Marlene Sosa Rubi Fajardo will be laid to rest today in San Mateo. Her husband of nearly 15 years her high school sweetheart remains in Stanislaus County jail on suspicion of her murder. Where their two young children will live is uncertain, but family members want to ensure that wherever it is, they are supported emotionally and financially.
"Marlene was willing to give her children the world, and now it is up to us to ensure that Junior and Sophie are still cared for," Sosa Fajardo's niece, Jazmin Sosa, wrote on a fund-raising page.
Sosa Fajardo, 30, was stabbed to death in her home on Santa Ana Avenue in the airport neighborhood on Aug. 28. Police arrested José Fajardo, 32, on suspicion of murder after his brother, who lived with the couple, called police to report the attack. A family friend last week said Sosa Fajardo recently told her husband she wanted a divorce. He is scheduled to appear in court later this month.
Sosa Fajardo and Fajardo were high school sweethearts and married when they were 16 and 18, Sosa said. Four years later they had their first child, Jose Jr., who goes by the name Junior, and later their daughter, Sophie.
The children, ages 9 and 5, were home when their mother was attacked, according to investigators, but did not see the attack.
After some time with Child Protective Services, the children are living with one of Fajardo's cousins, his wife and their children, Sosa said.
Junior, she said, is coping amazingly well and has been a source of support for his little sister.
Sosa and other family members took the children to Boomers on Sunday so they could have fun and maybe forget, however briefly, the tragedy weighing heavily on them.
Mother was devoted to her children
The children had to be accompanied by an adult to ride the go-karts, so Sophie was asked which relative she wanted to ride with.
"She said, 'I want to go with my mom, I want to go with my mom, I want to go with Mom' and just started crying," Sosa said. "Junior went to his sister and hugged her. He said, 'No Sophie, we can't see Mom anymore remember, but she is in here,' and put his hand on her heart."
Sosa Fajardo's children were her world, and though she worked as a telemarketer, it appeared as though she was a stay-at-home mom the way she was involved in their school and poured hours into designing and crafting by hand their birthday parties, Sosa said.
For Junior's last birthday, she drove to businesses around town looking for cardboard, then cut and painted it into characters from his favorite game, Minecraft. For Sophie, she made 100 tiaras out of pipe cleaners and daisies for a Rapunzel-themed party.
Sosa Fajardo loved arts and crafts and engaged the children in projects like painting picture frames or making clay sculptures.
She also extended her time and generosity to friends and neighbors.
"My aunt Marlene wasn't a rich person but what little she did have she always gave," Sosa said.
Sosa met a neighbor last week who told her that she had only just met Sosa Fajardo when she offered to throw her a baby shower when no one else would.
Sosa described her aunt as spunky, happy and outgoing.
"None of us saw this coming," she said. "José was always calm and nice."
Sosa didn't want to say more about Fajardo out of respect for his family. His family declined to comment about him or his charges at his first court appearance last week.
Sosa Fajardo's funeral services will be held today at 11 a.m. at Skylawn Funeral Home and Memorial Park in San Mateo. Those who attend are asked not to wear black but bright colors or pastels.
Those who wish to help the family can donate at www.gofundme.com/44wfgo. Sosa said any money not used to cover funeral expenses will be put in a trust for the children.
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209)578-2366. Follow her on Twitter, @ModestoBeeCrime