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Authorities Say Loner Accused of Killing Family May Have Felt Neglected

January 1, 1988 GMT

ALGONA, Iowa (AP) _ A 40-year-old loner accused of shooting six relatives to death as they sat down to lunch, then killing himself, was ″a troubled boy and a troubled man″ who may have felt neglected during the holidays, friends said.

Investigators have found no suicide note from Robert Dreesman, who is accused of fatally shooting his six closest relatives in less than half a minute as they sat down to a holiday meal in his elderly parents’ house Wednesday.

″He walked in and opened fire,″ said Dan Courtney, assistant Kossuth County attorney.


John Dreesman, 79; his wife, Agnes, 74; the Dreesmans’ daughter, Marilyn Chuang, 48; and her three children - Jason, 12, Jennifer, 11, and Joshua, 8 - were all found shot to death in the dining room at the Dreesman’s ranch- style home in this north-central Iowa community.

The body of Robert Dreesman was found in a hallway outside the dining room.

″The evidence we found at the scene indicates he did the shooting and then died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound,″ said Ron Makin, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation special agent in charge of the probe.

″I would say this whole incident occurred in a matter of 15 to 30 seconds,″ he said.

Makin said it would be ″pure speculation″ to suggest that Dreesman was influenced by Monday’s news of an Arkansas mass murder when he opened fire on his relatives.

In that incident, R. Gene Simmons was arrested in the shooting of two people in Russellville, Ark. Police later found the bodies of 14 relatives at Simmons’ house near Dover, Ark.

A rash of multiple murders this week also involved a New Hampshire man with a history of drug charges who was accused of killing three men and critically wounding two others Wednesday in the towns of Nashua and Londonderry. Rafael Rodriguez was later himself killed by a police officer trying to arrest him.

And at Dayton, Texas, 17-year-old Edward Lee Rouse Jr. was accused of killing his mother and a 9-year-old stepbrother, injuring his stepfather and setting fire to their house early Wednesday.

Dreesman apparently killed himself immediately after shooting his relatives, and there was no indication of a struggle in the dining room, Makin said.

Neighbors and friends described Dreesman as loner who had received counseling and may have felt ignored by the attention being showered on his sister and her three children who had come home for the holidays from Hawaii.

A friend of Dreesman, Algona chiropractor S.A. Mueller, said: ″With his sister’s children home from Hawaii, Grandma and Grandpa showered so much love on them. I think, maybe, Robert was sitting in the corner by himself and flipped out.″

Molly MacDonald, editor of the Algona Upper Des Moines and Kossuth County Advance newspapers and a close friend of Marilyn Chuang’s, called Dreesman ″a troubled boy and a troubled man.″

″He was not neglected. They were a very loving family,″ she said. ″Perhaps Robert’s view was distorted and he saw himself as neglected.″

Investigators would not identify the weapons but said they were not handguns. Spent shell-casings were found inside the house.

Algona Police Chief Kevin Bangert said he is not aware of any violent or criminal incidents in Robert Dreesman’s past. Dreesman had been living at home for the past six months, investigators said.

Madelyn Priebe, a friend of John and Agnes Dreesman, said Robert Dreesman was married for a few months to a woman from the Philippines, but that the marriage was anulled three or four years ago.