Philly day care holds vigil for children allegedly killed by mom

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An emotional vigil took place Friday night in a Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood, to remember the short lives of two children killed earlier this week, allegedly by their own mother. (WPVI)

An emotional vigil took place Friday night in a Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood, to remember the short lives of two children killed earlier this week, allegedly by their own mother.

"Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep," said Davida Martin-Hoggard.

Amidst the candles and children clutching colorful balloons, staff members and parents at Top Notch Tots prayed for 3-year-old Ariel and her 7-month-old brother St. Leo.

Those in attendance tried to make sense of what made absolutely no sense.

"It's devastating to know that a parent could do that to their child, children, both of them, I mean they were such sweet, innocent children," said Administrator Colleen Sweeney.

Forty-year-old Sophia Hines is accused by police in Miramar, Florida, of suffocating her children, Ariel and St. Leo. Police found them in the home of a relative and say she confessed to suffocating the children with a bed sheet.



"I couldn't imagine a mother taking her children's lives," said Martin-Hoggard.

The Fox Chase day care center is where the children had been cared for up until a hearing Master, designated by Family Court, determined in late April they could be placed back in the full custody of Sophia Hines and her husband of four months, Anthony Singleton, the biological father of St. Leo.

"You gave her a handful of cereal and she was the happiest kid you'll ever meet, like very grateful for everything she had," said Deborah Kuzowsky, teacher.

For parents, the most difficult part was trying to explain the tragedy to their kids.

"Our kids, they're friends with them, and my son has questions, he wants to know what happened and I don't even know what to say," said Kenicia Devore, parent. "It's just tragic."

On Friday evening, the children released balloons in memory of Ariel and St. Leo.

"May God rest their souls in Heaven," said Martin-Hoggard.

Hines' court hearing in Florida was abruptly cancelled Friday, her lawyer saying she is suffering from severe postpartum depression and is presently in a psychiatric ward.


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philadelphia newschild deathchild abusevigilNortheast Philadelphia
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