By the time the movie “The Frozen Ground” was made, Cindy Paulson was married with three children. She worked with the filmmakers and, according to the credits, told her true-story for the first time. [Well, the first public telling of her story, anyway.]
She did not get to “straight” in one clean shot.
Judging from the movie’s treatment, her life was a lurid mess in the immediate aftermath of her encounter with Robert Hansen (1),(2). So raw were her emotions that, when District Attorney Vic Krumm told a hushed courtroom Robert Hansen had confessed to the murders, Cindy ran from the room in tears. Not long after a small celebratory dinner, when Hansen’s conviction came in and it looked like she’d turned her life around, she was back on the streets. It was what she knew.
It’s her emotional honesty and vulnerability that strikes me today, thirty years on. That and her “street smarts.” And her contradictions.
Especially her contradictions.
All smart and sassy one minute, leading with her streetwise self, then quickly turning into a wide-eyed teen, trying to capture the youth she’d been denied. Plotting bodily harm to Robert Hansen and then realizing she, too, might be harmed. Impetuous — wanting to run the minute he took her from his house to the car — yet patient — waiting till he was at his airplane and visible only from the waist down before attempting her escape.
Those cracks in her life story were what let the pimps in. They were also what let Robert Hansen in. Someone could promise Cindy Paulson almost anything — and she’d run toward it. Disappoint her, however, and she was just as likely to run the other direction. It was what she knew.
Run from her parents? Check. Run from her pimp? Check. Run from Robert Hansen.
Purchase Butcher, Baker
(1) I will quibble with one “detail” of “The Frozen Ground.” The film has Cindy move in with Sgt. Flothe and his family. In all my interviews with Sgt. Glenn Flothe — and his wife — there was NOT ONE mention of Cindy coming to live with them. Befriend her, yes. House her, no.
She was instead living at a safe-house (and, to repeat, the family who ran the safe-house attended Darla Hansen’s church). Before the safe-house, she was living in a “party house” on Anchorage’s Government Hill. It was there that Flothe effected the rescue that (temporarily) got her out of the pimps and ho’s routine.
I know, I know… it’s “the movies.” The filmmakers chose implied sex (living with Flothe) over irony (living with church folks who worshiped with the killer’s wife). It probably cost them a half-star in their rating.
(2) Actually, I can quibble about several details in the movie. But I’ll leave it at that. Quibbles.