Arrest of Robert Hansen: A Thief Goes Home Again

Troopers already knew Hansen was a thief. A bigtime thief. The initial search of his home on the day of his arrest turned up ample evidence that he was an inveterate five-finger man. But Troopers had no idea how deep his thieving instincts went. Hansen gave them a glimpse when they took him to his residence and he pointed out all the stuff they’d missed. As Hansen himself bragged during his confession, “Hell, I stole more stuff in this town than Carter got little green pills.”

Photo: jennandjon

Hansen is quoting a variation of a once-popular saying, referring to a “cure all” patent medicine of the last century. As the magazine Southern Living notes, “Carter’s little pills began as Carter’s Little Liver Pills, a patent medicine developed in 1868 by Erie, Pennsylvania’s Samuel J. Carter. At one time, everyone knew Carter’s Little Liver Pills because they were advertised widely. So widely, in fact, that it seemed Carter had an endless supply of pills — which is why the saying originated as ‘more than Carter has little liver pills.’

3/2/84: On Friday, 3/2/84 Sergeant FLOTHE escorted ROBERT HANSEN from the 3rd Avenue pre-trial facility to his residence at which time HANSEN pointed out items which were stolen so that they could be returned to their owners.

Items identified by HANSEN as stolen and seized from the residence included first aid kit from Scenic Lake, a red Homelite chainsaw from a cabin approximately two miles west of Big Lake, ten horsepower outboard motor from west of Big Lake, Craftsman portable radio, Ross desk radio calendar pad, telescope, red vinyl airplane seat containing blue sleeping bag from Merrill Field, green generator stolen from B&C Supply, and a push type lawn mower.

The telescope, first aid kit and a .22 calibre break down rifle and semi-automatic pistol already seized were stolen from Ketchum Air Service cabin sites. The first aid kit, telescope, green generator, lawn mower, and red vinyl airplane seat containing blue sleeping bag are returned to their owners. The remaining items which are unidentified are placed into evidence pending identification.

Merrill Field (Anchorage,Alaska)

Big Lake (Call of the Wild Fire, near Big Lake, Alaska)

Scenic Lake

3/2/84: After transporting HANSEN to his residence Sergeant FLOTHE then transported him to AST Headquarters evidence room with regards to having HANSEN point out which weapons were stolen and which weapons did in fact belong to him. After viewing the weapons HANSEN was then transported back to the 3rd Avenue pre-trial facility.

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Sentencing of Robert Hansen: Religious & Other Matters

Rereading the Sentencing document for the first time in at least a decade, I’m struck by several things. First, the tenuous hold that religious life had on Robert Hansen throughout his life. Darla, his second wife, talked about trying to get him to church after his arrests in Alaska. She said he didn’t much like to go, probably because he felt guilty about everything the preacher talked about. Bob Hansen was religious when it served him, not the other way around.

Second, there’s what Rothschild refers to as “random plea bargaining.” It existed, of course, but the context is important: the first Hansen case in Alaska involved a real estate secretary, the second case involved a prostitute. It was the second case that was plea bargained away. That was not random.

Finally, it is crucial to remember that, despite his unattractive looks, his acne and his stutter, Robert C. Hansen managed to be married not once but twice. That doesn’t absolve him of being a woman hater, of course. He was. Still, by his own admission, Darla was the only person who could in the least part restrain him.

[Quoted from Robert Hansen’s Sentencing Document, February 27, 1984]

MR. ROTHSCHILD: Looking at records from the men’s reformatory in 1963 [after Bob was convicted of arson in Iowa], we see that then, as also when he served time in Alaska, he was involved in religious matters. He did religious counseling, he took a course in something called the Moody Bible Institute, he took speech therapy because of his stuttering problem and he regularly attended church services.

Then we don’t know much about Mr. Hansen other than he divorced his first wife of just a few months back then, later married the woman he’s still married to, and comes into contact with us then in 1971.

Hansen’s Sentencing Document (Click for Larger Image – 661KB)

Detail: Robert C. Hansen’s Sentencing Document

MR. ROTHSCHILD: He tells us this is the first time that he ever attempted to become involved with a woman other than his wife. She was 18 years old. It was November of ’71 and she made the mistake in driving down the streets of Anchorage of looking over to Mr. Hansen in a neighboring car and, at least to his memory, she smiled at him. He waved and she acknowledged the wave. This he took in his mind to be an approval of him, even perhaps a desire of him. He followed her home, he saw what apartment she went to and then at some point he went up and knocked on her door and, under the ruse of asking to use her telephone book, came into her apartment.

