ALGONA, Iowa — Police today said they believe the 40-year-old son of a wealthy elderly couple killed his parents and his older sister and her three children at a family reunion before he used a gun to commit suicide, authorities said today.
The murder-suicide at the holiday gathering stunned this north-central Iowa community of 6,300. The father, John Dreesman, 79, was a former city councilman with a 1,000-acre farming operation. Residents described the family as wealthy, quiet and highly regarded.
Gene Meyer, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, would not elaborate on why investigators believe that Robert Dreesman killed the six family members and himself.
There were no survivors left in the home of John Dreesman and his wife, Agnes, 74, where the killings are believed to have occurred Wednesday afternoon, said Kossuth County Atty. Jim Murphy.
Friends and neighbors described Robert Dreesman as a loner who was intelligent but didn't relate well to people.
"With his sister's children home from Hawaii, Grandma and Grandpa showered so much love on them," S. A. Mueller, a chiropractor and friend of Robert Dreesman, told the Des Moines Register. "I think, maybe, Robert was sitting in the corner by himself and flipped out."
The bodies of Dreesman, his parents, his widowed sister, Marilyn Chuang, and her three children--Jason, 12, Jennifer, 11, and Joshua, 8--remained at the home today while investigators tried to determine what set off the shooting spree.
Mrs. Chuang, 48, and her children had traveled from their home in Honolulu and were visiting for the holidays. Dreesman, a recent graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, had been living with his parents. The elder Dreesmans had no other children.
It was the nation's second mass killing of relatives in a week. R. Gene Simmons Sr. was accused of killing 14 family members and two other people in the Russellville, Ark., area.