Arrest of Robert Hansen: Angie

Known by almost everyone as “Angie,” Angela Feddern was a troubled soul. Her sister in Seattle knew that she was into drugs, and turning tricks to support her habit. She reached out. She tried to help. So did her mother. They both failed.

In Seattle Angie’s mother, Mary Radford, soon learned that her daughter’s body had been found. “I was prepared for it,” she told the Associated Press. “I knew something was wrong when she stopped calling last year. In a way, there’s some relief. You wonder what happened to them until you know for sure.”

Asked what she thought of Hansen’s plea-bargained sentence, Mrs. Radford turned bitter. “I don’t see why he should be alive and they dead,” she said.

Mrs. Radford also acknowledged that her daughter chose to be a prostitute, knowing it was a rough life. “That was the life she chose,” she said. “Angie just couldn’t find it in herself to go out and get a thinking job. She did the best she could.”

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

Angela “Angie” Feddern (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

4/26/84: Sergeant FLOTHE, Trooper VonCLASEN and helicopter pilot fly to Figure 8 Lake, grave site #ll. Figure 8 Lake is west of the Susitna River. Body located lying on the ground beneath flag placed by HANSEN. Some clothing and bone protruding from frozen ground. Unable to dig out pants without destroying evidence. Must wait for thaw. Jaw bone found lying on top of ground near pants with dental work. Jawbone removed, transported back to Anchorage.

Figure 8 Lake (Google Maps; illustration by Leland E. Hale)

Sergeant FLOTHE, Trooper VonCLASEN and helicopter pilot fly to Scenic Lake grave site #13 on Kenai Peninsula. Body left by HANSEN lying on top of ground covered with some brush. Clothing (red blouse) and small rib bone found in location pointed out by HANSEN. “Bear sign” noted around body. Ground frozen. Looked for purse, still ice along edge of lake where purse is allegedly located. Need to return in a week or two to allow for sufficient ground thaw. Seized bone and torn red womans blouse.

Returned to Anchorage with jawbone from Figure 8 Lake. Compared with known dental records on file. Positive ID from dental X-rays as ANGELA FEDDERN, missing from Anchorage approximately February 1983. Reported missing to APD Officer P.C. CANADY by JOE MAJORS, owner/operator of Murphy’s Law, a bar featuring nude female dancers. No official APD report filed. Information passed on to Troopers. FEDDERN was working as an avenue prostitute and allegedly had a date with a doctor when she disappeared.

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Arrest of Robert Hansen: 3 Rings & Gold Nugget Necklace

The truth was bound to hit Darla Hansen at some point. April 25, 1984, was one of those days. The day she found three rings and a gold nugget necklace in her house. She knew they weren’t hers. Which meant that they belonged to another woman. Or other women. Bob’s women. Bob’s dead women. Note, too, Glen Flothe’s precision in marking the handover. 4:10 p.m. had to be an awkward encounter.

Rings found among Hansen’s mementoes (modeled by AST employees)

Troopers searching for bodies, meanwhile, continued their fight with Mother Nature; the ground was still frozen 8 to 10 inches down. They would soon learn that Darla’s husband didn’t bother to dig deep graves for his victims. He didn’t have time for that. Sometimes, he didn’t bother with graves at all. In his haste, he simply left them where they fell. And here, his lack of respect had a silver lining. Bodies left on the ground were easier to find.

Knik Graves: Depth Measure (courtesy Alaska Times)

4/25/84: Sergeant FLOTHE, Lieutenant KASNICK, Trooper VonCLASEN, Sergeant HAUGSVEN search grave site #3, parking area Old Kink River Bridge. Ground frozen 8 to 10 inches down. Return later.

Trooper VonCLASEN, Sergeant HAUGSVEN check grave site #8, island south of GOULDING’s body in sandbar, negative. Not sure of exact location easy digging. Use 4X4 pickup and helicopter.

Sergeant FLOTHE, Lieutenant KASNICK check grave site #7. Grave site adjacent to GOULDING. Ground still frozen 8 to 10 inches deep. Not sure of exact location, will return. Used helicopter.

Sergeant FLOTHE, Lieutenant KASNICK, helicopter pilot check grave site (lying on ground) at #9, Horseshoe Lake. Body located approximately 50 feet from flag left by HANSEN. Body lying face down prone, fully clothed. Mostly skeletal with some tissue in protected areas of remaining clothing.

