It’s an unthinkable crime: Police in West Sacramento are accusing a 33-year-old father, Robert Hodges, of murdering his three young children – all 11 and under – inside the family’s apartment.
Hodges’ wife, Mai Sheng Hodges – who fled the apartment in distress – had filled her Facebook page with now heartbreaking photos of the family and the children, including Mother’s Day notes from her daughter and pictures of the oldest children in Halloween costumes. In one photo, Robert and Mai Hodges and two of their children pose with a chalkboard that reads “family.”
The suspect is also known as Robert William Hodges. The children and their mother had not yet been officially identified on September 14, and their ages were not released yet by authorities. However, records and family members confirmed the mother’s name to the news media as Mai Sheng Hodges, and The Sacramento Bee reported the children may have been smothered.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Relative Said Everything in the Family Seemed ‘OK’ Before the Triple Murder
According to KCRA-TV, police confirmed that Hodges was married to the children’s mother but were not certain at first whether he was their father. However, CBS Local later reported that police believe Hodges was the children’s father.
A relative said they were married for “more than a dozen years” and added, “We don’t understand what happened, we really don’t. Everything appeared to be OK,” according to ABC News.
On Facebook, Mai posted photos of her children and family, including her husband. She also posted her daughter’s Mother’s Day notes to her.
A photo from a few months ago showed the two older children holding the newborn. Mai was pregnant with her third child in November 2016, according to photos posted on Facebook.
2. Hodges Went on the Run But Was Captured by Police
The children were slain inside the family’s apartment around 9 p.m. on Wednesday, September 13. Hodges was on the run, but he “was arrested hours later near I-80 in Sacramento,” according to KCRA.
“A California Highway Patrol officer pulled him over near Interstate 80 and West El Camino Avenue,” reported The Sacramento Bee.
3. Police Received a 911 Call About Domestic Violence Occurring Inside the Apartment & Found Mai Hysterical Outside
According to the Bee, Mai Hodges managed to dial 911 from inside the apartment, but, by the time police arrived, it was too late for the children.
“The initial 911 call came in as a domestic violence incident, and as police were on the way to the apartment, someone called 911 again to report the children were possibly dead,” according to KCRA.
Police found a hysterical Mai outside the apartment, and she begged them to go inside, according to Sacramento Bee. At first, police had said that Mai witnessed the murders, but now they say she was nearby outside.
4. Neighbors Say the Children May Have Been Smothered But Police Have Not Confirmed That
Authorities have not released any details yet of how the murders unfolded or what weapon was used to kill the children. According to The Sacramento Bee, “neighbors say Robert Hodges, 32, choked his wife until she ran out of their second-floor apartment, then smothered the children inside the home.”
This story will be updated as more information is released.
5. Police Tried to Save the Children But It was Too Late
Police did everything they could to save the lives of the children, but it was too late.
“Officers arrived and began life-saving measures, which were continued by firefighters when they arrived. The children were declared dead shortly after,” The Sacramento Bee reported.
Hodges did not have a significant criminal history and a neighbor said he seemed like a good father before the slayings, according to the newspaper.