Life with Robert Hansen: Rothschild Defines “Cold”

As Assistant District Attorney Frank Rothschild articulated the depth and depravity of Robert Hansen’s crimes, one description rose to the top. “This man was cold,” Rothschild told Judge Moody. Everything about him, everything he did. Cold.

“He said, I tried to act tough as I could to get them as scared as possible. Get my hand on the girl’s hair, hold her head back and put a gun in her face to get them to feel helpless, scared right there… [He] talked about wanting to have complete control and domination over these people. As long as I can control the situation then there’s going to be no problem, I won’t have to kill anybody. I’ll get what I want and send them back on the streets,” Rothschild continued, paraphrasing Hansen. […]

“And when asked, well, what happened Mr. Hansen, if they didn’t go along with the program, he said, well, then they stayed. Those were his words. He would even tell them if things don’t go right, boy, this is where you’re going to stay. To scare them.”

At this point, the Assistant D.A. took a leap into conjecture. Informed conjecture, but conjecture nonetheless. It was the kind of conjecture that gets movies made.

“And while he doesn’t talk about it or admit to it, it’s obvious from reading through and looking at where things started and where the women ended up, he hunted them down, Judge. He let them run a little bit and then he enjoyed a little hunt just like with his big game animals. He toyed with them, he wanted to scare them, he got a charge out of all this.

Hansen Victim Grave (clothing and shoe)

“They weren’t shot right where it all started; he let them run, he grabbed them and they’d claw a little bit and he’d let them run a little more and he played with them. He doesn’t look big and strong but he is.

“One time he called this a summertime project. What a lovely word for his handiwork, a summertime project. And he did admit that none of them went willingly. Even when he went through the map and talked about where all these women were and pointed out to us where they were, it was cold. He said, well, there’s one here and there’s one there and you’ll find one next to this tree and one under that road. They weren’t people to him. They weren’t human beings to him.”

Trooper Dig on Knik River

It’s here that I disagree with Rothschild (and others). I personally don’t find it completely credible that Hansen routinely released his victims so he could toy with them. In part that’s because of what Rothschild himself says of Hansen:

[He] talked about wanting to have complete control and domination over these people. As long as I can control the situation then there’s going to be no problem…[emphasis added]

By releasing his victims, even in the relative safety of the Alaskan bush, Hansen was effectively reliquishing control. That goes in the face of everything else Hansen did. Remember that Hansen was meticulous in his precautions. He sought to control things down to the knat’s ass last detail.

  • Never going on a “date” at the first meeting, but making a rendezvous at the time and place of his choosing.
  • Making sure they met him at a location where he could ensure they were unaccompanied.
  • Abandoning the rendezvous if he saw them with other people.
  • Using restraints so the women wouldn’t get out of control in his car.
  • Forcing them to sit on the floor of his vehicle, so no one could see them.
  • A pistol always at the ready, the better to maintain control.
  • Choosing private and/or remote locations for sex.

In this context, the notion that Hansen routinely toyed with these woman, as Rothschild suggests, is incongruous. Robert Hansen wanted complete control, at all times.

Measuring Grave Depth

That the women were often found a distance away from the start of their ordeal also doesn’t require Rothschild’s definition of cold. Remember Cindy Paulson’s escape.

Cindy used a single distracted moment to make it hundreds of feet — in handcuffs — before Hansen caught up with her. Had she been in the bush, she would have been dead right there. Instead, a citizen in a truck came by to save her life.

We know that other women also fought off Hansen and tried to escape, including Christy Hayes — who succeeded. By Hansen’s own admission, others tried to fight him off. And lost.

That said, there remains the possibility that Hansen’s crimes evolved to the point that they reached the levels Rothschild supposes. Glenn Flothe tells us that Hansen’s acts of violence became increasingly savage toward the end. That he shot them multiple times, past the point of death. And then he knifed them, striking so ferociously that he appeared intent on obliterating them. That much we do know. The rest is speculation.

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Robert Hansen’s Fantasies: Sunday Singles (Audio)

Listen to Robert Hansen at his most amoral. Hear him casually encourage his wife and kids to tour Europe for an entire summer, so that he can arrange “dates” through a singles service. Hear him confess to planning this more than a year in advance. This is Robert Hansen at his most manipulative.