4/25/84 4:10 p.m.: 3 rings, gold nugget necklace to Flothe from Darla.

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Arrest of Robert Hansen: Grave Digging Begins

With the digging came the smell of death. There was no escape. It clung to every hair in their noses; it was the stench of rotten chicken left to molder. It was also the smell of mourning, of lives needlessly lost. That they found not only bodies, but the vestiges of daily existence — a suitcase, a purse — brought home those losses even more poignantly.

At least it was shared toil, and work that didn’t respect rank. Troopers, sergeants and lieutenants all took their turn at the shovel or the screen. This was, after all, the criminal justice system making good on its word. Come spring, they had promised, we’ll start digging up bodies.

4/23/84: Trooper WAYNE VonCLASEN checks grave sites at Knik River bridge, locates suitcase and purse buried at grave site #6 belonging to TAMMY PEDERSON. Spot pointed out by HANSEN.

4/24/84: Lieutenant JENT, Sergeant FLOTHE, Lieutenant KASNICK, Trooper VonCLASEN dig up body #l at grave site #2 near Jim Creek east of Old Kink River Bridge on north side of river (later identified as Sue Luna).

Lieutenant JENT, Sergeant FLOTHE, Lieutenant KASNICK, Trooper VonCLASEN dig up body #2 at grave site #4 parking area Old Knik River Bridge (later identified as Malai Larsen).




Purchase Butcher, Baker

Arrest of Robert Hansen: Prison Bound

When it came to jail time, Hansen wanted out of Alaska. The women he’d killed were, he insisted, linked to criminal gangs. If imprisoned within the state, Hansen was certain he’d be killed. He got his wish and ended up in a prison far from home.

Lewisberg Federal Prison is a high-security facility in central Pennsylvania. Robert Hansen was Prisoner #80462-011. Not his lucky number, perhaps, but at least he had some famous company. Among them, Edwin Cortes and Ricardo Jimenez, Puerto Rican nationalists convicted in 1981 of seditious conspiracy for their roles in numerous bombings aimed at achieving Puerto Rican independence. And Melvin Williams, former organized crime figure in Baltimore, Maryland; convicted of heroin trafficking in 1985, he served as an inspiration for the character Avon Barksdale in the HBO series The Wire.

Melvin Williams

Lewisberg’s other notorious alumnae include Whitey Bulger, John Gotti, Jimmy Hoffa and Alger Hiss, to name just a few.

Located in mid-state, Lewisberg is a natural landing place for East Coast crime figures including, over the years, a goodly share of made men and racketeers. Somehow, Robert Hansen seemed out of place with this crew. At least he could see corn fields. If he tried really hard, he could imagine he was in Iowa.

4/10/84: Lieutenant ROBERT JENT and Sergeant GLENN FLOTHE transport ROBERT HANSEN to the federal intake prison at El Reno, Oklahoma for eventual transfer to Louisberg (sic), Pennsylvania.

El Reno Federal intake prison, El Reno, Oklahoma

Lewisberg Federal Prison, Lewisberg, Pennsylvania

Purchase Butcher, Baker

The Silt Diaries: Finger Lake, Alaska

When I talked about the AST Tactical Dive team in my last post, the problem of silt on the bottom of the Knik figured prominently. This is an issue with most Alaskan waters, including fresh water resources like Finger Lake. All that glacial action over the years has left its mark.

The dives you’ll see here were captured in 2011, at a Finger Lake crime scene near Palmer, Alaska. The video was taken during a visit with Walter Gilmore: No sooner had I landed than he announced we were going to a dive site to recover stolen weapons. Yes, I’ve written about this burglary before.

The parallels between the Knik River and the Finger Lake dives are telling. There’s the pervasive silt, once more wreaking havoc with the evidenciary search. The divers have to be careful not to stir it up and cloud visibility. And then, not quite by accident, there’s the floatplane. A floatplane very similar to that flown by Robert Hansen. And its flight path? Within sight of Pioneer Peak, in the shadows of the Knik River. The river that became Robert Hansen’s killing field.

Herewith in four installments, are is video of an actual Dive Team in action.

