Arrest of Robert Hansen: Murder Weapon Jackpot

What the troopers needed was to hit the proverbial jackpot. This jackpot was one filled with the evidence that tied Robert Hansen to the kidnapping, rape and murder of the “missing dancers.”

After an all day search, and no jackpot in sight, Hansen’s attic was the only place troopers hadn’t searched. It was Lieutenant Kasnick who volunteered to go up there. The trooper was violently allergic to almost everything, but soon he disappeared through the trap door, flashlight in hand, ready to brave seven inches of fiberglass insulation, the most irritating substance known to man.

Lt. Pat Kasnik (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

“The attic was cramped and Kasnick soon found himself on his hands and knees, crawling on the beams above a sea of pink. This would not be fun. And it would take forever…

Fifteen feet east of the chimney, in a spot right over the garage, Kasnick stumbled across something. But even after a black bear hide, sheep skin and beaver hide were transported downstairs, and every inch of insulation along the chimney was thoroughly checked, there was no sign of the valuable evidence they sought.

After probing thousands of square feet of attic, sometimes with his fingers alone, only a few feet remained. Kasnick reached his hand deep into the surrounding insulation and groped around. As he pushed on it, it gave way, showing a hollowed out cache. Suddenly it was Christmas morning.

In the corner was a Remington 552 rifle, .22 caliber. A Thompson Contender 7mm single shot pistol. An aviation map, with marks on it. Some jewelry, including a gold arrowhead necklace. A few newspaper clippings. A Winchester 12-gauge shotgun. And, best of all, a .223 caliber Mini-14: the murder weapon.”

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


Hansen’s Weapon Cache (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

Looking back on Sgt. Flothe’s detailed list of the weapons found in the Hansen residence, remember the almost casual, throw away line next to some of the items? The one that said, “Found in attic, row 9 north?” That small detail is homage to Lt. Kasnick’s slog through Hansen’s attic insulation. That was the jackpot.

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Arrest of Robert Hansen: Never Too Many Weapons

There is no shortage of gun collectors in the U.S. And in Alaska, it goes beyond that. Owning multiple weapons comes as second-nature: Alaska is still a wild place, with wild and dangerous creatures. Self-protection is a reality, not an option. So even if they remembered Hansen’s felon status, even if they knew of his collection, it’s unlikely any of his friends would give more than a fleeting thought to Hansen’s wide-ranging stash of weapons.

This brings us to Darla Hansen, who did know, and did remember, that her husband was forbidden from owning weapons due to his felony record.

Check the property list carefully. Note that every single firearm was hidden, except one: the shotgun in the living room closet. The others? “Third drawer down left set of drawers” (garage). “Top shelf of hidden area in family room.” “Gun reloading cabinet garage.” “Storage compartment behind pilot seat” (airplane).

Yeah, Darla probably wasn’t going to turn Bob in for a shotgun in the living room closet. Consider it her “personal protection.” No doubt her husband did.

The following handguns were seized from the HANSEN residence search and logged under 183-65851:

  1. Item #84 Browning .22 Semi-Auto serial #100586U8
    from gun reloading cabinet garage. Stolen. Pendleton, Oregon. Hansen receives permission from probation to go to Oregon, 10-16-74 to 11-16-74.
    NOTE that this is a duplicate record; the weapon having been referenced earlier in Flothe’s chronology. The difference here is that troopers now knew Hansen was in Pendleton, Oregon, at the time the weapon was stolen.
  2. Item #86, Colt Match .22 Semi-Auto pistol serial number #014372-5
    from gun reloading cabinet garage.
  3. Item # 87, Colt Python .357 caliber revolver with holster serial #01624E, from reloading cabinet garage.
  4. Item #105, Thompson Contender 7mm single shot pistol with scope serial #198462, from attic found with Mini-14 and stolen weapons.

    Hansen’s .223 — His Preferred Murder Weapon (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

The following handgun was seized from HANSEN’s Supercub and logged under 183-65857:

Item # 9, Colt Semi-Auto .22 caliber pistol serial #131681 from storage compartment behind pilot seat.

Source: Sequence of Events Leading to Arrest of Robert C. Hansen, 1/31/84, Sgt. Glenn Flothe (“Ruff Copy”)

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Arrest of Robert Hansen: Guns, Guns, More Guns

The search of Robert Hansen’s house revealed that he had more guns than he knew what to do with. Pistols, long-rifles, even “exotic weapons”. Like a hoarder, he’d hidden them in cubbyholes and compartments throughout the house. Most, if not all, were stolen. Stolen because, as Hansen himself told many a would-be arresting officer, as a felon he could not own firearms. Note, in fact, that one of the weapons was reported stolen from Pendleton, Oregon, thousands of miles to the south. Had Hansen been to Oregon? Or had he instead received stolen goods?