He had somehow gotten the idea that he wanted to find someone for the summer. Someone he could be close to, someone who wasn’t a prostitute. If he could be with her at his home, he reasoned, maybe things wouldn’t go wrong — as they had so many times before, when he picked up women on the street. This would be different.

And then, after that, if things went well… who knows?

Four weeks before Darla left for Europe, Robert Hansen twice put an ad in the Anchorage Daily News, which at the time ran the singles column called “Sunday Singles.” Here’s Robert Hansen’s ad:

“Adventurous male, 42, 5-11, 165 pounds, looking for a lady proud to be a woman, to share sincere, honest attachment. Must like to dance and enjoy social life. Willing to put on jeans. Join me in finding what’s around the next bend, over the next hill. Enjoy flying own plane, beachcombing, fishing, camping. Life is much fuller if shared. Send recent photo.”

Audio: Robert Hansen talks about his Sunday Singles ad during his confession.


On June 8, 1983, one of the women who answered his ad came to his house. She was, it turned out, an employee of the Alaska State Troopers. He took her to the basement. Showed her the stuffed animals on the walls, the hunting trophies he was so proud of. He hoped to have sex with her on the bear rug. She turned him down. It was a first date. She wasn’t that kind of woman.

As Frank Rothschild recounted during Hansen’s sentencing, “It was five days later that he picked up [Cindy Paulson]. Five days later that he put her in handcuffs, took her down to the basement, chained her and put her on that same bear rug.”

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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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Backstory: Glenn Flothe Interviews A.P.D. Officer Baker

Sgt. Flothe’s interview of A.P.D. Officer Gregg Baker turned out to be portenous. These were the things that get said between the lines. The nuances that don’t always make it into a police report. As every investigator knows, these things are invaluable. Just hearing that Hansen stuttered in the presence of Baker confirmed what Cindy Paulson had told them.

How many men in Anchorage fit this profile as well as Robert Hansen?

“On September 22, 1983, after reviewing the A.P.D. report, affiant interviewed A.P.D. Officer Gregg Baker. Baker stated that in addition to the information contained in the report, he recalled being present with Robert Hansen during his interview by [A.P.D.] Investigator Dennis, and that Hansen had made the remark that, ‘You can’t rape a prostitute, can you?'”

Robert Hansen’s Stutter (creepy audio)

“Officer Baker also told affiant that the ammunition under the seat in the green Buick sedan was, to his recollection, either .30-06 caliber or .223 caliber, judging from its shape, and his ten years in law enforcement. Baker also stated that he saw a pair of rubber surgical gloves in the Buick on the back window shelf. Baker further saw a small hole in the support pillar in the den area of the residence, but no bolt or other attaching device in it. He saw another small hole, like a bullet hole, in the pillar just above the floor, as previously described by Cindy Paulson.

“In the garage, Baker saw a large supply of powder for reloading ammunition, and dies for cartridge reloading, but he could not recall what caliber ammunition the dies were for.

“Baker stated that when he had first contacted Cindy Paulson at the Big Timber Motel, she was very upset, and concerned that she might be in trouble because she was a prostitute, but wanted to help the police in spite of this because she was afraid of the man who abducted her would hurt somebody else if he wasn’t caught.

Big Timber Motel (Copyright Leland E. Hale 2017; the building is condemned but was recently sold to a developer)

“Baker stated he had taken the handcuffs off Cindy Paulson and placed them in A.P.D. Evidence.

“Baker recalled that one of the weapons in the hidden basement storage area in Hansen’s garage was a Thompson Contender, which Baker noticed because it is an unusual weapon.

Thompson Center Arms Contender (7mm, single shot)

“Baker stated that he did not check the caliber of Hansen’s Contender, but he knows from experience that it is available with interchangeable barrels in many different calibers, including .30-30, .223 and .222.


Baker stated that he recalls Hansen spoke with a stutter, just like the man Paulson described has her assailant.”

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

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Knik River, Part 1: The Super Cub Abduction Dance

Robert Hansen’s Super Cub held the promise of taking his victims deeper into the bush, to places no vehicle could reach. What he wanted — needed — more than anything were spots far from prying eyes. Rapes and murders were not acts for others to witness.

Having already had close calls with his vehicles — getting stuck in the bush was always a risk, as were rebellious victims — his switch to the airplane proved to have its own set of challenges (as Cindy Paulson’s escape ultimately proved). During his confession, he walked authorities through the ritual of getting his victims into the plane. More often than not, it worked.

