Before Samuel John Dieteman became a suspect in a nationally known shooting spree, he'd been arrested for things as petty as theft and property damage. Along with shoplifting. Driving while drunk. Marijuana possession. Assault. Failing to appear in court. The list includes 37 encounters with police — and that's in Mankato, Minn., alone.
The 30-year-old tried to leave his troubles behind by moving to Arizona in his early 20s, said Melissa Dieteman, a half-sister who lives in nearby Crystal Lake, Minn. Melissa's father visited Samuel Dieteman in October and saw that his son had a job at a bar. The younger Dieteman gave the impression that he had moved beyond a stage in his life marred by drug abuse and physical violence, Melissa said.
"He must have put on a good show," Melissa Dieteman said Friday after hearing of her brother's arrest.
Samuel Dieteman married a girl he dated in high school in Minnesota and they had at least one child, Melissa said.
They divorced after moving to Phoenix. Court records show he has owed $1,382 in child support since March 2002.
Dieteman wasn't close to his family, by his own choice. His father, Scott Dieteman, traveled to Arizona for his son's birthday in October but Melissa Dieteman said her brother made it difficult for family to keep in touch.
"I think he thought my dad didn't love him," Melissa Dieteman said. "My dad cares about him."
The 22-year-old Melissa last saw Samuel Dieteman in December 1997. A few years later, she wanted her brother to come to Minnesota for her high school graduation. He didn't go.
Until his arrest, Melissa was eager she might finally see him in September, when a sister is getting married.
"I though it would be nice because I haven't seen him in a long time," she said.
Dieteman's criminal past includes disorderly conduct, drunken driving and check forgery while he lived in south central Minnesota for most of the 1990s. One home was in Mankato, a city of 31,000. The other was just to the north, St. Peter, a town of 9,700 that boasts being the home of five former Minnesota governors.
In Arizona, he was convicted of shoplifting in Glendale earlier this year. He failed to pay a fine and has had a warrant for his arrest since May 17.
Much less is known about Dieteman than the outgoing Dale Hausner, the other suspect in a serial shooting that's left six dead and 18 wounded since May 2005.
Dieteman moved into Hausner's Mesa apartment in the last couple months but neighbors could say little about him. They frequently spotted him outside in the middle of the night, smoking. One resident said she often saw him standing on the porch, as if he were keeping watch.
- Tribune writer Christian Richardson contributed to this report.