COUNCIL BLUFFS — One evening late last summer, Mark Vander Woude yanked his wife from the shower.
He dragged Lori Vander Woude into the children's playroom and showed her where he had torn up their scrapbooks, ripped up their baby pictures and punched holes in the wall, said Peggy Hunter, Lori's mother.
The children stood by and cried. This confrontation spurred Lori to leave the house and take the three children, now ages 6, 8 and 11, with her.
Hunter said she did not witness this scene, but Lori Vander Woude, now 41, described it to her later.
Lori eventually moved back into the house at 46 Norwood Drive while her husband moved out.
But he returned on Monday, when firefighters found the 43-year-old man dead after a fire in the home that authorities suspect was an arson.
Hunter, 64, spoke of the past year in the life of her family during an interview Wednesday. Lori Vander Woude, tending to the needs of her children, was unable to comment, she said.
“I want people to be aware that there is a lot of domestic violence going on, because of people being out of work, people being in frustrated situations,” Hunter said. “We shouldn't brush it under the carpet. We shouldn't ignore these things.”
Also on Wednesday, Council Bluffs Fire Marshal Larry Wohlers said investigators expect the state crime lab in Ankeny will find that gasoline was used as an accelerant in the blaze after samples from the scene are tested.
The Vander Woudes married in 1999 at Salem United Methodist Church in Council Bluffs.
Marriage was followed by the births of three children. Mark Vander Woude at first was an attentive father, Hunter said. He changed diapers. He held the kids as they cried. He took them snow sledding.
But in the past few years, he became verbally abusive to his wife, Hunter said.
At some point, she is not sure when, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
“She had low self-esteem because, basically, he was always putting her down,” Hunter said.
Lori Vander Woude tried to get her husband to seek treatment for his illness, but he avoided doing so, Hunter said.
Mark Vander Woude's family declined three separate requests by The World-Herald for comment on Tuesday and Wednesday.
After Lori moved out, the couple were in the process of divorcing when she reported on Sept. 13, 2012, that Mark had used a car to try to run her off the road. A domestic-abuse assault charge, based on the alleged incident, was scheduled to go to trial March 19.
She obtained a protection order, using the incident as justification, also reporting that he had sent her more than 300 email and text messages, according to court documents.
On Monday, firefighters found Mark Vander Woude's body after they were called to the two-story Norwood Drive home at 3:15 p.m. The house was in flames.
Investigators believe he died of smoke inhalation.
“I am so angry that a young man would not take the time to go get help, with three little babies,” Hunter said.
“I'm angry how he treated my daughter. ... Yet it is such a relief that it is over with.”
Mark Vander Woude's funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. today at Salem United Methodist Church.
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