Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Random Recreational Violence: Phoenix's Serial Shooters

The Most Dangerous Game

Richard Connell's famous 1924 short story "The Most Dangerous Game," a tale of a bored huntsman preying on shipwrecked sailors has been anthologized, translated and, acknowledged or not, served as the basic plot of dozens of motion pictures and television and radio episodes. Few stories form a more chilling example of art which life might fatally imitate.

Samuel Dieteman (l) and Dale Hausner
Samuel Dieteman (l) and Dale Hausner
A few years ago, though, two scrambling, troubled men in central Arizona did indeed embark upon a recapitulation of that bloody storyline. Their lives were falling apart; they took refuge in a hunting game; their prey was human.

In 2005 and 2006, Dale Hausner and Samuel Dieteman, sometimes joined by Hausner's brother, turned drive-by shootings into sport, terrorizing the residents of Phoenix's suburbs. Even after their trials, exactly what led these "Serial Shooters" to their game of murder remains unclear, they themselves called their pastime "Random Recreational Violence."

They kept score. They followed the media's reports the way a fan might follow the sports pages. They took inspiration from the serial killers of the past. And they even seem to have found heady competition in their rivalry with another murderer operating during the same period, the Baseline Killer.

Police sketch of the Baseline Killer
Police sketch of the Baseline Killer

We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'