Christy Hayes Changes Her Game, Surprises Robert Hansen

Robert Hansen was confident that the police would take his word against that of a prostitute. It was a game he played with law enforcement and a game he played with the women of Anchorage. It was a game he usually won.

But Hansen’s bravado didn’t work on Christy Hayes. She refused to play his game. It saved her life.


[Transcript lightly edited for clarity]

RH: I would always say, here’s five dollars for this (inaudible) and since you’re gonna accept this, that means there’s no doubt you are a prostitute, you have been paid. It may not be the full amount, but you have been paid. Uh, you just, you get, you know, the police wouldn’t even, uh, wouldn’t even question it, you know.

FR: Well, but it didn’t happen with the black woman actually. She ran into you again a few months later, wasn’t it, uh, remember? And called the police officer over and [he] talked to you and all. Didn’t that happen?

RH: Boy, I guess… I was dumb, dumbfounded by that one, you know. You know, that, that was in the, uh, Bush Company, yeah. Uh, you know, well see, but that’s a distance of time and, uh, and you know, when I was in there that night, you know, I… I… done it the normal thing, you know. I, uh, I stepped inside the door and took one of the first booths there and sat there, you know, and, uh, tried to peek around and make sure, that I’d take each girl individually and look at and make sure that I hadn’t seen her [before].

Of course, I was always, people, girls coming out of the dressing room, this and that, and all and so forth and I’d always take a booth away [from other people], you know. So, that, uh, or I didn’t stick [out], [I’d] try and pick out the darkest portion of the club.

Game
Hansen Lineup Photo (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

Uh, and there, you know, and that night, you know, for some reason I just knew I, something told me, Bob, get the hell out of here, you know… Uh, some… something’s wrong.

Uh, and I seen this gal, you know, and all, and she was whispering to another gal there and looking my way and, uh, I looked at her, but she didn’t look the same. Whether she had an entirely different hairdo, or whatever, she did not look the same to me at all, you know. And, uh, uh…

In fact, Christy Hayes did look different at the Bush Company. She kept her natural hair short, so she could wear wigs and change up her game. She changed wigs like she changed clubs; it was his “new” woman, full of surprises, that caught Robert Hansen flat-footed.

Game
How to Apply a Wig (WikiHow (Image not Christy Hayes))

RH = Robert Hansen; FR = Frank Rothschild

Source: Statement of Robert C. Hansen, District Attorney’s Office Anchorage, February 22, 1984

Christy Hayes: Robert Hansen Comes Back For More

At approximately 5:50 pm, on March 23, 1980, a Sunday, A.P.D. Officer Loesch was called to the Alaska Bush Company Bar in Anchorage. He contacted Christine Hayes, who was then working at the Bush Company as a dancer. Hayes told Officer Loesch that the man who had assaulted her several months before was there. She pointed out to Loesch a caucasian male in the bar that Loesch identified as Robert C. Hansen. Loesch asked Hansen to accompany him to A.P .D. for an interview, to which Hansen agreed.

Officer Loesh interviewed Hansen at A.P.D. immediately afterward, after advising him of his Miranda Rights. Hansen denied having bound or abducted Hayes, or having pointed a gun at her. He said that several months earlier he had met Hayes at the Embers, and had given her a ride home after she got off work. He said that during the ride, Hayes had placed her hand on Hansen’s leg and asked Hansen if he wanted to stop.

Hansen stated he stopped his truck and he and Hayes got in the camper on the truck. He said Hayes then stripped off her clothes and she performed oral sex on him. Hansen said that Hayes then demanded $75.00 from him, which he refused to pay, since no one had mentioned money before. He said that Hayes then got upset and started screaming, causing him to panic and throw her out of the back door of his camper.

Hansen did not explain the broken glass at the scene and Loesch did not ask him about it. The report indicates no further investigation was done on the case.

Bush Company
Robert Hansen, circa 1972 (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

Source: Affidavit for Search Warrant of Robert Hansen’s Property, Sgt. Glenn Flothe, Alaska State Troopers

(CONTINUED)


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Christy Hayes: Escape from the Camper

Robert Hansen was asked about Christy Hayes and the “camper incident” during his February 1984 statement to authorities. At that point in his interview, they were not convinced he was telling them the whole truth (and were about to confront him with that fact).

