Christy Hayes: Escape from the Camper

Robert Hansen was asked about Christy Hayes and the “camper incident” during his February 1984 statement to authorities. At that point in his interview, they were not convinced he was telling them the whole truth (and were about to confront him with that fact).

What they knew was that Christy Hayes had been in a street fight. That it was not something she’d easily forget. That she was prepared to testify against him on that basis alone. And there was something else: experiences like those he had with Christy Hayes, and the camper, ultimately drove Robert Hansen to use the airplane as his preferred kidnap vehicle.


[Transcript lightly edited for clarity]

FR: [Tell us about] the black woman in 1979… That happened with her before you had an airplane?

RH: The one when I broke the window and all the…?

FR: Yeah.

RH: Yes. Oh yeah.

FR: Where were you going to drive her? What was the deal there?

Camper
Outskirts of Anchorage, 1970’s (Steven Cysewski)

RH: Sir, I wasn’t really going to go any farther than right there [west of Muldoon near the Glenn Highway]. I thought gee whiz, you know, ah, she was strictly a — well she propositioned me there in that there Embers, I think it was called at that there time. That was just a deal where I just thought that I had sufficiently scared [her that] there wasn’t going to be any problem. She told me there wasn’t going to be any problem, ah, I was just going to have sex with her. Just pull off the side of the road right there and ah…

FR: Somewhere in town?

Camper
Site of Camper Incident, 202 Stewart Street (Google Maps)

RH: …and then take her right back. I said I’m going to drop you off right back up town and that’s it, you know. But ah … When she was up in the cab of the truck… she had that locked, and had, uh, the back window there locked and I couldn’t get, uh, into her. The key for the camper was up sitting on the dash. I had, I had the truck keys, uh, my (inaudible) keys in my hand, but she was locked in the cab with the keys to get into the God damned camper. Uh, from the, the back end, you know. And, uh, she was sitting in there and, you know, had the doors locked, but I couldn’t get in to her…

And, I, I showed her right where the God damned key is, on, laying, it was laying right in fucking plain sight, you know, on, on the dash of the ca … or it was in the pickup. I said, “how in the hell can I get them”, you know. Anyway, she, and she kept on screaming and I just frickin’ got mad and I stuck my hand in and punched the windshield, or the side window, and knocked that completely out and, uh, said something about, “No, I’ll get the fucking keys,” you know, and reached in for them. And then she jumped out the other side door and ran away, you know.

Source: Statement of Robert C. Hansen, District Attorney’s Office Anchorage, February 22, 1984


Hansen professed that he didn’t like “slam-bam-thank-you-ma’am.” But his arrangement with Christy Hayes had all the earmarks of a “quickie.” As things progressed, it became clear to Christy that Hansen wanted more than that. Cindy Paulson explained it best:

“He said ‘cause he used to work on the slopes and that he would come down and spend money for a girl and go to her room for ten or fifteen minutes. And he said well he was gonna start getting his money’s worth. So he felt he should go and get the girl and… do what he pleased with her.” (Cindy Paulson)

(CONTINUED)

RH = Robert Hansen; FR = Frank Rothschild


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Paula Goulding: The Secret Rendezvous

“Dancing nude did not come easily to Paula Goulding. For the first week she only danced topless. She was a beautiful woman, however, and the woman who managed the club was patient with her. Then she finally got up the nerve to dance bottomless. She knew that the girls who did made more money than the girls who didn’t. Ironically, that was the night she made a date for a secret rendezvous with a mystery man, a date she should have refused.

“Goulding met the man at the Bush Company, where he offered her $200 to meet him for lunch. His only stipulation was that she come in a cab. On Sunday the 24th, Goulding called a cab and departed her home.”

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

Secret Rendezvous: Paula Goulding
Paula Goulding (Alaska State Troopers)


From Robert Hansen’s Confession

[Transcript lightly edited for clarity]

LH: Do you remember where the two of you [planned to] rendezvous at?

RH: Not exactly. No. Downtown most likely some place.

LH: Do you remember how she arrived there? She was supposed to come a certain way.

