WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A seed of hope was planted Saturday at a West Sacramento mosque to remember two souls taken far too soon.
The mother of two girls, 12-year-old Sophia and 7-year-old Sara, who were killed in 2017 wants the tree to be a reminder for all the good her daughters did in the world.
“It’s my job to carry on their fight,” Amy Hunter said. “A lot of people saw it as a tragic accident — but it wasn’t an accident”
Four years ago the girls were found dead inside a car in West Sacramento, along with with their 47-year-old father. Police said it was a murder-suicide.
“Killing them was an act of revenge for me divorcing him and that should not be allowed to happen,” Hunter said. “If they can conceive those threats, then they can carry them out.”
Hunter described the relationship as abusive and was on the receiving-end of several threats. She said this was preventable and more needs to be done within the families court system to improve safety for the children.
“Because I couldn’t prove it, he still had access to them,” Hunter said. “Even when they were upset and even when they didn’t want to go to him.”
The tree being planted at the Masjid Aisha mosque Saturday night, an Adriatic fig tree, is meant to be a symbol of hope another family in an abusive relationship never goes through the same thing.
Tina Swithin is the creator of November is Family Court Awareness Month. She adds over 800 children have lost their lives and these situations were preventable. Having gone through a 10-year custody battle herself, Swithin said this will only change with the help from elected leaders.
“Myself and Amy both were so naïve, walking into the family court and just believing that child safety would be prioritized because that’s common sense,” Swithin said. “But that is not what is happening.”
Eight states and over 200 counties and cities, now including West Sacramento, are recognizing Family Court Awareness Month, with this year’s goal focusing on starting conversations between survivors and elected officials.
“It does take a city and all agencies to be aware of the history of domestic violence that when a mother is asking for help that they be responsive, said West Sacramento Mayor Martha Guerrero.
To some, it may look like a regular tree, but for Hunter, it’s a reminder of why she is carrying-on the fight.
“Not allowing what happened to them to go in vain,” Hunter said. “This is to remember all the good they did in the world.”
Hunter and Swithin said they encourage people to reach out to their local elected officials to get this topic on their radar, and to prevent another tragedy. They hope to continue the efforts beyond the month of November.
They also said if someone tells you they have been abused, believe them.