Mourners bundled in dark winter jackets passed three white hearses as they streamed into a Four Hills church on a dreary Monday afternoon for a funeral memorializing three children who were shot and killed at their nearby home last month.
Just after 1 p.m., dark wooden caskets carrying the bodies of Elijah, Olivia and Ian Mascarenas were arranged in a long line and moved into the Believers Center, where hundreds gathered for the siblings’ memorial service.
The children, ages 5, 6 and 9, were killed and their mother critically wounded in the family’s Four Hills home less than two miles from the church. The shooter, George Daniel Wechsler, who was the mother’s ex-boyfriend, then killed himself.
Mothers and fathers held their own children’s hands as they led them into the hourlong service. Cars packed the church’s parking lot and lined a nearby street.
Afterward, two motorcycle police led a lengthy procession. Several drivers wiped their eyes as they drove slowly from the church to the Fairview Memorial Park for the burial.
Media, asked by the family not to attend the public service, parked on the shoulder of Highway 333 to film and photograph the event from afar.
An obituary for the Mascarenas trio described bright children who were loved tremendously by active, doting parents. Ian and his father were taking guitar lessons together. Olivia often helped her mother in the kitchen and loved to cook breakfast. Elijah was described as “the best giver of hugs.”
Though their parents, Cheryl and Joshua Mascarenas, divorced in 2015, a statement they released shortly after the killings explained that they “have always been a family” and were raising their children together, and both stayed involved in their daily activities.
Ian Mascarenas, 9, was an avid reader who loved baseball. He read multiple books at a time, but could always describe each one’s story line. He and his father cheered on the Lobos.
Olivia Mascarenas, 6, was creative and curious. Her obituary said she taught herself to craft and cook by watching videos on YouTube. She left behind drawings and paintings.
Elijah Mascarenas, 5, was a baseball star in the making who had a hearty laugh and a love for cheesy jokes. He was growing his hair out to donate to Locks of Love. Photos show his reddish hair grown halfway to his shoulders.
The three attended Manzano Mesa Elementary, where they were in fourth grade, first grade and kindergarten.
According to police, Cheryl Mascarenas had recently ended her brief relationship with the 45-year-old Wechsler – a man with a history of stalking, harassing and threatening women – when he broke into her home on Stagecoach SE and waited for her to return with her children. He then shot all four, killing the three siblings and critically wounding their mother before fatally shooting himself.
Police said Cheryl Mascarenas did everything she could to try to save her children. One died at the scene and the other two died either in the hospital or as they were being transported.