The following three (3) weapons (sic) were reported as stolen when serial numbers were entered into NCIC. Weapons subsequently seized:

Pendleton, Oregon CASE #74-45184
Item #84, Browning .22 S/N 100586U8
located loading bench in garage, third drawer down
left set of drawers.

Item #101, Ruger .243 S/N 70-52109
found top shelf of hidden area in family room.

Ruger .243 (example)

Item #166, Ruger #1 .270 single shot S/N 7909
from John Sumrall, 2/6/84

Item #100, Savage rifle S/N 1149848,
found on top shelf of hidden compartment in family room.

Item #103, Winchester 12 ga. shotgun serial number L987311, found in attic, row 9 north.

Source: Sequence of Events Leading to Arrest of Robert C. Hansen, 1/31/84, Sgt. Glenn Flothe (“Ruff Copy”)

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Arrest of Robert Hansen: Stealing from Himself

For Robert Hansen it was no big deal, apparently, to take his hunting trophies off the walls of his den, hide them somewhere and then call his insurance agent and report them stolen. No big deal to take the settlement money. No big deal to take that money and put it toward a new airplane. If you’re Robert Hansen, it’s no big deal to be stealing from yourself. Heck, how could you even steal it, if it was yours in the first place?

Sure enough, though, when troopers got inside Hansen’s house, there were all the stolen trophies, proud as ever on the walls of his den. At this point, it wasn’t only Cindy Paulson who had seen them. Troopers were sure Hansen’s insurance company would appreciate an update on their current location.

BURGLARY HANSEN RESIDENCE A.P.D. CASE 81-1290 Suspected Insurance Fraud

Item #1, Bear rug
family room between table and wall

Item #93, Sheep head, wall of family room.

Item #94, Wolverine hide, wall of family room.

Item #95, Grizzly hide,
nail on wall in corner of family room.

Item #98, Beaver hide,
mounted on wall of family room.

Item #99, Walrus tusks, wall of family room.

Source: Sequence of Events Leading to Arrest of Robert C. Hansen, 1/31/84, Sgt. Glenn Flothe (“Ruff Copy”)

Dall Sheep head mounted in Hansen’s basement (copyright Leland E. Hale)

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Arrest of Robert Hansen: Chainsaw Bob

Burglary victim Ward Hulbert took satisfaction in knowing that at least some of his stolen property was recovered. Even if it was only one stupid chainsaw. What was strange was that troopers found another one just like it, also stashed in the shed behind Hansen’s house. Hansen couldn’t have just one, apparently. The verity of that statement was creepy-true, particularly when one took it to its logical conclusion.

Item #116, Homelite chain saw, found in shed behind house.

Item #117, Homelite chain saw, found in shed behind house.

Vintage Homelite chainsaw, circa 1976

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Arrest of Robert Hansen: Five-Finger Discount Bob

Robert Hansen was a certified kleptomaniac, and a well-known practitioner of the five-finger discount. According to the psychiatrist who examined him in conjunction with his theft of a chain saw from a big box store, he couldn’t stop himself. In the years since, he’d extended his range by landing his airplane near remote cabins and stealing the items he fancied .

“There were several cabins broken into,” burglary victim Ward Hulbert told the troopers. “Mine, the doc’s, another guy’s. And every single one of them was broken into by someone in an airplane.”

When the troopers began their search of Hansen’s house, they brought along a list of stolen property reports. Troopers started seizing items right away. It wasn’t a short list. There was five-finger discount stuff in every corner of Hansen’s house. And beyond.

10-27-83: The following case reports and stolen property lists were available at the HANSEN residence during the search for purposes of reference during which time the following evidence was seized in plain view:

VICTIM: JOHN PACE A.S.T. Case 883-5990

Item #104, Remington 552 .22 S/N 1915723 Row 9 Attic.

Item #113, G.E. C.B. Radio model 3-5000 S/N unknown
Garage, behind chair parts, N.W. corner with #114.

Item #114, G.E. Radio model 3-5000 S/N unknown
Garage, behind chair parts, N.W. corner with #113.

Item #118, Sears Battery Charger, S/N unknown
Garage, on work bench, N end.

Item #19, Battery, Pay-N-Pak 12 volt, no S/N
Buick trunk (I83-65858 Buick Search)

Item #119, Black Bear Hide, staple holes in back
Sheep skin, Beaver hide,
Attic, 15′ east of chimney.

Item #110, Radio-Tape Player, Sears, S/N
Top of table, family room.

Item #111, Ted Williams shotgun .20 ga. S/N unknown,
living room closet.

