Thursday, February 2, 2012

U.S. missionaries murdered near Monterrey

Monterrey, Nuevo León -- An American missionary couple who had spent much of the last 30 years working in Mexico were found murdered yesterday (Feb. 1) in Santiago, Mexico, a town 20 miles south of this major commercial center of four million people. Authorities said both died by strangulation, and robbery may have been the motive.

John Frank Casias, 77, and Wanda Casias, 67, were discovered in their rural home by a son who lives in nearby Monterrey. The house was in disarray when their bodies were discovered, and valuables, including a vehicle, were missing. Both victims appeared to have been beaten.

The possibility of organized crime violence has not been excluded. Monterrey is 100 miles south of the U.S. border, and lies squarely on the path of major northbound drug routes. Those routes are in hot dispute between two of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels, Los Zetas and Cártel del Golfo (Gulf Cartel). The city has been a seedbed of violence in recent months, including an arson attack against the Casino Royale last August which left 52 dead (, and the execution of 11 people early on the morning of Jan. 26, eight of them killed with a single coup de grace shot to the back of the head on a quiet residential street ( Two years ago Santiago's mayor was murdered by Los Zetas.

Mr. and Mrs. Casias were affiliated with the Liberty Baptist Church in Lewsiville, Texas. They alternated between Lewisville and Santiago, where Mr. Casias also preached at a local church, the Primera Iglesia Bautista Fundamental Independiente.

The couple are survived by 10 children.

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