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)

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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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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.

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