Slain wife feared officer, friend says
Sunday, January 13, 2008
By John Tunison and John Agar
The Grand Rapids Press
HOLLAND -- To neighbors and fellow officers, Holland police Officer Ken DeKleine was almost perfect -- polite, sociable, a devoted Christian and good at his job.
But to his estranged wife, he had become a threatening presence, a friend and neighbor of Lori DeKleine said.
"I know she was scared of him and didn't want him in the house," said Victoria Paauwe, devastated after learning late Thursday that Lori DeKleine, 43, was found dead in her basement.
She was so concerned she had a personal protection order against her husband, a 13-year respected police veteran now facing a murder charge in a slaying that has stunned the community.
The order was supposed to keep him away, although Paauwe remembered one instance when he came too close to the Calvin Avenue home and police were called to the scene.
"This is just mind-blowing," Paauwe said. "I think there had been some pushing and shoving, but I never thought it would come to this."
Ken DeKleine, 44, was the father of two teens with his wife. He was to be arraigned Monday on an open murder charge in Holland District Court.
The news shocked former colleagues, who knew DeKleine as an easygoing cop who could defuse tough situations.
"If somebody would have ever said, 'Is Ken DeKleine even capable of something like that?' I'd have bet him a million dollars, no way," retired Sgt. Mark Bos said. "It's tragic. It's a shame.
Now, we've got two teen-agers and no parents."
With 33 years in police work, Bos figured little could surprise him.
"I was just drained, unbelievable. This was just a tremendous shock." he said.
Lori DeKleine's body was discovered about 6:50 p.m. Thursday by her teenage son, Christopher, who called 911. Police investigated whether her death might be a suicide, but an autopsy and inconsistencies at the scene pointed at homicide.
Ken DeKleine was arrested late Friday. The cause of death was not released, and Ottawa County Medical Examiner David Start, who performed the autopsy, referred questions to police.
Relatives of the DeKleines were at the couple's home Saturday afternoon to collect clothes and other items for the children, Breanne and Christopher, both Holland Christian High School students.
The DeKleines' home is across from Holland Heights Christian Reformed Church, where Lori worked as publications editor and the couple still attended even while separated.
Family members declined comment.
A Holland Heights CRC elder said the congregation was in shock.
Brad Ward said both Lori and Ken were involved in youth and Sunday school programs.
"They were well-respected, a great family. There's a lot of grief right now," he said, asking the community to pray for the family.
Lori was a member of Focus Plus, a support group for attention-deficit disorder, served on the Holland Christian Schools Tuition Assistance Board and had been a teacher at Borculo Christian School.
Ken DeKleine moved out of the family's home sometime after December 2006, neighbor Victoria Paauwe said. She said she believed the personal protection order was issued the next summer.
"I don't think he wanted the divorce," said Paauwe, who also described Ken as a "nice guy" and the first person to greet her when she moved in 18 months ago.
Services for Lori DeKleine are 1 p.m. Monday at Holland Heights CRC, 836 E. Eighth St. Visitation is 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. today at the church.
Memorial contributions can be made to the DeKleine children's education fund.