GF: How would you get them there so you wouldn’t be seen making the connection?

RH: That’s one thing that I thought I was always pretty careful about… And ah, I was going to meet them out in front of the Safeway there at the Northway Mall and one time down by the Post Office Mall downtown… I always made sure I was there, oh, at least half an hour, forty-five minutes ahead. I just stood there and waited you know, not where I thought they could see me, you know. And if someone pulled up with them and stayed, I just turned and took off.

GF = Glenn Flothe; RH = Robert Hansen; LH = Lyle Haugsven


By the time Paula Goulding met up with Bob Hansen for their “lunch date,” she was desperate and confused. Her overwhelming emotion was to leave the topless dance business behind. Hansen, ever in search of a “romantic” relationship — where the woman liked him for himself — offered to let Paula stay at his house until she figured things out. His wife and kids were out of town, so the opportunity was there.

But Paula was wary. Running scared. Before she knew it, she was handcuffed and in Robert Hansen’s airplane. This was not the secret rendezvous she had in mind.


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Knik River, Part 5: Lonesome Death, Far From Home

The picture of Robert Hansen scrambling in a panic does not comport with the image of a cool, calm, collected serial killer. In fact, a simple deviation from his plan — like a stray airplane flying overhead — seemed capable of disrupting his most carefully conceived objective. Troopers, meanwhile, were closing in on a match between what Hansen told them and what they already knew. Though hers was a lonesome death, this woman would not go unidentified.

Lonesome Death: Paula Goulding & second body
Grave Sites, Knik River (Alaska State Troopers; notation by Sgt. Glenn Flothe)


[Transcript lightly edited for clarity]

GF: I’m curious about one thing. This last girl that you talked about, where you had problems out there in the sandbar and the airplane flying over — that girl — what happened to her shirt or sweater or her garment? There was something unusual there that we saw, that we’re looking for an explanation for.

RH: Well she still had — all the way — I know the first — the last time I caught her ah, I caught her by the back of her shirt and I know it ripped at least part way off then ah, and then you know — when I — when I ripped it back down, she halfway stumbled down to her knee and then that’s when she seen I had the rifle again in my hand, and she kept going on about that, “you’re [gonna] shoot me, you’re going to kill me.”

And I said no, just — I’m not, you know. I’m sorry about your — I mentioned then to her something — I’m sorry that I tore your clothes. It was hanging half off her shoulders and so forth. Then she started struggling again some more there. I don’t know if it got ripped more off during the struggle or — I know I lost some buttons in the confrontation there ah, I know ah, but ah, I know her clothes were ripped on that, but they should have been on her.

GF: That’s what I was looking for. You answered my question.

RH: Okay.

LH: How many times was she shot?

RH: I remember the gun going off ah, how many times it went off I don’t know. Once, twice, three times. I don’t know. An automatic you know – as a matter of fact you know – I’m still – pushed her off and she come back again and I was holding the gun here because I was gonna – I think I even shot at her once with the rifle and this time things were going bad and ah, I think I just used it something like a pistol. I don’t know. I don’t know if I squeezed my hand once, twice, three times, whatever. I’m sorry I don’t know. Maybe I squeezed it more times than I hit her. I don’t know. Obviously I hit her at least once. If it was more than once I can’t tell you.

LH: Bob, did you try to pick the brass up?

RH: I don’t think so. You said you found some brass out there.

LH: Unh huh. Yeah, there was.

RH: Obviously I didn’t. If I had picked up some of it up, I would have picked it all up.

LH: Beings we’re on this subject, how did you meet her?

RH: I pretty sure I met her in – seems like that one was met in the Bush Company. I’m not sure on that but I’m pretty sure.

GF = Glenn Flothe; RH = Robert Hansen; LH = Lyle Haugsven


The woman Hansen was talking about was Paula Goulding, a Kona, Hawaii, native who’d worked as a secretary in Fairbanks before moving to Anchorage to try her hand at dancing. Her lonesome death, far from home, was underscored by that fact: she was new to the game and Robert Hansen took advantage of her inexperience.

