Community gathers at vigil for family killed at Vadnais Lake

Members of the Hmong community and other residents came together on Saturday to grieve and to heal at a vigil for an entire family now dead after a tragic series of events. 

Dozens gathered near the spot where children's shoes and the car keys of 23-year-old Molly Cheng were found last Friday on the shores of Vadnais Lake in Vadnais Heights. 

The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office says Cheng drowned her three children — Phoenix, Quadrillion and Estella — in the lake before taking her own life in the hours after her husband, Yee Lee, shot and killed himself in Maplewood. 

Social workers were called in to help Cheng and her kids after her husband's death, but ultimately left them in her care. Family members quickly became concerned she would hurt herself and her children and called the authorities, who were able to track her cell phone to the lake. The bodies of all four were later recovered from the water. 

The fathers of those lost — Lee's father, Koua, and Cheng's father, Chong, — spoke to the crowd through a translator with the Hmong 18 Council, a nonprofit organization started to help the Hmong community and fight domestic violence after another heartbreaking event when a mother killed her six children in Saint Paul in 1998. 

Cheng says after Lee was found dead, authorities took the time to make sure the family dog, Mochi, was taken care of, and he wishes they would have intervened further with his daughter. 

"I believe that if the police took action like they took action to save the dog and they took action to save Molly and the three children... they would still be alive today," said Cheng. 

The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office is continuing to investigate the circumstances of this incident to provide clarity and closure to the surviving family members.