FAIRBANK — Questions remain after a rural Fairbank golf course operator allegedly killed his son last week.
Authorities received a 911 call about a possible stabbing at Daniel Gail Niebuhr’s home on Vine Avenue around 5:25 p.m. Friday. Bremer County sheriff’s deputies found Niebuhr’s son, 36-year-old Brock Niebuhr, dead from an apparent gunshot wound. The father was arrested for first-degree murder.
Court records allege Daniel Niebuhr, 59, told investigators he walked up behind his son, who was on a couch watching TV, and shot him in the head.
“It’s very shocking,” said one neighbor who didn’t give her name.
Brock Niebuhr left behind a wife and 3-year-old daughter, according to a GoFundMe.com page collecting money for a memorial fund.
Neighbors and a former member of Dan Niebuhr’s Wapsie Ridge Golf Course said the slaying came as a surprise.
“I really don’t know. Everybody locally is in shock. Something had to be terribly off for him,” said the former member, who was at the course on Monday loading up his golf cart.
Further details about the incident weren’t available. The son’s body was sent to the State Medical Examiners facility in Ankeny for autopsy. The case is being investigated by the Bremer County Sheriff’s Office with the help of Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Iowa State Patrol.
On Monday afternoon, the pine log home with a three-stall garage remained surrounded by crime scene tape, one end of the yellow ribbon tied to a pickup camper resting at the edge of the driveway. A sign at the corner of the property advertised lots for sale, starting at $29,995.
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Dan Niebuhr grew up a short distance down the gravel road, and golfed on the Wapsie Valley High School team before moving on to Iowa State University. He landed engineering jobs at Caterpillar and later John Deere.
While still at Deere, he helped his father, Loren Niebuhr, transform what had been farm fields behind the farmstead into a nine-hole, 65-acre golf course in 1993. It was a family project. Dan Niebuhr designed the course, and he, his father and brothers built it, according to Courier archives.
“He had the vision. It’s a very nice course,” the former member said.
Dan Niebuhr built the Vine Avenue home in 2007. The golf operation, located in his back yard, won accolades, and in 2012 Dan Niebuhr was named the Iowa Golf Association’s 9-Hole Superintendent of the Year.
Loren Niebuhr, himself a Deere retiree, died in December of brain cancer at the age of 85, according to an obituary. A celebration of life ceremony had been scheduled for April 13 at Wapsie Ridge clubhouse.
Recently, the course appeared to have hit hard times, and the business’s website is no longer in operation.
The former member said Dan Niebuhr had told him he wasn’t sure he would reopen in the spring, which was confirmed by a March 4 posting on the course’s Facebook page that announced “Baring unforeseen events or circumstances, Wapsie Ridge Golf Course will NOT be open for business in the 2019 season.”
Daniel Niebuhr remained in the Bremer County Jail in Waverly as of Monday afternoon.