Christy Hayes Changes Her Game, Surprises Robert Hansen

Robert Hansen was confident that the police would take his word against that of a prostitute. It was a game he played with law enforcement and a game he played with the women of Anchorage. It was a game he usually won.

But Hansen’s bravado didn’t work on Christy Hayes. She refused to play his game. It saved her life.

[Transcript lightly edited for clarity]

RH: I would always say, here’s five dollars for this (inaudible) and since you’re gonna accept this, that means there’s no doubt you are a prostitute, you have been paid. It may not be the full amount, but you have been paid. Uh, you just, you get, you know, the police wouldn’t even, uh, wouldn’t even question it, you know.

FR: Well, but it didn’t happen with the black woman actually. She ran into you again a few months later, wasn’t it, uh, remember? And called the police officer over and [he] talked to you and all. Didn’t that happen?

RH: Boy, I guess… I was dumb, dumbfounded by that one, you know. You know, that, that was in the, uh, Bush Company, yeah. Uh, you know, well see, but that’s a distance of time and, uh, and you know, when I was in there that night, you know, I… I… done it the normal thing, you know. I, uh, I stepped inside the door and took one of the first booths there and sat there, you know, and, uh, tried to peek around and make sure, that I’d take each girl individually and look at and make sure that I hadn’t seen her [before].

Of course, I was always, people, girls coming out of the dressing room, this and that, and all and so forth and I’d always take a booth away [from other people], you know. So, that, uh, or I didn’t stick [out], [I’d] try and pick out the darkest portion of the club.

Hansen Lineup Photo (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

Uh, and there, you know, and that night, you know, for some reason I just knew I, something told me, Bob, get the hell out of here, you know… Uh, some… something’s wrong.

Uh, and I seen this gal, you know, and all, and she was whispering to another gal there and looking my way and, uh, I looked at her, but she didn’t look the same. Whether she had an entirely different hairdo, or whatever, she did not look the same to me at all, you know. And, uh, uh…

In fact, Christy Hayes did look different at the Bush Company. She kept her natural hair short, so she could wear wigs and change up her game. She changed wigs like she changed clubs; it was his “new” woman, full of surprises, that caught Robert Hansen flat-footed.

How to Apply a Wig (WikiHow (Image not Christy Hayes))

RH = Robert Hansen; FR = Frank Rothschild

Source: Statement of Robert C. Hansen, District Attorney’s Office Anchorage, February 22, 1984

Christy Hayes: Robert Hansen Comes Back For More

At approximately 5:50 pm, on March 23, 1980, a Sunday, A.P.D. Officer Loesch was called to the Alaska Bush Company Bar in Anchorage. He contacted Christine Hayes, who was then working at the Bush Company as a dancer. Hayes told Officer Loesch that the man who had assaulted her several months before was there. She pointed out to Loesch a caucasian male in the bar that Loesch identified as Robert C. Hansen. Loesch asked Hansen to accompany him to A.P .D. for an interview, to which Hansen agreed.

Officer Loesh interviewed Hansen at A.P.D. immediately afterward, after advising him of his Miranda Rights. Hansen denied having bound or abducted Hayes, or having pointed a gun at her. He said that several months earlier he had met Hayes at the Embers, and had given her a ride home after she got off work. He said that during the ride, Hayes had placed her hand on Hansen’s leg and asked Hansen if he wanted to stop.

Hansen stated he stopped his truck and he and Hayes got in the camper on the truck. He said Hayes then stripped off her clothes and she performed oral sex on him. Hansen said that Hayes then demanded $75.00 from him, which he refused to pay, since no one had mentioned money before. He said that Hayes then got upset and started screaming, causing him to panic and throw her out of the back door of his camper.

Hansen did not explain the broken glass at the scene and Loesch did not ask him about it. The report indicates no further investigation was done on the case.

Bush Company
Robert Hansen, circa 1972 (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

Source: Affidavit for Search Warrant of Robert Hansen’s Property, Sgt. Glenn Flothe, Alaska State Troopers


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Christy Hayes: Escape from the Camper

Robert Hansen was asked about Christy Hayes and the “camper incident” during his February 1984 statement to authorities. At that point in his interview, they were not convinced he was telling them the whole truth (and were about to confront him with that fact).

