One of Dale Hausner’s stormy marriages unraveled after he threatened to kill his wife with a shotgun, court records say. Another was darkened when his 2-year-old son died after a car in which he was riding plunged into a creek in Texas.
His relationship with a third woman, the mother of his 2-year-old daughter, is riddled with charges that he neglects the child, who needs special medical attention, and the suspicion that he may be using methamphetamine.
Of the two people arrested Thursday night in Mesa in connection with a yearlong series of shootings in the Valley, Hausner, 33, was described by his neighbors in a Mesa apartment complex as being the nice one.
But court records and interviews with people who knew Hausner portray him as abusive and violent.
“Dale appears to be unstable emotionally,” said ex-wife Karen Hausner in asking for an order of protection in February 2002. “I am afraid he would do harm to myself or other people I care about as retribution for me leaving him, and he owns several guns.”
In the same document, Karen Hausner described a September 2001 incident in which she says her husband, armed with a shotgun, drove her to a deserted spot near Wickenburg and “said he was going to kill me.”
None of the women in the volatile relationships with Hausner responded to requests for interviews.
People who knew Hausner said they saw his dark side, but they also knew him as a comical, goodnatured guy, a boxing fan and bartender who sometimes let his quirky side show through.
Harwood Hamilton, trainer at Central Boxing Gym in Phoenix, has known Hausner for the past three years. The last time they saw each other was in May at a Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Phoenix for former pro boxer Michael Carbajal.
Hausner’s Web site featured photos of himself alongside the likes of boxing legends Mike Tyson and Bernard Hopkins. The site was taken down Friday after his arrest.
Hausner sometimes let an “alter ego” show through, Hamilton said. He said Hausner acted up at times and made onlookers wonder if he was “working with all of his screws.”
Hamilton described one incident earlier this spring when Hausner was taping a cable access television show about the local boxing scene. Before the show, Hausner appeared to stage a mock argument with himself. One of his personalities was friendly and outgoing and the other was “abrasive, short and obnoxious.”
“It was a night-and-day difference,” Hamilton said.
Police would not release background information on Hausner or second shooting suspect Samuel Dieteman. But public records and other documents show that Hausner has lived a troubled life of tragedy and instability.
Hausner made his living as a freelance photographer, bartender and custodian at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. He was fired from his city job Friday.
He is believed to be from Omaha, Neb., and by 1989 had moved to Arizona, where he obtained a Social Security number. Beginning in 1991, records show, he had lived at different addresses from west Phoenix to central Mesa.
In May 1992, Hausner married Tracie Spiker, according to court records. The marriage lasted about two years and produced one child, Jeremiah, who was born three months later. The marriage ended in divorce on April 28, 1994. The next day, Hausner married Karen Ann Shaw. Later that year, they lived in Pasadena, Texas.
Both wives were linked in the same tragedy in November 1994, according to news accounts and public records.
Karen Hausner was driving on a remote road between Dallas and Pasadena, Dale riding beside her. Also in the car were Jeremiah, Dale’s 2-year-old son with Tracie, and Tracie’s other son Donovan Spiker, 3.
The car struck a guard rail and plunged into a creek on Interstate 45 near Corsicana. Both children washed away. Their bodies were discovered a short time later. Dale and Karen Hausner were slightly injured.
Their marriage lasted until October 2001, when they divorced, then almost immediately remarried. By the end of the month, Karen Hausner had filed to have the second marriage annulled when she says he became physically abusive.
He continued to harass her even after the annulment, repeatedly making unwanted calls to her workplace, according to court records. Records indicate Hausner moved frequently after the divorce. He also racked up several traffic citations.
There are also indications he had developed cancer by 2004. The managing editor of Ringsports.com wrote in a column in 2004 that Hausner, one of the magazine’s photojournalists, was “having problems with cancer.”
About that same time, Hausner had another child, Rebecca, with Linda Swaney of Chandler, according to court records.
But, like the others, that relationship turned ugly. By July 2005, he had moved out and was living at the apartment complex on 550 E. McKellips Road in Mesa, where he was arrested Thursday night.
The first homicide attributed to the Serial Shooter occurred in Phoenix on May 24, 2005.
Last month, Swaney filed for an order of protection, citing several instances in which Hausner neglected to properly care for Rebecca when she was staying with him. Rebecca has a rare condition that makes her prone to extremely low blood sugar, according to court records. On several occasions she became very ill — and on one occasion was nearly comatose — because he failed to properly care for her, Swaney said.
In a separate petition for custody filed last week, Swaney asked that Hausner be drug tested regularly, especially for meth.
Tribune writer Gary Grado contributed to this report.