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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 6
Date of murders: December 30, 1987
Date of birth: November 30, 1947
Victims profile: His parents, John Dreesman, 79, and Agnes, 74, his widowed sister, Marilyn Chuang, and her three children--Jason, 12, Jennifer, 11, and Joshua, 8
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Algona, Kossuth County, Iowa, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day

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 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.


Loner linked to Iowa slayings may have felt neglected

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 the edge."

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 trigger.

"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 neglected.

"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 Kin

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, officials said.

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 nothing definitive.

"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 speculative."



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