will cause many Witnesses to draw similar heartless conclusions over what happened. This poor man will be seen by some, but hopefully not all, as paying a price for his supposed ‘greed’.
Rather than reasoning that “time and unforeseen occurrence” befall us all (Eccl. 9:11), it is all too likely that some Witnesses will conclude that this attack represents further evidence that we are living in the last days of Satan’s system, and that dire consequences await any who stray from Watchtower’s teachings.
I for one won’t succumb to such thinking. This wicked crime only demonstrates that anyone can fall victim to evil people, no matter what religion they belong to. It also shows only too tragically that regularly attending meetings is no magic charm against calamity, as the 2013 Yearbook attempted to imply.