Amid mourning for three young children who were rescued from Wadnais Heights Lake on Friday and Saturday, their families and law enforcement are searching for answers.
The body of Molly Cheng, the 23-year-old mother of the children, was also found in Wadnais Lake. The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday they are investigating the case as a possible triple murder-suicide.
The death follows the alleged suicide of Cheng’s husband, who was the father of the children. Maplewood police and firefighters were called to the family’s home in the 1300 block of Pearson Drive around 10:30 a.m. Friday and found dead.
Law enforcement began a search for the mother and her children later on Friday.
“As a result of the incident, they were concerned about his well-being and the well-being of the children,” Undersheriff Mike Martin said on Saturday. His cell phone was tracked around 4 pm on Friday at the Vadnais-Sakar Lake Regional Park, where his vehicle was found parked. The children’s shoes were also lying there.
The search of the lake and the park began with the pulling of a boy’s body from the lake at around 7.30 pm on Friday. Around midnight, another boy was found dead in the lake, then his mother’s body was found at 10:40 am and a girl’s body was found at 11 am on Saturday.
According to the sheriff’s office, the children were under the age of 6. Cheng posted on social media in November that their eldest child was 5 years old and that another son turned 4 in October.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office is working to determine his cause and manner of death.
how to get help
The names of those killed were not released by authorities on Saturday, although Cher Cheng knew them – he was Molly Cheng’s cousin and said she spent time with her husband.
He said that he did not understand what happened.
“I can’t say anything about what he did,” he said on Saturday. “It’s just hard.”
She said she last spoke to Cheng’s husband a few weekends ago and “he was behaving the same way;” Cher could not understand that something was wrong.
“He’s just a kind person,” he said. “Sure, he loves his kids.”
Dan Reidenberg, executive director of SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voice of Education) in Bloomington, urged people to avoid speculation or rush decision making.
“Suicide is never about one thing,” he said. “In a situation like this, if he had known that he had died by suicide, it would have been much more.”
“Most people who suffer the loss of a relative or friend for suicide find support and help,” Ridenberg said, “and they can get through it.”
He also wants people to know that there are resources and support available for those in crisis. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-TALK (8255).
“If you’re worried about someone — you hear them say they have no reason to live, they’re giving up their possessions — reach out, try to get their help,” says NAMI (National) Executive Director Sue Abderholden said. Coalition on Mental Illness) Minnesota.
In Ramsey County, people can call the Adult Mental Health Crisis Line at 651-266-7900, which is available 24-7.
‘Three innocents lost their lives’
Wadnais Heights Mayor Heidi Gunderson, city council and city staff said their thoughts and prayers are with the family, responding officers and firefighters who assisted in the search.
“We have children in our lives in the city, and there are no words to express the grief over the death of three innocent people,” he said in a statement.
People searching for the children in the lake were also feeling the grief of the family. It “takes a toll on responders,” Deputy Pat Scott said during “Live on Patrol” Friday night, during Sheriff Bob Fletcher’s livestream of the patrol.
CMD. Eric Brad, who is in charge of the sheriff’s office water patrol, said he has worked in law enforcement for 30 years and for most of his career water patrol and the search for children was “one of the more difficult ones.”
The search for land and water was going on on the south side of the lake and went on till 3 am on Saturday, when work came to a standstill till around 8 am.
“Our hearts go out to the families involved and their friends here,” Martin said. “Our goal was to find the children and the mother and return them to their families.”
Fletcher said, “For most people, “even imagining it is just going to be horrifying to think about.”
Fletcher recalled similar situations in the past, in which Naomi Gaines threw her 14-month-old twin sons off the Wabasha Street Bridge in St. Paul on July 4, 2003. One drowned and one survived. Gaines then jumped into the Mississippi River; She survived.
And on September 3, 1998, Khoua Har murdered six of his children, aged 5 to 11, at his residence in St. Paul’s McDonough Homes. He attempted suicide after the largest mass murder in the recorded history of St. Paul.
“The mental health aspect of people … it’s hard to wrap your mind around how someone does this,” Fletcher said Friday.
“If you’re mentally healthy, it’s unimaginable,” Scott said.