The mother of the Naples man who was shot and killed during a weekend rampage involving a man apparently trying to find his former girlfriend said Tuesday night that she has no idea why her son allowed Norman J. Strobel to move in with him.

Authorities suspect that Richard J. Diekema Sr., 55, of Songo School Road was shot and killed early Sunday morning by Strobel inside Diekema’s two-bedroom mobile home.

Two Cumberland County sheriff’s deputies then shot and killed Strobel, 59, after he confronted them and started shooting, said Sheriff Kevin Joyce.

Diekema’s mother, Sandra Diekema of Fremont, Michigan, last spoke with her son Friday evening. She said he called her every week.

“I told him that I never want to have to bury one of my children and he said, ‘Mom, I’m going to live to be 100,’ ” she said.

In a telephone interview from her home in Michigan, Sandra Diekema said friends and relatives told her that her son befriended Strobel in July. At first, Strobel asked if he could store some of his belongings on the Songo School Road property.

About two weeks ago, she learned that Strobel had moved in with her son.

“We know nothing about Norman Strobel,” said Diekema, 74.

But it does not surprise her that her son, whom everyone called Rich or Richie, tried to help another person in need.

“Rich was a hardworking, fun-loving guy, a man who would give you the shirt off his back if you asked, but not before he washed and ironed it,” Diekema said. “He thought he could make everyone’s life better. He was very kind-hearted.”

The shooting began late Saturday night at a camp on Winifred Lane in Casco, where Strobel shot and wounded Jason Almeida, 32, of Middletown, Rhode Island. Almeida had been staying there with his girlfriend, the daughter of Strobel’s ex-girlfriend, Sandra Goulet, who owns the camp. Almeida was shot four times and was listed in critical condition Monday.

Around 4 a.m. Sunday, sheriff’s deputies entered the mobile home in Naples that Richard Diekema was renting after seeing him seated in a chair with blood on his face. Two deputies then shot and killed Strobel after he confronted them. The deputies discovered that Diekema had been shot dead earlier.

Diekema grew up in Fremont, Michigan, home to the corporate headquarters of Gerber Products Co., which produces baby food and baby products. Diekema’s father, Dick, spent his entire career at Gerber.

Early on, his parents knew that Diekema loved working on engines and was good at it.

“He could sit in your car, listen to the engine running and tell you what was wrong,” his mother said.

When he was 16, he somehow managed to roll a motorcycle up a flight of stairs and left the machine in his bedroom, until his mother discovered what he had done.

“He was old enough to know better,” Sandra Diekema recalled. “Trust me, it wasn’t there by the time we went to bed.”

After graduating from Fremont High School in 1980, Diekema moved to Denver, where he enrolled in an automotive trade school. It’s also where he met his wife, whose family lived in Maine. The couple eventually returned to Maine.

They moved to Baldwin, where they raised three children, a daughter and two sons. One son lives in Virginia, while the other children live in Maine.

Diekema worked for 31 years at Reynolds Motorsports in Buxton, most recently as the company’s head mechanic and shop foreman. He is divorced from his wife and was single at the time he was shot and killed.

On Nov. 23, the day before Thanksgiving, Diekema roasted a turkey and brought it to work to share with his co-workers. They closed the shop for the meal. His mother said her son was a skilled chef. In addition to hunting deer and moose, he loved to cook.

“It hurts to say we lost someone very special to our Reynolds Motorsports family. Rich Diekema was more than a co-worker. He was a great friend to many and will be missed by everyone who knew him,” the company said in a message on its Facebook page.

Diekema’s mother said she repeatedly tried to persuade her son to move to Cornish or Buxton so that he wouldn’t have to commute an hour to work. He refused to move from his home. He enjoyed the solitude and being able to go fishing whenever he felt like it.

“He said, ‘Ma, I love it here,’ ” she said.

 


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.