- Published: Thursday, 05 January 2006 16:00
- Written by The Skanner
A tight-knit community of Sudanese refugees has rallied around four children orphaned by what police have called a murder-suicide. The community is determined to help the youth through their grief. The King County sheriff's office believes James-Soka Wani, 34, stabbed Jesika Poni Wani, 33, in the chest on Dec. 12, then drove his car across the centerline of Highway 18 east of Maple Valley, ramming into a truck and colliding with another vehicle. Three of their children — Betty Wani, 17, and her two youngest brothers, Rudu, 6, and Emmanuel, 19 months — are staying with Margaret Nalonga, one of Jesika Wani's cousins. The fourth child, 14-year-old Samuel Wani, is living with family friends. A court commissioner has ruled they can stay where they are for the next month, while custody issues are sorted out. Nalonga has started the process of becoming a licensed foster parent to the children. "I don't want these children to be scattered," said Nalonga, who works with disabled children and in an assisted-living facility for the elderly. The Wanis' violent deaths have jolted people in the Seattle area's Southern Sudan refugee community, forcing them to deal with a kind of grief most have tried to put behind them since fleeing the war-ravaged African nation. Many showed up at a court hearing last week to determine where the children will live.