Lonesome Death: Paula Goulding
Paula Goulding (Alaska State Troopers)

“Paula was reported missing in April 1983 by a friend, who told APD that she hadn’t been seen since the 24th of the month. The friend, a woman who was Paula’s roommate, told APD that Goulding was a Caucasian female, 30 years of age, about 5’7” tall, weighing about 125 pounds, with short, curly hair. She said that both of them were dancers at the Great Alaska Bush Company in Anchorage.

“Hunters found her decomposed remains buried in a very shallow grave on the sandy riverbank. When troopers investigated the site, they had seen exactly what Bob Hansen described. The murderer had been in great haste or had panicked. The body was still clothed. She was wearing unbuttoned and unzipped blue jeans, a striped sweater that had been cut in half in front, a bra that had also been cut in half, and tan boots. There was brass in her grave, brass that was recovered by Rollie Port.

Lonesome Death: evidence recovery
Evidence Recovery (courtesy Anchorage Times)

“At the autopsy conducted the next day, several facts were determined. The female victim had been in her late twenties or early thirties. She had been killed by a single small-caliber gunshot wound to the sternum. The bullet had passed through her heart.

“The state of decomposition was such that fingerprints could not be taken. They did have an intact jawbone, and they finally identified her by matching the jawbone to her dental charts.”

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


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Robert Hansen’s Flight Map

First off, thanks to the wonderful students at the University of Alaska – Anchorage who met with the Butcher, Baker authors on 7 November 2013. Your questions, your curiosity and your passion are remarkable.

One of the things I discovered during our interaction was how interested you were in the victim map that Robert Hansen kept, using a flight map as a starting point. The map is gruesome documentation of Hansen’s savagery and cruelty — and the single best image of the scope of his crimes. Each colored circle represents a possible victim burial place. There are 24 circles in all.

Robert Hansen’s Flight Map (annotated by AST Glenn Flothe)

Hansen's flight map

Legend:

  • Blue Circle = Hansen admits victim
  • Yellow Circle = Hansen denies victim

Butcher, Baker; Frozen Ground; Fair Game

This too will pass… but indulge me for a moment while I eat sour grapes…

This should be a happy week. The movie version of the Robert Hansen serial murder case, called Frozen Ground, is enjoying a limited opening in theaters somewhere in America. But in the grand scheme of things, um… There’s not as much happiness as I would have liked…

My book, Butcher, Baker, is an afterthought in all of this. A coulda, woulda, shoulda. My gut sense is still that it shouldn’t have come to this, but life is complex and sometimes co-authors (and literary agents) don’t see eye-to-eye. I am trying to be diplomatic.

To add insult to injury, I just got a mail from Amazon, touting Fair Game, another book about Robert Hansen. Calling it “the Definitive Account of the Crimes of Alaska Serial Killer Robert Hansen.” For the record, I just want to say “bullshit.”

But you be the judge. Read both books. See the movie. Look at the arc of the story. Pay attention to how long it takes Cindy Paulson to appear in each version (and yes, it’s true, the publisher made us give her a pseudonym; think of her as the 17 year old who got away).

And Bernard, no hard feelings. Really. Congratulations. Fair Game, right?

Frozen Ground (The Movie): U.S. Premiere

Well, well, well, kiddies… The news of the world now reveals that… The movie inspired by “Butcher, Baker” — also known as the Frozen Ground — is now going to premiere in the U S of A.

You heard right. Premiering in the U.S.A. On 23 August 2013. Not sure where… Or how many screens. But… Here’s the link: Frozen Ground @IMDb. Congratulations everyone, especially Mr. Scott Walker, for whom this is a Hollywood directing debut.

BTW — why do I keep saying Frozen Ground “The Movie?” Because it wasn’t that long ago that a Google search of “Frozen Ground” brought up “Frozen Ground Beef” recipes… And yes, I posit here, now and forever… that “Frozen Ground” is a shitty name… Actually, an ab-so-lute-ly shitty name… Especially compared to the (ahem) original.