What they knew was that Christy Hayes had been in a street fight. That it was not something she’d easily forget. That she was prepared to testify against him on that basis alone. And there was something else: experiences like those he had with Christy Hayes, and the camper, ultimately drove Robert Hansen to use the airplane as his preferred kidnap vehicle.

[Transcript lightly edited for clarity]

FR: [Tell us about] the black woman in 1979… That happened with her before you had an airplane?

RH: The one when I broke the window and all the…?

FR: Yeah.

RH: Yes. Oh yeah.

FR: Where were you going to drive her? What was the deal there?

Outskirts of Anchorage, 1970’s (Steven Cysewski)

RH: Sir, I wasn’t really going to go any farther than right there [west of Muldoon near the Glenn Highway]. I thought gee whiz, you know, ah, she was strictly a — well she propositioned me there in that there Embers, I think it was called at that there time. That was just a deal where I just thought that I had sufficiently scared [her that] there wasn’t going to be any problem. She told me there wasn’t going to be any problem, ah, I was just going to have sex with her. Just pull off the side of the road right there and ah…

FR: Somewhere in town?

Site of Camper Incident, 202 Stewart Street (Google Maps)

RH: …and then take her right back. I said I’m going to drop you off right back up town and that’s it, you know. But ah … When she was up in the cab of the truck… she had that locked, and had, uh, the back window there locked and I couldn’t get, uh, into her. The key for the camper was up sitting on the dash. I had, I had the truck keys, uh, my (inaudible) keys in my hand, but she was locked in the cab with the keys to get into the God damned camper. Uh, from the, the back end, you know. And, uh, she was sitting in there and, you know, had the doors locked, but I couldn’t get in to her…

And, I, I showed her right where the God damned key is, on, laying, it was laying right in fucking plain sight, you know, on, on the dash of the ca … or it was in the pickup. I said, “how in the hell can I get them”, you know. Anyway, she, and she kept on screaming and I just frickin’ got mad and I stuck my hand in and punched the windshield, or the side window, and knocked that completely out and, uh, said something about, “No, I’ll get the fucking keys,” you know, and reached in for them. And then she jumped out the other side door and ran away, you know.

Source: Statement of Robert C. Hansen, District Attorney’s Office Anchorage, February 22, 1984

Hansen professed that he didn’t like “slam-bam-thank-you-ma’am.” But his arrangement with Christy Hayes had all the earmarks of a “quickie.” As things progressed, it became clear to Christy that Hansen wanted more than that. Cindy Paulson explained it best:

“He said ‘cause he used to work on the slopes and that he would come down and spend money for a girl and go to her room for ten or fifteen minutes. And he said well he was gonna start getting his money’s worth. So he felt he should go and get the girl and… do what he pleased with her.” (Cindy Paulson)


RH = Robert Hansen; FR = Frank Rothschild

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Christy Hayes: The Fight Of Her Life

On Sunday, October 14, 1979, Anchorage Police Officer Hammond was dispatched to 202 Stewart Street in Anchorage, on a report of a possible Assault With A Dangerous Weapon. Officer Hammond reported he went to that address and contacted the resident, Mildred Johnson, who told him that a few minutes before a nude black female had come to her residence asking for help. Johnson observed that this woman was bleeding. In fact, the woman had just survived the fight of her life.

202 Stewart Street, Anchorage (Google Streetview)

“Officer Hammond contacted the black female, who identified herself as Christine Hayes. She told the Officer that she was working as a dancer at the Embers Bar in Anchorage, located near 5th & B Streets, and that earlier that evening she had met a caucasian male in the bar and agreed to have a date with him when she got off work.

“She said that when she got off work the man paid her $110.00 in advance to have sex with him, and they went from the bar to a camper truck parked outside, and got in the back.

