Algona, Dec. 30, 1987
John and Agnes Dreesman and their grown children,
Marilyn Chuang and Robert Dreesman, and Chuang's three children were
shot to death in the Dreesman home. Authorities said they believed
Robert Dreesman killed his relatives and then took his own life.
Son Kills 6 in Family, Then Self,
Iowa Police Believe
Los Angeles Times
December 31, 1987
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
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
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
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.
Loner linked to Iowa slayings may have felt
The Houston Chronicle
January 1, 1988
ALGONA, Iowa - A 40-year-old loner who apparently
killed six relatives before turning the gun on himself may have been
enraged by the holiday attention showered on his sister and her
three children, family friends said Thursday.
"Here he was living with his parents, kind of being
the center of attention all the time, and then Marilyn and the kids
came home," said state Sen. Berl Priebe, a close friend of the
Dreesman family. "Who knows, but that might have pushed Robert over
John Dreesman, 79; his wife, Agnes, 74; Robert; the
Dreesmans' daughter, Marilyn Chuang, 48; and her three children -
Jason, 12, Jennifer, 11, and Joshua, 8 - were found shot to death at
the Dreesman home Wednesday. Authorities believe Robert pulled the
"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," said
chiropractor S.A. Mueller, a friend of Robert Dreesman.
Authorities said they had some indication Robert
Dreesman had undergone counseling for mental problems, but they
weren't sure what the problems were, and said they found two weapons
in the home.
Officials said the children, their mother and their
grandparents apparently were gunned down in less than 30 seconds as
they were sitting down to lunch.
"Most of the bodies were found in the dining room.
Robert's was in the hallway outside the dining room," said Don
Courtney, assistant Kossuth County attorney.
"The evidence we found at the scene indicates he
did the shooting and he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound," said
Ron Makin, a Division of Criminal Investigation agent in charge of the
probe of the slayings in this north-central Iowa community.
Makin said Robert Dreesman was a loner who recently
moved back to Algona to live with his parents, and that investigators
have many gaps in his past.
"We understand there is a rumor he had been
married, or is married. We're trying to run that down," Makin said.
Madelyn Priebe, a family friend, said Dreesman was
married for a few months to a woman from the Philippines but that the
marriage was annulled three or four years ago. She said she could not
remember the woman's name.
Molly MacDonald, editor of the Algona Upper Des
Moines and Kossuth County Advance newspapers and a friend of the
family, took exception to Mueller's comment that Robert Dreesman was
"He was not neglected. They were a very loving
family," she said.
Friends said John Dreesman, who once ran a poultry
business, was a wealthy investor who owned thousands of acres of farm
land. He and his wife were prominent in civic affairs.
MacDonald notified police that something might be
wrong at the Dreesman home after her daughter reported no one there
when she tried to visit.
MacDonald described Robert Dreesman as "a troubled
boy and a troubled man."
"Perhaps Robert's view was distorted and he saw
himself as neglected. He wasn't," she said.
Neighbors said Robert Dreesman had a reputation of
going out of his way to avoid people.
"Nobody knew him," said Brian Keith.
Robert Dreesman was a 1986 graduate of the Palmer
College of Chiropractic in Davenport.
Neighbors also said he had a medical degree from
the University of Manila in the Philippines and did pre-veterinary
work at Iowa State University, but they were unsure if he graduated.
A classmate said Dreesman was taken out of Algona
High School in his freshman year in 1962-63, and a neighbor who
refused to give her name told the Des Moines Register that he was
admitted to the Menninger Clinic, a mental hospital in Topeka, Kan.
Patrick Burnau, vice president of public affairs at
the clinic, said he could neither confirm nor deny that because of the
clinic's policy of confidentialit.
Man Left Estate to Wildlife Fund Before Killing
Los Angeles Times
January 9, 1988
ALGONA, Iowa — Robert Dreesman, who killed his
parents, his sister and her three children, then took his own life,
revised his will several weeks before the slayings, leaving just $1 to
each family member, according to court papers filed Friday.
The rest of Dreesman's estate, which authorities
said was "substantial," was earmarked for the World Wildlife Fund,
But investigators with the Iowa Division of
Criminal Investigation refused to speculate about whether Dreesman was
planning the killings when he changed his will.
Eugene Meyer, assistant division director, said
authorities were still trying to determine the motive for the
slayings. He said the will might be a clue but that so far they had
"We are interested in anything we find out as it
relates to Robert Dreesman because it may or may not have a bearing on
how this incident unfolded," Meyer said. "But the exact why is still