For law enforcement, the Robert Hansen serial-murders have long been characterized as a case of missed opportunities. Some critics are less diplomatic. After all, Robert Hansen’s violent career spanned more than a decade.
Let it be said: In no one’s world is it normal for a naked and bleeding woman to appear on someone’s doorstep. Nor is it “normal” to find broken glass in the vicinity of an assault. The missed opportunities aren’t hard to find.
Robert Hansen, Charged with Murder, Leaves Courtroom, Covers Face (Hansen is 4th from left; courtesy Anchorage Times)
- Missed Opportunities: Christy Hayes Escapes from Hansen’s Truck
- When Christy Hayes escaped Robert Hansen’s truck and ran to Mildred Johnson’s house, Johnson observed that Hayes was bleeding — and called the police. That was the right thing to do: Johnson didn’t stop to think, “is this woman a prostitute,” didn’t care whether Christy Hayes was black, white or purple.
- When A.P.D. Officer Hammond arrived, he photographed tire tracks and broken glass in the vicinity where Hayes said the truck was parked. That was the right thing to do. When there’s a crime, you investigate.
- BUT Hayes told Glenn Flothe that she had left her clothes, to include a blue bag containing her dancing outfits, in the camper when she escaped. Even though Hayes was naked when she came to Johnson’s door, there is no report that the officer searched for her missing clothing.
- It took until Hansen’s confession for authorities to find out what happened to that clothing.
- Missed Opportunities: Christy Hayes Spots Hansen at the Bush Company
- When A.P.D. Officer Loesch was called to the Alaska Bush Company Bar in Anchorage by Christine Hayes, she pointed out a caucasian male in the bar that was identified as Robert C. Hansen.
- Loesch asked Hansen to accompany him to A.P .D. for an interview, to which Hansen agreed. Hansen did not explain the broken glass at the scene and Loesch did not ask him about it. The report indicates no further investigation was done on the case.
- What if A.P.D. had been more diligent in following up on Christy’s allegations?
- What if A.P.D. had dug more deeply into Hansen’s past offenses, including rape and attempted assault with a deadly weapon?
- Missed Opportunities: Christy Hayes Sees Hansen at Hansen’s Bakery
- Since Hayes quickly exited the bakery premises, the missed opportunity is fuzzier — yet it brings to mind at least one more “what-if.”
- What if she’d lingered and, heaven forbid, taken the job? Her employment application included her address. That left her vulnerable to further predations on Hansen’s part.
Lacking action by the authorities, the repurcussions for Hansen’s behavior toward Christy Hayes were entirely self-imposed. The effect of those changes made it harder to catch him — and his violence became more focused.
- Hansen later installed an eyebolt in his camper, so that it was easier to restrain victims.
- According to his confession, “I never used the camper again.”
- He restricted his activities to the summer, when his wife and children were out of town.
- He switched to a vehicle combination that limited his passenger car to the role of transporting victims to his house and/or his airplane.
- His airplane assumed an outsized place in his criminal activities.
Source: Statement of Robert C. Hansen, District Attorney’s Office Anchorage, February 22, 1984
Purchase Butcher, Baker