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Daughter raises siblings after parents’ murder-suicide: ‘I’m glad I got the children out, so they didn’t see it’

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Five children and a 10-month-old baby boy were left without parents and grandparents after a murder-suicide on Aug. 14.

"It's hard on all of us, but I just remind them, 'Mommy and Daddy are in heaven,' and, 'Pray to them,'" said Adrianne Smith.

On the morning of Aug. 14, Smith, 23, walked into a scene forever scarred in her memory.

"It replays in your head, but I'm glad I got there in time to get the children out of the house so they didn't see it," said Smith.

Smith's stepfather, Jeremaia Digitaki, 54, had killed his wife, Adrianne's mother, Edith Digitaki, 43, before trying to take his own life.

"I actually got a call from him," she recalled. "I could hear it was urgent. He told me to come home."

Digitaki children

On the day before his own birthday, her stepfather phoned her at work after he killed her mother. The couple's two young children and Smith's 10-month-old baby boy were in the home when the murder-suicide was occurring.

Just before 9 a.m., officers arrived at the home in the 500 block of Bound Brook Court for a report of a cardiac arrest. When officers arrived, they found Edith dead and Jeremaia suffering from life-threatening injuries.

Smith was the one who called 911. She told first responders their throats were cut.

"If the children were to see what I saw, I don't think any therapy would help them cope with that," Smith stated.

Smith and her four siblings -- two who live out of town -- were left without parents. The couple's youngest children are 10 and 7.

"My mother brought me up to be so strong, even through the hardest times in life," said Smith. "To take what you have and basically work with it -- figure out what you need to do."

Smith said the couple immigrated from Fiji about 20 years ago for a better life. Four years ago, they married, and the entire family was living under one roof, where she saw no signs of distress.

"With my stepfather, even with this tragedy, he had the most gentle soul I have ever known," she said. "My mother had a smile that could just brighten up the world, laughter you could hear from across the seas. She was full of life."

For now, Smith said her focus is solely on her younger siblings she must raise along with her own baby.

"We can be sad," she said. "Our hearts can hurt together, but keep our heads up at the same time."

Smith started a GoFundMe account to help with expenses for the children, including moving them out of the house where the tragedy occurred, and funeral expenses.

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