Serial shooting suspect Dale S. Hausner seems to have an answer for everything. The 33-year-old ex-janitor held a jailhouse news conference Monday to deny that he was part of the crime spree that included at least 37 shootings around the Valley and to say his roommate, second serial shooting suspect Samuel J. Dieteman, could have committed the crimes without his knowledge.
“Sam has kind of a low self-esteem problem and if he did this stuff, it would be for recognition,” Hausner told reporters at Maricopa County’s Fourth Avenue Jail.
Hausner said his interest in the Serial Shooter led him to keep news clippings of the crimes and a map of the shooting locations. Police found both in a trash bin outside his Mesa apartment complex.
Police said that on Aug. 1, they trailed Hausner and Dieteman driving through areas of previous attacks. Hausner, though, said that’s because of his difficulty sleeping.
“There is no law against driving around at night,” Hausner said.
Hausner’s defense attorney, Garrett Simpson, interrupted and put a stop to the 10-minute conference, but not before Hausner implicated Dieteman in the shootings, professed his own innocence and contradicted the police version of his arrest.
“Apparently, at night Sammy’s been taking my car out, using various weapons that I have in my house to commit crimes, and apparently, they tracked it to my car and when they came and busted in the house,” Hausner said. The two men — roommates whose relationship goes back nine months, Hausner said — are being held on suspicion of slayings in Mesa and Scottsdale and 13 attempted killings around the Valley. They were arrested late Thursday.
Hausner said he met Dieteman through his older brother, Jeff Hausner, and the two became friends.
Dieteman, an electrician, was “down on his luck,” so Hausner let him move in and live rent-free because he had done some electrical work and painting for the mother of Hausner’s child.
Both men were arrested at the Windscape Apartments, 550 E. McKellips Road. Police said they nabbed one suspect as he threw out the trash and the other when he came out to check on his friend.
Sgt. Andy Hill, Phoenix police spokesman, said a SWAT team waited for them outside partly to avoid a confrontation inside the apartment where Hausner’s daughter was.
Hausner said that police busted into his apartment, and that at first, he believed it was Dieteman joking around.
However, “for us, the fact that the 2-year-old child was in there was critical for us in terms of how we conducted that arrest,” Hill said.
Hill said a task force has added another possible homicide to the investigation.
On May 17, 2005, Tony Mendez, 38, was riding a bicycle about 10:30 p.m. at 2333 N. 48th Lane when he was shot.
Police have said the men have made incriminating statements, and a court document says Dieteman admitted involvement. But Hill refused to give details on their statement, or respond to Hausner’s contention that he wasn’t involved.
Hausner also denied involvement in the arsons at two Glendale Wal-Marts on June 8. Surveillance video shows the two men entering and leaving the stores around the times of the fires, a search warrant filed in U.S. District Court says.
About 15 minutes after the second fire, a person was wounded seven miles away in a shooting that matched the Serial Shooter’s method of operation, police said.
Dieteman’s name first surfaced during the arson investigation, and again during the Serial Shooter investigation. Still, investigators were unable to find him, authorities said.
They found him early last week, according to a federal affidavit. The document said a witness told federal agents that Dieteman was drinking that night at a pool hall in a Glendale strip mall.
Kelly Hottowe, a bartender who has known Dieteman since 2002, said she was working in the bar the day police caught up with Dieteman. She said Dieteman was playing a game of 3-ball pool when police closed in.
Police followed Dieteman as he left in a light-colored, fourdoor sedan. They kept him under tight surveillance for four days before capturing the two men.
A court document shows that police followed them driving through “the areas of prior attacks and slowing in the areas of vagrant activity.” At one point, investigators saw them remove a “suspicious item wrapped in a towel from the trunk to the back seat.” It appeared to be a “long weapon,” but it couldn’t be confirmed.
- The Associated Press contributed to this report.