Skip to main content

Authorities have provided a timeline of the deaths of a family-of-five in the Twin Cities on Friday and Saturday.

The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday said that the suicide of Yee Lee, 27, of Maplewood, on Friday sparked a chain of events that led to his wife Molly Cheng, 23, killing their three young children and herself in Vadnais Lake on Saturday. 

Lee was confirmed to have shot himself in the head on Friday morning, with Cheng then taking their children to Vadnais-Sucker Lake Regional Park the following day. 

Responding to concerns that Cheng intended to kill the children, police arrived to find her car abandoned, and several pairs of children's shoes lined up on the east shore of Vadnais Lake, with the four bodies pulled from the lake in the ensuing search.

The children, 5-year-old Phoenix Lee, 4-year-old Quadrillion Lee, and 3-year-old Estella Zoo Siab Lee, were given causes of death of "drowning and smothering."

Cheng herself died from drowning.

The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office put together the following timeline of the tragedy:

 10:37 a.m. Friday: Police called to 1300 block of Pearson Drive, where Cheng reported her husband had shot himself. Yee Lee is confirmed dead from self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Maplewood PD arranges for social workers to come to the scene to help Cheng and their children.

4 p.m. Friday: A relative of Cheng's calls 911 to report Cheng is going to kill her children and herself, sparking a statewide alert to find them. Police track Cheng's cellphone to Vadnais-Sucker Lake Park in Vadnais Heights at 5:45 p.m.

6:03 p.m. Friday: Deputies find her vehicle in the parking lot and begin a search on foot.

6:23 p.m. Friday: Deputies find the kids shoes and vehicle keys on the east shore of the lake.

7:23 p.m. Friday: Search teams pull Quadrillion Lee from the water. He is pronounced dead despite lifesaving attempts.

12:03 a.m. Saturday: The body of Phoenix Lee is recovered from the lake. Search operations are called off at 3 a.m.

10:39 a.m. Saturday: After search operations resumed at 6 a.m., the body of Molly Cheng is found.

11 a.m. Saturday: Search teams find Estella Zoo Siab Lee.

"Our hearts go out the family, friends, and community impacted by this terrible tragedy," said Undersheriff Mike Martin in the Tuesday statement. "The Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate the circumstances of this incident to provide clarity and closure to the surviving family members."

The father of Yee Lee spoke to the Sahan Journal, urging people to stop speculating about the tragedy. He says Lee and Cheng were Hmong refugees who were both born in a Thai refugee camp, and at the time of their deaths ran a salon in Brooklyn Park

A candlelight vigil organized by the Hmong 18 Council will be held at the lake between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. this Saturday, July 9.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, there is help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 provides around-the-clock free and confidential support for people in distress.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-08-09 at 3.25.49 PM

Charges: Man caused Burnsville building fire because girlfriend was late

The alleged arson fire displaced around 50 residents.

Famous dave granite city

Famous Dave's, Granite City owner sold for $200 million

The owner of Famous Dave's, BBQ Holdings, is based in Minnetonka.

Alanna McLean

Appeal to find missing northern Minnesota woman

Alanna McLean was last seen this past weekend.

image

Minnesota reaches 55 confirmed cases of monkeypox

Nearly 9,000 cases have been confirmed nationwide.

derek chauvin

$1.45M payout for correctional officers prevented from guarding Derek Chauvin

The officers were reportedly ordered to avoid Derek Chauvin while he was in jail.

DSD_6142

Palm Springs residents: Divert the Mississippi to solve our drought problems

Should the southwest have some of the Mississippi River?

Image from iOS (10)

Minneapolis tries to spruce up street barriers with motivational messages

Police said the barriers will be in place through the beginning of the fall.

BearTracks3

MnDOT debuts driverless shuttle in White Bear Lake

This is one of several self-driving pilot programs MnDOT is working on.

snow

Farmer almanacs release their 2022-23 winter forecasts for MN

November is right around the corner and one of the almanacs figures it'll be a cold and snowy month.

image

Minneapolis Police Department seeks authorization to use drones

A public hearing on the matter could be held this month.

Related

police tape, crime scene

Police investigating suspected murder-suicide in Forest Lake

A man and a woman were found dead on Saturday evening.

police tape, crime scene

Police: Man killed sister in Forest Lake murder-suicide

Police responded to an abandoned 911 call on Saturday evening.

291734046_502006195017388_4346404407323115820_n

Bodies of woman, three young children recovered from Vadnais Lake

Authorities say the bodies recovered were those of two boys, one girl and their mother.

police tape, crime scene

Police ID couple found dead in home, murder-suicide suspected

The bodies were found in St. Louis County after the pair failed to show for work.

Eden Prairie husband charged with assisting wife's suicide

The 61-year-old told police his wife was in pain and medication didn't help.

Screen Shot 2021-12-26 at 10.25.14 AM

Girls killed in house fire were staying with grandma so mom could wrap gifts

The victims of the tragic fire have been identified by family.

Screen Shot 2020-02-24 at 5.44.46 AM

Three deaths at Apple Valley home followed act of 'family violence'

Police believe the weekend shootings to be a murder-suicide.