Woman smothered, drowned her three children, ages 3, 4, 5

Authorities claim that a mother drowned her three small children in Vadnais Lake, and a memorial of stuffed animals, candles, and flowers has been forming there. A placard with the words “For the children” and three paper hearts scribbled on it is affixed to one of the bouquets.

3, 4, and 5 year olds were the kids discovered in the lake in Vadnais Heights on Friday and Saturday, according to officials on Tuesday. Their mother Molly Cheng, age 23, was also found dead in the lake. The triple murder-suicide is being looked into, according to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.

Cheng initially spoke with police on Friday just after 10:30 a.m. when she reported that her husband had shot himself. The family’s residence at the Rolling Hills of Maplewood mobile home park, off Geneva Avenue, was visited by police and firemen.

According to Joe Sheeran, Maplewood’s communications manager, Cheng told police she saw her husband die and that their kids knew what had happened. The children walked outside to play with a neighbor as police investigated.

Yee Lee, 27, was judged to have committed suicide, according to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office.

According to Maplewood police, they sent in social workers to the site to help Cheng and her kids. Sheeran said on Tuesday, “She suggested to us that she was going to be able to deal.”

On Friday about 4 p.m., a family member of Cheng’s contacted 911 to report that Cheng intended to murder both her children and herself. According to Sheeran, Cheng told the Maplewood police lieutenant she was in the Mall of America when he phoned Cheng “to attempt to assess her status.” Cheng was told by the lieutenant that police would meet her at her house, but the lieutenant never showed up.

The Ramsey County sheriff’s office released a statement on Tuesday stating that Maplewood Police had issued a nationwide notice to “try to locate and verify the wellbeing” of Molly Cheng and her children. Then, law enforcement organizations in the area started looking for Molly and tracking her cell phone.

Around 5:45 p.m. on Friday, police followed Cheng’s cellphone to the Vadnais-Sucker Lake Regional Park in Vadnais Heights. At 6 o’clock in the evening, deputies discovered her car parked in a park lot and started looking. Deputies discovered the car keys and several pairs of kids’ sneakers on the east bank of the lake about 20 minutes later.

According to the sheriff’s office, the discoveries sparked “an aggressive search” on land and in the water by deputies, police, and firemen.

Around 7:30 p.m., deputies discovered Quadrillion T. Lee’s body, a 4-year-old, in the lake. Phoenix Lee, 5, was also found dead in Vadnais Lake on Saturday at around midnight.

Around 10:40 on Saturday morning, Cheng’s body was discovered, followed shortly after by that of her 3-year-old daughter, Estella Zoo Siab Lee.

Quadrillion, Estella, and Phoenix all perished by drowning or suffocation, according to the medical examiner’s office, and their deaths were considered murders. The medical examiner’s office found that Cheng drowned himself to death.

Undersheriff Mike Martin issued a statement saying, “Our thoughts go out to the family, friends, and community affected by this horrible incident. In order to provide the surviving family members closure and clarity, the sheriff’s office is still looking into the incident’s circumstances.

The family’s Maplewood home’s owner was identified as Cheng. The pair had not made any prior calls, according to Maplewood police.

On social media, Cheng claimed to be a permanent makeup artist, tattooist, hair stylist, and makeup artist. She recently tweeted videos of a company being restored with the caption “I’m getting there.”

Someone put a stop sign with a yellow ribbon around it next to the monument beside Vadnais Lake, along with a message that said, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” It also included the 800-273-8255 number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The Coalition of Asian American Leaders’ executive and network director, ThaoMee Xiong, said she doesn’t know the specifics of the family’s dynamics, but that what happened highlights the importance of letting people know about the resources and services that are offered in a variety of languages and that are suitable for their cultural contexts.

“It’s tough to know there is assistance out there if folks aren’t aware of what’s available,” she added.

For instance, Transforming Generations is a nonprofit group located in St. Paul that was established in 2016 when Hmong advocates saw the need for more culturally appropriate treatment for gender-based violence. Contact information for the company is 651-756-1579.

Six social workers from Ramsey County Social Services’ mental health crisis team are employed by three law enforcement organizations, including Maplewood police.

According to Allison Winters, a county spokesperson, when they are contacted, they evaluate persons “for vulnerabilities and dangers in the circumstance,” which includes suicide and homicidal intentions. According to her, they offer services “in a culturally appropriate manner.”

Two 24-hour mental health crisis lines are run by Ramsey County and are accessible to everyone in the county. For those over the age of 18, the adult mental health crisis line is 651-266-7900, while the children’s mental health crisis line is 651-266-7878.

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