“She stated that once they were in the back of the camper, the man produced a revolver and pointed it at her and tied her hands and feet with wire. Then he got in the cab of the truck, which she described as a light colored pickup, and drove to the vicinity of Burrell and Chena Streets, and parked.

Kidnap & Escape Map, Christy Hayes (Google Maps) Note the proximity of Hansen’s bakery to the Embers Bar — and the proximity of Hansen’s house to the area where he assaulted Christy Hayes. The drive from Hansen’s house to the bakery, at legal speeds, takes 7 minutes.

“She stated that by this time she had managed to free her hands and feet from the wire, and when the man got out of the pickup cab and went to the rear door of the camper, she managed to climb through the sliding window of the pickup and locked herself in the cab. She stated she managed to get out of the cab of the vehicle and ran to a nearby house, that of Mrs. Johnson, for help.

“She described her assailant as approximately 70″ tall with brown hair, approximately 40 years of age. Hammond photographed tire tracks and broken glass in the vicinity where Hayes said the truck was parked.”


Source: Affidavit for Search Warrant of Robert Hansen’s Property, Sgt. Glenn Flothe, Alaska State Troopers

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Robert Hansen’s Terror on Muldoon Road

One of the reasons Robert Hansen switched to his airplane was to minimize the risk of getting caught with a kidnap victim in his vehicle. (As we’ve seen, that didn’t always work.) He surmised — correctly — that the vehicle was a vulnerability; the woman could call attention to herself or even escape. Equally dangerous, the vehicle could break down. He could be stopped by the police. Someone could see them and think something was amiss. Robert Hansen devised a terror routine on Muldoon Road to ensure against those potentialities.

[Transcript lightly edited for clarity]

RH: I had planned on possibly that was a better way to do it [by using my airplane], but I didn’t know how to get the people from my home to the airplane. I didn’t like — there were times when I’d get up here along the Knik River and so forth, you know, wasn’t hardly a time when I was there [that] there was[n’t] other people driving up and down the road and this was always a very scary situation. I was always concerned about that.

If, while the girl was there, everything may go just as it was supposed to go — but what if she seen somebody coming close by or something or other and then start yelling or screaming or something like this here, this guy here is got me out here, he’s kidnapped me and so forth?

Methods: Hansen House Muldoon
Hansen’s House & Muldoon (Google Maps)

FR: What was your plan if that happened? Did you have a plan?

RH: Well, that just scared the living daylights out of me. I didn’t know what to do. Now, that’s why the only thing I could think of is just jump in the airplane and just leave and get the hell out of there as fast as I could. Hope to hell that they would not have got the numbers off my airplane. I know that once that happened I was in a tremendous amount of trouble.

FR: What I’m wondering, though, is you even mentioned that when things didn’t go right out here you were kind of, you felt like you were right out in the middle for the whole world to see. And then down here by Seward, where you were just at a pull off along the road where there were mounds of gravel, and you were certainly, I’m sure, going as quick as you could.

RH: What I was going to do if something come up, sir, I honestly don’t know about that one. I hadn’t gone out and out planned to start shooting a bunch of people if a bunch of people showed up. No. I didn’t want to shoot anybody. It wasn’t the plan at all.

FR: But Cindy Paulson mentioned to us that you said to her something like if we get stopped by anybody, or troopers come, or anything like that…

RH: Oh, that was just pure…

FR: That was just talk?

RH: That was just talk to get her as scared as possible. The more scared she was [the better]. I think there was something like that said every time someone was put out. That was just [talk].

GF: What was your standard speech? What would you normally try to tell them to convince them not to?

RH: Oh, boy. I tried to stop, most generally coming out of town, pull onto Muldoon Road…

Muldoon Detail
Muldoon Road & Centennial Park (top left), Headed Out of Town (Google Maps)

Right down here aways is — I don’t know if it’s an old fire station or, if it’s a State’s shed, or something now in here. They generally have a big mound of gravel in here.