About the videos: There are some WordPress restrictions on file size, so I had to break them up and make them way tinier than I wanted. Also, I think I must have channeled my late father that day, with the shakey, handheld video quality and the completely wrong camera orientation (should have shot landscape, not portrait). And that up-lilt in my voice on the last frame? Ah. Live and learn…

Finger Lake Divers (Copyright Leland E. Hale; Shot on iPhone 4; best at Full Screen)

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Arrest of Robert Hansen: Way Too Much Silt

Of the three Knik tactical divers, I’ve only met one — Laddie Shaw. I wish the circumstances had been better: we were at the funeral of Walter Gilmour. Still, the man I met matched the indelible image engraved by Gilmour; Shaw is a wiry bundle of energy and get-it-done intensity who is friendly, open and unassuming.

Shaw is also an ex-Navy SEAL who served in ‘Nam. They don’t make ’em any tougher. Just the right man for the job of finding human remains in the silt of Robert Hansen’s callous disregard for just about everything.

Silt Knik River Railroad Bridge

3/9/84: The Tactical Dive Unit consisting of LADDIE SHAW, Sergeant DON SAVAGE and Trooper MIKE DEKREON conducted a search of the Knik River under the railroad bridge in the vicinity of Mile 30.4 on the Glenn Highway. The bottom search was conducted between the south three sections, to the bank, using a straight line method in addition to individual search. The water depth averaged 12 to 20 inches with a maximum depth of approximately four feet. The bottom was made up of a top layer (approximately four to six inches) of silt with an underlying layer of gravel/silt mix.

It was noted that over the previous year the tide change has been in excess of six feet and with the season changes in weather and fluence, the bottom gradient of the Knik River had made a dramatic change in movement of sand bars, bottom composition, etc. The river was extremely clear with very little debris, including no logs, large branches, however, due to the tidal changes and the amount of silt build up it would be necessary to research the area perhaps late in the fall after the spring run off is concluded.

Laddie Shaw, Navy SEAL

Laddie Shaw

Don Savage (After retiring from the AST, Savage was Wasilla Chief of Police)

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Arrest of Robert Hansen: Too Much Snow

Snow is a reality in Alaska, though how much snow depends on the where of Alaska. Anchorage, for example, is on a coastal plain and doesn’t get as much snow as parts farther inland, closer to the mountains.

Time of year makes a difference too. In March, even if the melt has started, there is still a good chance the ground is frozen. The Chugach Mountains that surround Anchorage, on the other hand, seem perpetually cloaked in white.

Given these realities, getting to Hansen’s grave sites depended on the spring thaw. That was April at the earliest; April sliding into May and then June.

3/5/84: Sergeant FLOTHE, Trooper VonCLASEN and AST pilot utilizing AST helicopter checked the grave sites previously marked along the Knik River to determine when they could be examined. It was noted that a large percentage of the snow cover had melted, however, the ground was still frozen.

3/7/84: Sergeant FLOTHE receives a telephone call from DARLA HANSEN, advises Seargeant FLOTHE that prior to HANSEN’s confession and soon after his arrest, HANSEN asked her to remove weapons that he led her to believe were possibly buried in the back yard.

Later that day, the sergeant was back at Old Harbor Road, this time with a metal detector. He slowly swept the area in back of the house, while Darla stood by nervously. They didn’t find a thing, and Hansen had already denied throwing anything into a septic tank he said didn’t exist.

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

Backyard of Hansen house, Old Harbor Road (copyright Leland E. Hale)

Troopers FORREST BULLINGTON and VonCLASEN utilizing the AST helicopter checked the grave sites located west of Wasilla. There still, however, was a large amount of snow cover thus preventing any excavation at this time.

Wasilla Snow in March

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Arrest of Robert Hansen: A Thief Goes Home Again

Troopers already knew Hansen was a thief. A bigtime thief. The initial search of his home on the day of his arrest turned up ample evidence that he was an inveterate five-finger man. But Troopers had no idea how deep his thieving instincts went. Hansen gave them a glimpse when they took him to his residence and he pointed out all the stuff they’d missed. As Hansen himself bragged during his confession, “Hell, I stole more stuff in this town than Carter got little green pills.”

Photo: jennandjon

Hansen is quoting a variation of a once-popular saying, referring to a “cure all” patent medicine of the last century. As the magazine Southern Living notes, “Carter’s little pills began as Carter’s Little Liver Pills, a patent medicine developed in 1868 by Erie, Pennsylvania’s Samuel J. Carter. At one time, everyone knew Carter’s Little Liver Pills because they were advertised widely. So widely, in fact, that it seemed Carter had an endless supply of pills — which is why the saying originated as ‘more than Carter has little liver pills.’

