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Fiancee memorialized by bench, plaque

Friends and family gather on first anniversary of Lori Lindlief’s murder

Posted: August 15, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 15, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Austin Dingman places flowers beside the plaque of fiancee Lori Lindlief on Tuesday in the memorial garden in her honor near the center town in Agua Dulce on Tuesday.

In the shade of Agua Dulce’s rustic landmark water tower near the town’s long-standing hardware store is a monument of a different sort — a bench dedicated to the memory of Lori Lindlief on the anniversary of her death.

Lindlief, 55, was killed while walking her dogs Aug. 14, 2011. She was struck by a car near her Agua Dulce home on White Fox Lane.

Her neighbor, Dennis Keene, 64, is in custody awaiting trial on a murder charge, accused of being intoxicated and killing her with his car.

On Tuesday, the morning of that anniversary, Liedlief’s fiance, Austin Dingman, walked up to the newly-erected shrine and placed a bouquet of bright red and yellow flowers by his fiancee plaque.

“It’s a tough day,” he said.

For Dingman, a burly man of few words, the memorial triggers a painful chapter in his life.

He and Lindlief planned to live together for a year before they married in a place they both loved — a place big enough for horses and lots of clean air.

Agua Dulce was that perfect place, he said.

Excited about his future and his dream home, Dingman phoned his mother in Rochester, N.Y., and invited her to come out for a visit.

His mother agreed.

Two days after arriving, however, she died suddenly of a medical problem, he said.

“She died July 2” in 2011, Dingman said, arms folded on his chest.

He had to stop for a moment before continuing his story, the chin under his trimmed mustache quivering.

After his mother’s death, he and his fiancee set about building their future.

Lindlief, a devout animal lover, came to Bullwindkle’s Gifts and Antiques and fell in love with a stone bench carved with the image of a horse’s head.

Within a month, she too was dead, killed outside their home.

“This town was the biggest reason we moved up here,” Dingman said.

Dingman got down on one knee and moved his bouquet from the plaque’s inscription that read: “In loving memory of Lori Darlin’ Beloved Mother, Sister and Friend.”

When the memorial was unveiled two weeks ago, Dingman joined many of his fiancee’s friends and relatives for the ceremony.

One of her friends, Karen Ward, read from a note: “We sincerely hope that everyone will stop by and maybe sit a spell and reflect.

“We would hope that the message helps put things back in perspective in their own lives, but most of all we hope it will be a constant reminder to all: Never drink and drive.”

Friends and family are still reeling from the loss, said Shannon Schureman, another friend.

“It is always hard to lose someone you love,” she said. “But when that loss is senseless and unnecessary, you find yourself hopelessly searching to find some meaning to it all.”

Keene’s murder trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 11.



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