Driver in fa­tal ac­cused of stalk­ing vic­tim’s wife

Ripon Bulletin - - Local -

SEABROOK, N.H. (AP) — Some­times Ca­t­rina Costello would al­legedly yell ob­scen­i­ties and stare at Stephen VanDalinda and his wife, Erin. Other times she would shine a green laser beam to­ward them or threaten them with her two pit bills.

The feud be­tween the two fam­i­lies, ac­cord­ing to neigh­bors and court records, goes back sev­eral years. It came to head Wed­nes­day night when Costello al­legedly ran the cou­ple down as they walked their dog on a quiet, two-lane street near their house.

Sixty-four-year-old Stephen VanDalinda, and his 61-year-old wife, Erin, were hit just af­ter 6 p.m. in Seabrook, a town of about 9,000 near the Mas­sachusetts bor­der. Stephen VanDalinda died and his wife is hos­pi­tal­ized with se­ri­ous in­juries. Their Ger­man Shep­herd died from its in­juries.

Au­thor­i­ties said Costello, 38, was driv­ing drunk when she hit the cou­ple and then left the scene. She was charged Thurs­day with reck­less sec­ond-de­gree mur­der and faces sev­eral other charges in­clud­ing ag­gra­vated driv­ing while in­tox­i­cated and vi­o­la­tion of a stalk­ing or­der of pro­tec­tion. The Portsmouth Her­ald re­ported she waived her Thurs­day ar­raign­ment and did not ap­pear at Rock­ing­ham Su­pe­rior Court. She is be­ing held with­out bail.

Neigh­bors, who planned to hold a vigil in front of the VanDalin­das house Thurs­day night, said the cou­ple was ter­ri­fied of Costello over her re­peated threats against them. Things had got­ten so bad, neigh­bors said, that the VanDalin­das put their home up for sale and were plan­ning to move in Oc­to­ber.

“That lady scared them. She had a lot of be­hav­iors that made them un­com­fort­able,” said Mar­i­lyn John­ston, who lives three houses down from the cou­ple and re­called a re­cent din­ner in which the VanDalin­das ex­pressed ex­cite­ment about mov­ing into their new home in a ru­ral New Hamp­shire town.

Last year, a dis­trict court in Seabrook is­sued a pro­tec­tive or­der in which Costello was sup­posed to stay away from Erin VanDalinda for a year. In the doc­u­ment re­viewed by The As­so­ci­ated Press, Erin VanDalinda al­leged she had been threat­ened by Costello four times over a five-month period in 2017 and that Costello had tres­passed on their prop­erty.

In the doc­u­ment, Erin VanDalinda paints a ter­ri­fy­ing pic­ture of a neigh­bor who seemed ob­sessed with ha­rass­ing them. She de­tailed how Costello would rou­tinely charge up to them to pro­voke a con­fronta­tion, stare at them men­ac­ingly or re­peat­edly yell threats and ob­scen­i­ties. Po­lice of­ten were called over her ac­tions, ac­cord­ing to the or­der.

It was un­clear ex­actly what Costello was up­set about Wed­nes­day, though neigh­bors said the two clashed over Costello’s pit bulls that once had mauled their dog and bit Steven VanDalinda in the arm. The two fam­i­lies had lived next door to one an­other for at least five years.

On Thurs­day, there was lit­tle ev­i­dence of the tragedy at the ac­ci­dent scene — ex­cept for a small me­mo­rial with two burn­ing flames. The crash oc­curred on the front lawn of Mike Rabideau, a close friend of the VanDalin­das who of­ten would talk to the cou­ple about their plans to re­tire, their three chil­dren and Steven VanDalinda’s pas­sion for brew­ing beer.

“They felt safe be­ing in front of my house, and then boom,” he said, as he worked on the me­mo­rial. “I’ve never seen that woman be­fore, and then she comes scream­ing down the street. If that wasn’t in­ten­tional, then what was it?”

Like a lot of the neigh­bors, Seabrook Town Select­man and State Rep. Aboul Khan said he was well aware of the dis­pute. But he never ex­pected it to go this far and was still try­ing to un­der­stand how some­thing like this could hap­pen in a tightknit neigh­bor­hood.

“I could not be­lieve it,” he said. “Why would she do this kind of heinous thing to such nice peo­ple?”

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