Ge Vue described his mother, Kia Lee Vue, as a woman who put the welfare of others before her own and who delighted in the accomplishments of her children and grandchildren.
Thursday evening, Vue’s large family gathered in the 4300 block of Norwood Avenue in Sacramento’s Robla neighborhood, across from the apartment complex where the 77-year-old woman was found strangled one year ago. They hope the vigil will encourage someone to come forward with information that could help police solve the case.
“We want to ask the community to help us find the person or people who took my mother’s life,” said Ge Vue. “We don’t want this to happen to any other older person, or anyone else’s parent or grandparent.”
Police were called to Willow Tree apartment complex shortly after 8 p.m. Oct. 3, 2012. Family members, concerned that they had not heard from Kia Vue for about a day, had gone to her apartment to check on her and found her dead. She had been strangled and beaten about the head.
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Police have released little information about the investigation during the past year, and Ge Vue said he could not discuss what police have told him about the case.
Ge Vue said his parents came to the United States from Laos in 1979, when he was 7 years old, and initially settled in Iowa. They moved to Sacramento in 1984 because they had relatives in the area. The weather also was an attraction, he said, noting that the Sacramento climate was more like that of Laos.
Neither of his parents had a formal education, but they wanted their children to be well educated, Ge Vue said. His father worked in production for a tractor manufacturer, and his mother was a homemaker. His father died 20 years ago, but his mother devoted herself to encouraging her children and grandchildren to succeed in school and to pursue a higher education. The mother of eight children, Kia Vue had a total of 95 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren at the time of her death, her son said. Ge Vue ticked off the list of family members who, much to Kia Vue’s delight, have earned degrees at American River College, California State University, Sacramento and UC Berkeley.
Family members gathered solemnly Thursday night holding candles in red cups to shield the flames from the wind. On the ground, a row of white votive candles illuminated a photograph of a laughing Kia Vue as the song “I Will Remember You” played in the background. Pahua Vue recalled her grandmother as a woman who was always happy, smiling and laughing.
“She never raised her voice,” Pahua Vue said. “She always helped those that were in need.”
Ge Vue noted that his nephew posted a video commemorating Kia Vue’s life on YouTube. In scene after scene, it shows a smiling, diminutive woman surrounded by people young and old, celebrating at graduations, cultural events and holding balloons wishing her a happy Mother’s Day.
“She was very independent,” Ge Vue said, noting that his mother lived alone. But she was also outgoing and eager to help others.
“She was a mother that I think a majority of people would want,” Ge Vue said. “She made other people her priority. She liked to go out and talk to people.”
As the vigil concluded, he urged those gathered to “make your family a priority just like Grandma made us a priority. Think of your family first. Show your kids that you are great like Grandma.”
Sacramento police officials say they hope media attention generated by the vigil will bring new information. They urged anyone with information to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357 or the Hmong Crime Tip Line at (916) 808-4666, or text a tip to 274637. Enter SACTIP followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous.
Family members said a $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest an conviction of those responsible for Kia Vue’s death.