Man charged in Green Bay, Alabama killings found victims on dating app

Prosecutors say Anderson's multi-state crime spree, including two murders and an attempted murder, began in Michigan
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 10:54 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2022 at 8:11 PM EST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A man accused of murdering a man in Green Bay and another man in Alabama found his victims on a dating app, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Action 2 News.

On Nov. 17, the Brown County District Attorney filed a charge of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide against Caleb Anderson, 23. Anderson is charged with capital murder for another killing in Alabama.

The Brown County complaint accuses Anderson of killing 65-year-old Patrick Ernst at an apartment in the 1300 block of Packerland Drive in Green Bay in August.

The complaint states Green Bay Police were called on Aug. 2, 2022, to check on the welfare of Ernst. He had failed to show up for work and his family had not heard from him in a few days. Police responded to Ernst’s apartment on Packerland Drive and there was no answer. They were let into the apartment and found a green utility knife on the floor. Kitchen cabinets appeared to have been ransacked.

Police found want appeared to be blood droplets on the floor. Police located Ernst’s body in a bedroom. There was a note on a chair that read “I am so sorry he didn’t deserve this.”

Officers say Ernst had been stabbed and slashed multiple times.

On a wall above the body of Ernst police found the message: “Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”.

Under the verse was the date “8-1-22″ and the letters “RIP.”

Patrick Ernst
Patrick Ernst(Provided by family)

Investigators found a large cross on top of Ernst.

“It was large decorative wood imaged cross that had Styrofoam affixed to the back so it could be propped up on a table,” police say.

At the scene, the medical examiner observed 38 stab wounds to the head, neck, and chest and three stab wounds to the stomach. Ernst appeared to have several defensive wounds to the left hand. In total, Ernst had suffered 51 wounds.

The day after Patrick Ernst was found dead in Green Bay, police in Alabama found 52-year-old Dwight Dixon dead in a home in Flomaton. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency identified the suspect as Caleb Anderson.

Officers learned Anderson was a suspect in the killing of Ernst in Green Bay. Green Bay Police and the U.S. Marshals had issued a bulletin stating Anderson was believed to be traveling to Alabama in a car stolen from Ernst. Anderson was arrested Aug. 3 in Helena, Alabama, when police spotted the blue Ford Fiesta.

According to the complaint released in the murder of Patrick Ernst, Anderson opened up to special agents about the killings. On Aug. 1, Anderson admitted to attacking jogger Aurora Dahl in Upper Michigan. Anderson, a Michigan resident, told police he had the urge to kill the woman but did not. She was able to escape.

Anderson drove to Green Bay. He said he had installed the dating app Grindr “where guys hook up with other guys.” He said he was looking for another car and Ernst responded to him. That led Anderson to Ernst’s apartment in Green Bay. Anderson told the special agents that he and Ernst ended up in Ernst’s bedroom and that’s where Anderson stabbed Ernst.

Anderson told police that he had “always just wanted to kill somebody.”

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The criminal complaint says Anderson found the victim through a dating app

Anderson took Ernst’s vehicle and drove to Alabama. He connected with another man on Grindr and met him at his home in Flomaton. The man was later identified as Dwight Dixon, 52.

Anderson stated he stabbed Dixon.

“He said he looked at that as a challenge and said he was a giant slayer. He [Anderson] added his wrestling name was ‘Jack Rader’ named after a serial killer (BTK killer Dennis Rader),” reads the complaint.

Anderson also talked about attempting to burn down a church in Alabama.

Police “asked if there was a particular reason that Anderson picked the two individuals to kill, specifically asking if issues had with them being homosexual.”

“Anderson replied simply that it was the convenience of the App (Grindr). He added that if he went on Tinder it would have took too long. He said he thought of his mom and decided he didn’t want to kill women,” reads the complaint.

Police say they found videos and photos on Anderson’s phone at the scene of the Ernst murder.

Alabama Special Agent Wilson again asked Anderson “about him only using the Grindr App and his comment that he wasn’t targeting homosexuals.”

“Anderson again said he used Grindr but not to specially target homosexuals, adding that he could have used Tinder but that had a lot of women on it, and it would have taken a lot longer. Anderson also said that by that point he didn’t want to kill women (like he previously thought about),” reads the criminal complaint. “S/A Wilson asked Anderson if he was homosexual. Anderson said no. S/A Wilson again asked if there was targeting of homosexual men other than the convenience of the Grindr app. Anderson indicated it was only the convenience of the app and added the Grindr app helped him by providing the men’s locations. He explained that by using Grindr he knew they would be by themselves as opposed to pulling up to someone’s house and ‘taking a chance.’ Anderson added simply that he knew Grindr would work.”

It may be a long time before Anderson faces a judge in Brown County - if ever. He’s being held in Alabama on capital murder for the killing of Dwight Dixon. On Thursday, Anderson pleaded not guilty to the charge in Alabama.

Court records show Anderson heard the indictment against him Thursday and his defense attorneys were given 30 days to file any motions.

The capital murder charge carries 10 years to life in prison, but Alabama also has the death penalty if prosecutors want to pursue that.

The jogger who was attacked in Upper Michigan shared her story with our partner station WLUC.

“Further down my run, probably a mile into it, I heard footsteps behind me,” Aurora Dahl explained. “I turned around and he was right there, running towards me... he looked at me and said, ‘I’m doing a social experiment, I’m doing a social experiment.’ In his hands he was holding duct tape and what looked like a mace. I didn’t know for sure.”

Dahl did not fall for the ruse, and she said Anderson attacked her.

“He was trying to throw me to the ground, and I was resisting it,” Dahl said. “Somehow, he ended up behind me trying to choke me. My dad always taught me if someone is behind you trying to choke you, kick your feet out from under you because they won’t be expecting the sudden change of movement and weight.”

After she escaped, Dahl ran home and called the police. She said within 10 minutes, Trooper Warren Webster from the Michigan State Police was at her house and called for extra resources.

“He immediately started calling in other assets like our forensic sketch artist and our post detective,” said Lt. Jeremy Hauswirth, MSP Iron Mountain Post Commander.

Hauswirth said Dahl’s recollection of the assault was critical in developing a sketch and identifying Anderson.