WEST SACRAMENTO -- A dark parking lot in West Sacramento was the designated drop off point in a shared custody arrangement.
It's where, this New Year's Eve, a father brought his two young daughters back to their mother, so she could seem them for the last time.
"She found them here, in this parking lot, when they were supposed to switch for visitation," said Gabriella Silva.
Silva's cousins, 9-year-old Sophia and 12-year-old Sara, were dead inside their father's car. West Sacramento police believe Hamdy Rouin killed the girls and then himself.
“Why? He was crazy! I have heard him, probably hundreds of thousands of times threaten to kill her, threaten to kill the children,” Silva said.
Silva says she drove from Los Angeles to Sacramento five years ago to try to get the girls and their mother away from their unstable father.
"They came and stayed with me one summer. During that time, he threatened my life on more than one occasion,” Silva said.
She says they've been divorced since then, but have fought over custody ever since.
She said that her cousin Amy reported all those threats to the courts to no avail.
"Judges telling her she couldn’t keep the kids down in L.A. She had to bring them back up here or she would be arrested," she said.
Amy's co-workers all knew about the troubled relationship, too.
“Amy was very careful to follow every rule and to never rock the boat and ... it didn’t matter,” said Amy's friend Julie Jenkins.
Loved ones released doves, lit candles and cried for Sophia and Sara on Tuesday.
"They had big plans, and so it’s important for us to remember that,” Jenkins said.
Remember that these girls had big hearts and bright futures. These sisters fed the homeless and they donated to animal shelters. Sophia wanted to be a scientist and travel the world. Sara wanted to be a mathematician for NASA.
Remember them, separate from their father and this parking lot.
"For their mom," Jenkins said.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the girls' mother pay for funeral costs.