Nhi Nguyen, 11, had just started at her first school in the United States. She didn’t speak English, but could understand everything, and she hated missing days when her mom and stepdad were arguing, according to a family friend.

Last weekend, her new life was cut short.

She was found shot to death, along with her 39-year-old mother, Cam Thi To, in their Northwest Albuquerque apartment Sunday.

Police believe To’s new husband, 45-year-old Trinh Tran Van, shot and killed them before killing himself.

Friends of the family and police say he had a history of abusing her.

To met Van while she was still living in Vietnam and he lived in the U.S. She wanted a better life for herself and her daughter, according to family friend Thu Doan.

To knew Doan’s mother from their village in Vietnam and, when she moved to Albuquerque, she began working in the woman’s nail salon in Grants. She worked seven days a week, commuting from Albuquerque, and sent a regular stream of money back to her family in Vietnam…

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