Nearly 19 years after arriving in Madison County at the age of six as a Bosnian refugee, Dino Dizdarevic was found fatally beaten on the morning of May 1 near Philadelphia, Pa.
He was expected to be in Richmond this past weekend when his family planned to celebrate Mother’s Day, his birthday and his grandmother’s birthday, according to family friends. He would have turned 26 on May 31.
His sister Una expected to meet him Thursday afternoon at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport, but he wasn’t on the plane, and family members became alarmed when they were unable to reach him.
A body, later identified as Dizdarevic’s, was discovered just after 7 a.m. Friday morning on a street in Chester, Pa., according to the Deleware County Daily Times.
The location is at least 30 minutes away from his residence or commute to work in New Jersey where he was a chemical engineer, Dr. Adrienne Millett, a family friend said.
According to data collected by the website Neighborhood Scout, Chester has a high violent-crime rate with the chance of becoming a victim estimated to be one in 48, about seven times the rate of Richmond, which is one in 347.
The Dizdarevic family escaped from war-torn Bosnia in the former Yugoslavia and made its way during a harsh winter to a refugee camp in Croatia, said family friend Rosanna David.
At the camp, the Dizdarevics connected with Kentucky Refugee Ministries through which the White Oak Pond Church of Richmond had agreed to sponsor a family, said David.
“I remember when they arrived at the airport,” said David, a member of the church who has maintained friendship with the family. “They were frightened, knew no English and each of them had only a suitcase.”
Dino, who turned 7 just days after coming to Kentucky, learned English rapidly and became the family’s translator until others gained proficiency in their new language, Millett said.
Both parents soon were employed, David said.
Dino was academically gifted, Millett said, excelling in school. As a student at Madison Southern High School, he was named a Kentucky Governor’s Scholar in 2006.
As he was growing up and whenever he returned to Madison County, Dino, who was friends with her son, frequently was a guest in her home, Millett said.
If her computer ever needed repair, Dino could fix it quickly, she said.
After high school, Dizdarevic completed in five years the cooperative education course at the University of Louisville’s Speed School of Engineering that takes most students six years, friends said.
His tragic death has been a profound shock to the family, said Dr. Rusty Rechenbach, who was pastor of the White Oak Pond Church when it brought the Dizdarevics to Madison County.
The Dizdarevics have all been “great contributors” to their new community, said Rechenbach, who is now retired.
Una Dizdarevic is pursuing a college degree at Eastern Kentucky University, David said.
The Oldham Roberts and Powell Funeral Home of Richmond is in charge of Dino Dizdarevic’s final arrangements, which were still pending Monday afternoon.
Donations to the Dizdarevic family may be made by searching for Dino Dizdarevic on giveforward.com.