Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Family & Friends

Troopers had their hands full with what turned out to be a clusterf*k of witnesses. There were the people who knew Beth — family and friends who could speak to her character and her habits. There were those in the neighborhood who may have seen Beth on her way to — or at — nearby businesses. Finally, there were Greg Nicholas’ friends, who could either alibi him or not. In all of this, truth was a runaway child.

Family & Friends
The most haunting refrain from Beth’s family was the direct quote from her letters: “It’s not fun to date anymore.” It was a theme worth pursuing.

Troopers wasted no time contacting family friend, and Beth’s ex-boyfriend, Ed Tilbury. They ruled him out as a suspect — he was in Cold Bay, Alaska, a thousand miles away at the tip of the Aleutian chain — and had an airtight alibi for the night in question. Even so, Ed provided new insight into Beth’s psyche. “I would classify her as an extrovert,” he said, “even though she was quite naive.”

Family
Beth van Zanten

Fellow students at Anchorage Community College painted a similar picture.

ACC student Curtis Ebeling, focused on her naivete. “She had some beliefs that should not be allowed into the State of Alaska any newcomers. She had some wild idea about building a complex of lodges back in the bush, that would only be occupied by people of her choice.”

Another ACC student, David Crewsdon, told troopers that, “[Beth] was very friendly, had an extrovert personality… The impression I got from her was that she didn’t want to be involved with anyone and as far as I knew, she didn’t date anyone in particular… She would not hitchhike,” Crewsdon added. “And in fact I remember a conversation with another subject that she was lecturing to abolish hitchhiking.”

There was, in these impressions, the notion that while friendly toward family and people she trusted, Beth had a genuine loathing of strangers. The reality of her bound wrists reinforced the idea she had been taken against her will. Either that or… she was taken by someone she trusted.

School friends Andrea Taggart and Louise Hawkins added another dimension to that assessment. Taggart told troopers that, “I was in the Tiki Room [the night of December 22] at approximately 1:00 am.

The Tiki Room was in the Tropics Hotel on Spenard Rd. That was significant: It was across the street from the Fly-By-Night garage owned by Beth’s brother, David.

“I went to the bathroom and as I walked into the girl’s room, sitting on the counter, facing the door with her back to the mirror, was an individual I know as Beth van Zanten. I have known Beth for approximately ten years and have been in several classes at West High School with her. I noticed it was Beth and said, ‘Hi.'”

“She looked at me and smiled like if she should know me,” Taggart continued. “I went to the bathroom and came out and fixed my hair and tried to make conversation with her. I said, ‘How are you?’ and she said, ‘I am really blown away.’ I said okay and goodbye and left.

“Approximately 15-20 minutes later, she came out of the restroom and as I looked up I saw this tall person standing next to the bar. At that time I saw Beth walk up to him. He appeared to be getting some change and both walked into the lobby area. In a minute or two they returned and walked through the entire bar area and out the back door of the Tiki Room.

“Beth was wearing a green ski jacket and scarf… She looked like her hair was a mess, not combed or clean… She hung her head and looked droopy…

“Beth didn’t look good at all.”

“They were not drinking,” Taggart added. “The man was a white male, very tall, 6′ or 6’2″, rather skinny legs. I would say 180 pounds. He was wearing an OD-colored (olive drab) military type parka with a full hood and wolf appearance around it. Jeans, not bell bottoms. Black shoes. Clean hair, dark brown, 1″ or 2” below the ear. Not well-kempt. I’d say he was 22 or 24 years old — or younger. He had a large nose. I did not notice a beard or glasses.”

Hawkins told a similar story. “I saw Beth come through the front door with a man. She then went to the bathroom; while she was in the bathroom Andrea [Taggart] got up and went into the bathroom also. Pretty soon Andrea came back out and told me that was Beth van Zanten in the bathroom and she was stoned out of her mind. That she could barely talk to her…

“The man with Beth was young, early to mid-twenties. Thin, tall, 5’8′ to 6′, with long, dark brown hair. He may have been wearing light, horn-rimmed glasses and possibly a few days growth of beard on his face.”

Based on these conversations, troopers interviewed the bartender and waitress who were working that night. Neither remembered seeing Beth. They also questioned Greg’s cousin; Ronnie Broughton told them:

“When I was at [Dave’s] garage, I went to the bathroom by our car. I did not go into the Tropics [Hotel] bar or bathroom that evening. I have never met or seen Beth van Zanten to my knowledge.”

