Arrest of Robert Hansen: Resurrection Bay

There is no special consideration for Bob Hansen’s “most despicable” crimes. They were all variations of bad to worst. That’s how it rolls when you’re dealing with a serial killer. But the name “Resurrection Bay” always looms as a cruel reminder that even irony went missing with Robert Chris Hansen.

Resurrection Bay brings us Mary Thill and Megan Emerick, whose probable murders stand out as particularly callous deeds in a career defined by callousness.

As Sgt. Flothe had learned, Robert Hansen was loathe to confess to any murders that didn’t involve prostitutes. In Hansen’s world, prostitutes were “lower” than him and ready-made victims. But Hansen claimed that a woman who was not a prostitute was someone he “put on a pedestal.” Denying that he killed Mary and Megan seemed to be the only way Hansen could deal with the cognitive dissonance erupting from his murder of innocents. For Megan and Mary, that meant that theirs would always be a watery grave, deep in Davy Jones’ locker, with no hope of recovery (1).

NOTE: 10-21 = Call by Phone


Mary Thill (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

Megan Emerick (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

(1) I was contacted by a TV producer some years ago who wanted to mount a sniffer dog search for Mary and Megan. Maybe I’m missing something in the imagination department, but that was one of the most far-fetched things I’ve ever heard. I dunno. Give ’em credit. Maybe they had super-underwater-dogs from outer space.

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Arrest of Robert Hansen: When Human Rituals Go Missing

Humans have developed elaborate rituals surrounding the key turning points of our all-too-brief lives. The “baby shower” for the mother-to-be. The “christening,” and the “bris,” for the newborn. The First Communion and the Bar-Bat Mitzvah for coming of age. The “Wedding,” yes, that one too, for it brings the expectation of a new human (maybe more). And, of course, the funeral, the final rites, the easing of the once living into the next orbit. There are many ways to do them, but each ritual is rooted in the same need.

At each of these rituals, we are joined to the great arc of our forbearers, our family, our community. These are joining’s, not leaving’s; even at the ultimate moment, when our lives are memorialized in the funeral ritual, we are remembered through the presence of those who will go on living, until they too meet this day.

These rituals are what people refer to when they speak of “closure.” The rings cannot be closed without them. At death we want the rituals.

Not this:

“Body located w/ head in northerly direction in the embankment under six inches of leaves and soil and under a log, on its back.”


Lisa Futrell

NOTE: Beginning in May of 1984, when troopers began searching Hansen’s grave sites in earnest, Sgt. Flothe abandoned his typed diary and started making handwritten entries. The first of these is presented here.

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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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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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Arrest of Robert Hansen: Finding Murphy

Whatever the truth of Cindy Paulson, and her readiness to come in from the cold, she wasn’t enough to snap the trap on Robert Hansen. Sgt. Flothe had a felt need to gather more witnesses from the long line of women whom Baker Bob had victimized. In retrospect, “finding Murphy” was an apt metaphor for the process of digging, pleading and turning every lead to find the women who could give witness to Robert Hansen’s savage acts against women.


2/10/84: Sergeant FLOTHE met with Officer GENTILE of the Anchorage Police Department with regards to locating previous HANSEN rape victim, M. MURPHY. Contacts with street prostitutes are made with regards to locating MURPHY.

“Later that same day, Flothe decided to write a letter to Robyn Patterson, asking if she would be willing to come testify against Hansen. Even though she was married now, had gone to college and started a new life, a letter soon came back saying that she, too, was willing to testify against Robert Hansen. It had been more than twelve years. She was thirty, a different person. But, yes, she would do anything she could to put this man in jail. It was where he belonged and, as far as she was concerned, had belonged for some time.”

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

2/11/84: Sergeant FLOTHE receives phone call from street informant that advises M. MURPHY could be contacted at given phone number. M. MURPHY contacted and appointment made for following day at Flippers on Bragaw.

2/14/84: Sergeant FLOTHE and Sergeant HAUGSVEN met with victim, M. MURPHY, at Flippers on Bragaw. MURPHY advises that she is willing to accompany Sergeants FLOTHE and HAUGSVEN to AST for interview. Witness subsequently interviewed at AST Headquarters with regards to HANSEN kidnapping her in the fall of 1972.

Anchorage in the ’70’s (Stephen Cysewski)

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Arrest of Robert Hansen: The Rescue of Cindy Paulson, Pt. II

In Part One, we talked about the party house on Government Hill in Anchorage, where Cindy Paulson had beckoned Sgt. Flothe to meet her. In this installment, we reveal the details of that rescue, where Flothe was intent on rescuing Cindy from a situation that was fraught with anxiety, fear and, ultimately, a small portion of satisfaction. This was one rescue that ended well. That in itself was a small triumph.

