When Samantha Dean was a child, her mother, Kimberly, exposed her to the beauty of life through travel, music and especially reading.
“I read to her all the time,” she recalls, adding that some of Samantha’s favorite stories were from the classic Madeline series.
Fast-forward some two decades later. Samantha, then 29, was pregnant with her own daughter. One day, she told her mom, “You know, I want my daughter to be an adventurer, and love to travel, and be wise in her own way. I want to name her Madeline.”
Those dreams will never be fulfilled. On Feb. 4, Samantha’s body was found behind a vacant building in Bastrop County, Texas. She had been shot three times in the head, according to authorities. Samantha, who worked as a victims’ advocate for the Kyle Police Department, was seven months pregnant with Madeline at the time.
According to court documents, the father of the unborn baby is former Austin police officer VonTrey Clark. On Aug. 5, it was announced that Clark had been detained in Indonesia by authorities, who are reportedly working with the FBI to have him returned to Texas. He was fired by the Austin Police Department on July 23 for policy violations, including associating with known criminals and not providing information like cellphone records for an internal affairs investigation, according to the San Antonio Express News. Clark has not been charged with a crime.
Kimberly Dean says that she and her daughter talked about the father of her child, but couldn’t go into further details about what was said. When she told her parents she was pregnant, “we were a little concerned initially, mostly about the financial end of it,” Kimberly recalls. “But she was a very good person and a great daughter, so we told her it was going to be okay. We’d do what we needed to do.”
As the months went on, Kimberly says the initial trepidation turned to excitement for herself and her husband, Kelvin: “This would have been our first grandchild.”
The mom- and grandma-to-be even set up a nursery in the Deans’ home. Since Samantha’s murder, the nursery has remained untouched. “I don’t have the heart or emotion to take any of it down,” Kimberly says.
Samantha Was Cancer Survivor, ‘Always Upbeat’
Kimberly described Samantha as “a very active person,” adding, “Her personality was such that it sort of consumed around you, but in a positive manner. We always said that she never met a stranger.”
She was also a fighter. At the age of 18, Samantha was diagnosed with sarcoma, a type of cancer.
“The morning we were told, we were all crying. I was crying, my husband was crying, the nurses were crying,” Kimberly recalls. “But she basically said, ‘I have a class and a test that I need to attend.’ At that point, we all got it: She was strong enough to muscle through anything. She supported us instead of us supporting her. I called her my hero.”
Samantha underwent chemotherapy every day for two and a half months and radiation treatment twice a day. She was in the hospital for a month. Two days later, she was back at school.
Crime Victim Advocate ‘Made Such an Impact’
Samantha earned a master’s degree in forensic psychology and subsequently worked for a pharmaceutical company, but her heart wasn’t in it. So she decided instead to become a crime victims’ advocate, taking a substantial pay cut in the process.
“She told her father and I, ‘This is a field I really think I can get into and enjoy,'” Kimberly recalls. “Her job was such that she’d meet people at the worst time in their lives, and she handled it with grace and care.”
Some people who Samantha had helped attended her funeral. Among them was a young lady who had been raped, who said Samantha gave her the strength to get through it.
Throughout the tragedy, Kimberly says that she, her husband and her younger daughter Alex are relying on each other to remain strong. They also rely on their faith, she adds.
When Samantha was pregnant, the family held a party to reveal the sex of the baby. When Samantha sliced the cake, and it was pink inside, “I lost it,” Kimberly says.
On Feb. 7, Samantha’s body was transported from Lockhart, where the autopsy was performed, to her hometown of San Antonio, about an hour away. Kimberly says she wasn’t prepared for what they witnessed during the drive: Hundreds of police cars joining the procession, and people saluting them at every single overpass.
“It was, by far, the most incredible thing I’ve ever witnessed,” says Kimberly, fighting back tears. “I couldn’t imagine that other people felt that much about my daughter. She made such an impact.”
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