Richland mother found dead, ex-boyfriend arrested

Tri-City HeraldSeptember 12, 2013 

— A 34-year-old Richland man turned himself in to police late Wednesday shortly after stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death with a steak knife, according to court documents.

Police found Rebeca Vandeventer, 32, with several stab wounds late Wednesday night inside her Richland apartment.

Her three children, ages 2, 4 and 8, arrived crying at a neighbor’s apartment at 11:30 p.m., saying they found their mother dead, said Richland police Capt. Mike Cobb.

As police were arriving at the apartment, Lawrence Arnold Miller, 34, walked into the lobby of the Richland police station on George Washington Way, court documents said.

Miller admitted to investigators he stabbed

Vandeventer with the knife and may have killed her, court documents said. Miller told police he was upset Vandeventer had a new boyfriend.

“That is not normal behavior for a homicide suspect,” Cobb said. “He admitted to the killing. He appeared to be quite calm and collected.”

It appears Miller and Vandeventer shared the apartment at the La Verde apartment complex on Dos Palos Court, Cobb said. Vandeventer’s three children are from a previous relationship.

Miller was booked at the Benton County jail at 5:20 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of second-degree murder.

He appeared in Benton County Superior Court later in the afternoon. A judge ruled there was enough evidence to hold him for 72 hours while prosecutors review the case.

The children, who were not hurt, were placed with members of their father’s family, Cobb said.

Cobb declined to say if the knife was found and no other information was released. An autopsy is scheduled for today.

Members of the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab collected evidence at the apartment into Thursday night.

Management at the La Verde complex issued a note to residents saying the safety of other residents never was in jeopardy. The note asked everyone at the complex to support each other and educate themselves about domestic violence.

Multiple Facebook pictures show Vandeventer and Miller smiling together with the three young boys. In Miller’s profile picture, he is crouched down hugging one of the boys.

Miller walked away from his job as a truck driver for Terry’s Dairy in Yakima about a month ago, said his former supervisor, who asked not to be named. The man said Miller was mild mannered while at work, though he talked often about problems with Vandeventer.

“It certainly affected his work,” his former supervisor said. “Customers on his route even talked about the problems he had at home.”

Miller worked for the dairy for a year and a half.

Vandeventer’s death is the third homicide in Richland in three months, Cobb said.

A 9-month-old girl, Serenity Reedy, was found dead in her crib June 4. Jose Luis Aguilar, 36, is charged with first-degree rape of a child and second-degree murder in her death.

Josh Snapp, 17, was found shot to death off a remote Richland road July 4. Two other teens, Joshua H. Hunt, 19, and John C.I. Young, 18, have been charged with first-degree murder.

“This type of violence all in one year is unprecedented,” Cobb said. “Two of them were domestic situations. It’s just extremely unfortunate.”

Vandeventer’s death was the 37th domestic violence-related homicide in the Tri-Cities since 1998, said Erinn Gailey, program director for Domestic Violence of Benton & Franklin Counties. The victims include women, men and children. While the statistic is staggering, most domestic violence cases do not end in a homicide, Gailey said.

Domestic Violence Services serves about 2,000 people in a year, she said. But the number of victims likely is much larger.

Nationwide, 1 in 4 women experience some form of intimate partner violence in their lifetime, she said.

“That’s pretty epidemic.”

Many victims are able to leave successfully when they have access to resources and support systems, Gailey said.

“One of the most dangerous times is when someone ends a relationship,” she said.

It’s important for everyone to know there is help and resources in the community for domestic violence. Most often, victims will turn first to a friend or family member rather than seeking help from a stranger, Gailey said.

The nonprofit offers resources for victims, as well as suggestions for friends and family about what they can say or do to help, she said.

w Reporter Kristi Pihl contributed to this report.

w Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; trichardson@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Ty_richardson

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