Church grieves slain member; cop to be arraigned
Posted by Nardy Baeza Bickel and John Tunison
The Grand Rapids Press
January 14, 2008 05:49AM
Categories: Breaking News, DeKleine case
HOLLAND -- As family and friends gather today to bury Lori DeKleine -- allegedly killed by her estranged police officer husband -- parishioners at their church struggled to understand.
"We loved them both so much," said Linda Bylsma, a member of Holland Heights Christian Reformed Church. "We are still in shock."
Today's services for Lori DeKleine will come as 13-year Holland police Officer Ken DeKleine is expected to be arraigned on an open murder charge. He has been in the Ottawa County Jail since his arrest Friday.
Sunday morning worship services at the church focused heavily on the tragedy as a counselor from Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services spoke to parishioners about their grief.
"We were just focusing on being a (church) family on Sunday," Bylsma said. "It was just a time of sharing."
Ken and Lori DeKleine were in the process of getting a divorce, and he moved out of the home almost a year ago. Lori DeKleine, 43, had a court order requiring her husband to stay a certain distance from the home, although a neighbor said he disobeyed it at least once.
Police were called to the residence, but state criminal records show Ken DeKleine, 44, was never charged with a violation.
Lori DeKleine worked on the church newsletter in the congregation office, and Ken DeKleine remained active in the church, even after the couple's separation.
"We want to be there for Lori's family, but we want to be there for Ken, too," she said. "And we know not everyone is going to be ready yet to be there for Ken.
"You can't even imagine something like this," she said.
Randy Johnson, Lakeshore services director for Pine Rest, said parishioners are trying to handle "some pretty intense emotions and thoughts.
"A lot of people are trying to cope with this by trying to make sense of it but, most of the time, there is no logic to this kind of tragic event," he said.
The DeKleine's two children, Bre and Christopher, are students at Holland Christian High School.
Holland Christian Schools Superintendent Glenn Vos said the school is preparing to deal with the loss in the long term.
Sunday night, counselors were to spend time with students in need of a familiar face, and additional crisis and counseling teams were to be at school today.
While the school has dealt with the loss of students and family members in the past, dealing with an act of alleged violence is different, he acknowledged.
"We do not have a lot of experience in this arena. By God's grace, it's not something we deal with often," he said.
"There is another layer of grief for kids. There's anger ... there's frustration and, I think, sometimes you have to deal with that differently.
"There's a potential trial, and there's all kinds of things," Vos said. "(This) is a long-term process, and we're trying to prepare ourselves to do that."
A neighbor of the DeKleines said Lori DeKleine "lived for her children." She served on the school's Theater Arts Patrons board.