What they knew was that Christy Hayes had been in a street fight. That it was not something she’d easily forget. That she was prepared to testify against him on that basis alone. And there was something else: experiences like those he had with Christy Hayes, and the camper, ultimately drove Robert Hansen to use the airplane as his preferred kidnap vehicle.


[Transcript lightly edited for clarity]

FR: [Tell us about] the black woman in 1979… That happened with her before you had an airplane?

RH: The one when I broke the window and all the…?

FR: Yeah.

RH: Yes. Oh yeah.

FR: Where were you going to drive her? What was the deal there?

Camper
Outskirts of Anchorage, 1970’s (Steven Cysewski)

RH: Sir, I wasn’t really going to go any farther than right there [west of Muldoon near the Glenn Highway]. I thought gee whiz, you know, ah, she was strictly a — well she propositioned me there in that there Embers, I think it was called at that there time. That was just a deal where I just thought that I had sufficiently scared [her that] there wasn’t going to be any problem. She told me there wasn’t going to be any problem, ah, I was just going to have sex with her. Just pull off the side of the road right there and ah…

FR: Somewhere in town?

Camper
Site of Camper Incident, 202 Stewart Street (Google Maps)

RH: …and then take her right back. I said I’m going to drop you off right back up town and that’s it, you know. But ah … When she was up in the cab of the truck… she had that locked, and had, uh, the back window there locked and I couldn’t get, uh, into her. The key for the camper was up sitting on the dash. I had, I had the truck keys, uh, my (inaudible) keys in my hand, but she was locked in the cab with the keys to get into the God damned camper. Uh, from the, the back end, you know. And, uh, she was sitting in there and, you know, had the doors locked, but I couldn’t get in to her…

And, I, I showed her right where the God damned key is, on, laying, it was laying right in fucking plain sight, you know, on, on the dash of the ca … or it was in the pickup. I said, “how in the hell can I get them”, you know. Anyway, she, and she kept on screaming and I just frickin’ got mad and I stuck my hand in and punched the windshield, or the side window, and knocked that completely out and, uh, said something about, “No, I’ll get the fucking keys,” you know, and reached in for them. And then she jumped out the other side door and ran away, you know.

Source: Statement of Robert C. Hansen, District Attorney’s Office Anchorage, February 22, 1984


Hansen professed that he didn’t like “slam-bam-thank-you-ma’am.” But his arrangement with Christy Hayes had all the earmarks of a “quickie.” As things progressed, it became clear to Christy that Hansen wanted more than that. Cindy Paulson explained it best:

“He said ‘cause he used to work on the slopes and that he would come down and spend money for a girl and go to her room for ten or fifteen minutes. And he said well he was gonna start getting his money’s worth. So he felt he should go and get the girl and… do what he pleased with her.” (Cindy Paulson)

(CONTINUED)

RH = Robert Hansen; FR = Frank Rothschild


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Christy Hayes: The Fight Of Her Life

On Sunday, October 14, 1979, Anchorage Police Officer Hammond was dispatched to 202 Stewart Street in Anchorage, on a report of a possible Assault With A Dangerous Weapon. Officer Hammond reported he went to that address and contacted the resident, Mildred Johnson, who told him that a few minutes before a nude black female had come to her residence asking for help. Johnson observed that this woman was bleeding. In fact, the woman had just survived the fight of her life.

Fight
202 Stewart Street, Anchorage (Google Streetview)

“Officer Hammond contacted the black female, who identified herself as Christine Hayes. She told the Officer that she was working as a dancer at the Embers Bar in Anchorage, located near 5th & B Streets, and that earlier that evening she had met a caucasian male in the bar and agreed to have a date with him when she got off work.

“She said that when she got off work the man paid her $110.00 in advance to have sex with him, and they went from the bar to a camper truck parked outside, and got in the back.

“She stated that once they were in the back of the camper, the man produced a revolver and pointed it at her and tied her hands and feet with wire. Then he got in the cab of the truck, which she described as a light colored pickup, and drove to the vicinity of Burrell and Chena Streets, and parked.

Fight
Kidnap & Escape Map, Christy Hayes (Google Maps) Note the proximity of Hansen’s bakery to the Embers Bar — and the proximity of Hansen’s house to the area where he assaulted Christy Hayes. The drive from Hansen’s house to the bakery, at legal speeds, takes 7 minutes.

“She stated that by this time she had managed to free her hands and feet from the wire, and when the man got out of the pickup cab and went to the rear door of the camper, she managed to climb through the sliding window of the pickup and locked herself in the cab. She stated she managed to get out of the cab of the vehicle and ran to a nearby house, that of Mrs. Johnson, for help.