He then left, came back a few minutes later and asked for a date. She was in fact engaged, told him so and he left. He returned a few days later. She was driving home from work, she was not a woman working the streets, she worked in a realty office here in town.

She got out of her car, it was about 6:20 in the evening in November. It was dark. Walking to her apartment and the same man, she remembers, came up, grabbed her from behind, stuck a gun in her back and said, “Don’t scream. There’s a gun at your head. I’m going to blow your brains out if you scream.” […]

It was less than a month later that another 18 year old was coming out of the Nevada Cafe in the early morning hours of December, when he met her, got her in the car, tied her hands behind her back with shoelaces that he had in his pocket. Said he wanted to keep her for a couple of days. […]

As Your Honor knows, back in 1971 and ’72 the policy of the prosecutor’s office in the state of Alaska might be labeled a policy of random plea bargaining. And the man faced with these charges made a deal. He pled, but to the first incident, to assault with a deadly weapon. And the charges on the rape, kidnap and assault with a deadly weapon of the other woman were dropped.

The defense hired Ray Langdon of the Langdon Psychiatric Clinic, a man who certainly in his time, before he died, was identified with the defense in criminal cases. He made a report that was filed with the court in which he prognosticated problems in the future. He said, upon examining Mr. Hansen, he related that throughout his teenage life he was very shy and fearful of speaking to girls. If he did have the courage to ask one for a date, and he was refused, he then used to fantasize doing all sorts of harmful things to them.

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Arrest of Robert Hansen: 460 Years Plus Life

460 years plus life seems like a long time. Certainly no known human has lived that long. Some folks wanted more. They wanted the death penalty. They wouldn’t get it. Couldn’t get it. Alaska doesn’t have the death penalty. A life sentence was the most they could expect. The most they could expect, that is, until Judge Moody upped the ante.

“It wasn’t until approximately 2:45 on Monday afternoon that Bob Hansen appeared before Judge Moody. Attorneys, law enforcement officers, members of the press, and friends and families of the victims packed the third-floor courtroom. When Vic Krumm announced that Hansen had admitted to the serial murders, Cindy Paulson ran crying from the room. Other who had known the dead women also cried, some throughout the proceeding. Frank Rothschild, meanwhile, launched into the best courtroom speech of his career.

“Your Honor,” Rothschild said, “before you sits a monster, an extreme aberration of a human being. A man who has walked among us for seventeen years, serving us donuts, Danish, and hot coffee, all with a pleasant smile. Mellow, mild-mannered, bespectacled, Bob the baker. A family man. A man so cunning, so clever, that his friends and acquaintances are in shock at what he now admits to before this court. Not even his wife of nearly twenty years had any idea of his dark, evil side.”

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

2/27/84: On 2/27/84 at approximately 2:45 pm HANSEN is sentenced before Superior Court Judge MOODY. HANSEN pleads guilty to the rape and kidnapping of CINDY PAULSEN, the theft of items from cabins found in his residence, the insurance fraud, and the murders of PAULA GOULDING, SHERRY MORROW, JOANNA MESSINA, and EKLUTNA ANNIE. HANSEN is subsequently sentenced to 460 years in prison plus a life sentence. The sentencing is concluded at 5:30 pm.

Judge Ralph E. Moody (Sentencing Judge, State of Alaska v. Robert C. Hansen)

MR. ROTHSCHILD: For those people that he has slain, for those lucky enough to have survived, for all of us, Your Honor, we ask that you rid us of this beastly man forever.

THE COURT: Counsel want a recess?

MR. DEWEY: No, Your Honor.

THE COURT: You may proceed.

MR. DEWEY: Your Honor, it’s my client’s wish and desire that nothing further be said on his behalf at this proceeding by his counsel. And that concludes my remarks.

THE COURT: Mr. Hansen, you may stand. Do you have anything to say before the court pronounces judgment?

MR. HANSEN: No, sir, I don’t.