Them’s the breaks, kids. Them’s the breaks. Take no risks and nothing will happen either to you or for you. I’ll take my risks, thank you. I’ll put myself out there. Mindful that, as a friend reminds me, “the writer always gets screwed.”

No matter. You can still buy the original work on Amazon. Yes. And I don’t make a penny (that’s the way how it works; see above). “Butcher, Baker” is the real thing. No made up scenes. No gratuitous drama because, really, it isn’t necessary. This is true edge of your seat stuff. And, no, I haven’t seen the movie…

Frozen Ground: Argentina Update

Having just returned from Argentina (it was great, BTW), I now have another update on the release of “Frozen Ground.” Thanks to my friend Elisa, here’s a link to an Argentine web site (cinesargentinos.com) with the following update (Spanish):

Basada en una historia real, un policía del estado de Alaska se une a una joven mujer que ha escapado de un asesino serial, para encontrar al delicuente y llevarlo a la justicia.

TITULO ORIGINAL: Frozen Ground
ACTORES: Nicolas Cage, Vanessa Hudgens, John Cusack.
GENERO (genre): Suspenso.
ORIGEN: Estados Unidos.
DURACION: No informada
CALIFICACION (rating): No disponible por el momento

ESTRENO EN BUENOS AIRES: 07 de Marzo de 2013

Rough translation: Based on a true story, an Alaska State Trooper meets a young woman who has escaped from a serial murderer, finds the offender and brings him to justice.

Remembering Robert Lescher

Robert Lescher, of the Lescher & Lescher Literary Agency, recently passed away at the age of 83. his post is my heartfelt remembrance of a man I knew for almost three decades.

In 1985, I was an absolutely unknown author, trying to sell a true-crime manuscript called “Butcher, Baker,” the story of a serial killer in Alaska. Walter Gilmour (my co-author) and I knew we needed a literary agent to get there. That agent turned out to be Robert Lescher. He told us his was a small, boutique agency which carefully selected its authors. He was our man. We just weren’t sure whether we belonged there, given that he represented heavy hitters like Isaac Bashevis Singer and Alice B. Toklas. We needn’t have worried.

Bob immediately started working his magic. Soon we were getting rejections from   Norton, Grove Press, Harper & Row… all the majors. About 16 rejections in all — each from editors who could, on their own word alone, make publication a reality. Then came the letter from Bob, dated January 5, 1987. It read in part:

… I have only now been able to turn to the revision. It was read here by someone else as well, and I have to say that neither of us has the enthusiasm for the work that we had hoped to have…

I’m afraid now I’m going to have to return the material to you in the hope you can find an editor yourself, or another agent, who might give you the help you want. I’m sorry I can’t be the one, but I know that you wouldn’t want me to represent your work if my feelings are as ambivalent as they seem.

There is was. We’d been fired by our literary agent. He’d taken a chance on us, and we’d let him down.

My co-author and I were in a quandary. Walter wanted to go forward with the manuscript as-is. I felt we had about $1million worth of great advice (those pesky rejection letters). That advice said: “start over, start fresh, do a complete rewrite.” Walter balked. I got him to give me a year and a half to turn the whole thing around. Then came the next discussion. To whom do we send the new version?

Walter’s abiding frame of reference for all things business is real estate, which meant we needed to give Bob Lescher the right of first refusal. I didn’t expect much, because at the time I put little stock in second chances (hey, I’d just been through a divorce). We hadn’t really identified any alternatives, however, so… Back to Bob. His response came on May 24, 1990:

The manuscript just came in and I can see at once that a considerable amount of new work went into it. I’m going to share the manuscript with [editor], as I promised… and I’ll get back to you when his response reaches me.

Wow. Re-hired by our literary agent. And successfully published soon thereafter. Amazing.

There are several  lessons here, but I’ll always remember this one: Bob gave us a second chance when none seemed possible. It was at that moment I realized how deeply he cared about authors and how much he respected the writing process. Equally important, he had that essential but elusive ability to change his mind, based on additional evidence. I was blown away. I still am.

