Nearly two years after his wife was brutally raped and murdered, Davey Blackburn has announced he’s newly engaged. The Indianapolis pastor published a lengthy blog post detailing the last year-plus of dating his new fiancée.

In November of 2015, Davey was out exercising while his then-pregnant wife Amanda was home with their 1-year-old son. According to reports, that’s when two men forced their way into their Indiana home and, after raping Amanda, shot her in the head as she tried to protect her son.

When Davey returned home, he discovered his wife’s body in a pool of blood with her shirt pulled up and her underwear next to her.

Amanda Grace Blackburn/Facebook

The suspects were arrested, and it was reported that they’d been on an eight-day crime spree and had murdered, robbed, and raped multiple individuals.

The story of Amanda’s murder spread across the nation, and soon, Davey found himself at the center of both grief and a media circus.

Davey wrote in his post that he knew whoever he ended up with would have to accept the pain he carries every day:

… whoever stepped into a relationship with me wouldn’t be able to help feeling like they were living in Amanda’s shadow and under the scrutiny of everyone who was following the story. In fact, when I gave it any considerable thought, it seemed an almost impossible hurdle to overcome. For that reason, I would occasionally feel pretty hopeless about finding true love again.

And that not only would someone have to be OK with him sharing Amanda’s story, but she’d also need to love Amanda:

It would take a special woman to step into that calling, a secure woman, someone who was grounded in her own identity with Christ and who wouldn’t merely be okay with me carrying the story but who would be able to help me champion it.

Just a few months before the one-year anniversary of Amanda’s death, he was drawn to a girl, Kristi Monroy:

I watched this gorgeous dark-haired, brown-eyed girl walk through the doors of the Crossfit gym I work out at. She had my attention from the moment I saw her. I thought I was being subtle, but she would tell me later I was being far less discreet than I hoped. […] I realize for many people this may seem a bit soon and trust me, it did to me as well. But I had been exposed to some incredible people and environments over 2016 who helped me get to a healthy place after losing Amanda and I thought I was going to be ready soon to put myself out there again.

He said, of course, it took months before he even had a real conversation with her, but like it or not, he slowly began falling for her. Despite not divulging her “background” in the post, he did reveal she came from hardship as well and that she was fully supportive of his own struggles.

The whole course of trying to get to know her, however, had to be done in secret. Davey wrote:

I couldn’t be seen out in public with a girl! Everywhere I went in the city I’d regularly get stopped by people who knew my story. What would people say about the pastor who lost his wife a year ago to murder and was going out on the town with random girls?

Thankfully for him, however, they both had a child, so he could spend time with her under the false pretense of wanting their kids to play together.

Davey Blackburn/Instagram

Fearful that it would affect the suspects’ trials, Davey and Kristi weren’t even able to attend their “first date” together; instead, he paid for tickets to the ballet and dinner and had a woman from the church go along with her. He was so fearful to be seen in public with another woman before the trial that he eventually approached the prosecutor about it:

I called the Prosecutor on the case and asked him how it would affect the trial if my relationship status changed in any way. “Not at all.” He answered me. “You have to do your best to move forward with your life because you never know when this trial will actually happen.”

From that point on, the two began dating more and more seriously.

Eventually, they decided it was time to meet each other’s family — and for Davey, that included Amanda’s family, too. He wrote that they knew it was a “make or break” kind of thing, but thankfully, it all went well:

By October we knew we were ready to commit to marriage.

Davey did not take the plunge before Amanda’s father gave him his blessing and advice:

Davey, take it slow until you know she is the one. Once you know, go fast, and we’ll be right there with you.

So on November 8, he brought Kristi to the place he first realized he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her and asked the question:

AND SHE SAID YES!!

Now, he’s introducing his future wife to his friends and followers just days before the two-year anniversary of Amanda’s death. Moreover, just days earlier, one of the two suspects officially submitted a plea agreement, but it’s unclear when the remainder of the trials will take place.

Davey will always walk with the pain of Amanda and his unborn child’s death. However, now he has a partner’s hand to hold along the way.

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