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Kidnapped boy from polygamous family returned home

SHARE Kidnapped boy from polygamous family returned home

A 16-year-old boy from the LeBaron polygamous family kidnapped in rural Mexico has been returned home, apparently safe.

Family members confirmed to the Deseret News late Saturday night that Eric LeBaron was released on Saturday, a week after he was abducted at gunpoint by masked men near Colonia LeBaron.

"The kid told his parents that they didn't hurt him, they treated him good," said Irene Spencer, who is the aunt of Eric LeBaron's father, Joel LeBaron Jr. "They let him go and he walked for four hours before he could find someone to help him phone home. They have him, he's safe."

Authorities were questioning the boy, relatives said. The kidnappers demanded a $1 million ransom that his family was unable to pay. It was unknown Saturday why Eric LeBaron was released.

Furious over his kidnapping and other abductions sweeping the region, hundreds of fundamentalists from Colonia LeBaron, local Mennonites and even members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints banded together to stage demonstrations outside the regional governor's office in Chihuahua. The local army was sent out into the area to search for LeBaron.

Members of the family announced his return in postings on a story about the kidnapping posted at deseretnews.com.

"Eric has returned home safely. Thanks for all of your prayers ... they worked," one LeBaron family member wrote. "Let's not forget to thank our heavenly father now. Thanks again."

"God came through for us," another wrote.

Family members remain concerned about more kidnappings and even retaliation, Spencer said.

Colonia LeBaron, which has roots stretching across the border all the way into Utah, was established in 1924 near Galeana, Chihuahua, by polygamist Alma Dayer LeBaron to escape authorities. About 1,500 live in the farming community. Family members say only a handful still practice polygamy.

E-MAIL: bwinslow@desnews.com