Life with Robert Hansen: There Seems to Be More

The “why” answer discussed in our previous post is a long one. And in all likelihood incomplete. Even Assistant D.A., after answering that question, had to say, “but there seems to be more.” Yes, there does seem to be more. There seems to be a lot more. Here we glide from cause to effect; once his killing spree started, Hansen seems to have created an elaborate and deadly set of reinforcing behaviors. One thrill begat the next one.

Seems
Trophies at Hansen’s house (Alaska State Troopers)

“This hunter who kept trophies on the wall had a world record.

Seems
Hansen with his World Record Dall’s Sheep

“Well, he now has trophies scattered throughout southcentral Alaska. He put his little notches on the map. And isn’t it interesting that two of his maps were found in his bedboard behind his bed. You can just see him when he has a moment to himself, pulling them out and looking at the little X’s on the map, of women he’d killed and buried.

Seems
Hansen Map (detail)

“He admits to there being at least 20 to 30 women where everything went okay and he dropped them back off on the streets. We fear there were many more; we don’t really believe for a minute that he’s told us the full story. He is a compulsive liar. He gives us what he knows he has to give up — give us [that] and no more.

“It’s a game you see, Your Honor, it’s a game with authority, it’s a game with police, it’s trying to outfox, it’s the big thrill.

“And his family? Well, from back in ’62 on [when he was arrested for arson in Iowa], he always talked about his family. Oh, I care so much for my family, I’m so worried about how this will affect them.

“That’s a fiction.

“His family was a prop so he could hide behind decency, to show I’m a family man. And he’s a baker and he makes money and it’s just all part of the game.”

“Now there are, Your Honor, 13 bodies still out there to find.”


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Life with Robert Hansen: So Then We Ask Why

“So then we ask why,” Assistant D.A. Frank Rothschild said as he addressed Judge Moody. “Why did he do all this?”

It’s the question everyone asks. These days there seems to be but one answer to such questions. It’s mental health, they insist. These people are crazy. Frank Rothschild did not take that approach; even if it was the easy way out.

“He said he was frustrated as a kid, his friends had to have all the fun, they got the girls and he didn’t,” Rothschild said. “He had acne, he stuttered, people made jokes of him, talked about hiding, going under the bed, not coming out for a day.”

Why

“And he said this is the reason; he wanted to feel wanted and you can’t feel wanted in a motel room. He called that too commercial. He didn’t like this slam, bam, do it again [sic], m’am stuff. He didn’t like this quick stuff.

“He wanted them under his control as long as he wanted and he tried hard to convince himself, he says, that they wanted to be with him too, that it wasn’t bought sex, that they really wanted to be with him.

“He said, I wanted to control things. It made me feel masculine or powerful or in control of my life, that he got into it for his own ego. Maybe this quote sums it all up:

“He said, I was just seeing everybody else got theirs, then it’s my turn to have fun now.”

There were other “why’s.”

Why

Bob’s domineering, old-country dad, who constantly belittled him — and exploited his labor — even as he praised Bob’s older sister, who didn’t seem able to do anything wrong. A mother who was incapable of defending him. The attempts to fit in, that didn’t quite work (like joining the high school football team or the Junior Police; after all of that, they still misspelled his name in the high school yearbook).

His learning disabilities (which his second wife, Darla, tried to fix but couldn’t). His whore-madonna complex. His resentment of authority, shown in full-color when he burned the bus barn in Pocahontas, Iowa.

And, yes, his mental illness, for which the professionals seemed to have too many names. Schizophrenia. Obsessive-compulsive. Manic depression (now more commonly called bipolar).

So there you have it. No easy answers.


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Life With Robert Hansen: Assistant D.A. Frank D. Rothschild

It was up to Assistant District Attorney Frank Rothschild to articulate the depth and depravity of Robert Hansen’s crimes. When he went before Judge Ralph E. Moody at Robert Hansen’s sentencing, he stood in for all the victims who could not be heard, and for the few who got away. He also stood in for all the upstanding citizens of Alaska, as their voice and their conscience. He did not spare his criticism of those who aided and abetted Robert Hansen. In good conscience, he could not.

As Rothschild recalled Cindy Paulson’s escape from Robert Hansen, he noted her fear. “Dr. Hollingshead, who saw [Cindy] in the emergency room, and he’d worked there for years and seen victims of all kinds of crimes, he’s seen people fearful, had never seen a woman so scared out of her wits that she’d seen her Maker.”

Rothschild went on to describe what happened next.

Rothschild
Assistant D.A. Frank D. Rothschild at Robert Hansen’s Sentencing

“But he had an alibi,” Rothschild told the judge, referring to Robert Hansen. “Just as he always said he was going to do to all of the women in the speech he gave them, he told them that he had someone waiting to give an alibi so they might as well not talk. It wouldn’t do them any good, who would believe them, a hooker, a dancer who dances naked, versus this man, respectable, and his friends.”

Rothschild
Judge Ralph E. Moody

“[Hansen] was a little worried this time, though, because she had handcuffs on when she ran out and he had some concerns about that. He thought she might be a little more believable given the fact that she was wearing handcuffs, so he rushed home and called his good friend John Henning, he’ll alibi for me. And sure enough he did.”

“Now, he didn’t tell John Henning the truth about what had happened and John Henning is a man who says that, in his mind, why, it’s just an occupational hazard of women who work the streets to get a little roughed around or have these kinds of problems. So he stood up for his buddy, agreed to provide the police with a alibi, took his weapons from him because he was afraid the police might be suspicious with him having weapons; not only that, but it would have been a crime for him to have a handgun, of course.”

“And when the investigator called him, he told then flat out, he was with me all night, couldn’t have been with that street prostitute. Was confronted twice more by the investigator, once at the police department. Oh, no, he was with me. The police officer read him the riot act and said, now this is the time to come forward and these are serious charges and you could be obstructing justice. And he said, oh, no, he was with me, just as calm and cool as can be.”

Rothschild
Cindy Paulson

“He does more than that, we find now. They get the wonderful idea and Mr. Henning says, hey, why don’t we get another alibi since we’re doing it. I know some cab driver friend, let’s get him to come forward and say that he delivered pizza and beer while we were together that night. We got two alibis now. And they go over to this guy’s house, the two of them, and they tell the man, we need an alibi. […] And he went along with it.”

“This same friend tells [Hansen] to rush off, that he’d better get an attorney. This same friend who knows a doctor out there at Humana Hospital, goes to his doctor friend, tells him about the trouble his buddy is in and asks him to go into the records and get, if he can, the name and address of the woman who accused him of rape. That doctor went to the emergency room doctor and asked him to get those records.”

“And he didn’t give them. And he told his doctor, the police are involved. Dr. Hollingshead suspected this was the man who was abducting all the women off he streets and he told him he better back off. And he did.”

“But Mr. Henning sure was a good friend.”


Purchase Butcher, Baker

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.

Singles

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.”


Purchase Butcher, Baker