Muldoon Gravel Pit
Gravel Pit, Muldoon, Close-Up (Google Maps)

Ah, there is [also] an apartment building here, and some homes along here, some more apartment buildings, there’s one big apartment building down here. You can drive into the parking lot here, then more parking lots in between two of the big apartment buildings… Pull in here and just stop there, or I pull into the parking lot here, between the apartment buildings down here.

Muldoon: Raven Hill Apartments
Raven Hill Apartments, Muldoon, Detail (Google Maps)

Well, six of one, half a dozen of another, I’ve used them both… Just stop there so the car’s not moving, so I don’t have to worry about her and the car both at one time. The car stops [at the] side of the road. Then try to control the situation from there.

FR: Is that when you pull out the gun?

RH: Yeah, I pull out the gun then and say hey, look now, you’re, I think [the] standard speech was, “Look, you’re a professional, you don’t get excited, you know there is some risk to what you’ve been doing. If you do exactly what I tell you, you’re not going to get hurt, you’re just going to count this off as a bad experience and be a little bit more careful next time who you are gonna proposition or go out with,” you know.

I try to act tough as I could to get them as scared as possible. Give that right away, even before I started talking [and] all that, reach over, you know, and more or less get my hand in the girl’s hair, you know, and hold that head back and put a gun in her face and get ’em to feel helpless, scared right there. Then tell them to turn around and face the seat on their knees on the floor board. That way they were down, they wouldn’t start anything there. I’m sure, maybe it’s not the same procedure for you, always try to get control of the situation so some things don’t start going bad.

GF: Sounds like you had a good way to work it.

RH: Now, that’s, maybe I’ve seen some cops and cop shows and TV. I don’t

FR: How would you usually bind people? You wouldn’t have their arms free?

RH: No, no generally, handcuffs, that’s the easiest, simplest, but you know, put their hands behind them, when they were sitting on their knees on the floor with their hands behind them, and also then they were down when I drove by. Nobody could see them. And then, once down like that, then give them a speech that, you know, try to impress on them over and over again if there was no problem whatsoever, that [if] they didn’t do anything foolish, tomorrow they could get on and get the shit out of here or just not do it anymore.
Muldoon: On the floor
FR: Did you have to bind their feet too?

RH: No, I can’t recall at this time ever, ever tying anybody’s feet up, no. They were, I almost always got them on the floor board of the car. Mainly to, you know, I know an awful lot of people around town, and this and that, and I just didn’t want the idea that possibly maybe taking any more chances [that] somebody knows my car and sees me driving.

GF: Did you ever have anything go wrong right there, I mean just go bat shit on you? Were you able always to control the situation?

RH: I never had a time to there when things went bad there. I never had, I never even had a girl, the only time you [could] say it went half way bad was if I had a couple of them start crying and start out, oh, don’t kill me, don’t kill me, I haven’t done anything. I tried everything I can think of that they know that’s not going to happen. Ah, just do exactly what I tell you, I’m not going to hurt you. I never hurt none of them if the things went right. I admit I scared the hell out of them but that’s what I was trying to do.

FR: From here of course there were no stoplights either so you could go right back.

RH: I could just go, I had to make a stop, of course, you know that. [But] once that happened I knew, I mean, I purposely drove ten miles an hour slower than the speed limit anyplace I had to go and that’s one thing that really petrified me that, by god, something would go wrong or something.

You know, before I would go pick a girl up, I would go through, I would check my car over from one end to the other. I was always petrified that something was going to happen to the car and for some reason or another I was going to have a mechanical failure, that I was going to be forced to stop along the road and then what the hell would I do? I’d do everything I could think of so I didn’t have a problem.

RH = Robert Hansen; FR = Frank Rothschild; GF = Glenn Flothe

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Robert Hansen Plays A “Good Samaritan”

During his confession, Robert Hansen describes a rendezvous with a woman that overwhelmingly resembles Paula Goulding. The woman is scared. Wants to get out of the business. Doesn’t know what do to next. Finds an unlikely Good Samaritan. That was Paula’s story.

Born in Hawaii, new to Alaska, formerly employed as a secretary, this dancing in the clubs routine was more than Paula Goulding had bargained for. So much so that, at first, she only danced topless. But heeding the cries of “take it all off” meant she would make more money. Eventually, she did what they wanted. She took it all off — and, almost immediately, made an ill-advised date with Robert Hansen.