3/2/84: On Friday, 3/2/84 Sergeant FLOTHE escorted ROBERT HANSEN from the 3rd Avenue pre-trial facility to his residence at which time HANSEN pointed out items which were stolen so that they could be returned to their owners.

Items identified by HANSEN as stolen and seized from the residence included first aid kit from Scenic Lake, a red Homelite chainsaw from a cabin approximately two miles west of Big Lake, ten horsepower outboard motor from west of Big Lake, Craftsman portable radio, Ross desk radio calendar pad, telescope, red vinyl airplane seat containing blue sleeping bag from Merrill Field, green generator stolen from B&C Supply, and a push type lawn mower.

The telescope, first aid kit and a .22 calibre break down rifle and semi-automatic pistol already seized were stolen from Ketchum Air Service cabin sites. The first aid kit, telescope, green generator, lawn mower, and red vinyl airplane seat containing blue sleeping bag are returned to their owners. The remaining items which are unidentified are placed into evidence pending identification.

Merrill Field (Anchorage,Alaska)

Big Lake (Call of the Wild Fire, near Big Lake, Alaska)

Scenic Lake

3/2/84: After transporting HANSEN to his residence Sergeant FLOTHE then transported him to AST Headquarters evidence room with regards to having HANSEN point out which weapons were stolen and which weapons did in fact belong to him. After viewing the weapons HANSEN was then transported back to the 3rd Avenue pre-trial facility.

Purchase Butcher, Baker

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.

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Arrest of Robert Hansen: 460 Years Plus Life

460 years plus life seems like a long time. Certainly no known human has lived that long. Some folks wanted more. They wanted the death penalty. They wouldn’t get it. Couldn’t get it. Alaska doesn’t have the death penalty. A life sentence was the most they could expect. The most they could expect, that is, until Judge Moody upped the ante.

“It wasn’t until approximately 2:45 on Monday afternoon that Bob Hansen appeared before Judge Moody. Attorneys, law enforcement officers, members of the press, and friends and families of the victims packed the third-floor courtroom. When Vic Krumm announced that Hansen had admitted to the serial murders, Cindy Paulson ran crying from the room. Other who had known the dead women also cried, some throughout the proceeding. Frank Rothschild, meanwhile, launched into the best courtroom speech of his career.

“Your Honor,” Rothschild said, “before you sits a monster, an extreme aberration of a human being. A man who has walked among us for seventeen years, serving us donuts, Danish, and hot coffee, all with a pleasant smile. Mellow, mild-mannered, bespectacled, Bob the baker. A family man. A man so cunning, so clever, that his friends and acquaintances are in shock at what he now admits to before this court. Not even his wife of nearly twenty years had any idea of his dark, evil side.”

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

2/27/84: On 2/27/84 at approximately 2:45 pm HANSEN is sentenced before Superior Court Judge MOODY. HANSEN pleads guilty to the rape and kidnapping of CINDY PAULSEN, the theft of items from cabins found in his residence, the insurance fraud, and the murders of PAULA GOULDING, SHERRY MORROW, JOANNA MESSINA, and EKLUTNA ANNIE. HANSEN is subsequently sentenced to 460 years in prison plus a life sentence. The sentencing is concluded at 5:30 pm.

Judge Ralph E. Moody (Sentencing Judge, State of Alaska v. Robert C. Hansen)

MR. ROTHSCHILD: For those people that he has slain, for those lucky enough to have survived, for all of us, Your Honor, we ask that you rid us of this beastly man forever.

THE COURT: Counsel want a recess?

MR. DEWEY: No, Your Honor.

THE COURT: You may proceed.

MR. DEWEY: Your Honor, it’s my client’s wish and desire that nothing further be said on his behalf at this proceeding by his counsel. And that concludes my remarks.

THE COURT: Mr. Hansen, you may stand. Do you have anything to say before the court pronounces judgment?

MR. HANSEN: No, sir, I don’t.

THE COURT: Well, it’s hard to believe that humanity produces and sustains people who have the ability and propensities to commit such enormous, such beastly, such undescribable crimes… And we might as well face the music and resolve now and forevermore that we’re not going to allow people like this to remain on the streets. And I know we’re going to hear hue and cries from civil libertarians and everyone else that you can’t keep people out of public for life. But if there ever was a case in which a man or defendant needed to be surveillanced for the rest of his life it is this gentleman here.

Purchase Butcher, Baker