Texas Missionaries Slain at Home in Mexico

Relatives say killers were likely people couple knew

By Randy McIlwain
|  Thursday, Feb 2, 2012  |  Updated 6:49 PM CDT
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John and Wanda Casias were killed in their Mexico home.

Randy Mcllwain, NBC 5 News

John and Wanda Casias were killed in their Mexico home.

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A Lewisville church has been shaken by the slayings of two Texas missionaries in their home in northern Mexico.

A small memorial service was held Thursday for John and Wanda Casias at the church near Monterrey they founded, the Primera Iglesia Bautista Fundamental Independiente.

A funeral service will be held at their home church, Liberty Baptist Church in Lewisville, after their bodies are returned to the United States.

"These people do such good things, and why would they be taken?" said Jeff Colegrove, a Liberty Baptist youth pastor who first met the couple when he was a 15-year-old on his first mission. "God, why would you all this to happen to these people?"

John and Wanda Casias, who lived in Mexico for 29 years, were strangled during an apparent home invasion on Tuesday.

Members of Liberty Baptist Church said the couple, originally from Amarillo, opened four churches in their three decades of work. They also helped build homes and schools and cared for anyone in the region with needs.

John Casias, 76, and Wanda Casias, 67, both knew the dangers that drug violence has brought to the area.

"There have been many kidnappings and killings, and they let us know that they would not give in to ransom," said Karen Moseley, church secretary.

But relatives said the type of crime, belongings missing and a safe dug out of a wall led them to believe that it could have been committed by someone the couple knew, not drug traffickers.

"My dad, being so kind, let them in," John Casias said. "I don't think he saw it coming."

The attorney general's office for Nuevo Leon state, where couple lived, said Thursday the investigation is continuing and there have been no arrests so far.

The younger John Casias said he and his siblings plan to find a way to continue their parents' mission.

The Casias children said their parents knew the dangers but couldn't be scared away.

"It's getting kind of rough there," son John Casias said he told them during their visit to his home in San Diego over Christmas, offering to let them stay with him for awhile. They refused.

"They understood it. They knew it. Were they scared to death? No," he said. "My parents did not live in fear. It's not in their DNA."

Colegrove said Liberty Baptist sponsors missions all over the world and the work will not stop. If anything, the strength and courage of John and Wanda Casias has only motivated the church to do more, he said.

"It's lit a fire to do even more than we already do," he said.

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