“She described her assailant as approximately 70″ tall with brown hair, approximately 40 years of age. Hammond photographed tire tracks and broken glass in the vicinity where Hayes said the truck was parked.”

(TO BE CONTINUED)

Source: Affidavit for Search Warrant of Robert Hansen’s Property, Sgt. Glenn Flothe, Alaska State Troopers


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Robert Hansen’s Terror on Muldoon Road

One of the reasons Robert Hansen switched to his airplane was to minimize the risk of getting caught with a kidnap victim in his vehicle. (As we’ve seen, that didn’t always work.) He surmised — correctly — that the vehicle was a vulnerability; the woman could call attention to herself or even escape. Equally dangerous, the vehicle could break down. He could be stopped by the police. Someone could see them and think something was amiss. Robert Hansen devised a terror routine on Muldoon Road to ensure against those potentialities.


[Transcript lightly edited for clarity]

RH: I had planned on possibly that was a better way to do it [by using my airplane], but I didn’t know how to get the people from my home to the airplane. I didn’t like — there were times when I’d get up here along the Knik River and so forth, you know, wasn’t hardly a time when I was there [that] there was[n’t] other people driving up and down the road and this was always a very scary situation. I was always concerned about that.

If, while the girl was there, everything may go just as it was supposed to go — but what if she seen somebody coming close by or something or other and then start yelling or screaming or something like this here, this guy here is got me out here, he’s kidnapped me and so forth?

Methods: Hansen House Muldoon
Hansen’s House & Muldoon (Google Maps)

FR: What was your plan if that happened? Did you have a plan?

RH: Well, that just scared the living daylights out of me. I didn’t know what to do. Now, that’s why the only thing I could think of is just jump in the airplane and just leave and get the hell out of there as fast as I could. Hope to hell that they would not have got the numbers off my airplane. I know that once that happened I was in a tremendous amount of trouble.

FR: What I’m wondering, though, is you even mentioned that when things didn’t go right out here you were kind of, you felt like you were right out in the middle for the whole world to see. And then down here by Seward, where you were just at a pull off along the road where there were mounds of gravel, and you were certainly, I’m sure, going as quick as you could.

RH: What I was going to do if something come up, sir, I honestly don’t know about that one. I hadn’t gone out and out planned to start shooting a bunch of people if a bunch of people showed up. No. I didn’t want to shoot anybody. It wasn’t the plan at all.

FR: But Cindy Paulson mentioned to us that you said to her something like if we get stopped by anybody, or troopers come, or anything like that…

RH: Oh, that was just pure…

FR: That was just talk?

RH: That was just talk to get her as scared as possible. The more scared she was [the better]. I think there was something like that said every time someone was put out. That was just [talk].

GF: What was your standard speech? What would you normally try to tell them to convince them not to?

RH: Oh, boy. I tried to stop, most generally coming out of town, pull onto Muldoon Road…

Muldoon Detail
Muldoon Road & Centennial Park (top left), Headed Out of Town (Google Maps)

Right down here aways is — I don’t know if it’s an old fire station or, if it’s a State’s shed, or something now in here. They generally have a big mound of gravel in here.

Muldoon Gravel Pit
Gravel Pit, Muldoon, Close-Up (Google Maps)

Ah, there is [also] an apartment building here, and some homes along here, some more apartment buildings, there’s one big apartment building down here. You can drive into the parking lot here, then more parking lots in between two of the big apartment buildings… Pull in here and just stop there, or I pull into the parking lot here, between the apartment buildings down here.

Muldoon: Raven Hill Apartments
Raven Hill Apartments, Muldoon, Detail (Google Maps)

Well, six of one, half a dozen of another, I’ve used them both… Just stop there so the car’s not moving, so I don’t have to worry about her and the car both at one time. The car stops [at the] side of the road. Then try to control the situation from there.

FR: Is that when you pull out the gun?

RH: Yeah, I pull out the gun then and say hey, look now, you’re, I think [the] standard speech was, “Look, you’re a professional, you don’t get excited, you know there is some risk to what you’ve been doing. If you do exactly what I tell you, you’re not going to get hurt, you’re just going to count this off as a bad experience and be a little bit more careful next time who you are gonna proposition or go out with,” you know.

