From 2005 to 2006, Dale Hausner killed eight people and injured 19 in drive-by shootings alongside his partner-in-crime Samuel Dietman.
Between 2005 and 2006, Phoenix, Arizona residents were facing several terrifying crises — including the “Serial Shooters,” Dale Hausner and Samuel Dietman.
At random, people and animals were being shot on the street from passing cars. This wasn’t gang-related violence; these weren’t hits. Police realized they were dealing with a serial killer whose only motive, it seemed, was the thrill of it.
In total, there were over three dozen shootings attributed to the Phoenix “Serial Shooter,” but despite the name, Hausner and Dietman worked in tandem, killing a total of eight people and injuring 19 during their year as the Phoenix Serial Shooters.
The Phoenix Serial Shooters Yearlong Spree
In Phoenix, Arizona, the summer of 2005 slowly became a summer of fear. Two distinct sets of serial killings plagued the West Valley. The first indicators that something was amiss came in the form of dead dogs, horses, and other animals shot to death along the sides of roads or in yards.
Then, immigrants and transient residents started turning up dead, shot with .22-caliber slugs near Tolleson.
That August, reports of multiple sexual assaults along Baseline Road started to flood in. A group of teenage girls had been assaulted; so had a mother whose daughter was forced to watch before being molested herself.
At first, the police didn’t notice a connection between these events. There was no through line, and each crime took place in a separate jurisdiction. But after enough time, they could no longer deny that at least some of these incidents were related.
Police didn’t know it at the time, but they were dealing with two separate killing sprees — that of Hausner and Dietman and that of Mark Goudeau, who would become known as the Baseline Killer.
But the case became even more shocking on Sept. 9, 2005, when 19-year-old exotic dancer Georgia Thompson was found dead in the parking lot of a Tempe apartment complex. Unlike many of the Baseline victims, however, she had not been sexually assaulted.
Then, as AZ Central reported, on Dec. 29, 2005, the shooting spree truly began.
The first shots were fired around 7:30 p.m., directed at a Tempe bartending school. These seemingly random shootings continued across the city for the next five hours. That evening, two men, Jose Ortis and Marco Carillo, were shot to death along with a dog who was out for a walk with its owner.
Not long afterward, a man named Timmy Tordai, fresh from his shift at the post office, stepped off the bus, only to find himself lying on the ground shortly after feeling a strange pop in his collarbone.
“I thought I was having a heart attack,” he later said. “And then I saw the blood.”
Three more dogs were shot before midnight.
Around 1 a.m. on Dec. 30, a sex worker had just finished up with one client and was looking for another along Van Buren Street when she saw a light blue car pull up. Expecting another man looking to hire her services, she approached, only to be greeted by the barrel of a gun from the driver’s side window.
She only lived because someone else had been passing by and stopped to take her to the hospital.
At this point, police realized they were dealing with a “serial shooter,” but as soon as this revelation came, the shootings suddenly stopped for nearly half a year.
When they picked back up, the shooter switched from .22-caliber bullets to shotgun shells, which were harder to trace. All police knew about the shooter — still believing it was a single person — was that he drove a light blue sedan.
Around this time, police ultimately determined that they were dealing with not just one but two serial killers simultaneously.
“Putting two people, two prolific serial murderers with opposite motives were almost unheard of,” former Phoenix Police Detective Clark Schwartzkopf told local 12News.
“I don’t think you could write a crime story, even a fictional crime story where you could go, ‘Can I put two serial murderers in the same location and pull it off?’ but the city of Phoenix was living it.”
How Police Caught The Phoenix Serial Shooters
By mid-2006, it seemed as if the Serial Shooters were directly competing with the Baseline Killer. The more victims of the Baseline Killer police found the more frequent the shootings became.
However, the search for the killers neared its end in August of that year. Schwartzkopf was parked in a lot, surveilling a person of interest in a nearby lounge, when a light blue sedan pulled in.
“I was sitting there, monitoring this parking lot, and this person we were watching, and this vehicle rolled in, and the hair on my neck stood up and I just sat back, took a breath and I go — this is them,” Schwartzkopf said.
Investigators quickly identified the two men. The man sitting in the bar was Samuel Dietman, and the driver was Dale Hausner. Dietman got into Hausner’s car, and the two were off.
“We had surveillance units on top of them, surrounding them,” Schwartzkopf said. “I honestly believed I thought we were going to see them shoot someone that night.”
The two men didn’t shoot anyone that night. The police did, however, have enough evidence to get a wiretap on the two men — which sealed their fates.
Unaware that police were listening, Dale Hausner and Sam Dietman spoke freely about their killing spree. They flipped through news channels to see if anyone was talking about them, and they reveled in the attention.
“I love shooting people in the back,” Hausner told Dietman in their shared apartment. “That’s so much fun. That… old man I shot in the back.”
Days later, both men were arrested and headed down a long road that ended in their convictions.
Who Were Dale Hausner And Samuel Dietman?
Between the two men, Dietman was rougher around the edges. He had been involved in a number of petty crimes before, but nothing quite as extreme as this string of shootings.
Hausner, on the other hand, had no criminal history. He was an airport janitor who dabbled in freelance photojournalism (and once interviewed Mike Tyson). However, looks were deceiving — Hausner was the mastermind.
Hausner spoke little to detectives, but Dietman let it spill the night he was arrested. He told police that he and Dale Hausner were engaged in “random, recreational violence,” including muggings, stabbings, arson, and of course, the shootings — while maintaining a meth habit.
Yet those who knew Dale Hausner generally spoke highly of him. He was a father with a tragic past; he lost both of his sons when his wife fell asleep at the wheel during a road trip and sent their car careening into a river. She survived, and the two separated shortly after.
He later had a daughter, whom he adored. In one recorded conversation, police overheard her telling Dietman good night, adding, “Don’t kill anybody.”
“Oh, all right,” Dietman replied. “Since you asked.”
Dale Hausner had Dietman move in with him after Hausner’s brother introduced them, and the two bonded over their desire to commit petty crimes and smoke meth.
Investigators later said Hausner was driven by “thrill killing and notoriety.”
“I think he was born bad,” Schwartzkopf said. “He was destructive, even as a kid… He just got caught up in the whole whirlwind, and the media presence, and the talk about it. I think he just got rolled up in the notoriety and decided, ‘Hey, this isn’t such a bad thing after all.'”
Hausner attempted to overdose on pills while he was awaiting his trial in prison, but police revived him, hoping to get a death sentence. In the end, the jury found him eligible for it.
“I died Nov. 12, 1994, when my children died,” Hausner told the court. “I’ve been wanting to die since then, so if you want to kill me, go ahead… I’m willing to accept the punishment. And I firmly believe, to help the victims heal, that it should be the death penalty.”
Years later, on June 19, 2013, Dale Hausner was found dead in his cell at the Eyman Prison in Florence. He had overdosed once again — but this time, he wasn’t coming back.
After reading about Dale Hausner, the Phoenix Serial Shooter, learn the terrifying story of Wayne Nance, the alleged serial killer who terrorized Montana. Or, read about the crimes of Dale Cregan, the deranged one-eyed killer.