Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Autopsy Results: Serial Shooter Dale Hausner ‘Happy Pill’ OD

Dale Hausner

Dale Hausner

The autopsy results are in and the death of Serial Shooter Dale Hausner, 40, has been ruled a suicide: death by “amitriptyline intoxication,” aka death by “happy pill.”

According to the results released on July 11, 2013, Hausner’s mysterious June 19 death was caused by an overdose of the anti-depressant amitriptyline, also known as Elavil. The toxicology tests revealed that Hausner had 50 times the therapeutic dose of the substance in his blood when he died.

Hausner tried to commit suicide once before in 2006, after he was arrested and charged with the Phoenix Serial Shooter murders. He had been convicted in six of the eight murders and sentenced to death six times over for his crimes. Though he never formally pleaded guilty to the murders, death, it seems, could not come quickly enough for Hausner, who requested execution and waived all his rights to appeals despite protests from his attorneys, who tried to have him declared incompetent to make such a decision.

In response to the move Hausner wrote The Republic in July 2012 saying, “The state of Arizona wanted me to get the death penalty before and during my trial. I was found guilty and given six death sentences. Now that I want to get executed, suddenly my mental state is in question. So, if I am found incompetent to waive my appeals, does that mean I was also incompetent to stand trial? That’s something to think about, isn’t it? I am not insane. I am of sound mind. I simply wish to get the punishment handed down to me, but more quickly. I mean really, what’s a guy got to do to get snuffed out? :)”

People familiar with Hausner’s reputation for flamboyance assumed that he would get on his soap box at his execution; they never thought he would go quietly by his own hand. According to one of his attorneys Tim Agan, however, “He’s been thinking about suicide for years,” and it is now evident that Hausner was hoarding drugs, “My understanding is the other inmates knew it was coming,” said Agan. Prison officials are still investigating how Hausner got his hands on the drug.

After Dale Hausner’s death, his brother Randy Hausner described him as, “a person who chose to do horrible things to innocent people.” Randy Hausner summed up nicely the feelings of many who have been following the case, “It’s a shame it happened this way rather than the victims getting a final say at his execution, but either way, it’s over.”

The autopsy report does mention a suicide note, but that has not been released to the media, nor is it likely to be until the investigation into Hausner’s death is complete.

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