The man approached the couple outside their Iowa home earlier this month.
“You owe me money,” he said, according to a report obtained by the Des Moines Register.
Then, he punched 32-year-old Ryan Thompson.
It was a single blow, which landed on the side of Thompson’s face.
The man drove away, leaving Thompson dazed and reportedly slurring his speech.
One day later, Thompson died in a local hospital.
When he was hospitalized, Thompson was “pretty much kept alive by machines and his mother made the best decision and decided that he should just go and be at peace,” his fiancee, Lindsey Engquist, told NBC affiliate WHO.
Did the punch cause Thompson’s death? That’s not yet something that authorities can say.
The Register reported that Gregory Schmunk, the Polk County medical examiner, “will not determine a cause of death until all test results are available” – a process that could take several weeks.
Schmunk told The Washington Post in an email Monday that he couldn’t confirm the cause of death at this time.
“The autopsy is going to determine whether or not it was a direct relation to the assault, if there was a preexisting medical [condition],” Sgt. Paul Parizek, Des Moines police spokesman, told KCCI, a CBS affiliate.
A suspect has been identified, Parizek told The Post, but authorities are awaiting the cause-of-death determination before moving forward with criminal charges.
The suspect, who knew Thompson, is not yet in custody, but authorities have interviewed him and are “confident he will be available if and when he is charged,” Parizek said.
“The case is still under investigation,” he wrote.
Thompson’s fiancee, Engquist, witnessed the attack and told investigators that it was unprovoked, the Register reported.
In her interview with the NBC outlet, Engquist called the blow a “sucker punch” and characterized her fiance’s death as a “freak accident.”
Parizek told the station that some details were “still a little sketchy” in the aftermath of the incident, but investigators believed they might have pieced together why Thompson was attacked.
“If you assault someone and they die, there is some culpability on your part and it’s probably going to be criminal,” Parizek told WHO-TV. “You assume those risks when you take those actions.”
Thompson was remembered as a caring father and the “life of every party,” who was devoted to his son and daughter.
“He was in love with his children,” his ex-wife, Ashley Waddell, told the Register. “They hold him on a pedestal that no one can touch.”
Thompson, Waddell told the newspaper, “truly made every one light up the moment he stepped in the room.”
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Sarah Larimer