[Transcript lightly edited for clarity]

Robert Hansen’s Confession: Into the Airplane (audio)

RH: I walked around her side of the car, opened her door and got her up and turned around out on the seat. [Then I took her] around behind the wing strut — and she’s still handcuffed behind, you know. I grab her by the arms and let her put her feet up on the step and walk her feet on in and then she sits down. Once she’s inside — again she’s pretty much confined, can’t move.

Cindy Paulson never got this far. She was lucky.

Then again there’s a period there where I have to go back out and get in my car and just move it fifteen feet. You know, I told her what I’m going to do, you know, that I’m going to be watching you, you start getting out of the airplane, please don’t do it because I don’t want a bunch of holes in the side of airplane, where I have to shoot you through the side of the airplane, you know. I said something to that effect to them always. And ah, she and the other two just sat there boy, didn’t even blink an eye…

The trick was to quickly get the Super Cub into the air, so the tower didn’t see Hansen’s tail number or identify his plane.

I would pick the airplane up, and you know, a hundred feet so, my gosh, I was — like if I took off — I took off on six going out, you know, or two-four… I’d be a thousand feet in the air by the time I reached the tower. I mean, I was way above it. If I want to pull it back, you know, I can break around and almost stand it on the nose, you know.

[Then] you swing around and go on north. I got out of there, you know.

Robert Hansen’s Super Cub (Anchorage Times)

GF: How in the world did you control them in the airplane? I would think you being up front, and them in the back, I’d be petrified they’d grab me by the neck of something?

RH: No, no, no, no, they were hand cuffed in the airplane, plus, once I get the damn thing off the ground, I don’t care if they screamed, yelled or fussed, what the hell could they do in the airplane, they are sitting in the back of the airplane, I don’t suppose any one of them can fly but there’s no controls in the back of the airplane anyway.

GF: You weren’t nervous they were behind you?

RH: Well, I, you know, I’m not saying I wasn’t concerned about it but I’m saying that that was, I thought, a hell of a lot safer than in the car.

VK: How did you get them not to scream when you went to Merill Field. You know there were a lot of airplanes there.

RH: It just never happened.

GF: You just had them under control.

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Bob Hansen & Ted Bundy: A Tale of Two Killers

I lived in Seattle in the mid-70s, when young women started disappearing, when warnings were broadcast against hitchhiking, when every woman I knew moved in a bubble of fear. Reports soon emerged that a witness had seen a man on crutches, wearing a leg cast, struggling to carry a briefcase. Another reported the man had asked her to help him carry the briefcase toward his Volkswagen. Soon, a name emerged. “Ted.”

Several years later, in the late ’70s, I took a job at the Washington State Energy Office. It was a successor agency to the Department of Emergency Services (DES), where Ted Bundy worked in the mid-70s. Ted had been arrested in Florida by then and many of my colleagues had worked with him. They all thought him guilty. All but one: Carole Boone.

Carole Boone was the tall, whip-smart woman who resided on the other side of my cubicle. She was also in my car-pool for the one-hour commute from Seattle to Olympia. In everything she was articulate, rational and grounded. Except for her blind spot.

Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy, preparing for trial

Ted was seen by many as handsome, charismatic and well-spoken. He’d worked in Republican politics in Washington state — which partially explained his job at DES — and, based on recommendations from party figures, he was accepted into law school at the University of Washington. That Carole Boone could fall for him — they were married during his Florida homicide trial and she bore him a daughter — says volumes about Ted Bundy’s powers of persuasion, even as most of our DES colleagues rolled their eyes at her obsession with Ted’s innocence (1).

Ted Bundy: FBI Most Wanted photo

Bob Hansen was no Ted Bundy. He was homely, could barely speak without a stutter and charmed no one, expect perhaps his wife, Darla — and even that was dubious.

Hansen Lineup Photo
Robert Hansen Police Lineup Photo

What Hansen relied upon was the willingness of young women to perform sex acts for money, that being the only “charm” that Bob Hansen owned. Once he’d captured them, Hansen depended on fear to control them. For that, he had much in common with Ted Bundy.

As the following video and excerpt from Hansen’s 1984 confession reveal, Hansen’s attempts to induce fear in his victims was unrelenting. [FR = Frank Rothschild]

FR: So what’s the plan to get ‘em to the plane and get ‘em in the plane?