Item #121, McCullough Generator 2kw yellow and black,
shed behind house.

Source: Sequence of Events Leading to Arrest of Robert C. Hansen, 1/31/84, Sgt. Glenn Flothe (“Ruff Copy”)

McCullough Generator example (not photo of actual generator stolen by Hansen)

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Back Story: Mini-14 In Hansen’s Boat

The shell casings that troopers had found at gravesites on the Knik were .223’s from a Mini-14 semiautomatic. They knew that Hansen favored this rifle. Had bragged about this rifle. Now, with the search of his residence in full motion, they needed to find that rifle. It was the firmest link they had to Hansen and the murders of the missing dancers. The problem was, troopers on the scene weren’t finding it.

Under questioning from Sgt. Flothe, Hansen casually suggested the Mini-14 might be “in my boat. It’s parked right next to my house.”

1:30 p.m.: Lieutenant Jent subsequently asked to look in boat for Mini-14, as HANSEN indicates it may be there. Sergeant Flothe later advised by Lieutenant Jent that permission will have to be obtained from Judge Carlson.

1:45 p.m.: Interview with DARLA HANSEN concluded.

2:00 p.m.: Lieutenant Jent amended search warrant #83-326 to include searching boat for Mini-14. HANSEN advised Flothe weapon may be in boat.

Hansen’s .223 “Mini-14” — His Preferred Murder Weapon (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

“Hey, Glenn,” Jent said when he called Flothe back, “you know we’re gonna have to get permission from the judge to let us look for the Mini-14 in the boat. The boat’s not listed in the search warrant.”

“You’re right. You better call Judge Carlson.”

“I’ll get over there right now.”

“Great. We gotta find that gun. Hansen ain’t breaking.”

“At least we got a break on Henning.”

“Yeah,” Flothe said, “but we can’t make his wife testify against him.”

“Don’t worry. Once he knows we know, it’s gonna be all over.”

“Yeah,” Flothe replied. “I’d still feel better if we found that damned Mini-14.”

“We’ll find it. If it’s here, we’ll find it. And I’ve got a feeling it’s here. It’s just well-hidden.”

All Flothe could do, for the moment, was hope that Jent was right. At least now they had more help on the scene. And maybe they would find the Mini-14 in the boat, although it seemed like a dumb place to hide anything. Then again, Flothe thought, Hansen could be lying. For Hansen, lying was a way of life.”

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

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Arrest of Robert Hansen: Arrested & Arraigned

It was no cake-walk to get Robert Hansen from “free” to “arrested.” October 27, 1983, was a day of exquisite choreography, one in which the efforts of more than a dozen players advanced in unison. Trooper Bullington and Sergeant Smith went on the clock at 6:30 a.m., to surveil Hansen’s Bakery. The day’s dance didn’t end until 17 hours later, when the search of Hansen’s residence concluded.

Robert Hansen Hides Face From Reporters After His October 1983 Murder Arrest (copyright Anchorage Times)

A critical reason for this “long day” to get Hansen arrested was that the search of Hansen’s residence hadn’t gone as planned. That Flothe and Galyan spent a full six-hours at Hansen’s residence, after a FIVE hour interview of Robert Hansen, said volumes. It all came down to one thing: the murder weapon. Hansen had already — misleadingly — told them it “might be” in his boat. It wasn’t in the damn boat. It had to be somewhere. It was, of course, in the last place troopers looked.

2:00 p.m.: Interview concluded – HANSEN placed under arrest reference PAULSON case. HANSEN calls Attorney Dewey’s office. Dewey not in, request attorney meet him at Jail.

2:50 p.m.: HANSEN transported by Sergeant Galyan and Sergeant Flothe to Dr. PROPST office.

3:03 p.m.: Search warrant executed on HANSEN at Dr. PROPST office. Hair, saliva, blood samples seized. HANSEN photographed.

3:58 p.m.: HANSEN appears before Judge Carlson – HANSEN arraigned.

4:30 p.m.: Lieutenant Jent appears before Judge Carlson to allow him to insert key found in SHERRY MORROW’s grave into HANSEN residence locks.

4:49 p.m.: Sergeant Flothe transports and incarcerates HANSEN at Cook Inlet Pre-Trial Facility.

Cook Inlet Pre-Trial Facility (Anchorage Daily News)

5:10 p.m.: Sergeant Flothe and Sergeant Galyan arrive at HANSEN residence, participate in ongoing search.

5:45 p.m.: Lieutenant Jent returns to residence with key; however, it did not operate any of the locks.

11:40 p.m.: Clear of HANSEN residence, search concluded. Sergeant Haugsven leaves house key and copy of search warrant with DARLA HANSEN.

Purchase Butcher, Baker