Good Samaritan: Paula Goulding
Paula Goulding (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

Is it really Paula that Hansen describes? There are differences in the account, to be sure. The woman Hansen talks about was working at different clubs than the one Paula was known to be working, both before and after her encounter with the “Butcher, Baker.” And, Hansen claims, he didn’t ask her out a second time. Still…

Hansen mentions seeing this woman at the Wild Cherry which was, in fact, very close to the Bush Company — where Paula worked at the time of her disappearance. Given the sometimes fluid state of his memory — and the fluid state of women working the Anchorage strip — it is possible that he confused the two, both of which were on Anchorage’s infamous Fourth Avenue (1).

[Transcript lightly edited for clarity]

RH: This gal here was working at… Captaln Ahab. She was working there and I walked in and this one girl was sitting by herself at a table. And I walked up and she was sitting there all withdrawn and so forth and I sat down and talked to her and she was, I could tell she was very very upset, what you call scared stiff.

Then [saying] “I can’t believe I’m doing this, I can’t believe I’m doing this.” I said oh, gee whiz, what’s wrong, something I can help you with or whatever? And she says, she just came up and signed her contract or something to dance at the [club and] that she didn’t want to do it. She said she just couldn’t stand the thought of getting up on stage in front of a bunch of people and taking her clothes off. She says she just wanted to get away [from] there.

Good Samaritan: Kit Kat Club
Kit Kat Club, One of Anchorage’s Many Topless Clubs (Stephen Cysewski)

Well, I told her I’ll, of course, right away I guess I’m thinking, gee whiz, maybe this is one I can — my family was gone — maybe I can get her to come stay with me, you know. So I just out and out said, “Hey, you know, I have a home here in town, would you consider coming with me?” And she said, “Are you serious?” And I said, “Yes, I’m serious.” She just said, “Don’t go away.”

She just got up, walked in the dressing room and come out with a coat on and some stuff in a bag, which I found out later was her clothes. She still wore her costume and just walked up to my table and says, “Lets go.” And [we] left and got out and walked out and got in my car, she says, “I got some stuff that’s at The Sleeping Lady.”

And we drove down there and she said, “Park right there in the parking lot,” and she ran in the front door there and she was scared about going in there. I asked her two or three times do you want me to go with you. She said, oh no, that would cause [a] lot more problems. Just “no, no I can’t do that, just please stay here, please don’t leave, don’t leave.”

Robert Hansen is playing the Good Samaritan

She went inside, then before long there was another girl I could see, running to a window in there and looked out and looked at me. And then she left and then both the girl that I’ve taken with me, and the other girl that looked, come down to the door and they had two or three sacks full of clothing and stuff. And they, she put the stuff in my car and we left and I drove to my home and we got home and so forth and we sat and talked for a little while. She was just saying that she was just petrified, scared that she didn’t want to go back and dance there any more.

Then, you know, I got in there and I asked her, you know, we were talking for a little while, I asked her right out, would you care to go to bed now, and she sat there for awhile and she just, she [shed a] few tears, cried a little bit. She said no, she [was] just sorry, she didn’t mean to be a party pooper and so forth, she said she couldn’t do that and that she was just too scared to go back.

I said well, gee whiz, I hate to be callous about it and so forth but, you know, my understanding was that you were gonna stay with me if you was gonna stay here. Gee whiz, you know, is there someplace else you want to go? I’ll take you. She said she didn’t have any place to go. Well, I said I didn’t know what to do with her either.

Turns out the “Good Samaritan” wants something in return

I went and called up on the phone, I don’t know the right name for it, there is a shelter here in town for abused and battered women, and all of this jazz like this here. And I called them up and explained I had a lady here that didn’t have a home, she didn’t know where to go, she’s scared. I don’t believe I told that she was a dancer or anything else. I could have, maybe I did. Anyway. They give me the address where to take her down in a home in South Mountain View, or in Fairview. I drove her down there and spoke very very briefly with the lady that was running the place.