Cindy Paulson

They found the room number Cindy gave them and knocked. No answer. “She knows we’re coming,” Flothe muttered. He knocked again. He wasn’t about to barge in. The guy might have a gun. A second later, Cindy came to the door, holding a bathrobe to her chest for cover.

“Come with me,” she said to Flothe, “I gotta talk to you real quick.” She led him to the bathroom, which was the next door over. Cindy closed the door behind them.

“I gotta get out of here,” she said. “Get me out right now.”

As a precaution, Flothe had already called the safe house. “I think Cindy’s ready. Don’t be surprised if we show up in the next hour.” Cindy had already met the woman who lived there, and seemed to like her. Now Flothe had to find out if she was really ready.

“If you go to this place, you’re gonna have to do as they tell you. You can’t be leaving and coming and going and visiting your girlfriends in the street and all that bullshit.”

“I know.”

“Where’s your stuff?”

“It’s in the room.”

When they walked out of the bathroom, the pimp was standing outside in a pair of jockey shorts. He looked angry. Cindy headed to the room, but froze as he spoke.

“What’s you doin’ witch my lady?” he said.

“We’re with the Alaska State Troopers,” Flothe told him, “she wants to go and she’s coming with us. Period.”

Cindy slipped on her rabbit jacket, draped her clothes over one arm, and looking slightly scruffy, put her free arm around Flothe’s waist as they walked out. She seemed proud of her police escort.

The pimp, meanwhile, watched implacably as Cindy left. She never looked back. The troopers drove her straight to the safe house.

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

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Butcher, Baker Again Available In Paperback

A big shout out to Open Road for the February 2018 reprint of “Butcher, Baker.” I’m so pleased that it is once more available as a paperback (as well as an Ebook). I recommend that you buy both. You can get your copy from Amazon. Or order it from your favorite local bookstore!

Butcher, Baker
Butcher, Baker, 2018, Open Road

Arrest of Robert Hansen: Failure Upon Failure

Not everything goes according to plan. That was certainly true at the end of January, 1984, a stretch filled with what looked like one failure after another. Three witnesses, who could tie Robert Hansen to weapons he tried to ditch after Cindy Paulson’s escape, couldn’t reach consensus as to which of the weapons in their possession belonged to Hansen. And then there was Hansen lawyer Fred Dewey’s failure to show for an evidence review with Anchorage D.A. Frank Rothschid.

If there was a ray of sunshine, it was hearing from a Hansen associate about the baker’s possible involvement in the disappearances of two young women in Seward, back in the 70’s, when both were students at the Seward Skill Center (now called the Alaska Vocational Technical Center). Megan Emerick disappeared in 1972. Mary Thill had gone missing three years later. The news was tantalizing, but hard to process: Hansen’s maps showed three X marks in Seward’s Resurrection Bay. There was a fair chance that, short of a Hansen confession, these two disappearances would also end up in the failure column.

Would the sum be an epic failure? It was too early to tell.

1/25/84: Sergeant FLOTHE and Sergeant HAUGSVEN interviewed JOHN T. CASEY, previous associate of ROBERT HANSEN that believes HANSEN may be involved in the disappearance of the two girls from Seward. CASEY’s belief is based upon articles read in the newspaper and the fact that HANSEN at one time had asked CASEY if he knew of any girls in Seward that they could party with.

JOHN HENNING, JOANNE HENNING and son interviewed by Sergeant FLOTHE and Sergeant HAUGSVEN at AST Headquarters with regards to identifying the weapons which HANSEN turned over to JOHN HENNING on June 13th, 1983 the date that CINDY PAULSEN escaped from ROBERT HANSEN. All three members of the HENNING family picked out three different weapons and three different holsters, with regards to the weapon that HANSEN had allegedly given to JOHN HENNING.

1/30/84: Met at AST/CIB with ROTHSCHLD to view evidence with FRED DEWEY for defense for HANSEN. DEWEY failed to show up.

Fred Dewey

“As expected, Hansen’s defense attorney filed a detailed motion challenging the legality of the search warrant. Fred Dewey asked the Superior Court to reject evidence seized in the October 27 search of Hansen’s property. He also asked that the trial be moved to ‘a location not readily influenced by the print and electronic media of Anchorage.’ According to Dewey, ‘Extensive publicity linking Robert Hansen with the missing dancer investigation has made it impossible to seat an impartial jury in Anchorage.’

