Friends and family members mourned the loss of two West Sacramento sisters on Tuesday night. CBS Sacramento reports the girls aged 9 and 12, were found dying inside their father's car by his hand on New Year's Eve, police say.
At a candlelight vigil for Amy Hunter's children, Sophia and Sara, there were faces full of sorrow.
"Always remember the beautiful children," said the family's pastor speaking to the crowd.
People carried pain and tears filled the Subway parking lot off West Capitol Avenue. More than two dozen people held candles and consoled one another.
"It's just really a heart-wrenching event for us all," said Julie Jenkins. She is Hunter's boss at a West Sacramento child care center.
Police say Amy Hunter's ex-husband, Hamdy Rouin, killed himself and their two children inside his car on New Year's Eve.
"There is no other way around it. This was domestic violence," said Jenkins.
"We were aware that there was tension at times; that she was very careful of that," Jenkins continued. "She didn't rock the boat."
According to court documents, Hunter divorced Rouin in 2016 and had filed four restraining orders against him. He was due in court Tuesday morning for violating the most recent order.
"We can support it by making it known to other women who are in dangerous relationships and hoping that they will find safety for them and their children," said Jenkins.
"The children become the pawns of the situation," said Nilda Valmorse, who works with My Sister's House, a non-profit for abused women and children. (http://www.my-sisters-house.org/ )
She says the first step to identifying and stopping domestic violence is making a call to organizations like hers.
"Often times, the cycle of violence just gets worse, and situations get more dangerous," said Valmorse.
Many times, Valmorse says, the danger surrounds the most innocent.
"Sophia wanted to be a mathematician and work with NASA and travel the world," said Jenkins.
Described as sweet, kind, and hopeful kids, Sophia and Sara are now gone.
"They had big hopes and dreams," said Jenkins, "and we don't want to let those go away."
Friends and family have raised nearly $25,000 to help support Hunter.