Have you ever received news that you didn’t expect, then when you were told, felt totally shocked, upset and devastated? This is what happened to me on Monday, July 20th.
I’ve been buying cars from a small dealer in Dover for about 10+ years. I’ve always felt that Keith, the man who owns the sales and service shop on a backstreet in Dover is the most honest car dealer I’ve ever had the pleasure to deal with.
I originally met Keith in the early 2000’s when I went to him to buy parts for my 1993 Miata. While there one day, I found a 2001 Miata on his lot. Being the non-mechanical kind of a guy I am, I got the keys from him, sat in the car, started it up and turned on the factory Bose stereo radio/cd player….and was sold! That’s all it took, a cool car with an awesome sound system.
Since then, I’ve traded the Miata for a 2006 Mercedes SLK280 (convertible/hardtop combo) that Keith was working on. It’s kind of like a Miata on steroids! I’ve also purchased two Mercury SUV’s and two cars for my daughter from Keith.
Keith had a wonderful young lady who managed the office for his garage, greeting customers with a friendly smile, always cheerful. Her name was Laurie and she had the kind of personality that could brighten anyone’s day. Based on her personality at work, I can’t imagine many people knew the kind of Hell she was going through at home with her common-law husband, I didn’t have a clue.
On May 17, 2015 I published a blog titled “Stop Child Abuse”, listing a link at the end of the article for several organizations to contact if the reader suspected a child abuse situation. Little did I know that less than two weeks later, on May 29th, my friend Laurie would lose her life as a result of domestic violence.
On Friday, July 17th I was careless when hooking up my trailer to my SUV and sustained some damage to the back of my vehicle. So, the first thing I did was placed, not one, but several calls to Laurie to see if she could help me find the parts I needed to repair the damage. I was surprised when she didn’t call me back, something she always did. On Monday, I got a call from Bob at the shop where Laurie worked informing me that one of the victims in that tragic double-murder/suicide I read about in the newspaper at the end of May was my friend Laurie.
I didn’t know Laurie’s last name, so it didn’t click with me that she was the victim (along with her friend Barbara Schrum) of the senseless murder that I heard and read about.
Laurie loved animals, especially her cats! I remember talking with her at the garage one day after she left her abuser this past winter, and she told me she took only one cat with her when she moved out of her home because that’s all she could have in her new apartment. At the time, Laurie told me she was concerned about the cats she had to leave behind because, even though they were domesticated house cats, her abuser (I refuse to use his name!) threw the cats outside in the cold winter weather to fend for themselves after she left.
Tracy Chapman – Behind the Wall (Live 1988)
I’m still upset after learning that it was Laurie who lost her life and I’m having trouble dealing with it. She was so kind and caring to everyone she met! But something I read in the paper really disturbs me. According an article in the newspaper, “Laurie Kepner called several different law enforcement agencies, asking that an officer accompany her to the home while she retrieved her belongings. But she couldn’t get anybody to go with her.” I realize police officers are busy, but when it comes to issues involving a history of domestic violence, I would hope there would be some priority given or resource available to help women in such a dangerous situation.
Several years ago I served on the board of directors of a child advocacy organization in York County. I heard “rumors” about a group of bad-ass bikers in Adams County that volunteered to accompany women to their former residence to safely collect their belongings. I don’t know if this was true or not, but if law enforcement officers are too busy, I see a need for this service today.
Here’s a link to an article that was published in the York Dispatch by Liz Evans Scolforo on June 3rd, just a few days after Laurie’s death. This will give you better insight into the life of this wonderful woman that was taken so senselessly. The story about Stardust will touch your heart.
Nickelback, “Never Again” (2001)
Although my blog is generally centered on music, I wanted to dedicate this particular column to remember the life of Laurie Ann (Kuykendall) Kepner, and to encourage others involved in domestic violence situations to seek help before it’s too late.
Here is a list of organizations in York County for victims of domestic violence, organizations that you may be interested in supporting financially or becoming a volunteer.
York County SPCA – Many times victims of domestic abuse will not leave their home because they can’t take their pet along with them to a temporary “safe” shelter, and they fear what will happen to their pet if they leave it behind. The York County SPCA has a “safe pet” program to help these individuals with temporary boarding for their pet while they are in transition to a permanently safe situation.
Maybe that biker protection gang isn’t such a bad idea?