During his confession, Robert Hansen describes a rendezvous with a woman that overwhelmingly resembles Paula Goulding. The woman is scared. Wants to get out of the business. Doesn’t know what do to next. Finds an unlikely Good Samaritan. That was Paula’s story.
Born in Hawaii, new to Alaska, formerly employed as a secretary, this dancing in the clubs routine was more than Paula Goulding had bargained for. So much so that, at first, she only danced topless. But heeding the cries of “take it all off” meant she would make more money. Eventually, she did what they wanted. She took it all off — and, almost immediately, made an ill-advised date with Robert Hansen.
Paula Goulding (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)
Is it really Paula that Hansen describes? There are differences in the account, to be sure. The woman Hansen talks about was working at different clubs than the one Paula was known to be working, both before and after her encounter with the “Butcher, Baker.” And, Hansen claims, he didn’t ask her out a second time. Still…
Hansen mentions seeing this woman at the Wild Cherry which was, in fact, very close to the Bush Company — where Paula worked at the time of her disappearance. Given the sometimes fluid state of his memory — and the fluid state of women working the Anchorage strip — it is possible that he confused the two, both of which were on Anchorage’s infamous Fourth Avenue (1).
[Transcript lightly edited for clarity]
RH: This gal here was working at… Captaln Ahab. She was working there and I walked in and this one girl was sitting by herself at a table. And I walked up and she was sitting there all withdrawn and so forth and I sat down and talked to her and she was, I could tell she was very very upset, what you call scared stiff.
Then [saying] “I can’t believe I’m doing this, I can’t believe I’m doing this.” I said oh, gee whiz, what’s wrong, something I can help you with or whatever? And she says, she just came up and signed her contract or something to dance at the [club and] that she didn’t want to do it. She said she just couldn’t stand the thought of getting up on stage in front of a bunch of people and taking her clothes off. She says she just wanted to get away [from] there.
Kit Kat Club, One of Anchorage’s Many Topless Clubs (Stephen Cysewski)
Well, I told her I’ll, of course, right away I guess I’m thinking, gee whiz, maybe this is one I can — my family was gone — maybe I can get her to come stay with me, you know. So I just out and out said, “Hey, you know, I have a home here in town, would you consider coming with me?” And she said, “Are you serious?” And I said, “Yes, I’m serious.” She just said, “Don’t go away.”
She just got up, walked in the dressing room and come out with a coat on and some stuff in a bag, which I found out later was her clothes. She still wore her costume and just walked up to my table and says, “Lets go.” And [we] left and got out and walked out and got in my car, she says, “I got some stuff that’s at The Sleeping Lady.”
And we drove down there and she said, “Park right there in the parking lot,” and she ran in the front door there and she was scared about going in there. I asked her two or three times do you want me to go with you. She said, oh no, that would cause [a] lot more problems. Just “no, no I can’t do that, just please stay here, please don’t leave, don’t leave.”
Robert Hansen is playing the Good Samaritan
She went inside, then before long there was another girl I could see, running to a window in there and looked out and looked at me. And then she left and then both the girl that I’ve taken with me, and the other girl that looked, come down to the door and they had two or three sacks full of clothing and stuff. And they, she put the stuff in my car and we left and I drove to my home and we got home and so forth and we sat and talked for a little while. She was just saying that she was just petrified, scared that she didn’t want to go back and dance there any more.
Then, you know, I got in there and I asked her, you know, we were talking for a little while, I asked her right out, would you care to go to bed now, and she sat there for awhile and she just, she [shed a] few tears, cried a little bit. She said no, she [was] just sorry, she didn’t mean to be a party pooper and so forth, she said she couldn’t do that and that she was just too scared to go back.
I said well, gee whiz, I hate to be callous about it and so forth but, you know, my understanding was that you were gonna stay with me if you was gonna stay here. Gee whiz, you know, is there someplace else you want to go? I’ll take you. She said she didn’t have any place to go. Well, I said I didn’t know what to do with her either.
Turns out the “Good Samaritan” wants something in return
I went and called up on the phone, I don’t know the right name for it, there is a shelter here in town for abused and battered women, and all of this jazz like this here. And I called them up and explained I had a lady here that didn’t have a home, she didn’t know where to go, she’s scared. I don’t believe I told that she was a dancer or anything else. I could have, maybe I did. Anyway. They give me the address where to take her down in a home in South Mountain View, or in Fairview. I drove her down there and spoke very very briefly with the lady that was running the place.
Mountain View, Alaska (Stephen Cysewski)
I left, but then I was up town sometime later. I can’t, maybe it was a few, maybe it was a week or two later. The girl was back dancing again in one of the places. It seemed like it was a different place, so maybe the Wild Cherry across the street, someplace. But I was very very surprised. As a matter of fact, I think I walked up to her and asked her. “Gee whiz you change your mind about dancing?” She just kind of looked at me and [said] something to the effect, yes, I had to, or I changed my mind, or something or other.
FR: Did you try taking her out after that?
RH: No. This one here girl didn’t proposition me. I mean, she was in there, she was scared, she, I felt she didn’t even belong there. And I wouldn’t — if she hadn’t had a place to stay, she would have ended up staying at my place, whether there was anything between us or not, until she found another place. All the girls that are working, you know, they are not prostitutes. Some of them just don’t have another means of making a living. I don’t like what they do, really, but it’s a situation that that’s where they are at and that’s where they are making a living.
Topless Club, Anchorage
If they just want to dance, why, well, to hell with them. A lot of other girls throughout the world are dancing for a living, whether topless or bottomless bar or on a stage or wherever. They may not be morally right but for what they are doing [sic], but I can understand it and that’s never just, well anyway.
RH = Robert Hansen; FR = Frank Rothschild
(1) My personal view is that Hansen was talking about Paula Goulding. There are too many similarities for this to be mere coincidence.
Purchase Butcher, Baker