A monument of toys and balloons stood on Saturday along the edge of Vadnais Lake, where the lost shoes of three little children just over a week ago sparked a frantic search.
A sizable crowd gathered in Vadnais Heights to pay tribute to the three children and their parents, whose remains were discovered in the lake. As mourners approached a table with pictures of the deceased family, many of them sobbing or praying, the atmosphere was solemn.
The Hmong 18 Council and the victims’ families coordinated the candlelight vigil.
The Hmong 18 Council stated on social media that “Community grieving and healing gathering play a significant role in bringing the community together to grieve and support each other.” Tragic happenings.
The Ramsey County medical examiner’s office said that Yee Lee, 27, committed suicide the morning of July 1 in the family’s Maplewood residence.
A family member of Lee’s wife, Molly Cheng, called 911 that afternoon to report the 23-year-old was planning to kill herself, her kids, and herself.
Estella Lee, 3, Quadrillion Lee, 4, and Phoenix Lee, 5, were found drowned in Vadnais Lake, and their deaths were deemed murders by the medical examiner’s office. The Ramsey County sheriff’s office reports that Cheng also drowned and died by suicide.
Koua Lee, the father of Yee Lee, and Chong Cheng, the father of Molly Cheng, both addressed during the vigil via interpreter and Hmong 18 councilwoman Jasmine Lykhang They conveyed their profound sorrow and thanks for the community’s support.
The fact that the police did not intervene sooner to save Molly and his three grandkids, according to Chong Cheng, was “hurtful” and will haunt him for the rest of his days.
Two social workers, one of whom speaks Hmong, visited the residence after Lee passed away “to support the family through the situation,” said Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner on Friday.
Cheng wished for her children to stay with her.
She had the legal right to do so since she was their mother, according to Steiner. “We lacked the legal authority to detain Molly or her kids. There were no claims made at the time, and there was no proof that Molly posed a threat to her or her kids.
The vigil was attended by a number of Hmong 18 Council members, including President Paul (Kong Patchay) Xiong. The council was created in an effort to give the locals access to enough social assistance after a distressed Hmong woman killed her six children in St. Paul in 1998.
According to Lykhang, the Hmong 18 Council is intended to be a resource for local residents, preventing events like the one last week.
She remarked, “I would like to see my neighborhood open up. “I believe that individuals are reluctant to ask for assistance out of a fear of being judged, but it’s nothing to be embarrassed of and we don’t want to see this happen again, in our community or in any other community,” the author says.
Fundraising for the five funerals is being done by the family at gofundme.com/f/funeral-expenses-for-molly-cheng-yee-lee-kids.