PHOENIX – He was always polite to friends, never rude. A lover of boxing who decorated his room with drawings of his favorite athletes. A father to a 2-year-old girl, and two young sons who died in a tragic car accident.
To people who know him, Dale S. Hausner simply is too sweet, too timid, to have terrorized city residents in a rash of late night shootings as police said Friday.
"He doesn't even look like he would know which end of the (gun) barrel the bullet would come out of," said Mary Ann Owen, a Las Vegas photographer who knew Hausner since 1999.
Hausner and his alleged accomplice, Samuel John Dieteman, have each been booked on two counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted first-degree murder for a series of attacks since May 2005.
Police arrested Hausner, 33, and Dieteman, 30, on Thursday after keeping both under tight surveillance for four days. Authorities say the two are clearly the men sought in the city's so-called Serial Shooter case.
An unidentified person told police that Dieteman would drive through cities selecting random targets that he called "RV" — Random Recreational Violence.
Investigators later searched the Mesa apartment that the men shared, finding shotgun cartridges, shotguns and long rifles.
The two men also apparently kept close tabs on what people were saying about the shootings, which included the killings of six people.
Police searching through their trash found a map with red and blue dots representing the locations of the attacks. The bag also contained an Americas Most Wanted video and news clippings of the shootings and other attacks linked to another serial assailant dubbed the Baseline Killer.
The men are being investigated in 36 shootings, including some involving animals. They're also suspected of committing two arsons. A preliminary hearing is scheduled Aug. 14.
"We are confident these are the individuals involved," Assistant Police Chief Kevin Robinson said.
Hausner's daughter was in the apartment when he and Dieteman were arrested outside, police said. She was returned to her mother, police said.
Friends remembered Hausner having sad moments, recalling the loss of his sons.
"He told me he lost a whole family to a car accident," Owen said. According to a 1994 report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Hausner's sons, ages 2 and 3, drowned in a creek after a car crash. The story said Hausner's then wife, Karen, was driving the car and fell asleep.
At the gated complex where Hausner and Dieteman shared an apartment, the news of Hausner's arrest came as a shock to Jill O'Donnell.
"It makes me wonder what kind of background checks they do," O'Donnell said.
O'Donnell, 20, said she spent a considerable amount of time chatting with Hausner, and he was always "really nice."
Hausner, who worked at Sky Harbor International Airport, talked to a reporter for The Arizona Republic about the airport's plans to demolish Terminal 2. The old building was a place where everybody knew each other, he said.
"It's like one of those small towns in Texas — without the accent," he said.
Still, O'Donnell said, during the past month Hausner "gave off a vibe of someone you didn't want to be too social with."
"He wouldn't say 'Hi."' she said. "He wouldn't wave when I passed him. Little things like that."
Another friend, Clement Vierra, agreed that something had changed with Hausner.
Vierra, owner of the Hard Knocks Gym in Phoenix, said he met Hausner about two years ago and would talk to him at boxing events, where Hausner would take pictures. But about a year ago, Hausner stopped showing up at the fights.
"It was pretty strange because he was really involved with the boxing," Vierra said.
"He just stopped. Nobody knew where he was. He wouldn't return any calls that we left for him," Vierra said.
About three weeks ago, an Oregon police officer who runs a Web site for women boxers said she got a call from Hausner, who was almost breathless with excitement. He said he needed help with a law enforcement question.
"Dale Hausner has done some (freelance photo) coverage for us in 2003," Sue TL Fox said in a telephone interview. "I kind of terminated him back then, so the call was out of the blue."
"He was excited. He said 'Hey Sue, is the news all over the place about the shootings in Phoenix? I said, no, I haven't been paying attention to that. He said OK. I won't bother you anymore."
Fox said she called Phoenix police about Hausner's call. Like many others who knew Hausner, she's mystified about the charges against him, or how he got mixed up with Dieteman.
Court records show that Dieteman had traffic cases against him in Arizona as early as June 2001, though it wasn't clear whether he was living in the state at the time.
"I'm still really rattled about this," Hausner's brother, Randy, said Saturday.
Dieteman, he said, "was a friend of his that he'd met a while back. I didn't even know they were staying together. And Dale hasn't even known him that long. They met through my other brother."
O'Donnell said she met Dieteman once while inside their apartment. He just drank a beer and said nothing.
Still, Owen said, Hausner is "a really sweet guy."
"I would like to know why. My husband and I are sitting scratching our heads. It's unbelievable."