RH: Just scare the living shit out of ‘em — I mean that’s — boy I mean really bad you know — uh — just tell ‘em out and out — hey you know — if anything starts to go wrong I’m gonna probably have to shoot half the people in this damned town, you know.

FR: Did you threaten to throw ‘em out of the airplane if they caused problems — things like that too?

RH: No. I don’t think I ever said that. As a matter of fact they could see that would be virtually impossible, you know. How in the hell am I going to fly the airplane, turn around and get somebody out of the back that I — on account of my seat, I could hardly reach them. Of course I don’t know if they would know that. But anyway, no, I never said nothing like that to them. I would probably mention to them once I got them where I was going to go, ah, that, if things don’t go right boy this is where you’re going to stay, you know. Undoubtedly I probably said that to them. But that again was just more or less to make sure that things did go right. I was — the entire time I want to keep upon — pressing upon them that we wasn’t going to have any problems, I wasn’t, you know. I just didn’t want any goddamn problems…

(1) Boone was, understandably, devastated when Ted Bundy ultimately confessed to dozens of murders.

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Kidnapped: Cindy Paulson, Part VIII: The Coffee Table

Kidnapped: The Cindy Paulson Story [Installment One]

Cindy Paulson’s narrative is driven by her need to tell Glenn Flothe everything about her kidnapping by Robert Hansen. Sometimes, Flothe has to deliberately slow her pace. He wants to capture every last detail, down to the coffee table in Hansen’s den.

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Cindy Paulson
Cindy Paulson

FLOTHE: OK. Now, let’s back up a little bit… You come into the garage, now tell me what happens next. When you come into the garage…

CINDY: He takes me out of the car and takes me to the house.

FLOTHE: You were still handcuffed?

CINDY: Yeah, I was handcuffed the whole time.

FLOTHE: Did you go downstairs?

CINDY: Uh huh.

FLOTHE: And what happened when you went downstairs?

CINDY: He sat down on the… I sat down on the chair next to the coffee table, whatever you call it. He pulled the bear skin rug around… And all the time he kept telling me ‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you if you cooperate.’ And he kept one handcuff on me while I was (inaudible). And then for a minute, after he had had sex with me on the bear skin rug, he left my hand handcuffed and my neck tied and then connected a rope around my feet. But that didn’t work. It came untied.

FLOTHE: Somehow we jumped from coming down stairs to being on a bear rug. What happened in between? I mean…

CINDY: He just…

FLOTHE: Did he chain you up at that point, or…


FLOTHE: He didn’t…

CINDY: He just tied me up to the coffee table, that’s here, and the TV’s in the center (points to diagram).

FLOTHE: He tied you up to the coffee table… How did he do that?

Gun Coffee Table Undressed

CINDY: Tied a rope around my neck and the coffee table… the coffee table on the top… and then it has a… compartments underneath where you can store stuff… tied me around with a rope.

FLOTHE: Was your head closed in, or…

CINDY: Nope. My hands…

FLOTHE: What’s this big square in front of the coffee table?

CINDY: That’s the rug.

FLOTHE: Oh. Write that on there somewhere. That’s the bear rug?

CINDY: Nope. The bear rug isn’t… This is just a regular rug.

FLOTHE: What color’s that rug?

CINDY: I believe it’s red and pink.

FLOTHE: OK, so he tied your…

CINDY: Head right in here (points to diagram). And my head was here and the rope here… and this chair was flipped over here… And I always had my handcuff there and I was laying this way…

FLOTHE: Why don’t you draw yourself… You know, draw a stick figure showing how you were… You know, head along here…


CINDY: (sobs and sniffles) Sorry…

FLOTHE: That’s all right… So, your right arm was tied to…

CINDY: I was handcuffed…

FLOTHE: Handcuffed to…

CINDY: To the chair…

FLOTHE: The chair…

CINDY: And my head was… tied a rope around my neck…


CINDY: …and tied to the coffee table…

Coffee Table
Hansen’s Den w/ Coffee Table (courtesy Alaska State Troopers; illustration, Leland E. Hale)

FLOTHE: And your right arm…

CINDY: My arm was straight.

FLOTHE: And your leg?

CINDY: My legs were free.

FLOTHE: OK. Did he… How did your clothes get off?

CINDY: He took ‘em off.

FLOTHE: All of ‘em?

CINDY: Except for my… Except for my shirt… I took it off.

