‘He’s definitely a hero in our eyes’: Small town of Olivia mourns loss of 13-year old boy

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In the small town of Olivia, about 90 minutes west of the Twin Cities, Grace Community Church was filled with an outpouring of love.  

There were hugs and tears, and many brought flowers, at a vigil for 13-year old Isaac Hoff.

“I’m a little bit in shock, I’m a little sad because Isaac was a great friend,” said Olivia Babler, a classmate of Hoff, adding, “he was a loving kid, and he deserved so much better.”

Isaac was fatally stabbed Thursday morning, during a domestic incident between his mother and the man she was living with.  

He died later at the hospital.

Family members identified Isaac as the homicide victim Friday.

“How do you explain a tragic loss of life? That’s usually a question that will come later,” said Henry Meyers, the church pastor. “It’s just a tragic loss when it’s a young person like this and it’s a violent crime. At this point, you just say we mourn with those who mourn.”

Court documents say it was Hoff who called 911 just before 6 a.m. March 24, saying he had been stabbed.

RELATED: Olivia man charged with murder of 13-year-old boy, attempted murder of his mother

According to court records, Hoff’s mother told police she got into an argument with Houston Allen Morris, 38, with whom she was in a relationship. That argument escalated into Morris allegedly strangling her. She tried to defend herself with a knife, but Morris was able to take the knife away, the complaint says.

Morris allegedly lunged toward her with the knife, but missed her and stabbed Hoff in the chest instead, according to court records.

Isaac’s aunt,  Holly Weidauer, said he was trying to protect his mom.

“A lot of hurt and anger. Why?… a lot.” Weidauer told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. “He fought to save his mom and my  sister. He died way too young, [and] nobody should have to die that way.”

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is not identifying Isaac’s mother, as she is a victim of domestic violence.

Betty Requenana, his aunt, said there were red flags about the relationship.

“My sister would have never thought this was going to be an outcome, never thought it would go to this extent,” Requenana stated, adding, “there were warnings, we should have done more.”

Morris appeared in court Friday. He faces murder and attempted murder charges. At last check, Morris is in custody at the Renville County Jail.

Outside the church, Isaac’s friends left messages of love.

“We will miss you forever,” said one.

Another had his name, with a heart drawn around it.

Pastor Meyers says he and a crisis response team will provide counseling for any teens who need it.

He says Isaac was in the church youth group and was an uplifting presence there.

“(He) was always smiling and he was such a good friend to his friends,” he says. “That’s why I miss my favorite thing, he was always smiling.”

Isaacs’s family members say they want to educate the community about domestic violence and mental awareness.

“I’m very happy to see people are here to celebrate the life of my nephew because he was a good child,” Requena says. “We’re sorry we didn’t do more Isaac, and we will make your voice heard.”   

Olivia says her friend was courageous.  

“He was such a brave person, and to be able to protect your mom and put her first at thirteen, I think is amazing, and I think he was a hero,” she says.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help fund a memorial for Hoff.

If you or a loved one is the victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help, 800-799-7233.