THE COURT: Well, it’s hard to believe that humanity produces and sustains people who have the ability and propensities to commit such enormous, such beastly, such undescribable crimes… And we might as well face the music and resolve now and forevermore that we’re not going to allow people like this to remain on the streets. And I know we’re going to hear hue and cries from civil libertarians and everyone else that you can’t keep people out of public for life. But if there ever was a case in which a man or defendant needed to be surveillanced for the rest of his life it is this gentleman here.

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Robert Hansen: “I Worked on the North Slope”

If ever there was a ’70’s lie, Hansen telling the hookers that he worked on the North Slope was it. The transient, footloose man, here today, gone tomorrow — that was the image Hansen wanted to cultivate. He even had a speech, that went something like this: “Don’t bother reporting me; I’ll be out of Alaska sooner than you can get the words out. And, besides, even if you manage to tell the cops, my buddy will give me an alibi. It will be our word against yours. And you? You’re nothing but a prostitute.”

Yeah, it worked. Or it did till he met Cindy Paulson.

Robert Hansen North Slope (video + audio from confession)

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Sgt. Flothe’s Nightmare Scenario

Sgt. Glenn Flothe’s nightmare scenario was Robert Hansen in a helicopter, ready to take it down as part of some ultimate death wish. The alternate view, held by Maj. Walter Gilmore, was that Hansen was a “chicken killer.” That is, he killed other people because he was too scared to kill himself. That Robert Hansen would not be taking any helicopter down.

The question was: when troopers took Hansen up to the Knik to identify burial sites, which Robert Hansen would show up? Sgt. Flothe was loathe to take any chances. He didn’t want the nightmare scenario to come true.

Troopers Review Hansen’s Flight Map (l-r, Lt. John Lucking, Maj. Walter Gilmore, Trooper VonClasen)

Lieutenant Jent told Sgt. Flothe that it was perfectly all right for them to take the State Trooper helicopter up to the Knik River to look for burial sites, and when Flothe passed along the information to Krumm and Rothschild, they decided to take Hansen up to the Knik the following day, a Friday. In the meantime they would make arrangements for Bob to see Darla Hansen, so the two of them could straighten out some of their domestic business.

Flothe barely slept a wink that night. In his mind, Flothe imagined Hansen going for the control stick of the chopper and then saw them wheeling toward the ground as the pilot vainly tried to regain control. Hansen was laughing the laugh of the howling dead.

The trooper sergeant was convinced that taking Bob Hansen up to the Knik River in the State Trooper’s Bell helicopter was a suicide mission. If they could get a bigger chopper, something like a Huey, he’d feel better, but there was no way the colonel was going to approve that. It would run something like five grand a day, and they’d already spent enough money on this case.

The next morning, however, when Flothe screwed up his courage to ask the colonel to rent a larger chopper, Kolovosky shrugged. “Of course,” he said.

“That way,” Flothe went on, “I could put a guy on either side of him, so he doesn’t pull any funny business.”

“Of course,” Kolovosky repeated.

“And I can sit up front with the maps, with a bulkhead between Hansen and the pilot…”

“Of course,” Kolovosky said. “Anything you need, Glenn, anything you need. Oh, and by the way, congratulations.” Then Kolovosky reached for a case at the front of his desk. “Have a cigar.”

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

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Arrest of Robert Hansen: Twelve More Bodies

8/25/84: Lieutenant JENT, Sergeant FLOTHE, and Trooper VonCLASEN accompany ROBERT HANSEN to the grave sites previously described on 2/23/84. While riding a leased helicopter and following ROBERT HANSEN’s directions he then subsequently directed Lieutenant JENT, Sergeant FLOTHE and Trooper VonCLASEN to the grave sites of twelve additional bodies. The locations were photographed and marked with paint and or flagging tape.





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Back Story: Robert Hansen, Pocahantas Football

They like basketball and wrestling in Iowa, two sports where the state has traditionally excelled. They also play football, sometimes with championship seasons. In the ’50’s, when Robert Hansen played football, the running game was everything. And Pocahantas Indians quarterback Ralph Hudek… he was something else. 265 pounds of Iowa corn and a cloud of dust. Compared to Ralph, Bob was a little undersized, but compared to Ralph, everyone was undersized.