Good Samaritan: Mountain View
Mountain View, Alaska (Stephen Cysewski)

I left, but then I was up town sometime later. I can’t, maybe it was a few, maybe it was a week or two later. The girl was back dancing again in one of the places. It seemed like it was a different place, so maybe the Wild Cherry across the street, someplace. But I was very very surprised. As a matter of fact, I think I walked up to her and asked her. “Gee whiz you change your mind about dancing?” She just kind of looked at me and [said] something to the effect, yes, I had to, or I changed my mind, or something or other.

FR: Did you try taking her out after that?

RH: No. This one here girl didn’t proposition me. I mean, she was in there, she was scared, she, I felt she didn’t even belong there. And I wouldn’t — if she hadn’t had a place to stay, she would have ended up staying at my place, whether there was anything between us or not, until she found another place. All the girls that are working, you know, they are not prostitutes. Some of them just don’t have another means of making a living. I don’t like what they do, really, but it’s a situation that that’s where they are at and that’s where they are making a living.

Good Samaritan: Topless Club Anchorage
Topless Club, Anchorage

If they just want to dance, why, well, to hell with them. A lot of other girls throughout the world are dancing for a living, whether topless or bottomless bar or on a stage or wherever. They may not be morally right but for what they are doing [sic], but I can understand it and that’s never just, well anyway.

RH = Robert Hansen; FR = Frank Rothschild

(1) My personal view is that Hansen was talking about Paula Goulding. There are too many similarities for this to be mere coincidence.

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Robert Hansen Meets MOE

Most of us know this, but it’s worth a refresher on how criminal investigations are conducted — and how that is influenced by what the criminal justice system needs to prove. One of the oldest “truisms” of criminal investigations turns on an aphorism colloquially known as “MOE.” MOE is the acronym for “Motive, Opportunity & Evidence.” Investigators focus on this three-legged stool because each leg constitutes an important element in a successful criminal prosecution.

Let’s consider each in turn, using the Robert Hansen case as an example.

Robert Hansen Leaves Courtroom, Covers Face (Hansen is 4th from left; courtesy Anchorage Times)

  • MOTIVE : As most of us know, motive defines “why” the accused committed the crime. In Robert Hansen’s case, his motive for murder was closely tied to his desire to continue his kidnappings and rapes. Dead women don’t talk. Over time, Hansen started killing them for the “thrill;” his motive having evolved to include the “sexual surge” he got from committing murder.
    • Why is this important? The defendant can — and will — argue that he had no reason to commit the crime for which he is accused. That argument is strengthened when the prosecution is unable to present a credible motive linking the defendant to the crime. Juries — human beings — prefer to believe that everything happens for a reason.
    • In some crimes, moreover, motive helps investigators identify accomplices; this is not trivial: depending on the motive, accomplices can go on to commit additional crimes.
  • OPPORTUNITYThis leg of the stool refers to the accused having access to the crime scene and/or victim, either physically or virtually. In Robert Hansen’s case, he owned a bakery that was close to the Anchorage “strip,” where dancers and prostitutes frequented. His work hours — early in the morning — put him in physical proximity to his victims, who worked similar hours.
    • Why is this important? If the accused can prove he was elsewhere when the crime occurred, then the prosecution has a problem. That problem is not absolute: the accused could have hired a hitman or committed a virtual crime through electronic means. In these cases, the prosecution needs to prove that the accused has the ability to “push those buttons.”
  • EVIDENCE: This refers to the forensic findings that link the accused to the crime: DNA, fingerprints, shell casing and weapon matches, etc. Most crime dramas emphasize this aspect of MOE — not only because the exposition is “sexy,” but because it is considered the most irrefutable. In Robert Hansen’s case, prosecutors found that his shell casings matched those found at crime scenes. They found mementoes belonging to victims in his attic. They matched his semen to samples found in Cindy Paulson. Speaking of Cindy Paulson, they also had eyewitnesses who could identify him as the person who kidnapped, raped and threatened them.
    • Why is this important? Evidence is what ultimately links the accused to the crime. If investigators find the DNA of the accused on a murder victim, the accused is positively linked to the criminal act. Same for fingerprints, shell casings or, for that matter, disguises found in the perpetrator’s possession that match witness descriptions or have been seen on surveillance cameras.

