An Iowa man has been arrested in connection to the deaths of his mother and grandmother.
Michael Dieckmann, 30, is accused of murdering his mother, 63-year-old Jacqueline Dieckmann, and his grandmother 91-year-old Illa Pfeiffer at their home on Grace Street in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Police arrested him on Wednesday, a few hours after the attack; he was found by police simply walking down the street, approximately 1 1/2 miles away from the murder scene.
The Des Moines Register reports that Dieckmann suffered from schizophrenia, and his mother was an advocate for improved mental health services.
She was a regional coordinator for the state Office of Consumer Affairs, which tries to help families navigate the mental health system.
She also served on numerous committees. In fact, she had been scheduled to make a presentation Wednesday afternoon in Des Moines to a meeting of the Iowa Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council, of which she was a member. The council started the meeting without her, only to learn by phone about the tragedy in Council Bluffs.
“She feared that something tragic might happen,” Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa said to KETV. “She had said to me on several occasions, ‘What will happen when I’m gone? Who will care for Michael?’
“She cared about people. She not only cared about her son, for whom she was a very strong advocate, but she cared about all people who struggle with mental illness.”
According to Anna Killpack, one of Jackie Dieckmann’s best friends and a mother whose son also suffers from mental illness, “Michael does not understand what he has done. People need to understand that he’s very sick and he needs help.” Killpack also stated that Dieckmann was having trouble keeping his psychiatric medications down because of a gallbladder problem.
When the young man appeared in court over a video feed, he seemed genuinely confused by the proceedings.
“I’m not really sure what I’m being charged with, I don’t really understand the charges,” Dieckmann told the judge.
“You are charged with murder it’s alleged that you did with premeditation end the life of two people,” Judge Fagan explained.
After a long pause, he replied, “I plead not guilty.”
If convicted, Dieckmann faces two sentences of life in prison without parole.