Minnesota Mom Drowns 3 Young Children and Herself in Lake After Husband Takes His Own Life, Police Say

A memorial for three children who were drowned in Vadnais Lake sits on the edge of the lake on Sucker Lake Rd., near Vadnais Blvd. Monday, July 4, 2022 in Vadnais Heights, Minn. After her husband died by suicide Friday at their Maplewood home, Molly Cheng drove her three young children to Vadnais-Sucker Lake Regional Park. The bodies of all four were recovered from Vadnais Lake by Saturday morning; law enforcement suspects their deaths were a murder-suicide. All three children were under the age of 6.
David Joles/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Minnesota mom Molly Cheng took her own life and the lives of her three young children after her husband killed himself Friday, officials said.

A Minnesota father’s suicide on Friday appeared to have set off a gruesome chain of events that ended with the deaths of his wife and children. 

Molly Cheng called police Friday and said her husband, 27-year-old Yee Lee, fatally shot himself, officials said. His death was determined to be a suicide, police told CBS Minnesota.

Maplewood police told CBS Minnesota they arranged for social workers to assist Cheng, 23, and her two sons and her daughter, all of whom were under the age of 6. 

But later in the day, a relative of Cheng called 911 saying that Cheng was going to kill herself and her children, authorities said. A statewide alert to "attempt to locate and check the welfare" of Cheng and her children was issued. 

Law enforcement officials tracked Cheng's cell phone to the area near Vadnais-Sucker Lake Park around 5:45 p.m. There, they found her vehicle and the children's shoes, officials said. 

The body of one child was recovered from the lake late Friday. The other three bodies were recovered early Saturday. 

“Emotionally, as a cop, I've been doing this for 30 years in water patrol for most of it and this is one of the more difficult ones,” Eric Bradt, of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office told reporters during a press conference on Saturday afternoon.

Both Lee and Cheng were Hmong refugees born in Thailand who grew up in the Thai refugee camp, Wat Tham Krabok, Lee's father, Chong Lue Lee, told the Sahan Journal through an interpreter. The couple met in the Twin Cities and had been together for seven years, he said. 

He told the news outlet the couple's extended family discussed having the children stay with Cheng's father in the aftermath of his son's death, but Cheng said the children would remain with her. Then that afternoon, one of Cheng's friends told her family that Cheng called her from her car and said “she would do something to the kids,” Chong Lue Lee said.  

​​“They are so young, and they had a bright future,” Chong Lue Lee said of his grandchildren, Phoenix, Quadrillion and Estella Lee, ages 3 through 5. “I wish this never happened to them.”

The Maplewood Police Department and the Ramsey County Sheriff's office did not respond to Inside Edition Digital's requests for comment. 

The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office is conducting the investigation into the family's deaths. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255 or 988, once the hotline’s new three-digit number goes live nationwide on July 16.

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