There are, of course, exceptions to the three-legged stool requirement. Circumstantial cases, for example, may lack the kind of explicit evidence that prosecutors prefer — but if the other two legs of the case are strong, they can be successfully prosecuted. Similarly, a case lacking an explicit motive can be successfully prosecuted if there are ample evidenciary findings and convincing proof of opportunity.

Failure to prove MOE points toward innocence instead of guilt

That said, a breakdown in any of these investigatory pillars can threaten the effectiveness of a criminal prosecution. Indeed, seen from the opposite perspective, failure to prove one or more of these three components can — and often does — point toward innocence instead of guilt. This is as it should be — the U.S. system operates on the presumption of innocence (well, it should; sometimes its seems that the public has grown weary of “innocent until proven guilty”).

(1) MOE was strong enough against Robert Hansen that, upon being confronted with it, he decided to plead guilty rather than go to trial.
(2) Some folks are downplaying the importance of motive in the Las Vegas massacre. Perhaps it will, in fact, prove unknowable. But, again, motive can point to accomplices. As such, it is not something investigators can or should casually discard.

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Robert Hansen: The Banality of Evil

As I write, the Las Vegas massacre is fresh in mind. As people struggle to understand the killer’s motive, I am thrust back to thoughts about Robert Hansen. I cannot claim that these men were the “same.” One committed mass murder, a singularity of death and destruction; the other was a serial-killer whose crimes spanned decades. Criminologists don’t usually consider these two criminal acts as identical.

One — a mass murder — is seen as an explosive act of concentrated violence, in one place, at one time. The other — serial-murder — is associated with intricately planned violence over a longer span of time, involving multiple locations.

To some degree, these archetypes adhere in the present comparison. And yet… The Las Vegas killings were very much intricately planned. To the extent that they were, Robert Hansen’s serial killer psyche may provide some insights into the Las Vegas killer’s motive.

Reading — and hearing — Robert Hansen’s confession, one is immediately struck by the matter-of-factness of it all. His voice is flat and completely without affect. Even when talking about the most grotesque details of murder, Robert Hansen sounds no more emotional than he would in describing a shoe shine.

I’ll concede that he shows some sympathy — in the form of regret that things “went bad,” for example, in the case of Paula Goulding, who tried her damnedest to be cooperative. Except that… once that “spell” of “going along” was broken, Hansen went straight to murder, as though all previous accomodations were null and void. His bonds to common humanity were weak at best: these women were the Other, were “prostitutes” who were beneath him.

They did not matter. They could be sacrificed to his need for control.

This disconnectedness comes through unvarnished in Hansen’s confession and is reminescent of what Hannah Arendt said of Adolf Eichmann:

What he said was always the same, expressed in the same words. The longer one listened to him, the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else.

Eichmann on Trial: The Banality of Evil (Hannah Arendt)

THIS NUDGES US toward the “Banality of Evil” that Arendt defines. The man before us, when we finally see him, is small and insignificant. Surely, we think, this cannot be the man who wreaked such malevolence and destruction.

We will never hear from the Las Vegas murderer in the same way we heard from Robert Hansen. But it is no stretch to think that, once stripped of his guns and cameras, he too would be small and insignificant.

He had no greatness in him, only the desire to destroy the greatness of others, as if by doing so he could rehabilitate himself.

Banality of Evil
Saddam Hussein, Post-Capture (AP/U.S. Military)

“Out of power, most tyrants and serial murderers seem pathetic or ordinary, harmless, or even pitiful, as Saddam Hussein did coming out of his rathole with an unkempt beard.”

