A baby just learning to say “mama,” a boy who loved sharks and a little girl with a passion for writing will be laid to rest during a public memorial service and funeral this weekend, weeks after allegedly being killed by their father in a vicious triple homicide that has left their West Sacramento community in shock.
Kelvin Kheng Hodges, 11, Julia KaoChong Hodges, 9, and Lucas Kong Hodges, 7 months, allegedly were killed by their father Robert Hodges on Sept. 13 after Hodges allegedly tried to choke his wife, Mai Sheng Hodges, who has since switched to using the name Mai ShengVang, during a domestic violence assault.
Hodges has been charged with three counts of murder with special circumstances and attempted murder that make him eligible for the death penalty, though Yolo County prosecutors have not said if they will pursue that sentence. Hodges remains in Yolo County jail without bail.
The services will be lead by Pastor Micah Moreno of Southport Church, a Church of the Nazarene congregation. Moreno said that the Hodges family was not a part of his church, but he met Vang as a result of the deaths.
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Moreno’s wife, Jessica, began a GoFundMe campaign for Vang in the days after the killings, raising more than $34,000 as of Wednesday. The Morenos have two daughters who attend the same school as the elder Hodges children did, Southport Elementary, the pastor said.
Through the relationship Jessica Moreno formed with Sheng Vang, the grieving mother asked if the church would help her with the memorial, he said.
“So it just worked out for us to know them and serve them throughout this ordeal,” said Moreno. “Mai Sheng ... should be really commended for how brave she is able to allow this to be a public event. It’s remarkable she is willing to let the community grieve with her as a family.”
Moreno said Vang felt “a sense of gratitude to the community for how much it has responded to support and care for her and so she feels it is the least she can do to open it up for community members, classmates, other parents to grieve with her.”
Moreno said that the closed casket event would have prayer, scripture reading and eulogies from himself and family members. West Sacramento Councilwoman Quirina Orozco, Washington Unified School Board member Jackie Thu-Huong Wong and Southport Elementary principal Matt Ainsworth will also speak, said Moreno.
“My purpose and direction in this is to allow people the space to acknowledge grief,” said Moreno of what he hoped the public service would provide. “One thing I am going to say is to ... encourage her to know we are going to be with her in the long haul in the process of grieving.”
The memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at the River Cities Funeral Chapel at 910 Soule St., West Sacramento, 95691. The burial will be held Sunday at noon at the East Lawn Sierra Hills Memorial Park, 5757 Greenback Lane, Sacramento.
The chapel for the memorial only holds 250, said Moreno, but extra seating may be available outside.
In addition to Vang, an obituary said the children are survived by their grandparents Rob, Lizzy, Mai, and Chee, as well as “aunts, uncles, and countless friends.”
Memorial donations may be made in any Bank of America to the account named “Julie, Kelvin, and Lucas Memorial Fund” (#3250-9378-3747) or at: www.gofundme.com/supporting-mother-of-3-in-tragedy.