EL PASO, Texas — The brutal murders of a Mormon and his pregnant wife
have left local LDS Church members in a state of sadness, shock, disappointment
Arthur H. Redelfs, 34, and his wife, Lesley A. Enriquez, 35, both U.S.
citizens, were shot to death in their car near the Santa Fe
International bridge linking Ciudad Juarez with El Paso, Texas,
following a birthday party Saturday afternoon. Enriquez was four months
Fortunately, the couple's one-year-old baby was found unharmed in the
__IMAGE1__Redelfs was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
His mother, brother and sister attended the Redd Ward in the El Paso
Mount Franklin stake regularly. Enriquez was not a member. Fellow ward
members Trent and Anne Hatch said the family and congregation are deeply
saddened by the news. Members are doing their best to offer support and
comfort to the family.
"It was awful. The whole ward is having a really hard time," Anne Hatch
said. "People are really upset. They were really nice people,
down-to-earth. They would help anybody."
Mexican authorities put suspicion on a gang of hit men allied with the
Juarez drug cartel based on "information exchanged with U.S. federal
agencies," according to a statement Sunday from the joint mission of
soldiers and federal police overseeing security in Ciudad Juarez.
They hit men also ambushed Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, 37, a
Mexican citizen. He was shot to death in his car, while his two
children, ages 4 and 7, were wounded, according to the state prosecutors
office. The children were hospitalized.
All three victims had ties to the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez.
Several U.S. citizens have been killed in Mexico's drug war, most of
them people with family ties to Mexico. It is very rare for American
government employees to be targeted, although attackers hurled grenades
at the U.S. consulate in the northern city of Monterrey in 2008.
The atmosphere of violence in Juarez had been creeping closer to U.S.
offices for some time: on Friday, the consulate put a bar just around
the block from its office off limits to U.S. government personnel "due
to security concerns."
The State Department authorized U.S. government employees at Ciudad
Juarez and five other U.S. consulates in northern Mexico to send family
members out of the area because of concerns about rising drug violence.
The cities are Tijuana, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros.
Civilians have increasingly gotten caught in the middle of drug gang
violence that has made Ciudad Juarez one of the deadliest cities in the
world, with more than 2,500 people killed last year alone.
The three died during a particularly bloody weekend in Mexico, with
nearly 50 people killed in apparent gang violence. Nine people were
killed in a gang shootout early Sunday in the Pacific resort city of
Acapulco, one of Mexico's spring break attractions.
This is the second incident involving a Mormon in the past year. Trent
Hatch said a female church member in a neighboring ward was hijacked and
robbed last year on her way to the LDS temple in Ciudad Juarez.
__IMAGE2__"She got lost and was mugged. They took her car, money and jewelry. We
think she was protected because she lived, but she lost everything,"
Anne Hatch said. "Even when you go over for the right things, you have
to be aware of the situation and be smart."
Trent Hatch has lived in Mexico and moved his family to El Paso 10
years ago so they could be close to the border. They are tired of the
violence and recently discussed moving away. Trent Hatch crosses the
border each day to his sales job in Ciudad Juarez. It worries his wife.
"I am a little immune to it because I lived in Mexico, but there is
always a concern in the back of my mind about being in the wrong place
at the wrong time," he said. "You could be a victim."
Extortion, kidnapping, and violence have been ongoing in the Chihuahua area for the last several years, impacting both the Mexican and American citizens.
"The violence has really changed the dynamic of living here," Anne Hatch said. "When we
moved here...we loved the simplicity of life and going across the border
to get a burrito and enjoy the market. Now it's totally different, a
complete 180. It's just crazy."
Trent Hatch said they and other church members still attend the temple
regularly each month, but the violence has altered lifestyles.
"Members have had to limit their activities, which is a shame and insane
to be honest," Trent said. "Even the temple hours have been adjusted to
the needs of the members."
Despite the violent circumstances and risks, Trent Hatch said members
will continue attending the temple.
"Up to date we have had relatively no problems. Members of the church
are determined to continue going and doing temple work," he said.
The funeral will take place this weekend, Trent Hatch said.