Police: Officer confessed
Ken DeKleine charged with open murder in wife's death
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Lori DeKleine's death was initially reported as a suicide, but investigators were already gathering evidence contrary to that as soon as they arrived, court records revealed Monday.
Although her death Thursday was reported within Holland, the investigation was quickly turned over to the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office because Lori DeKleine was married to veteran Holland police Officer Ken DeKleine.
On Friday, after DeKleine was informed of his right to remain silent, he admitted to investigators he had killed his 43-year-old wife, court records show.
DeKleine, 44, was arraigned Monday afternoon in Holland District Court on an open murder charge. He remains jailed without bond.
DeKleine told investigators on Friday that he had strangled his wife with a nylon strap in the kitchen at their home, according to court records. DeKleine then took his wife's body into the home's basement where he attempted to make her death appear a suicide, records show.
Those records show DeKleine gave the following description of events: DeKleine had surreptitiously got inside the house -- the two had been separated and he was living elsewhere -- where he waited until his two children had left and Lori was alone. DeKleine then went into the kitchen where he choked his wife with a nylon strap until she fell to the floor dead.
Although DeKleine attempted to make it appear that his wife had committed suicide, investigators found blood inside the house that they believe will turn out to be Ken DeKleine's, court records show.
"He claims that he was bitten on his lip by (Lori) prior to the homicide, and this was substantiated by six sutures on (his) lip that was noted during the investigation ... ," Lt. Mark Bennett told a magistrate Saturday when requesting a warrant to charge DeKleine.
After DeKleine was arrested Friday night, Holland Police Chief John Kruithoff said he called the entire department together to inform everyone.
"That was very, very difficult, very emotional," Kruithoff said Monday.
The department knew about the marital problems in the DeKleine family, as well as the personal protection order that was granted to Lori DeKleine Jan. 31, 2007, Kruithoff said.
The order said DeKleine was not allowed to contact his wife or to be near the house they once shared, Kruithoff said.
"Other than that there were no other conditions. He could do his job," Kruithoff said. "It's all up to the judge."
After Monday's arraignment, Thomas Elwood, who identified himself as a friend of Ken DeKleine's from Holland Heights Christian Reformed Church, said he felt compelled to attend because the allegations are so shocking.
"I was struck by the irony of it, because of how many people he's had to arrest," he said. "To have it turned around with him being there before the judge, I can't even understand how it happened."
Sentinel reporters Megan Schmidt and Andrea Goodell contributed to this report.