Samuel Dieteman was not a “saint” but wasn’t a problem child, either, said Louise West, his old neighbor in St. Peter, Minn.
One of the men charged in connection with the Serial Shooter crimes was “quiet, polite and well-mannered” West said Sunday in a phone interview with the Tribune.
West said her family has known Dieteman for more than 15 years. Dieteman lived two houses away, West said, and would travel with her family to Myrtle Beach, N.C. At one point, he was roommates with her son Jerry, she said. Her son was planning to travel to the Valley to visit Dieteman in a month.
“I love that kid. He’s like my own son,” West said. “I was always there for Sam. Anytime he needed me, I was there.”
Dieteman lived down the street from West and would spend time talking with the woman when his mom wasn’t home, West said. She acknowledged the man’s 37 encounters with police for crimes such as shoplifting, driving while drunk, marijuana possession and assault, but called them “petty stuff” that she wished the news media wouldn’t bring up.
“I’m not trying to make him into a saint,” West said. “I understand that he did wrong. They’re making him look like a monster here in the newspapers.”
Dieteman and Dale Hausner were charged Friday with two counts of firstdegree murder and 14 counts of attempted murder in connection with the Serial Shooter crimes.
Police are still searching for another serial criminal — the Baseline Killer. Sunday marked the anniversary of his first crime, in which he is believed to have sexually assaulted two teenage girls at gunpoint.
While Dieteman and Hausner await another court hearing next week, 44-yearold Daryl Davies, who was shot May 31 in west Phoenix, said he struggles with numbness and pain in his left arm from a shooting connected to Dieteman and Hausner.
He spent three hours in surgery for injuries to his spleen, stomach and bladder, and more than a dozen pellets still remain embedded in his body.
“Now that these guys are caught I plan on starting walking again,” Davies said. “Before, I would drive to the store, I would always look around and I would not keep my back to traffic.”
Davies, who has permanent injuries from a 2002 car crash walked nightly with a cane because it helped his back feel better. He said he preferred walking in the middle of the night to avoid the heat.
“Ironically, I was walking for my health when I was shot,” Davies said. “I don’t have anger, but I will never forget this.”