Still, Bob seemed to have a philosophy that got him through.


Or, had a philosophy that seemed to get him through. Even way back then, Bob had a bundle of troubles, including a brush with arson after returning to Pocahantas from a stint in the Army.

“Bob planned the arson of the Pocahontas Community School bus barn several days beforehand, at the back of his father’s bakery. His accomplices were two sixteen year olds who also worked for his father. On the night of the arson they were to give their parents some excuse and come to the bakery instead. Once there they would paint the ovens so they would have an alibi.

On the morning of December 7, 1960, while one of his cohorts was at work in the bakery, Bob passed the word. “Tonight is the night,” he said. “We’ll meet at the bakery as planned.”

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

Robert Hansen, Pocahantas Indians, 1957 (Des Moines Register, February 28, 1984)

Pocahantas Indians Football (Partial Roster, 1957)

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Back Story: Staying In Control

Robert Hansen, Anchorage Courthouse, 1972. He was there to answer Assault with a Deadly Weapon charges in the attempted kidnapping of a real estate secretary.

QUESTION: Is it only weak people who want control? If you’re needier than most, do you desire not only control, but domination? And if you’re so sad you’re pathetic, do you crave total control and total domination? We’ll let Robert Hansen answer for himself.

“I didn’t start to hate all women. As a matter of fact, I would venture to say I started to fall in love with every one of them. Every one of them become so precious to me ‘cause I wanted their friendship. I wanted them to like me so much.

“On top of the things that have happened, I’m not saying that I hate all women. I don’t. Quite to the contrary. I guess in my own mind what I’m classifying is a good woman, not a prostitute. I’d do everything in my power, any way, shape or form, to do anything for her and to see that no harm ever came to her.”

“But I guess prostitutes are women I’m putting down as lower than myself. I don’t know if I’m making sense or not. And you know, when this started to happen—when it happened the first time at Eklutna I went home and was literally sick to my stomach. As a matter of fact, I was sick out there to my stomach. I can remember I sat and cried. I knew what I did was totally, totally wrong. It had come so close to happening before with Robyn Patterson…”

“The daughter of the trooper?” Frank Rothschild asked.

“Right. There were other girls there, ah, it come so close to happening, but it hadn’t.”

“Because they hadn’t tried to run?” Vic Krumm asked.

“Right. As long as they didn’t run away, things went as I controlled it. I guess I wanted to control things. It made me feel masculine or powerful or in control of my life. And as long as things went fine, you know, that was it. But this time it went too far. My gosh, I can remember I never even drove downtown, I think, for six months. I can remember driving downtown and seeing a prostitute down there and my gosh, my whole body just tightened up. I didn’t even want to go close to one.”

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

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Arrest of Robert Hansen: Nothing But the Truth, Sort Of

February 23, 1984

February, 22, 1984 was a lesson in humility. Or… Make that humiliation. If anyone thought that Hansen was going to give a straightforward confession, they had been sadly disabused of that notion. They had come to that vexing axiom: If a subject is lying, but not lying all the time, everything he says is untrue, since there is no reliable way to tell when the person is lying and when he’s telling the truth. To challenge Hansen, they were going to have to find a way to attack the known, or strongly suspected, weaknesses in his story. That had to start, it seemed, with a full accounting of the number of victims. They had to get the truth. The whole truth and nothing but the truth.

“You told us a number of things yesterday,” Vic Krumm said, “that we know are not totally accurate, and we don’t believe you’ve been totally candid. So far, it’s my impression that you’ve given us only the evidence on the two victims that we know for a fact are alive and willing to come forward and testify, as well as the five victims that we found.” …

“You told us yesterday that there were some bad times, but that there were twenty-one good times, and that those twenty-one good times correlated to your flight chart. We have looked at your flight chart, and one of the things that Mr. Rothschild’s been doing the last couple of days, in his inquiry of you, is asking you to explain whether or not the five places that you went, if they were all bad times, or if there were good times coupled with bad times. And on a number of those places you described to him that there were only bad times. Never any good times coupled with them. Your flight charts have the twenty-one little asterisks on it, including the five places where we found bodies that you’ve talked about, leading us to conclude that there may well be twenty-one girls out there.”

Hansen was beginning to twist nervously in his seat. So were his lawyers. What was the point of Krumm’s speech?

