Arrest of Robert Hansen: Alibi Witness Rolls Over

When Anchorage Police questioned Robert Hansen about Cindy Paulson, he told them he had an alibi — he was with friends that night and they’d vouch for him. When A.P.D. Officer Dennis called John Henning, one of those alibi witnesses, Henning confirmed that Bob Hansen was at his house from about 11:30 p.m. until 5:00 in the morning. They talked about fishing and ate pizza, Henning said.

Because Hansen had another alibi witness, John Sumrall, who said Hansen had been with him from 5:00 p.m. until 11:30 p.m., fixing an airplane seat, the cops took it to mean that Cindy Paulson’s complaint had been fabricated.

It was an old story. The cops believed Hansen’s friends, not some teenaged prostitute. But that explanation was quickly falling apart.

Cindy Paulson

1:00 p.m.: Sergeant McCann and Sergeant Stockard return to HANSEN residence after determining HENNING was currently in King Salmon. Upon returning to HANSEN residence contact JOANNE HENNING, who advises her husband, JOHN, had covered for HANSEN and lied to the police.

1:10 p.m.: Sergeant Flothe receives information via telephone from McCann regarding HENNING interview.

“It had been a long day for McCann and Stockard. Up at five, in the office by quarter to six, on the road by half past. They began by driving to John Henning’s shop at his home in Diamond Heights. The pretty young blond who answered the door told them he wasn’t home and didn’t know when he would return. He was in King Salmon, a village at the apex of the rich fishing grounds of Bristol Bay. She said Joann Henning, his wife, wasn’t home either, but was expected back at any time.

The troopers had no choice but to wait. They waited and waited. Eventually, they went back to the house, wondering if there had been any word. There hadn’t been.

The only thing McCann and Stockard could do was return to the Hansen residence. That’s where they were needed. They reached the house slightly before one o’clock that afternoon. They could tell they were in the right place when they passed the dead-end sign: There was a line of trooper cars parked out front.

No sooner had they arrived, however, than they saw an orange Datsun go past the house and turn around. They were immediately out of their car. They brought the Datsun to a halt by standing in its path. The female driver rolled her window down.

“You’re the one we’re looking for,” McCann said.

“Oh, no, now just a minute here,” the woman said, unbelieving.

“Well, aren’t you Joanne Henning?” McCann asked.

“Yeah,” she responded.”

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

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