The Bloomer Massacre

“Late in the afternoon on Monday, November 16, 1981, I was at work in the office of my small software company, located in Roseville, MN. I was talking to a programmer about a software issue, when our receptionist said that I had a call. It was from my (first) wife Peggy. She said, ‘Tom, are you sitting down?’ I said no. She said, ‘well, please sit down.’ So I did. Then she said, ‘Your parents and Ardie are all dead.’ I was stunned.”

Can you even begin to fathom losing your parents, brother, and family employee all in one day? Tom Dietsche can. I have had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Dietsche via email for the past couple weeks. I myself can’t remember that cold day back in 1981, however, I do know that my parents were celebrating my birthday–yes, these individuals were all murdered on my first birthday. Later when my family relocated to Bloomer, we lived only a couple miles up Highway 64 from the RV site where the Dietsches were killed.

Nothing like what I’m about to tell you happens in Bloomer. It’s a tiny town with hardly any violence or crime. Children can run around with their friends at night. Many residents leave doors unlocked, people wave at one another even if they don’t know each other. Life is slow paced there, change does happen but it is a gradual process. But on November 16th, 1981 a violent storm hit this tiny town with a force that shook everyone to their core.

As the unsuspecting individuals inside the recreation vehicle sales office at the nearby trailer park were going about their daily business on this cold winter day, they didn’t notice the man stepping inside the office with a handgun. As the shots rang out, no one seemed to pay any attention to the blasts because of the deer hunters out in the nearby woods conducting target practice for deer season. Minutes later, a woman was outside hanging laundry to dry at a house near the RV dealership. Perhaps the woman heard a sound and started to turn or she was too completely immersed in hanging the laundry to see that she was being watched. Another shot rang out and then complete silence.

A short time later, Norm Fox, a friend of the family walked into the sales office and met with the ultimate terror. His eyes beheld the slain victims of 62 year old Wilbur Dietsche, his 22 year old son Arden, and 22 year old employee Loren Stolt. His blood turning ice cold, he lunged for the nearest phone, his hands shaking and called the local police department to tell them of this horrifying scene. After the sheriff’s department arrived, they identified all three victims and then had to make a very difficult visit to Wilbur’s 65 year old wife Lenora at home. Only when they knocked, there was no answer. They knocked again, still no answer. They found her lifeless body in the yard, the clean clothes still billowing in the chilled breeze. Now there were four deaths and even more confusion. People in the trailer park heard the news quickly and were peeking out their windows to see their very own trailer court being roped off for the scene of a crime. Most of them left that night and did not return until the next day for fear that the monster who committed these slayings was still on the loose and in the general area.

The events of that day in 1981 were a blur for so many but what happened the next day added to the ever growing questions. On Tuesday, November 17th a resident of the mobile home park, 29 year old Roger Johnson, shot himself to death as the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department closed in on him. They got word of Johnson and wanted to question him as a suspect in the murders of the day prior. He did not want to speak with them. Instead he drove out to a stretch of countryside, pulled over and got out of his vehicle, shotgun in hand. He then proceeded to raise the gun to his head and ended his own life. Was it because he was guilty as charged? Or perhaps it was the fear of being convicted and going to prison an innocent man…

Mr. Johnson was considered to be mentally ill and authorities figured that he was having issues at the nearby trailer park because of his illness. Some speculate that the Dietsches were in the process of evicting him, and in his angered state, he committed a deadly retaliation. These murders left mental wounds for family and friends. And perhaps that’s not all that’s been left behind- a few local residents who reside at the trailer park think that Roger Johnson’s ghost is still amongst them, refusing to be kicked out of his home, even in death.

I was lurking around on the Unexplained Research website and came across some members on the board who were talking about the “Bloomer Massacre” as it is now referred to. One person said, “Things didn’t start happening till about five months ago. My kids and I have heard a female voice saying “help me” which has happened about seven times in the last few months. But last Friday was too much when my oldest called me at work and said that a lady’s voice had said her name right in her ear while she was in the kitchen making a drink and her other two sisters were outside playing and there was no one else in the trailer. I’m unsure as to what I should do! This has become really unnerving as of late. I’m unsure if this has to do with the murders that happened nearby or if it is something that’s attached to my trailer or maybe the land. But right now I just want it to go away because it’s scaring my kids.”

Another member on the same board reported, “I have lived in the trailer park since 1998. Do I think things go on here… possibly. I have had banging on my trailer at night, knocking on my door, running up and down my steps, then when I check outside there is nothing. My mom also lived here for awhile and she is very open to the paranormal. She also had things happen to her. I do have to say that I would never live in the lot where the murderer lived. One of the girls that used to live there used to have a lot of banging, running up and down her steps and heard other things inside her home. She moved out because of it.”

Many other residents of this cursed trailer park have experienced the strange banging on the sides of their mobile homes and also have reported choking or wheezing sounds as if someone is being strangled. Then there is the mysterious female entity asking for people to help her. Could this ghostly wail be that of Mrs. Dietsche crying out for help? Maybe she is a spirit who night after night experiences the same events from November 16th when her life ended so tragically. I wonder if the victims of that day still cannot rest because the murderer, whether it was Johnson himself or someone else was never truly brought to justice. And the spirit of Roger Johnson may still walk amongst them, refuting the claim of the murders and wanting to pronounce his innocence. Or perhaps he is just as evil in death as he was in life…

Tom went on to tell me in his email, “My wife and I split up and later divorced. Luckily, I got into individual and group therapy with a counselor. I credit him with keeping me sane and able to grow past the trauma of this horrible event. I sold my software company, found good managers for the RV dealership and MH park, and went on with my life. Took a few years off, then got into a new business that was very successful. Met my second (wonderful) wife, and regained a positive hold on life. Now I feel much better.”

Paranormal events are sprung from tragedies such as “The Bloomer Massacre” and it’s common to feel negative energy in a particular area, especially having knowledge of such a horrible crime. Time stands still for the supernatural, and some spirits won’t let go of whatever befell them to become trapped in between life and death. Perhaps that is what has happened in the case of the nearby trailer park or even at Willie’s RV Sales. Maybe it’s not the low moan of the wind making the hair on the back of your neck stick up. If you feel a cold chill, don’t rule out the strange and unusual–just because you are standing alone, that doesn’t mean some unseen entity isn’t standing inches from you, watching and waiting.

Devon Bell currently resides in Wisconsin with her husband Tony. Devon and Tony own a paranormal film company called The Haunting Experiments. She has published five books on the ghostlore of Wisconsin and her latest, Haunted Summerwind: A Ghostly History of a Wisconsin Mansion, will be released by The History Press in Spring 2016.

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