Parents of slain teen dedicated to finale dating violence

WAYLAND — In Malcolm Astley’s house, it looks as if his daughter Lauren will be behind any impulse to container for college. In her bedroom, that she embellished sea-foam green, there are stacks of garments on a bed, a Vera Bradley bag unresolved on a closet door, conform magazines on her desk, and a book her father bought her to take to Elon University in North Carolina: “The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into In College.”

But Lauren Astley never got a possibility to go to college. On Jul 3, 2011, about a month after she graduated from Wayland High School, she was killed by her former boyfriend, who was still barbarous that she had damaged adult with him in a spring.

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Memories of Lauren, solidified during 18, are what her father carries with him in his new life. He and Lauren’s mother, Mary Dunne, have spin informal and inhabitant activists on a emanate of dating violence, yet it is usually given a hearing finished in Mar 2013 that they have taken their means public. Before that, prosecutors were endangered that their remarks could change a case.



Astley, a late educator, now has a report packaged with hearings, conferences, and speeches. Dunne, his former wife, is also involved, nonetheless she still works full time and describes herself as some-more private. The span have focused their efforts on recognition and education, and successfully helped pull state legislation to account propagandize programs.

During a new interview, Astley asks for calm if he breaks down while vocalization about his usually child. But he calls them “good tears,” and he recovers quickly.

He does not wish to dwell on his daughter’s death. He and Dunne lived by an agonizing three-week hearing filled with sum that no primogenitor should have to hear. “The muck,” he calls it.

Nathaniel Fujita, Lauren’s classmate who was headed to Trinity College in Connecticut, was convicted of first-degree murder in Middlesex Superior Court and condemned to life in jail yet parole.

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From a start, Malcolm Astley prisoner open courtesy by a odd beauty he showed toward Fujita’s family. “The whole village can be suspicion of as losing dual kids,” he pronounced after Nathaniel’s arrest.

After a guilty verdict, he approached Fujita’s relatives in a courtroom and embraced them, all 3 weeping. “There’s zero to order us from any other solely for a terrible events between Nate and my daughter,” he says.

But many of all, Astley wants, needs, to make definition of his daughter’s brief, splendid life and sudden, aroused death. He knows that Lauren would wish that, too. She was a immature lady in incessant motion: She sang in a school’s a capella organisation and a church chorus, played a French horn, participated in drama, danced, and was a cocaptain of a tennis team. She went 3 times with her church organisation to assistance reconstruct houses after Katrina ravaged New Orleans. She had a tighten organisation of friends.

What would respect his daughter and assistance rescue him from a tsunami of grief? After a murder, he and Dunne determined a Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund to foster healthy teen relationships, as good as a humanities and village service, that were tighten to Lauren’s heart.

Astley — a late principal and School Committee member who has a doctorate in preparation — has researched a emanate of dating assault in roughly erudite fashion. He has interviewed experts, celebrated groups of abusers, attended conferences, combined a paper, and looked into state and sovereign laws.

He’s got new colleagues, as he calls them, who work on domestic assault — people he would not routinely have met, yet will not now forget.

At 69, Astley has a appearance of a masculine who spent his career around kids, during once peaceful and deliberate. In his vital room, photos of Lauren during several ages abound. If his daughter’s genocide non-stop his eyes to dating violence, he wants to open a eyes of others: students, parents, schools, legislators, law enforcement. Really, anyone who will listen.

“We all can do a many improved pursuit of operative with kids on this,” he says. “It would save a lot of lives, pain, and money.”

Unseen warning signs

The day Lauren died, her father met her for lunch before she went to work during Shop344 during a Natick Collection. “We’d always done it a order that zero of a business inlet would be pronounced until a finish of a meal,” says Astley. “It was usually for fun.”

That day, Lauren had no business to discuss. She seemed happy.

But that night, she did not lapse from work. The subsequent morning, her physique was found in a mire nearby a Sudbury line. Testimony suggested that Fujita had lured her to his parents’ home, where he beat, strangled, and slashed her to genocide before transfer her body.

No one saw it coming, yet in review there were red flags. Her friends didn’t like him. He combined a stage during her graduation party. At his insistence, a integrate spent some-more time during his residence than during hers.

Lauren and Fujita had antiquated for 3 years, nonetheless she had damaged adult and gotten behind together with him before. “She really attempted several times to mangle adult with him, and things would be renegotiated,” says Dunne, who lives in Weston. “I feel in review it was him not vouchsafing her go.”

But on Apr 1, her 18th birthday, Dunne came home from work to find Lauren sobbing. “She pronounced they were ostensible to go out for lunch, and he showed adult with a automobile full of friends, and they were all high,” Dunne says. “She took his design off a wall and put adult a print of Audrey Hepburn and said, ‘What would Audrey do?’ And that was it. She pennyless adult with him.”

In Lauren’s dark pinkish bedroom during Dunne’s condo, Hepburn still smiles from a wall.

Dunne is a preschool clergyman in a Brookline open schools. She and Astley divorced when Lauren was a high propagandize freshman, and they common custody. She recently spoke to 350 partner district attorneys to give them a mother’s viewpoint on murder.

