Young relative creates tribute to family slain in Mexico
PHOENIX (AP) — A 15-year-old Arizona relative of three women and six children gunned down in a drug cartel ambush in Mexico stayed up until 3 a.m. the day of the first funerals to create a photo slide show that she voiced with a song.
Madelyn Staddon was so affected by the family's loss, she created the digital tribute , infusing it with familial and religious emotions.
"She wanted it to be ready for the first funeral today at 10, so I stayed up to help," her father, Aaron Staddon, wrote Thursday in an email to The Associated Press.
Staddon's wife, Leah Langford-Staddon, grew up in La Mora hamlet near the scene of the attack Monday.
The couple and their children now live in Queen Creek, Arizona, a Phoenix suburb, but they have frequently visited the community in Mexico for holidays and special events.
Funerals were held Thursday for Dawna Ray Langford, 43, and her sons Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 2, in La Mora.
Rhonita Miller and her four children, including twin babies, and Christina Langford were expected to be buried later in nearby Colonia LeBaron.
They were members of an extended family with roots in the small Mexican communities where their ancestors moved long ago.
Most members have dual U.S.-Mexican citizenship and consider themselves Mormon but are not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Staddon, who posted his daughter's digital tribute on his Facebook page, wrote that the teen was "all business throughout the night" as she assembled the video.
"In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world," read the words against a black screen at the beginning of the video, quoting from the Bible verse John 16:33.
As Madelyn sings, pictures of the women who died, entire families, formal weddings, babies and smiling school-aged kids shuffle across the screen.
"You picked up all my pieces. Put me back together. You were the defender of my heart," the teenager sang.
When she completed the video, Madelyn turned to her father, Staddon wrote in his email.
"I saw everything I've been feeling in those tear-filled eyes," he added. "It was one of the purest most perfect moments I've had as a father. No words. Just a recognition. I wanted to take all that pain away, but that pain is necessary."