I try to act tough as I could to get them as scared as possible. Give that right away, even before I started talking [and] all that, reach over, you know, and more or less get my hand in the girl’s hair, you know, and hold that head back and put a gun in her face and get ’em to feel helpless, scared right there. Then tell them to turn around and face the seat on their knees on the floor board. That way they were down, they wouldn’t start anything there. I’m sure, maybe it’s not the same procedure for you, always try to get control of the situation so some things don’t start going bad.

GF: Sounds like you had a good way to work it.

RH: Now, that’s, maybe I’ve seen some cops and cop shows and TV. I don’t
know.

FR: How would you usually bind people? You wouldn’t have their arms free?

RH: No, no generally, handcuffs, that’s the easiest, simplest, but you know, put their hands behind them, when they were sitting on their knees on the floor with their hands behind them, and also then they were down when I drove by. Nobody could see them. And then, once down like that, then give them a speech that, you know, try to impress on them over and over again if there was no problem whatsoever, that [if] they didn’t do anything foolish, tomorrow they could get on and get the shit out of here or just not do it anymore.
Muldoon: On the floor
FR: Did you have to bind their feet too?

RH: No, I can’t recall at this time ever, ever tying anybody’s feet up, no. They were, I almost always got them on the floor board of the car. Mainly to, you know, I know an awful lot of people around town, and this and that, and I just didn’t want the idea that possibly maybe taking any more chances [that] somebody knows my car and sees me driving.

GF: Did you ever have anything go wrong right there, I mean just go bat shit on you? Were you able always to control the situation?

RH: I never had a time to there when things went bad there. I never had, I never even had a girl, the only time you [could] say it went half way bad was if I had a couple of them start crying and start out, oh, don’t kill me, don’t kill me, I haven’t done anything. I tried everything I can think of that they know that’s not going to happen. Ah, just do exactly what I tell you, I’m not going to hurt you. I never hurt none of them if the things went right. I admit I scared the hell out of them but that’s what I was trying to do.

FR: From here of course there were no stoplights either so you could go right back.

RH: I could just go, I had to make a stop, of course, you know that. [But] once that happened I knew, I mean, I purposely drove ten miles an hour slower than the speed limit anyplace I had to go and that’s one thing that really petrified me that, by god, something would go wrong or something.

You know, before I would go pick a girl up, I would go through, I would check my car over from one end to the other. I was always petrified that something was going to happen to the car and for some reason or another I was going to have a mechanical failure, that I was going to be forced to stop along the road and then what the hell would I do? I’d do everything I could think of so I didn’t have a problem.

RH = Robert Hansen; FR = Frank Rothschild; GF = Glenn Flothe


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Hansen’s Victims: Discrepancies South of Seward

The accounting for Hansen victims south of Anchorage, in Seward, takes us into the land of discrepancies. Sgt. Flothe’s version of Robert Hansen’s victim matrix lists four victims in the waters off Seward: three in “Seward Bay,” which technically does not exist, and a fourth in Resurrection Bay, which is the actual name of the bay from its entrance near Sunny Cove, all the way up to its headwaters.

Robert Hansen’s original map, however, shows only three victims in those same waters. And the body that Flothe’s victim matrix has as Resurrection Bay (#23) is shown on Flothe’s map as north of Seward, near Woodrow and Bear Lake. A close-up rendering of the Woodward mark on Hansen’s map puts that location in doubt — clearly the “mark,” if there is one, is quite faint compared to nearby marks, including #17, for Joanna Messina.

Indeed, the mark at Joanna Messina is the one mark both versions of the victim matrix hold in common, in terms of description and precise location. [We show Joanna Messina, a second time, to provide context]

What are we to make of these discrepancies? Robert Hansen’s map is authoritative here. Sgt. Flothe apparently mislabled his victim matrix, putting four victims in Resurrection Bay when clearly there are only three.

And the mark near Woodrow? That one is in the questionable column, if only because it is not clearly marked on Hansen’s original map. There is also the problem that this mark is inland, and not in Resurrection Bay, as indicated by Flothe’s victim matrix. (1)

Seward: Flothe's Map
Flothe’s Map, South to Seward showing FIVE marks (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

Seward: south to Seward Bay
Hansen’s Map, South to Seward showing four unambiguous marks, NOT five (courtesy Alaska Public Defender)

Seward: Resurrection Bay
Seward & Resurrection Bay (Apple Maps)

Seward: Woodrow
Woodrow, Alaska (Apple Maps)

Known & Possible Victims

      • #17 — Joanna Messina (Gravel Pit, near the South Fork of the Snow River)

    Seward: Joanna Messina

      • #20 — Unknown, possible Megan Emerick (Resurrection Bay, on map, denied)

    Seward: Megan Emerick

      • #21 — Unknown, possible Mary Thill (Resurrection Bay, on map, denied)

    Seward: Mary Thill

      • #22 — Unknown (CORRECTED: Resurrection Bay, on map, denied)
      • #23 — Unknown (CORRECTED: Near Woodrow; faint mark on map? Possible victim? Questionable.)

