A Minnesota woman drowned her three young children and herself Friday after she called police earlier that day to report her husband's death, authorities said.
The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office released the identities and cause of death for the five family members Tuesday, days after the bodies of three children and their mother were recovered from Vadnais Lake.
Quadrillion T. Lee, 4; Phoenix Lee, 5; and Estella Zoo Siab Lee, 3, all drowned. The youngest two had also been smothered, the medical examiner ruled.
Their mother, Molly Cheng, 23, drowned, and the man thought to be their father, Yee Lee, 27, died of a gunshot wound. The medical examiner ruled the manner of death to be suicide for both.
“Our hearts go out to the family, friends and community impacted by this terrible tragedy,” Undersheriff Mike Martin said in a written statement Tuesday. “The Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate the circumstances of this incident to provide clarity and closure to the surviving family members.”
Maplewood police were first called to a home in the city about 10:30 a.m. Friday after Cheng reported that her husband had shot himself. Police arranged for social workers to go to the home to help the family, the sheriff's office said.
Later that day, a relative called 911 and warned that Cheng might kill her children and herself, setting off a statewide alert to find the four, the sheriff's office said.
Officials tracked her cellphone to Vadnais-Sucker Lake Park, where they later found a vehicle and several pairs of children's shoes.
A search team combed the lake and the surrounding area and pulled Quadrillion Lee from the water about 7:30 p.m. Friday. Deputies attempted life-saving measures, but he was declared dead, the sheriff's office said.
Shortly after midnight, his brother's body was recovered from the lake.
The search was stopped until daylight, and around 10:40 a.m. Saturday, Cheng's body was recovered from the lake. About 20 minutes later, Estella Zoo Siab Lee's body was found in the lake.
The sheriff's office said it is investigating the deaths of the children and Cheng as a triple murder-suicide, and Maplewood police are investigating Yee Lee's death as a suicide.
Vadnais Lake is in Vadnais Heights, about 7 miles north of St. Paul and 9 miles northwest of Maplewood.