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.