Details of Disappearance Dietz was last seen riding his bike home from the Meijer store in Saranac, Michigan on September 8, 2007. He has never been heard from again. When his family checked his home, nothing appeared to be missing except for some financial papers.
Dietz is described as a meek, vulnerable individual who avoided contact with other people. At the time of his disappearance, he lived in a trailer on a remote 20-acre property on Eddy Road near the Ionia State Game Area.
He was known locally as the "Bicycle Man" because he used a bicycle as his primary mode of transportation, even during the winter, although he owned a car.
He had amassed nearly $450,000 in his bank accounts and often talked about it and how he would like to invest it, but he lived a frugal lifestyle, even patching his shoes with duct tape. His family said he was raised in an institution and had always been extremely shy. They believed he was autistic, but he was never formally diagnosed with the condition.
A week prior to his disappearance, Dietz had his bi-annual haircut and told the barber he was afraid for his life because someone wanted him to invest his money, would not take no for an answer and was becoming threatening. He said he had given the man access to his bank accounts and the man had visited his home, and he thought the man might be following him.
On September 19, Rami Ikbal Saba tried to forge Dietz's signature to remove nearly half a million dollars from Dietz's bank account and put it into an account in Saba's native Lebanon.
A photograph of Saba is posted with this case summary. Authorities discovered he had stolen Dietz's identity, representing himself as the missing man and cashing thousands of dollars' worth of checks in Dietz's name after Dietz disappeared.
On September 30, a man claiming to be Dietz called Dietz's brother. He stated he had gotten a girl pregnant and had planned to travel to Greece with her, but he had a stroke. He asked the brother for help in getting money out of Dietz's bank account.
The caller spoke with a foreign accent and Dietz's brother, who knew Dietz had never been involved with a woman in his life, realized something was wrong. When he asked the caller to prove his identity by providing Dietz's mother's maiden name, the caller hung up.
In December 2007, authorities searched Saba's Lowell, Michigan home and arrested him. He was charged with mail fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. These charges are unconnected with Dietz's disappearance.
In January 2009, prosecutors unsealed an indictment against Saba's longtime friend, Raogo Ouedraogo. Ouedraogo is a native of the West African nation of Burkina Faso, but he was living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when he was arrested. He faced the same charges as Saba.
A photo of Ouedraogo is posted with this case summary. Authorities believe the two men worked together to kidnap Dietz, incapacitate him, assume his identity and steal his money.
Ouedrago flew to Grand Rapids, Michigan late in the evening on September 11, 2007, three days after Dietz's disappearance, and checked into a hotel the next afternoon. He's been unable to verify his whereabouts during the fourteen hours between the time his plane landed and the time he arrived at the hotel.
In July 2009, Ouedraogo and Saba were additionally charged with kidnapping resulting and death and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire. The suspects are both biologists with doctorates in their fields, and without prior criminal histories. They met each other while attending graduate school in Belgium.
Saba allegedly admitted the murder to other inmates in jail and said it wasn't planned. He converted to Islam after his arrest, fired his attorneys and defended himself during his own trial, saying Allah would protect him. He was convicted in June 2011 and sentenced to 32 years in prison.
Ouedraogo was convicted of Dietz's murder before Saba, in April 2011. In December, however, the judge who presided over his trial overturned the verdict and issued a judgement of acquittal.
In her 36-page ruling, she said there was no evidence to link Ouedraogo to Dietz, either directly or through Saba, and the sole case against Ouedraogo seemed to be that he was a close friend of Saba's.
The prosecution appealed the ruling and the appeals court didn't reverse the murder acquittal, but did reinstate the charge of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire. Ouedraogo was convicted of that charge and sentenced to five years in prison. He maintains his innocence.
Dietz is a retired Amway worker. He was a non-drinker at the time of his 2007 disappearance, and never married. Authorities have never recovered his body. Foul play is suspected in his case due to the circumstances involved.
- Michigan State Police
- Ionia Post
Updated 12 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated October 23, 2015; picture added.