    Seward: Woodrow

    Hansen’s Original Map Woodrow closeup; mark for Joanna Messina (#17) is due north (courtesy Alaska Public Defender)


(1) The source of the problem here is that, when “Butcher, Baker” was published, Hansen’s original map was not available to the authors. That map did not become available until 2012, courtesy of the Alaska Public Defender’s office. I did not notice the discrepancies until I started this blog entry. Mea Culpa.

CORRECTION: I wrote about this in 2012, when I was contacted by the Alaska Public Defender’s office and Bruce Day pointed out the discrepancy between the two maps.


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Kidnapped: Cindy Paulson, Part IX: Blue Pumps

Kidnapped: The Cindy Paulson Story [Installment One]

In this installment, we take up where we left off, with Hansen demanding that Cindy disrobe — at gunpoint. It was, of course, a prelude to what Hansen really wanted.

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Cindy Paulson
Cindy Paulson

FLOTHE: You took your shirt off…

CINDY: Yes, he said to. I did. Shit, with a gun in your face, you would too.

FLOTHE: He had the gun in his hand when he told you to?

CINDY: Oh, yeah.

FLOTHE: Then he took the rest of the clothes off?

CINDY: Uh huh. He told me to leave my panties and bra (inaudible). My pants when they were halfway on, he took them off. My shoes were blue pumps (inaudible).

FLOTHE: Blue pump shoes?

Pumps (shoes) from gravesite
Shoes Found in One of Hansen’s Gravesites (Anchorage Times)

CINDY: Yeah. (inaudible) I left them in the car and they [the police] couldn’t find ‘em.

FLOTHE: So when he had you tied up with this rope… describe the rope that was around…

CINDY: It was a white linen.

FLOTHE: Was it a new or old rope?

CINDY: New, I think.

FLOTHE: A new rope?

CINDY: Um hmm.

FLOTHE: How thick was it?

CINDY: It was about as big as my finger… my index finger.

White Linen Rope
Linen Rope (example)

FLOTHE: Where did he get the rope from? Where did that come from?

CINDY: Downstairs.

FLOTHE: Remember where?

CINDY: Not exactly, no. He just brought it out.

FLOTHE: Did he have to leave your sight when he went and got it?

CINDY: No. The only time he left my sight was when he had me chained.

FLOTHE: Where did he get the chains from? I don’t remember…

CINDY: I was in the bathroom and I heard them rattle. Then I came out…

FLOTHE: Oh, you were in the bathroom.

CINDY: Uh huh.

FLOTHE: Let me get this sequence right, now. You come into the house. You take off your shirt. He takes off the rest of your clothes. And then he ties you up?

CINDY: Yes ‘cause that’s how he wanted to have sex with me.

FLOTHE: Did he, at that point?

CINDY: (soft voice) Yes, he did.

FLOTHE: When does the bear rug come in?

CINDY: He had, um… I believe… The bear rug was there. It wasn’t laying in the middle like that, it was near the couch.

FLOTHE: Were you on the bear rug when he had sexual relations with you?

CINDY: Yes, um hmm.

FLOTHE: And this is the same time you’re tied with your neck to the coffee table?

CINDY: Yes, that’s when he had tied me up. And it was tight. So if I moved too far it would choke me.

FLOTHE: When did you go to the bathroom in relation to all this?

CINDY: After he had sexual activities with me.

FLOTHE: Ok. And then you went to the bathroom?

CINDY: …And he had followed behind me with a rope. I went in the bathroom and I used the restroom. And I heard… And I got, ‘what’s that’, and I started to come out and I heard chains rattling. And he said, ‘go back in,’ and I came out anyway. And that’s where he came to the part where he chained me up to the pillar.

FLOTHE: You got two posts drawn here… Which pillar?

CINDY: Two posts.

FLOTHE: Which pillar?

CINDY: The second one.

