Ceremony at Salt River honors mom and 2 children killed Christmas Day

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Police on Tuesday identified the suspect as Anthony Ross. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and 3TV/CBS 5) Police on Tuesday identified the suspect as Anthony Ross. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Family and friends of a slain mother and two children gathered at the Salt River on Saturday for a special ceremony. 

Iris Ross and her children, 10-month-old Anora and 11-year-old Nigel, were killed Christmas day.

[RELATED: Roommate on family killed Christmas day: 'I can't even comprehend it'?]

 Investigators say Iris’ estranged husband, Anthony Milan Ross, shot and killed the three at his apartment complex near 16th Street and Highland.

[RELATED: No bond for man accused of killing estranged wife, 2 children and shooting at officers]

Iris’ siblings say she enjoyed hiking at the Salt River to find peace and explore with her kids. Playing outside was something Iris enjoyed as a child.

“We had tremendous adventures and it built a lot of the character of who she is,” says Iris’ brother, Will Smith. “I'm glad she brought her kids here and I’m glad she continued it because it did a lot for us growing up.”

Despite the tears, family says there are many reasons to smile.

“Celebrate the fact that you got to meet Nigel and see him laugh,” says Iris’ sister, Mary Wogas.  “If you had a chance to look into that baby girl’s eyes and see them sparkle and see what a beautiful joyous child she was.”

[RELATED: Theatre mourns loss of young performer killed in Christmas Day tragedy]

Relatives say they don’t want to focus on the monster that took their lives.

“Even though she was taken from us, she's now in a better place and she's now at peace,” says Iris’ half-sister, Laura Sutherland.  “But I don’t want to see his face anymore.”

The family has started a GoFundMe for funeral expenses.

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