Driver in fatal crash accused of stalking victim’s wife
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?”