Soon after wedding, tragedy hits Fort Worth couple

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Mr. Millender was shot early Sunday rather than early Saturday.

FORT WORTH -- They met at an office Christmas party in 2008.

Denise Millender accompanied her sister. Lawrence "Larry" Millender, a retired Air Force staff sergeant, attended with a friend.

"Neither one of us worked there," Denise Millender said Tuesday. "When I met him, I told him he must be my soul mate. He was everything I wanted in a man. We were together from then on."

On Saturday night, Denise Millender dropped her husband off at a friend's house. The couple talked by phone one last time about 11:30 p.m.

"He was supposed to be on his way back home," Denise Millender said. "Somebody was giving him a ride back home, but they wanted to stop first and get something to drink."

Hours later, shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday, Larry Millender was dead -- shot in the head with a shotgun outside K&K Liquor, a BYOB bar at 5120 E. Rosedale St.

"I just can't believe it," Denise Millender said. "God had sent him to me. Then for him to just be snatched away from me, I can't handle it."

Homicide Sgt. J.D. Thornton said Tuesday that investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the slaying and find witnesses. The bar's owner and his wife told police that they heard a shot and went outside to find Larry Millender, 51, on the ground in the parking lot and several cars speeding away.

"We know there were witnesses to it," Thornton said.

Denise Millender said her husband worked as a chef but enjoyed cooking for her and friends. He was attending Tarrant County College to become a counselor, hoping to use his degree to help troubled military servicemen and women, she said.

Because of his classes, she said, the couple had to delay their honeymoon after their Valentine's Day wedding. Last month, they finally got to take it, traveling by car to numerous cities from Baltimore to Pensacola, Fla.

"We went from the top to the bottom," Denise Millender said. "We just wanted to have the experience of having a long trip. We didn't have to be anywhere at any certain time. It was awesome."

"I knew that he was the one for me," she added. "To take that long a trip, the only thing we had to argue about was him telling me 'Don't get too close to that car' when it was my time to drive."

Denise Millender said her husband leaves behind a daughter and a grandson.

Anyone with information about the slaying is asked to call Detective Michel Carroll at 817-392-4330 or Crime Stoppers at 817-469-TIPS. Crime Stoppers is offering up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Callers may remain anonymous.

DEANNA BOYD, 817-390-7655

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