Pleasant Grove tattoo artist used work to help others before her murder

May 21, 2022, 9:53 PM | Updated: May 23, 2022, 12:36 pm

A mother who police say was shot and killed by her son in Pleasant Grove Thursday night, used her artwork as a tattoo artist to help others heal from past trauma.

“Any artist uses their life experiences to kind of interpret their art,” said Kayleigh Vanleuven.

In any profession, you can learn a lot about someone by looking at their work. Vanleuven learned early on the kind of person Nicki Dinehart was when Dinehart started working with her at Arcane Art Tattoo in 2020.

“She had kind of a rough past,” Vanleuven said. “She kind of used her struggles from the past to inspire and help other people that had issues with domestic violence and drug addiction.”

Vanleuven said Dinehart was a traveling tattoo artist on top of her work at Arcane. She would travel with the nonprofit Soul Survivor Ink to help survivors who had been marked and scarred from human trafficking or prior gang affiliation.

“Covering it up, changing it, turning it into something beautiful instead of having to see that ugly mark from their past,” Vanleuven said.

Her work helping others ended in tragedy on Thursday.

Pleasant Grove police say Dinehart’s son Gage was at her home — agitated and demanding money. In a probable cause statement the responding office says when Dinehart and Gage walked out to her car for her to drive to the bank and take him back to the bar, a neighbor says they heard two gunshots and then saw the suspect shoot her while she was on the ground.

When police arrived they say Gage was gone but then showed up at the scene later and told them “I shot my mom.”

“I was friends with her. I was familiar with her son Gage,” Vanleuven said through her tears. “Just knowing two people whose lives — she lost her life and his life is changed forever, you know — it’s really, it’s heavy.”

Friends remember mom, tattoo artist shot and killed in Pleasant Grove

“I’m still processing the fact that it happened,” said Jentrey McCausland, Dinehart’s former manager at Arcane.

“You know someone was here and now you just know they’re gone. It’s still just, it’s like a dream almost.”

McCausland said he was, “just thankful that I was able to know her and work with her and at least I do have fun memories with her.”

Vanleuven says she watched Dinehart “battle a lot with helping” Gage.

“I just know that she loved her family a lot,” she said. “And just that things ended the way that they did, it’s really tragic and heartbreaking. But Nicki was a good mom and she loved her kids a lot.”

Dinehart also leaves behind a new husband she married just last month.

Pleasant Grove police continue to investigate the shooting. The suspect, Gage, was booked on charges of murder and obstruction of justice.

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Pleasant Grove tattoo artist used work to help others before her murder