Amos Elon, Introduction to Eichmann in Jerusalem (Hannah Arendt)

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Robert Hansen: Empty Shell, Empty Thrills

This guy Hansen was a twisted soul whose emotional repertoire was thin as a twig. An overgrown child, he was always looking to get away with something behind your back. And always seeking the next thrill, bigger than the last.

Unfortunately for the women of Anchorage, there was never enough. Never could be. Robert Hansen was an endless pit, which no amount of caring and no amount of love could fill.

That emptiness is never more starkly communicated than in the following exchange with Anchorage Prosecutor Frank Rothschild during his confession.

Robert Hansen, Hunter (courtesy Anchorage Times)

RH: Quite a few weekends I would spend doing something [away from my family]. I got to admit you know ah, any excuse I got to be away like that was time that somebody wasn’t watching me and I could go steal some stuff. You know, I could go in the stores…

FR: …When you steal things, that is sort of a rush you get in doing that, part of it is just getting away with something, fooling the police, just the thrill or excitement or something like that? Did you ever feel anything similar to that in dealing with any of these women? I know you were afraid and were scared, you talked about hiding under the bed, but was there any kind of a rush associated with that too?

RH: Well, there was a feeling when things were going right, there was a great sexual surge. Not the same feeling, no, as when I was going in stealing something out of a store.

FR: You’re a hunter, you like to kill animals —

RH: That was more of a contented feeling going in — like going and take something. I got a big charge and thrill out of that, yes, but the same time gosh it felt good, I wasn’t going to have to, of course, pay for everything that I got out of the stores, but at the same time, it was — in fact somebody had just lifted ten pounds of weight off my shoulders, oh it felt good.

PARKER (psychiatrist) so forth – LANGDON (psychiatrist) said you know, kleptomania. I don’t know what the right term for that is, anyway I know how it made me feel. It made me feel good to go in and get by with it. The more I could get by with the better, you know. I’ve taken a few firearms and so forth. It’s hard to get a firearm out of the store, especially long guns. Of course the ones that aren’t so long, they’re not bad, but ah, it’s somewhat the same thing.

RH = Robert Hansen; FR = Frank Rothschild

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Paula Goulding: The Secret Rendezvous

“Dancing nude did not come easily to Paula Goulding. For the first week she only danced topless. She was a beautiful woman, however, and the woman who managed the club was patient with her. Then she finally got up the nerve to dance bottomless. She knew that the girls who did made more money than the girls who didn’t. Ironically, that was the night she made a date for a secret rendezvous with a mystery man, a date she should have refused.

“Goulding met the man at the Bush Company, where he offered her $200 to meet him for lunch. His only stipulation was that she come in a cab. On Sunday the 24th, Goulding called a cab and departed her home.”

Excerpt From: Walter Gilmour & Leland E. Hale. “Butcher, Baker”

Secret Rendezvous: Paula Goulding
Paula Goulding (Alaska State Troopers)

From Robert Hansen’s Confession

[Transcript lightly edited for clarity]

LH: Do you remember where the two of you [planned to] rendezvous at?

RH: Not exactly. No. Downtown most likely some place.

LH: Do you remember how she arrived there? She was supposed to come a certain way.

GF: How would you get them there so you wouldn’t be seen making the connection?

RH: That’s one thing that I thought I was always pretty careful about… And ah, I was going to meet them out in front of the Safeway there at the Northway Mall and one time down by the Post Office Mall downtown… I always made sure I was there, oh, at least half an hour, forty-five minutes ahead. I just stood there and waited you know, not where I thought they could see me, you know. And if someone pulled up with them and stayed, I just turned and took off.

GF = Glenn Flothe; RH = Robert Hansen; LH = Lyle Haugsven

By the time Paula Goulding met up with Bob Hansen for their “lunch date,” she was desperate and confused. Her overwhelming emotion was to leave the topless dance business behind. Hansen, ever in search of a “romantic” relationship — where the woman liked him for himself — offered to let Paula stay at his house until she figured things out. His wife and kids were out of town, so the opportunity was there.

But Paula was wary. Running scared. Before she knew it, she was handcuffed and in Robert Hansen’s airplane. This was not the secret rendezvous she had in mind.

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