“Now where we sit is this,” Krumm told the gathering. “We are prepared, and will in fact, go into court as we indicated we would, on Monday, avoiding the publicity for you. But come springtime, we’re not going to let this sit. We’re going to go out there, and we’re going to be looking for sixteen more graves.”

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


2/23/84: Sergeant FLOTHE, Sergeant HAUGSVEN, Lieutenant JENT, Trooper VonCLASEN, District Attorney FRANK ROTHSCHILD, District Attorney VIC KRUMM meet with ROBERT HANSEN and his defense attorneys JOE EVANS and FRED DEWEY at the district attorney’s office with regards to the continuation of the HANSEN interview. HANSEN again is appraised of his Miranda Rights and consents to the interview, thus signing the waiver form. HANSEN then subsequently relates the PAULA GOULDING murder and twelve others which he describes as to their location. Utilizing maps proveded by Sergeant FLOTHE, HANSEN then pointed out and marked the locations where the bodies had been either left or buried.

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Arrest of Robert Hansen: Decks Get Cleared

Getting the decks cleared was an exercise in manuevering through Bob’s calculated attempts to sidestep the truth. The waffling started early. Sgt. Flothe, for example, wanted Bob to start with what he took to be the beginning of his murder spree, in Seward during the early ’70’s. The sergeant wanted him to talk about the disappearance of two young women in the glacial waters of Resurrection Bay. Hansen was having none of it. No, he told them, it didn’t start there. Everything started on the Eklutna power line, Hansen insisted, with a body found in July 1980.

And so it went. No one was really sure the decks were getting cleared. And if they weren’t getting cleared, that was a problem.

2/22/84: Sergeant FLOTHE, Sergeant HAUGSVEN, Lieutenant JENT and Trooper VonCLASEN meet with District Attorney FRANK ROTHSCHILD and Defense Attorneys JOE EVANS and FRED DEWEY at the district attorney’s office with regards to the interviewing of ROBERT HANSEN. Also present during the interview is District Attorney VIC KRUMM. Interview is initiated at 8:46 am with VIC KRUMM and FRANK ROTHSCHILD reviewing the agreement between the State and defendent, ROBERT HANSEN.

After waiving HANSEN of his rights he subsequently admitted to the kidnapping and rape of CINDY PAULSON. HANSEN then relates the kidnapping and murder of a dancer from the Good Times on Dimond that was subsequently during the interview identified as EKLUTNA ANNIE. The interview was concluded at 11:59 am, at which time a lunch break was taken.


The interview was then resumed at 12:19 pm, at which time HANSEN then related the kidnapping and murder of SHERRY MARROW (sic) [MORROW]. HANSEN then related the kidnapping and murder of another dancer that he placed into a cloth bag and tossed off the railroad trestle which crosses the Knik River towards the south bank. HANSEN then related the murder of a fourth woman, a woman which he had met on the docks in Seward. This woman was subsequently identified during the interview as JOANNA MACINA (sic) [MESSINA], a body which had already been found and identified.

It should be noted that a mark corresponding with each of the above mentioned murders were observed previously on HANSEN’s map. The interview was then concluded at 3:03 p.m.

[Throughout the interview] Hansen tried to make everything seem so innocent. He even revealed that he’d taken some dancers into the bush and brought them back alive. But what about the other women who obviously hadn’t survived? Why had their fate been so different? If no one else was going to ask, Flothe decided, he would. He waded right in to Hansen’s morass of evasions.

“What made you decide not to bring some of them back?” he asked, his voice trailing off gently. “What happened?”

“Well, uh…” Hansen said, hesitating. “Once out there, there was no need for any restraints or really anything else, any firearms or anything.” There was another pause, and then a mumble. “They would take off and want to leave, you know,” he said.

“Girls would take off and want to leave?” Vic Krumm asked. “Or you would take off and want to leave?”

“They would want to take off and leave, okay?” Hansen replied. “Uh, twice they got their hands on firearms that I had with me and I came pretty damn close to getting shot. There was no hurt created, if you want to call it that, as long as they didn’t panic on me. As long as she would go along with what I wanted out there, okay, I would let her go home and that was it.”

“And if they didn’t?” Flothe asked.

“They… they stayed.”

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

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