April 13, 1995 in Idaho

Mexico Trip Turns Bloody For Idaho Men One Dead, Another Survives Apparent Suicide Pact

Associated Press
 

Bruce Miller first thought it was a horrible April Fools’ Day joke when he opened the door to his son’s hotel room in San Felipe, Mexico, to a scene of unimaginable horror.

The carpet was soaked with blood; the bed and walls were spattered with red, the Idaho Falls Post Register reported in a copyrighted story.

His son, Travis Hoffman, 21, barely had enough strength to move. Kip Jerry Lange, 24, of Idaho Falls, lay on the floor with his arms folded beneath his chest.

“I looked at Kip, and I didn’t see him breathing,” Miller said. “Then I started getting scared.”

The blood on Hoffman’s arms had coagulated and his wounds had gone dry. Miller bent down to hear him say “We committed suicide,” the father said.

Lange was pronounced dead by Mexican authorities on April 1. After a weeklong fight by his family to retrieve the body, he was scheduled to be buried Wednesday.

Lange’s stepfather, Harry Taylor, said the family does not believe Lange killed himself.

Hoffman narrowly survived; he and his father fled Mexico on Sunday.

Miller, 41, said his son told him the young men decided to kill themselves out of fear that they were going to be tortured by a group of men who terrorized them since their arrival in the border town on the Pacific Ocean.

Miller said the two went to San Felipe on March 31 for a weeklong vacation. Miller, who employed them at his drilling business, went to meet them the next day.

Miller arrived at the hotel and saw the gore in the light from the television. The pair had cut themselves on the wrists, and blood sprayed the room.

Miller said his son told him the two were pulling a boat behind their truck, and caught the mens’ attention. The two Idahoans later met some girls on the beach. The Mexicans became enraged by the Americans’ attentions to the girls and followed them.

“They thought the guys would go into their hotel room, drag them out, torture and kill them,” Miller said. Hoffman told him, “We just decided to end it all right there.”

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman on Friday said Mexican officials are investigating Lange’s death as a suicide. She said Hoffman would be charged with assisting the suicide.

Hoffman has no intention of returning to Mexico to face the charges, his father said.

Though he apparently saved his son’s life, Miller was originally charged with attempting to kill him by Mexican police.

Miller was able to alert a passerby on the street from his jail cell. The man called Miller’s girlfriend, and eventually reached the American Consulate in Tijuana.

Miller was released the next day after Mexican authorities determined his son had tried to commit suicide. After Hoffman was released from the hospital, his father helped him get over the border.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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