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.

Kidnapped: Cindy Paulson, Part IV

This is Installment Four of the September 27, 1983, interview of Cindy Paulson by Sgt. Glenn Flothe, AST. In this installment, Cindy talks about — and proves — her observational powers, in this case related to Robert Hansen’s house on Old Harbor Road. Her ability to accurately describe every detail of her ordeal was crucial to establishing her credibility as a witness. Too often, Robert Hansen was believed instead of the women, many of them dancers or prostitutes, who testified against him. [Installment Three]

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Cindy Paulson
Cindy Paulson

FLOTHE: So he takes you to the house. Now, from reading your report apparently you had a pretty good description of the house that you gave the police. Do you know your way around town well, or why did you happen to remember so well where it was at?

CINDY: Because when I drove past the house there was a sign that said ‘Dead End.’

FLOTHE: You drove past the house?

CINDY: Up to the house.

FLOTHE: Oh and you saw a sign that said ‘Dead End?’


FLOTHE: How did you know this? Did you know the street name?

CINDY: No. You see, when we was driving I observed everything. ‘Cause this motherfucker wasn’t getting away with it.

FLOTHE: I hope not.

CINDY: I knew I was in trouble. And I really, really… If there was any chance of me getting away, he wasn’t getting away with it.

Cindy Paulson (audio)

FLOTHE: You also described the outside of the house. Can you describe that again to me, Cindy?

CINDY: It’s blue with a big ol’ picture window and the whole house is… If you drive down Old Harbor Road, the window’s on the right side and the garage is to the left.

Hansen house Old Harbor Road (b&w)
Hansen’s House, Old Harbor Road (copyright Leland E. Hale)

FLOTHE: Was there anything else unusual about the house?

CINDY: There’s no trees in the front yard.

FLOTHE: OK. I think before you mentioned something being on the roof of the house.

CINDY: Yep. There were horns.

FLOTHE: Horns?

CINDY: Yep. (inaudible) The horns that were up there, the big ol’ antler horns, they’re called. That was everywhere in the whole… In the basement there was fish, there was wolf skin, there was stuffed animals everywhere. Big ol’ like caribou and goats heads, big ones stuffed everywhere. Ducks and birds.

Robert Hansen's Den
Hansen’s Den (Alaska State Troopers)

FLOTHE: When you drove up to the house did you see any other cars there at the time?

CINDY: Yep. Like a Datsun Toyota cream-colored car. Four door. Like a station wagon.

FLOTHE: Like a station wagon?

CINDY: Uh huh. Like a little Datsun station wagon.

Hansen's cars close-up
Hansen’s Truck & Datsun Close-up
(copyright Leland E. Hale)

FLOTHE: Where did he park the car?

CINDY: The Buick car, inside the garage.

FLOTHE: How did he get in?

CINDY: The automatic opener.

FLOTHE: He had an automatic garage door opener?

CINDY: The garage was opened. (inaudible)

FLOTHE: Either he had opened it or it was already open?

CINDY: Uh huh. I was kinda trippin’ I really thought (inaudible)

FLOTHE: This car that was in the driveway – how new or old was this car?

CINDY: (interrupting) It was an older car.

FLOTHE: An older car.

CINDY: Uh huh.

FLOTHE: Can you describe it a little bit more to me?

CINDY: It was probably about a ’72, cream-colored Datsun, with a kinda station wagon in the back, the kind that you used to… It was about a ’72 or ’73.

FLOTHE: You think if I showed you some pictures of some cars later on you might be able to pick it out?

CINDY: Uh huh. Uh huh.

FLOTHE: OK. So you go into the garage, what happens then, when you get into the garage? Were the lights on or off?

CINDY: On. He takes me up the stairs to the garage, I mean, to the house. After we get in the garage we gotta go up these stairs. About four stairs to get into the house. And we got to the house and he drug me downstairs to the… as soon as you walk in there’s a carpet to the right. To the left is the basement.

FLOTHE: At this time, so I know what you’re talking about, ‘cause I have not been in the house, Cindy…

CINDY: Uh huh.

(sound of paper being torn off a tablet)

FLOTHE: Would you draw me a diagram of the house and I’ll turn the tape off just for a minute while you’re doing that. I’m not going to help you do that, all right?


FLOTHE: Turning the tape off at 8:34 pm.

Purchase Butcher, Baker