Serial shootings bring back memories for former Phoenix police detective

Posted at 5:18 PM, Jul 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-13 22:23:34-04

The recent serial street shootings are bringing back memories for a former Phoenix homicide detective.

Cliff Jewell said he was one of the lead investigators in a very similar case about ten years ago.

Around the same time that the Baseline Killer was haunting the city of Phoenix, police were also investigating random street shootings targeting pedestrians.

The investigation led to the arrest of convicted serial killer Dale Hausner and his accomplice Sam Deitman.

Police said Hausner was the mastermind behind the murders that took place between 2005 and 2006.

Jewell said he was asleep at home in December of 2005, when he got the call of a triple shooting.

The first victims were homeless men, and the shootings escalated. In the end police believed Hausner and his accomplices killed eight people, wounded 17 others and also killed cows, horses and dogs in residents’ backyards, Jewell said.

"He was convicted of six murders-- two of them we did not have enough forensic evidence for, so the jury did not find them guilty of those two," Jewell said.

Jewell said those murders had many similarities with the serial street shootings that Phoenix has had in recent weeks.

"They went out looking for people walking by themselves in dimly lit areas, with no traffic. When they found that person they would shoot them, regardless of who they were," said Jewell.

He said the shootings were random, although Hausner seemed to like driving down Van Buren Street.

"He told Sam Deitman he hated the homeless, and he hated hookers so he targeted prostitutes," Jewell said.

Police believe Hausner and a family member were involved in the first few murders, then Deitman joined him a year later. 

"They would hang around and all have dinner. Then, around 10 o'clock, after they had eaten dinner they would go out hunting," Jewell said.

Hausner and Deitman would go walking around by themselves, hunting for victims. 

Jewell said Hausner was a sociopath who was mad at society in general after losing two children in a car accident. Hausner's wife had fallen asleep at the wheel and ended up driving the vehicle into a canal, where his children drowned, Jewell said.

"He just saw this as fun. They called it RV'ing, which stands for recreational violence. They would pick on people walking down the streets. The three of them would jump out of the car, jump them, beat them, stab them, all while shooting them and then leave," Jewell said.

During a search warrant in Hausner's Mesa home, Jewell said they found newspaper clippings of all the murders. Police installed a hidden microphone in the home and heard him bragging.

"He was bragging that he had more murders than the Baseline Killer, and he was mad about the shootings that we didn't know about yet," Jewell said.

The case gave Jewell an insight into the kind of killer Hausner was.

"The public needs to understand there's no rhyme or reason to what he's doing. He's targeting people for no reason other than that they happen to be convenient. People need to understand that. Especially, all these people going around playing Pokémon. They're putting themselves at risk by doing that," Jewell said.

Jewell advises that people travel in groups and not be so engrossed in the game that they don’t notice things around them.

The randomness of Hausner and Deitman's murders gives a glimpse into how today's serial street shooter maybe looking for his victims.

"He's either following people from, say, a grocery store or driving through neighborhoods until he sees somebody standing in a yard or in front of a home," Jewell said.

He added that this is a very stressful time for Phoenix police. Having lived through serial murders, Jewell knows the pressure they're under.

"The public wants answers. We had several town halls then. People were afraid. They wanted the police to stop what was going on. It's difficult to do that without the public's help. We need tips coming into Silent Witness and other lines," Jewell said.

He advised people to be vigilant and look for someone driving suspiciously around a neighborhood. Housman sometimes found his victim, then made a U-turn and came back toward them. 

Jewell also advised people to carry a notebook, in case they did see something, so they could jot down a license plate number and other details.

"People need to just be vigilant," Jewell said.

See a map of all eight Maryvale murder cases below. The newly identified cases are shown in red: