Real Name: Robert John Dirscherl Sr.
Location: Dunedin, Florida
Date: March 13, 1977
Details: On Sunday, March 13, 1977, fifty-four-year-old salesman Robert Dirscherl and his wife Jinny of Dunedlin, Florida were getting dressed for church. At around 7:30AM, Jinny heard strange loud sounds coming from her bedroom. However, she assumed that it was the sound of a door slam. Minutes later, she found Robert dead in their bedroom, shot to death. His shotgun lay nearby. Police found no evidence of a break-in or signs of a struggle. They also found that Robert had one of his shoes off. They concluded that he had placed his shotgun on the bed and committed suicide by pulling the trigger with his toe. Jinny, however, said that his shoe was off because he was putting medication on. For over a decade, the Dirscherl family was haunted by Robert's death. In March of 1993, Robert's son, Guy, received a letter, postmarked March 13, that said, "I have AIDS. I am dying. I must make my peace with the Lord. I killed your daddy 15 years ago. He found me in his bedroom. I had no choice. Please pray for me," There was no signature or return address.
Within two weeks, the case was re-opened. The Dirscherls began re-investigating the case and found many inconsistencies with the original police report. In the report, it stated that Robert was depressed because of an unsuccessful surgery that he had two years earlier. However, his family claimed that that was incorrect. Also, there were interviews with people who had not seen Robert for two years prior to his death. One was from a nurse who incorrectly described him as a "bed-ridden vegetable". Robert's closest friends, who would have known Robert's state of mind the best, were not interviewed. There were also no powder burns on his fingers. Finally, they did not understand why Robert would make such an effort to commit suicide with the shotgun (using his toe) when a pistol was on the nearby nightstand. His family felt that the police had botched the investigation of his death. Jinny stated that she did not believe the gun was fingerprinted, nor was the house dusted for prints. However, new investigators who reviewed the case found no evidence of a homicide.
In February of 1995, Jinny's sister, Fran, traveled from Florida to California on a train. During the trip, she met a woman who claimed to be a psychic. The psychic told her that she had had a vision of Robert's murder. Apparently, when Robert was going into his closet, he saw a man in the other room; a fight ensued, and Robert was then shot with his gun. Surprisingly, the psychic was able to accurately describe some details of the scene, including that Robert was using ointment for athlete's foot and that the ointment was in a cabinet beneath a mirror. Robert's family believes that these revelations suggest that Robert was actually murdered.
Suspects: Robert's family believes that the letter writer was the killer. The letter was postmarked March 13, 1993, and was mailed from Tampa, Florida.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the February 14, 1997 episode. Some sources spell Robert's last name "Dirschel".
Robert's on Daniel has written a book about the case, "Healing Wounds: The Redemption Legacy".
Results: Unresolved. It has since been discovered that the Dirscherls had a neighbor who was a teenager at the time of Robert's death. The neighbor had been in the Dirscherl home several times before and would later be convicted of several burglaries. Years later, he died of AIDS. The neighbor's friends remembered that he often used the term "daddy" similar to how it was used in the confession letter. The Dirscherl family believes that the neighbor was responsible for Robert's death. Handwriting analysis was done, comparing the neighbor's handwriting to the letter. However, it is unknown what the results of the analysis were.
The police still consider his death a suicide, so they cannot get a final resolution until his death is ruled a homicide. In 2010, forensic investigators determined that the evidence supported that the death was a homicide. Surprisingly, as of 2015, authorities and the medical examiners have given seven different theories as to how Robert may have committed suicide, while the evidence seems to suggest otherwise. Sadly, Robert's wife, Jinny, died in 2000 without ever seeing her husband's death resolved.
- Robert Dirscherl on Unsolved.com
- Dan Dirscherl's Website
- Robert Dirscherl Sr. Mysterious Death News Footage
- Family looking for new answers in 1977 Dunedin death
- Robert Dirscherl at Find a Grave