A woman in New Hampshire escalated a years-long argument with her neighbors by striking the married couple with her vehicle, killing the husband, police say.
Stephen and Erin VanDalinda were attempting to move out of the area, where they felt harassed by neighbor Catrina Costello, who had previously threatened the couple, according to The Boston Globe.
The VanDalindas lived on the block for about two decades, facing continued antagonism from Costello since 2016, spurred by an argument over their dogs.
Neighbor Colby Johnston said the couple had looked forward to getting away from Seabrook.
“They were so happy about it. Just relieved that things had fallen into place, that they were getting away from all of this,” Johnston said to The Boston Globe. “I don’t think they wanted to leave the neighborhood. But they had to, for their own safety.”
On August 29 at around 6:20 p.m., an intoxicated Costello allegedly plowed into the couple while they walked their dog. Stephen and the dog were killed in the incident.
Erin was seriously injured, suffering a broken femur, a fractured tibia, a collapsed lung, and broken ribs from the alleged attack.
Costello then attempted to flee the scene after parking her car at her home, cops said.
Stephen's death was later determined to be a homicide caused by blunt trauma to his head and body.
Costello was charged with second-degree murder on August 30 and waived her arraignment the same day. She is being held without bail on charges related to the crash, including second-degree assault, drunken driving, leaving the scene of a crash resulting in serious bodily injury, and violating a protective order that required her to stay away from Erin VanDalinda and her family, court records show.
The people of Seabrook were horrified by the fatal altercation.
“It doesn’t make any sense how the tragedy happened this way,” said Aboul Khan, a neighbor, to The Boston Globe. “We are praying that Erin gets better and hopefully she’ll make it, but everybody’s devastated.”
Marilyn Johnston, another neighbor, was also in disbelief.
“They are just wonderful people, great friends,” said Johnston to The New York Post. “We’re devastated. This is the safest, nicest neighborhood that I have ever lived in. It’s just so sad.”
Court records from a restraining order filed against Costello show the harassment the VanDalindas faced.
“I am in fear of my safety and my family’s safety due to Ms. Costello’s erratic, aggressive, accusatory, frightful and threatening behavior,” Erin VanDalinda wrote in the September 2017 court filing, according to The Boston Herald.
Costello has pleaded not guilty to the charges, accordingto The Boston Globe. She has not offered a comment on the case.
[Photo: New Hampshire Attorney General's Office]