‘I will never stop missing them’: Heartbroken mom speaks at memorial service for her three children strangled by their father

Mourners gathered Saturday to remember three children from West Sacramento who were brutally murdered by their father last month.

Robert Hodges, 32, murdered his three children – -Kelvin Hodges, 11; Julie Hodges, 9; and Lucas Hodges, 7 months old — after choking his wife, Mai Sheng Vang, 30. The mother was able to get away and call police, but it was too late.

According to the Sacramento Bee, first responders arriving on the scene unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate the children; they were later pronounced dead. The father was tracked down and arrested for the brutal crime. He remains behind bars without bail, and is charged with the alleged attempted murder of his wife and three counts of murder with “special circumstances,” making him eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors allege he used a belt to strangle the two older children, but investigators have not released a cause of death for baby Lucas.

Vang spoke at her children’s memorial service of how her life would never be the same, The Sacramento Bee reports.

“I will never stop missing them. I will never live a day in my life without my heart yearning for them and breaking at their loss. But I know I’m honored to be their mother, and have them in my soul and life, and I will carry them with me for the rest of my days.”

Over 230 people reportedly came to honor the lives of the three children. The elementary school that Kelvin and Julie attended, Southport Elementary, made ribbons with trio’s initials on them and handed them out for people to wear.

Family members pinned these ribbons onto the lapels of the six police officers and fire fighters who responded to Vang’s domestic violence call the night her children were murdered. Vang told them she knows that they “share my nightmare of that night, and I pray for you and I think of you.”

Teachers and administrators from Southport Elementary spoke of Kelvin’s infectious enthusiasm and Julie’s caring spirit for everyone around her. Kelvin’s fourth grade teacher, Marty Elliott, said the 11-year-old “stole our hearts.” Matt Ainsworth, principal at Southport Elementary, described a dodge ball game last year in which Julie ran around, taking hits for her classmates.

“She was kicking the ball. She was jumping in front of it. She said, ‘I don’t want anybody on my team to get out’… She just wanted to make sure her teammates were safe.”

An obituary said 7-month-old Lucas “was just learning to say, ‘Mama,’ crawl and eat his favorite food, apples.”

[Feature photo: Yolo County Jail]