Postscript: A decade later, I wrote a book called “Huck Finn Is Dead.” Though a flawed work, Bob saw its potential — and encouraged me to take a second stab at it, even after a disappointing round of rejections. Only recently was I able to take him up on that proposition.

Here’s to you, Bob… After reworking the manuscript like crazy — and belatedly adding an entirely new beginning — I recently published “Huck Finn Is Dead.” And yes. I thoroughly believe in second chances…

Movie Update: Don’t Cry for Me “Frozen Ground”

In the latest Frozen Ground update, we note a few changes about its impending release. First, the release date has been moved from early December 2012, to March 2013. Second, the theatrical premiere is now scheduled for Argentina. No word on when, if ever, the film will be released in U.S. theaters.

Other tidbits.

  • Not sure how I missed it the first time, but E (Entertainment Online) has a snarky piece on Vanessa Hudgens playing a stripper in the Frozen Ground, the serial murder film inspired by Butcher, Baker.
  • Speaking of snarky, there’s the always dependable Chelsea Handler on Chelsea Lately. This time, she digs at Vanessa Hudgens (Cindy Paulson) and 50 Cent (50 plays Cindy’s pimp).
  • Or was that Vanessa Hudgens and Nicolas Cage?
  • At any rate, the whole Nicolas Cage dust-up over Vanessa Hudgens seems to have rated an apology, if not a denial.

You can still buy the original work on Amazon. Yes. “Butcher, Baker” is the real thing. No made up scenes. No gratuitous drama because, really, it isn’t necessary. This is true edge of your seat stuff. And you don’t have to go to Argentina to get it (although that sounds like a great idea).

Based on Actual Events

Ever wonder what it means when a movie claims it is “Based on Actual Events?” The new Nicolas Cage vehicle, the “The Frozen Ground,” makes that claim.

Frozen Ground publicity still

But what does that mean? For clues, let’s look at the Nicolas Cage character in the film.

According to IMDb, Cage plays “Jack Halcombe.” Allegedly, he’s the Alaska State Trooper who brought Hansen to justice. That’s strange, because if you look at the definitive account of the Hansen murders, “Butcher, Baker,” you will not find a character named Jack Halcombe.

That’s because there is no “Jack Halcombe,” at least in the context of the Alaska State Troopers and serial murderer Robert Hansen. Jack Halcombe is a fictional character. Nicolas Cage plays a fictional character.

The actual cop who brought Robert Hansen to justice is named Glenn Flothe. Early reports about the movie listed Flothe as the Nicolas Cage character. That changed. I’m guessing (educated guess) the reason that changed is because:

The filmmakers made up a lot of shit. Shit that Glenn Flothe was not comfortable signing off on. And to use Glenn’s name, he had to sign off on it. In the movie business, it’s called “Life Rights.” As in, I can say anything I want about you — true or false — if it helps the movie. You signed off on “Life Rights.” You can’t frickin’ sue me.

It turns out that Glenn Flothe wasn’t the only one who didn’t sign off on the made-up-shit. Here’s the complete list.

Fictional Characters in Frozen Ground

  • Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) = Glenn Flothe
  • Allie Halcombe (Radha Mitchell) = Cherry Flothe (Glenn Flothe’s wife)
    This one should be obvious.
  • Fran Hansen (Katherine LaNasa) = Darla Hansen
    Hansen’s ex-wife, Darla, has no incentive to cooperate with the filmmakers.
  • D.A. Pat Clives (Kurt Fuller) = D.A. Pat Doogan
    Pat Doogan is a good friend of Glenn Flothe, who played a critical role in getting an arrest warrant for Hansen when the local D.A. wasn’t being entirely cooperative. I’m guessing you can’t get one (Doogan) without the other (Flothe).

Ok, so it’s a fairly short list. A short list of very important characters. And when the filmmakers couldn’t navigate a closer tack to the “truth,” they bailed. Call it creative convenience. Call it “based on actual events.” Call it made up shit.

Whatever you do, don’t call it true. For that, you have to read, “Butcher, Baker.”