Arrest of Robert Hansen: Prison Bound

When it came to jail time, Hansen wanted out of Alaska. The women he’d killed were, he insisted, linked to criminal gangs. If imprisoned within the state, Hansen was certain he’d be killed. He got his wish and ended up in a prison far from home.

Lewisberg Federal Prison is a high-security facility in central Pennsylvania. Robert Hansen was Prisoner #80462-011. Not his lucky number, perhaps, but at least he had some famous company. Among them, Edwin Cortes and Ricardo Jimenez, Puerto Rican nationalists convicted in 1981 of seditious conspiracy for their roles in numerous bombings aimed at achieving Puerto Rican independence. And Melvin Williams, former organized crime figure in Baltimore, Maryland; convicted of heroin trafficking in 1985, he served as an inspiration for the character Avon Barksdale in the HBO series The Wire.

Melvin Williams

Lewisberg’s other notorious alumnae include Whitey Bulger, John Gotti, Jimmy Hoffa and Alger Hiss, to name just a few.

Located in mid-state, Lewisberg is a natural landing place for East Coast crime figures including, over the years, a goodly share of made men and racketeers. Somehow, Robert Hansen seemed out of place with this crew. At least he could see corn fields. If he tried really hard, he could imagine he was in Iowa.

4/10/84: Lieutenant ROBERT JENT and Sergeant GLENN FLOTHE transport ROBERT HANSEN to the federal intake prison at El Reno, Oklahoma for eventual transfer to Louisberg (sic), Pennsylvania.

El Reno Federal intake prison, El Reno, Oklahoma

Lewisberg Federal Prison, Lewisberg, Pennsylvania

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The Silt Diaries: Finger Lake, Alaska

When I talked about the AST Tactical Dive team in my last post, the problem of silt on the bottom of the Knik figured prominently. This is an issue with most Alaskan waters, including fresh water resources like Finger Lake. All that glacial action over the years has left its mark.

The dives you’ll see here were captured in 2011, at a Finger Lake crime scene near Palmer, Alaska. The video was taken during a visit with Walter Gilmore: No sooner had I landed than he announced we were going to a dive site to recover stolen weapons. Yes, I’ve written about this burglary before.

The parallels between the Knik River and the Finger Lake dives are telling. There’s the pervasive silt, once more wreaking havoc with the evidenciary search. The divers have to be careful not to stir it up and cloud visibility. And then, not quite by accident, there’s the floatplane. A floatplane very similar to that flown by Robert Hansen. And its flight path? Within sight of Pioneer Peak, in the shadows of the Knik River. The river that became Robert Hansen’s killing field.

Herewith in four installments, are is video of an actual Dive Team in action.

About the videos: There are some WordPress restrictions on file size, so I had to break them up and make them way tinier than I wanted. Also, I think I must have channeled my late father that day, with the shakey, handheld video quality and the completely wrong camera orientation (should have shot landscape, not portrait). And that up-lilt in my voice on the last frame? Ah. Live and learn…

Finger Lake Divers (Copyright Leland E. Hale; Shot on iPhone 4; best at Full Screen)

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