PHOENIX - One of two men accused of terrorizing this desert city with dozens of random shootings said he was so intrigued by the case that he collected newspaper clippings and plotted the crime scenes on a map, but didn't participate in the slayings.
In a jailhouse interview, Dale S. Hausner said authorities won't be able to prove the case against him, though his roommate, fellow suspect Samuel John Dieteman, could have committed the crimes without his knowledge.
Hausner he and Dieteman had even pondered together why police had not made an arrest sooner in the shootings that left seven people dead and wounded 17 others since May 2005.
"We just kind of chatted back and forth and wondered why, if there is 150 police on the case, why they couldn't collar him a little bit faster," Hausner said. "Is it that hard to catch people doing this kind of stuff?"
Hausner's 11-minute interview ended abruptly when his newly appointed public defender, Garrett Simpson, entered the room. Dieteman has declined interview requests.
Dieteman and Hausner were each booked for investigation on two counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted first-degree murder.
In all, the two were being investigated in 37 shootings in which seven people were killed and 17 were wounded. Other shootings involved animals.
The latest fatal shooting added to the investigation - the May 17, 2005, killing of Tony Mendez, makes him the first victim of what police called the "Serial Shooter."
Also Monday, Hausner's first wife told The Associated Press that he had threatened to kill her when they were married.
"He was very mentally abusive," said Tracie Hazelett, who was married to 33-year-old Hausner for a year and a half in the early '90s. "He used to tell me ways he could kill me and get away with it ... He would tell me he could break my neck and put me at the bottom of the stairs and act like I fell."
Hausner's second wife said in divorce filings that he took her to a deserted place with a shot gun and threatened to kill her.
In the jail, Hausner said Dieteman was down on his luck, so he let him sleep on an inflatable mattress in his apartment in Mesa. Hausner said he met Dieteman about nine months ago through one of Hausner's brothers.
Hausner said Dieteman could have taken Hausner's car while Hausner was sleeping. Police said several of the shootings were done from a car. Hausner said he owns a handful of shotguns, a rifle, pellet guns, blowguns, knives and stabbing weapons, such as ice picks.
"I don't see Sam as a cold-blooded killer, but if they've got evidence saying he is, there's not much I can do to refute that," Hausner said.
Friends described Dieteman, who was wanted on several criminal charges in Minnesota, as an unemployed electrician who had been kicked out of his mother's house and survived in Arizona with help from friends.
Last summer, about the time the shootings began, friends said he hit bottom.
"He started drinking a lot," said Kelly Hottowe, a bartender who has known him since 2002. "He'd be at the bar as soon as it opened."
Police said in a probable-cause report that officers watched the two men as they "suspiciously drove through the areas of prior attacks and slowing in the areas of vagrant activity."
Hausner said he and Dieteman merely drove around to unwind. "There is no law against driving around at night because you are tired and can't sleep," Hausner said.
Hausner said the shootings were a tragedy and noted he lost two sons, ages 2 and 3, in 1994 when his second wife fell asleep at the wheel and drove into a creek.
"I know what it is like to suffer the loss of a kid and I would never, ever, ever want anybody to have to go through what I went through," Hausner said.
Police were also searching for another suspected serial predator in the Phoenix area. The so-called Baseline Killer is believed to have killed eight people and sexually assaulted several women since last August.