FLOTHE: Put the one where he tied you up… Put ‘tied up’ next to it.

Featured in The Lineup: Did Robert Hansen kill Beth van Zanten?

The 1972 unsolved murder of Celia “Beth” van Zanten has always bothered Alaska State Troopers who investigated the serial-murders of the late Robert Hansen. In my first visit to Alaska to research Hansen’s crimes, AST Maj. Walter Gilmour took me by Beth’s house in one of his initial introductions. He was visibly shaken, even then, more than a decade after the crime.

Now, in a new article published in The Lineup, I take another look at that crime — and evidence that points to Robert Hansen as the perpetrator.

READ THE ARTICLE HERE

Did serial killer Robert Hansen kill Beth van Zanten?The Lineup-April-17-2017

Butcher, Baker: The Early Years, Pt. 3

On August 28, 1972, the body of 20-year-old Zingre “ZeZe” Mason was found in a remote gravel pit near Sand Lake, south of Anchorage. She had been stabbed multiple times. Her body was completely desanguinated; a large pool of blood was found near her body, indicating she’d been killed at that spot before her body was moved to its final resting place, deeper in the gravel.

As troopers investigated further, they learned that ZeZe lived in the area, worked for an airline, and was seen hitchhiking in the vicinity. In fact, a truck driver delivering a load of gravel had seen two men in a yellow 4-wheel drive truck pick up a young woman matching her description. When the driver returned for another load a half hour later, he saw the same young woman, in the same truck, farther into the gravel pit, accompanied by only one male.

Already, there were gruesome parallels to the murder of Beth van Zanten.

Shortly thereafter, troopers got a phone call from a woman who identified herself as the girlfriend of a man who was in the yellow 4-wheel drive truck on the day ZeZe Mason was last seen alive. She wanted to make sure troopers were looking for the right person. That person was not her boyfriend, she insisted. It was someone else.

A guy named Gary Zieger.

Gary Zieger and his truck Gary Zieger (Anchorage Daily News)

Troopers had come across Gary Zieger before. He was implicated in the murder of a young Alaska Native male, and identified as the shooter, but never prosecuted because his accomplice was too afraid to testify against him.

When troopers moved in to arrest Zeiger, several pieces of circumstantial evidence proved critical. The gravel truck driver identified both Zieger’s truck and, in a line-up, Zieger himself. The tires on Zieger’s truck, one of which had been mounted in an inverted fashion, matched tracks found at the scene. His friend’s reluctant statement placed Zieger at the gravel pit with a young, female hitchhiker. Three small blood spots found on the dash of the truck were tested; Zieger claimed he’d been hunting rabbits, but the test came back positive, indicating human blood. Troopers later found the site near a creek where Zieger washed his truck.

At Gary Zieger’s murder trial, everything that could go wrong went wrong. The FBI agent who tested the distinctive tire tracks mixed up the position of the tire on the vehicle and confused the jury in the process. A hematology expert brought in to discuss the precipitant test used to identify the blood on Zieger’s dashboard was caught by a trick question.

“Is there any blood besides human blood that can bring a positive reaction to the precipitant test?” he was asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

What the defense line of questioning cleverly left out was that only one other living organism produces a positive on the precipitant test. An orangutan.

Gary Zieger was acquitted. Emboldened, he would go on to commit several additional murders, including the execution of Johnny Rich in a plot to take over his Spenard massage parlor. He was also implicated in the murders of the wife and stepson of a prominent Anchorage nightclub owner. Those were two killings too many.

While troopers made preparations to arrest Gary Zieger for his latest round of murder and mayhem, somebody else got to him first. They found him at mile 110 of the Seward Highway, just up the road from where Beth van Zanten had met her fate. He was sprawled in the middle of the pavement with a fatal shotgun blast to his gut, in what was strongly believed to be a contract killing.

Dead or alive, Sgt. Walter Gilmour continued to think Zieger a strong candidate for Beth van Zanten’s murder. There were even witnesses who suggested he looked a lot like the composite picture of a man reportedly seen with Beth on the night of her disappearance.

That conviction on Gilmour’s part was not without its irony. In their follow-up after Zieger’s death, troopers found an informant who said Beth’s cousin had lived with Zieger in the month’s after her death when, presumably, he was no longer welcome in the van Zanten household. Gilmour was never sure what to make of that coincidence.

If, indeed, it was a coincidence. Those were strange days in Anchorage. And Robert Hansen wasn’t the only killer at work.