“Dewey accused police of resurrecting the rape accusation—four months after dropping it for lack of evidence—as a pretext to obtain the search warrant. By October, he charged, Hansen had become a suspect in the case of the disappearing dancers. But police had no evidence against him and could not have gotten a search warrant in that case.

“The warrant that was finally issued, Dewey wrote, was illegally broad and allowed police to ‘rummage about’ Hansen’s home, plane and vehicles. Dewey also noted that when police searched Hansen’s property the June rape accusation was too old to provide legitimate probable cause for a search. Therefore, he said, all evidence found in the various searches should be ruled inadmissible in court.

“Dewey’s motion also made a pointed attack on the FBI profiling techniques, which argued that Hansen fit the profile of a serial murderer. Dewey argued that the inclusion of the FBI serial killer profile, and the comments of Dr. Rothrock to the effect that Hansen ‘might be involved with the missing dancers,’ improperly influenced Superior Court Judge Victor Carlson to approve ‘an illegal search.’

“Dewey also took issue with the list of Hansen’s past convictions cited in the search warrant. He noted that such references are not considered legal grounds for issuing search warrants.

“Taken together, it was enough to cause the prosecution plenty of worry. All the second-guessing done by the DA each step of the way had finally been borne out.”

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

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Arrest of Robert Hansen: Criminal Justice Churns, Part I

Yes, it’s true. The wheel of justice churns slowly. It took two months after the search of Hansen’s house for that wheel to start turning. And when it did, Hansen’s attorney was hit with the bricks that Flothe had assembled. It started with Cindy Paulson. Smart money said the defense would try to impugn Cindy’s reputation with the “hooker” defense. It had worked in the past. Why not now?

And with Bob in jail, sitting in limbo, he had plenty of time to conjure creative ways out of his dilemma. Flothe got word from the jailhouse that Hansen was trying to persuade some friends to pay Cindy to leave town. Those rumors would eventually bloom into more sinister, though never proven, intimations that Hansen was trying to arrange for her murder. Given who Hansen was allegedly depending on for that task — the same men who alibied him in Cindy’s kidnapping — that was a bridge too far.

Either way, Cindy would end up a scared little puppy. Bob’s attorney would stall for time, making her situation worse with each passing day. Sometimes justice churns too slowly.

12/28/83: The offense files defense motion. Defense also advised of witness, CINDY PAULSON’s, phone number.

1/10/84: D.A. FRANK ROTHSCHILD meets with Sergeant FLOTHE at A.S.T. Headquarters during which time ROTHSCHILD reviews case reports to insure that the defense has all copies of pertinent materials.

Frank Rothschild, Anchorage Prosecuting Attorney

1/10/84: Hearing at 1:30 pm before Judge BUCKALEW; D.A. FRANK ROTHSCHILD and Defense Attorney FRED DEWEY regarding defense motion requesting postponement of trial. Judge BUCKALEW advises he would take the matter under advisement.

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The Arrest of Robert C. Hansen: Paula Goulding’s Body Found

9-02-83: PAULA GOULDING’s body found Knik River — assigned to Sergeant Stauber. .223 caliber shell casing found near grave. Area accessible generally by riverboat, aircraft. Victim fully clothed in shallow grave. Victim reported missing on 4-25-83. Dancer at Bush Company.

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

Body Found
Paula Goulding (Alaska State Troopers)

With Paula Goulding’s body found along the Knik River — almost a year to the day after Sherry Morrow’s body was found nearby — there came a turning point in the “case of the missing dancers.” No longer could authorities claim that there wasn’t “some psycho knocking off girls.”

It wasn’t just that bodies were found; there was also the inconvenient truth presented by Cindy Paulson, a living, breathing witness to Hansen’s depravity. At this point in the investigation, however, it is important to stress that Cindy Paulson’s value was still in the “future.” She was, after all, a prostitute. Anchorage Police didn’t seem to take her seriously.

“[Cindy Paulson] was treated roughly at the police station. The investigators thought she was inventing a story and wanted her to take a polygraph test. She refused. What was the use? They didn’t believe her anyway. To make matters worse, the officers hadn’t seized any evidence at Hansen’s house, the scene of the alleged crime. They hadn’t even taken any photographs.”

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

We’ve chronicled the life and death of Paula Goulding in several of our past posts. They are worth re-reading now, as they add context to this pivotal development in the unmasking of Robert Hansen.

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