Two men arrested Thursday in connection with a 14-month-long series of shootings in the Valley admitted using a shotgun to kill two young women, one in Mesa last week and another in Scottsdale in May, court records released late Friday say.
Samuel John Dieteman, 30, and Dale S. Hausner, 33, made brief court appearances Friday evening, chained at the ankles and wearing black and white striped jail garb. They have each been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and 14 counts of attempted murder.
A three-page "probable cause" statement filed by Phoenix police laying out the case said the men used a .410-gauge shotgun in the shooting spree, including the killings of 22-year-old Robin Blasnek on Sunday night in Mesa and Claudia Gutierrez-Cruz, 20, who was shot as she was walking in the 6100 block of East Thomas Road in Scottsdale on May 2.
The same gauge shotgun pellets were recovered from some shooting victims and a .410-gauge shotgun was seized when police searched the men's Mesa apartment early Friday morning, the statement said. Blasnek was killed as she walked on Gilbert Road near Grandview about 11:15 p.m. "Dieteman admitted that he was in the passenger side window and Hausner, who was operating the light-colored Camry, pointed a shotgun out the passenger window and shot the victim," prosecutors wrote in the court statement.
In the Scottsdale shooting, Gutierrez-Cruz had just gotten off a bus and was walking west on Thomas Road. "Hausner pulled alongside in the curb lane and Dieteman fired one shot from a shotgun at the victim," the statement said.
Police allege Hausner, an airport janitor and professional photographer with a violent past, and Dieteman, a convict and deadbeat dad, targeted transients in Phoenix, at least at first. Authorities have linked the men to 36 shootings of humans and animals in the Valley since May 2005, including six murders. Prosecutors said Friday more charges are anticipated.
Hausner and Dieteman recounted details of a number of shootings to police and acknowledged they took turns driving and shooting, according to the probable cause statement.
Police were tipped to the men when an acquaintance of Dieteman told a detective that he knew one of the primary suspects in the Serial Shooter case. The man told the detective Dieteman "would drive through the cities selecting random targets which he referred to as 'RV' Random Recreational Violence,' " the statement said.
The statement does not say when police learned the suspects' identities. On Friday, police also refused to say when they were first tipped off.
Authorities were uncertain late Friday why the two took to the streets with weapons, or why they targeted certain victims.
“We have found no obvious evidence that they are related to any group or have any specific type of motive in mind,” said Phoenix assistant police chief Bill Louis.
“That’s what anybody would think — what would drive somebody to do this? Are they a hate group or do they belong to something that would drive them to do it? Nothing obvious right now,” Louis said.
According to the probable cause statement, the two men slowed in areas of "vagrant activity." Dieteman would shoot from an angle then drive slowly away, the statement said.
Police put the pair under surveillance after the citizen came forward and watched them drive a silver Toyota Camry through an area where previous attacks had occurred. At one point, the officers saw the men take what appeared to be a weapon wrapped in a towel out of the car.
Dieteman threw a black plastic trash bag in a dumpster and when an undercover officer removed it, he found a map with red and blue dots representing attack locations. The trash also contained an expended .410 shotgun shell. Police arrested the men late Thursday night outside their apartment at 550 E. McKellips Road and then searched the apartment. Evidence seized in the search included a .410-gauge single shotgun altered at the stock, .410 shotgun shells, other guns and long rifles, two maps, an America's Most Wanted videotape, news articles and clippings, and maps identifying routes and possible locations of previous shootings, according to the probable cause statement.
At the initial appearance hearing, both men were held without bail. Each said he can't afford an attorney.
Hausner, bearded and with brownish-red hair, slouched as he appeared before Commissioner Kathleen Mead, and frequently stared at the floor. He answered brief questions but showed no real emotion.
Dieteman, with black hair, a brown goatee and a skull tattooed on his right forearm, stood straight before the judge and answered her questions quietly.
Arraignment was set for Aug. 14 for each.
Hausner had been living in the Windscape Apartments at 550 E. McKellips Road since last year, but neighbors said Dieteman had moved in with him only recently.
Hausner and Dieteman also have been implicated in two arsons set June 8 at Wal-Mart stores in Glendale, and fire investigators later realized the men might be connected to the Serial Shooter case.
It took investigators more than a week to clean up surveillance footage from inside one of the stores and the parking lot, but once it was released to the public on June 19 a “barrage of phone calls” came in with tips, Glendale Fire Chief Mark Burdick said.
One of those tips identified one of the arson suspects, said Thomas G. Mangan, a senior special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. He would not disclose which one was identified.
"When you identify someone, obviously, you investigate every aspect of his life," Mangan said. Some of the details the ATF uncovered, including what car the suspects drive, matched information from the Serial Shooter case.
The arrests carried the element of surprise. The tactical units of the Mesa and Phoenix police had the apartment staked out and when Dieteman went out to empty the garbage around 11:45 p.m., "we had a surprise for him," Louis said. Hausner came out later and was also taken into custody.
Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris said police didn’t try to make a forced entry, knowing that Hausner’s 2-year-old daughter was inside. ‘‘The child was not involved, was not harmed and was returned to the mother,’’ Harris said.
Staff writers Mike Branom, Paul Giblin, Ryan Gabrielson, Gary Grado, Garin Groff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.