Gary Zieger was killed on November 27, 1973. There’s no question that he was busy between August 1972 and his death, with scores of murders in his wake. As it turns out, Robert Hansen was also busy. And it’s all the more remarkable because from March 1972 to November 1973, Hansen was in a halfway house for the assault and attempted kidnapping of a real estate secretary.
Robert Hansen in a lineup photo (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)
We defer to Maj. Walter J. Gilmour for the narrative:
“As for the other suspect in Beth van Zanten’s murder, Robert C. Hansen was apparently a model convict at the halfway house. The fact that he had a trade — he had stayed a baker like his father — made him seem more salvageable than most who embark on a criminal career. It didn’t hurt that he had a family, either, or other interests that made him appear normal. Aside from his avid participation in bowhunting, at which he evidently excelled, Hansen had a strong love of fishing and boating.
“And so it was that Robert Hansen spent the 4th of July of 1973 boating in the waters off Seward, to the south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula. Perhaps it was just coincidence that Megan S. Emerick would be reported missing three days later, on the 7th of July. A young woman enrolled at the local trade school, with no known record of trouble, her body has never been found.
“By November of 1973, Hansen was paroled on the Assault with a Deadly Weapon charge and went free. He was seemingly able to keep his nose clean, for a while at least, and began to fade from police attention.”
It is important to note here that Hansen’s Fourth of July trip to Seward was cleared by his parole officer. It is also crucial to note that Hansen ventured to Seward by himself. His wife, Darla, disliked boating and the long-haul from Anchorage to Seward with a boat in tow.
On his own, without adult supervision, Robert Hansen was capable of the most heinous crimes imaginable. And some that cannot be imagined. Like killing young Megan Emerick and tossing her overboard into the depths of Resurrection Bay, her body never to be found.
Purchase Butcher, Baker