Sunday, January 13, 2008


Many wonder what went wrong
Police officer in custody for wife's death
Holland Sentinel News
Sunday, January 13, 2008
BY MEGAN SCHMIDT (616) 546-4279
Lori DeKleine had always been an active church member. Last Sunday, she went to services at Holland Heights Christian Reformed Church. So did her husband, Ken. They attended separately.
Ken DeKleine, a Holland police officer for 13 years, is now in the Ottawa County Jail, accused of killing Lori, 43, at her home Thursday on Calvin Avenue. His arraignment on open murder charges will be Monday at Holland District Court.
Neighbors and family are coping with the circumstances surrounding what one person called "a really nice couple."

"The family is going through a tremendous amount of shock and grief right now," said Brad Ward, an elder for the Holland Heights Christian Reformed Church and family spokesman.

Lori had been a part-time secretary for the church, in charge of putting together its newsletter.

The church, 836 E. Eighth St., is across the street from the DeKleine home.

Ward did not say where the DeKleines' two children were staying. Both children attend Holland Christian High School.

Principal Troy Stahl described Friday as "a difficult day."

He said a school-wide prayer was held Friday morning for the DeKleine family and that counselors are available for students and staff.

Lori had been a part of the high school's Theatre and Arts Program for several years, becoming its board president in the past year.

"She was very involved in anything her kids were involved with," Stahl said.

"She was someone who wanted to be a part of their lives."

Neighbor Craig Bouwman remembers watching the couple's two teenage children help Ken DeKleine carry boxes to a car parked across the street from the DeKleine home last summer.

It was the first sign that indicated to Bouwman that the DeKleines' marriage was in trouble, he said.

In August, Bouwman said he ran into Ken DeKleine at a campground on Lake Michigan Drive, where DeKleine confirmed that he and Lori were separated.

"He said him and Lori were no longer together," Bouwman said Saturday. "He was very quiet and somber about it."

Bouwman said that during his six years living on the corner of Calvin Avenue and East Eighth Street, he had known the DeKleines to be "a really nice couple."

Ken DeKleine was the first person to welcome him to the neighborhood when he first moved in, Bouwman recalled.

But something changed in the relationship after DeKleine returned from a 2005 stint as an international police liaison officer in Iraq.

"I think when he came back from Iraq, things fell apart," he said.

A former member of the National Guard, DeKleine graduated from officer training and became a 2nd lieutenant before he resigned from the Guard in 1994 to become a police officer.

In an April 2007 interview with The Sentinel, DeKleine said he had gained a deeper appreciation for the United States and that the hardest part about being in Iraq was the separation from his wife and children.

Jerry Vandenberg, who lives several houses down from the DeKleine home, was surprised to see half a dozen police cars outside the DeKleine home Thursday night.

"They were there until I went to sleep at 1 a.m.," he said. "The next day, I saw state police parked outside and everything was lit up with spotlights in the garage."

A few who saw DeKleine regularly said they had not seen any indication that he was upset.
Chris Robinson, owner of Washington Avenue Minit Mart, 434 Washington Ave., said DeKleine would come into the convenience store about once a week on duty just to see how things were going, he said.

"He'd talk to us for at least 20, 30 minutes each time," Robinson said Saturday. "He didn't seem like anything was bothering him."

Cashier Becky McConville said she had never seen DeKleine in a bad mood during any of his visits to the store and that she frequently talked with him about her children.

A memorial service for Lori DeKleine is 1 p.m. Monday at Holland Heights Christian Reformed Church.

Visitation is 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. today at the church.

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