“I consider it’s impossibly critical work,” she says. “When kids strike center school, they have no clarity of what a regretful attribute is and no thought of what to do when it ends.” If she could distill her summary to 3 words, it would be: “Don’t go alone.” Don’t go alone to see an ex-boyfriend.

A month before she died, Lauren and dual friends hold a graduation party. Fujita showed adult dipsomaniac and followed her around, vagrant her to speak to him. When she refused, he shoved a tent stick so tough that a tent scarcely collapsed.

Court papers also suggested that in 2009, sceptical of another youth, Fujita attempted to punch him and screamed that he wanted to kill him.

Lauren’s relatives schooled these things — and others about Fujita — after she died.

Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

A page from a annual shows Lauren Astley’s comparison mural and note to her family and a beloved who murdered her.

Course of action

The some-more Astley has schooled about dating violence, a some-more a pieces of his daughter’s genocide have depressed into place.

“Breakups are a singular many dire eventuality people face in their lives detached from a genocide of a desired one,” he says. He proposes training peers in schools to support classmates going by tough breakups.

Those peers also need to know when it’s time for a crony to see a propagandize counselor. “Kids now mostly see it as ratting on someone, rather than removing them help,” he says. According to testimony, Fujita sank into a basin and stopped saying friends after a breakup.

Astley is as endangered with a perpetrators as he is with a victims. When he speaks during schools, he mentions masculine assault not usually opposite females yet opposite other males, and he asks boys to join with girls to “veto violence.” He discusses a informative pressures on males to control and contest rather than to caring about others.

In a new debate during a Rivers School in Weston, he warned students opposite branch pain into anger. “You were not dumped, unpleasant as a detriment might feel. The fit was simply not good for both of you, and it needs to be good for both people in an effective attribute . . . . No shame, no censure for a relationship’s ending.”

He got a station ovation.

With Lauren’s fund, her relatives have upheld many projects, including a Courage to Care Healthy Relationship Summit during Lincoln-Sudbury informal High School in March, that supposing 200 students leaders from 15 high schools with training about relations and how to meddle in intensity violence. They’ve given grants to schools to account mentoring in assault prevention; performances of a play “The Yellow Dress,” about dating violence; and a dozen other programs.

But many of all, they have given themselves. The list of appearances on a fund’s website (laurendunneastleymemorialfund.org) is 7 pages long.

He is mostly a orator during events, yet there are times when Astley usually sits and listens, as he did during a new State House forum on domestic assault sponsored by Partners HealthCare. He took thriving notes, afterwards asked a question: “Chapter 71 of a General Laws says that health caring education, including protected and healthy relations with a concentration on preventing passionate and domestic violence, shall be taught in schools. What do we need to do to capacitate schools to conform a law?”

His doubt was greeted by applause.

Spreading a message

After a trial, Astley and Dunne testified before a state Legislature on a need for propagandize programs on relations and assault prevention. They were told there were too many propagandize mandates yet that a commander module was possible.

Astley worked with Senator Jamie Eldridge, an Acton Democrat,
on a Healthy Relationships Grant Program, that would allot $150,000 to account 10 schools for 3 years for a dating assault curriculum in grades 5-12. Between them, he and Dunne visited all 40 senators’ offices and gave out bookmarks temperament Lauren’s face and “her legacy” of preventing dating violence.

Eldridge had 21 cosponsors to his bill amendment, that was authorized late final month. “Malcolm has really fast spin a state personality on teen dating assault given a comfortless murder of his daughter,” says Eldridge.

At Jane Doe Inc., a statewide bloc opposite passionate and domestic violence, Astley is also admired. Craig Norberg-Bohm, a Men’s Initiative coordinator, has worked closely with him. “Because of his tragedy, he has a height and people are meddlesome in what he has to say. Is it usually about this child and lady or something bigger and broader? Malcolm has drawn a end that it’s something bigger and broader . . . . He has such appetite and concentration and has care for a [other] family involved,” he says.

Many people find that care unfathomable. But it’s how he was carried and how he and Dunne carried their daughter, during home and during their church, First Parish in Wayland. “Our church has an importance on caring and probity and looking deeply to know a viewpoint of others,” he says.

And he mostly cites a pacifist ethic of his hero, a Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: “What is it that will residence hatred? Not some-more hatred.”

Comfort in memories

To fight a grief that can rinse over him — what he calls “some form of PTSD” — Astley has typed a list of Lauren memories into his laptop, and he looks during it from time to time. He pulls adult a record and reads a few.

“After returning from a outing to Key West with her mom, Lauren said, ‘I hatred home! we wish to live in Key West and be a bum!’ ” He chuckles.

Another memory: “Lauren reaching adult to be carried out of a crib and afterwards her branch divided as she was streamer to sleep, and withdrawal a somewhat unequaled parent.”

Astley is still a unequaled parent, yet his daughter, reaching to him still, has given both him and Dunne a reason to go on.

More coverage:

Parents of slain Wayland teen titillate assault education

When teen dating turns dangerous

Lauren Astley’s bequest is friendship

Slain teen’s relatives speak about dating violence

Nathaniel Fujita found guilty in Wayland murder

Grieving father hopes to spin detriment into lesson

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