Soon, troopers sent out a bulletin putting folks on the lookout for the young man Andrea and Louise had seen during the early morning hours of December 23rd.

A slender, long-haired young man believed to have been with Beth the night she disappeared is being sought. Troopers are also looking for the clothes Beth van Zanten had been wearing and ask any person finding a pair of blue jeans, a green down-filled parka or a pair of smooth, rubber-soled green hiking boots to notify authorities. 


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Greg’s Second Take

Troopers called Greg Nicholas in for a second interview shortly after talking to his blood cousin, Ronnie Broughton. They needed a second take because the discrepancies were starting to mount, not only from Ronnie, but from Beth’s brothers. The key differences were, perhaps naturally, in the timing of Greg’s visits to the van Zanten household and the garage owned by Beth’s brother.

In his first interview, those events all seemed to happen at once. In his second take, troopers had him concentrate on that crucial timeframe.

Second TakeBeth van Zanten Memorial


December 27 Re-Interview, Gregory Nicholas
Chronology for December 22, 1971 (Summary)

  • 5:45 – 5:50 pm: At Stephens house.
  • 6:30 pm: At Freda Shannigan’s house.
  • 6:45 pm: Left Freda’s house.
  • 7:15 pm: Left airport for Jim Shannigan’s house [Freda’s brother].
  • 7:30 pm: Arrived at Jim Shannigan’s house.
  • 8:30 – 9:00 pm: Left Jim Shannigan’s house, took Freda home, then went to van Zanten residence.
  • 9:00 – 9:30 pm: Arrived at van Zanten’s.
    “I ran into the house front door. I can’t remember seeing anyone home. The house was all lighted up. I went upstairs and Beth was in her room. She was laying on her bed looking at books. That was the first time I was in her room… I was there for 3 minutes… She got up and then I left… Ron and I went downtown and parked in front of the Malemute Bar [next to the Montana Club]. No, we stopped by Dave’s garage from leaving van Zanten’s. We stayed 10 minutes.”
  • 9:45 pm: Malemute Bar.
  • 12:00 pm: Left bar.
  • 3:00 am: Started home.

Troopers already knew that Greg had left out one important detail. After weaving in and out of each other’s presence the night of December 22nd — with Greg and Ronnie going bar to bar, getting drunk — they ultimately left Fourth Avenue together. The two of them, in the company of three Alaska Native women, were stopped by State Troopers at about 1:00 am for drunk driving. The troopers made them take a taxi home.

The bigger question was: Did the timing finally add up? If Greg and Ronnie arrived at the van Zanten’s at 9:00 pm and stayed 3 minutes, they would have arrived at the Fly-By-Night garage by 9:12 pm (9:13 pm, when accounting for Greg’s move from car-to-house and back again). If they stayed for only 10 minutes, they should have left by 9:23 pm. It was another 11 minutes to the Montana Club, meaning they could have arrived by 9:33 pm. Greg’s 9:45 pm estimate was now seemingly in the ballpark.

It was possible, in fact, to line it up with Ronnie’s statement: “Freda asked me to call at 9:00 or 9:30. I called her from the Montana Club.”

And yet the doubts persisted. Had they perchance coordinated their stories? After all, both Ronnie and Greg were trying to reconstruct an evening that had gone sideways in many, unexpected ways. The second take didn’t change that. As troopers pulled on all the threads in their probe, they learned one other thing: there was always another surprise around the corner.


Purchase Butcher, Baker

The Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Cousin Ronnie

Even as Robert Hansen made his initial appearance in this case through the person of Sandra Patterson, troopers would not — could not — dismiss Greg Nicholas as a subject of interest. That Greg was not alone the night Beth disappeared provided an intruiging possibility. Perhaps Greg’s cousin Ronnie could open a path that elevated Greg from subject to suspect.

Troopers immediately brought Ronnie in for an interview. Troopers first questioned him on 27 December, two days after Beth’s body was found.

They soon learned that it was Ronnie who had called Greg and asked him for a ride to the airport. In a very real sense, then, Greg’s December 22 adventure started there, initiated by that phone call from his cousin. Greg met Ronnie where he was then living, with the Stephens family at Thompson Manor, in the Mountain View area approximately 20-minutes away from the van Zanten’s.

Ronnie
Alternate Routes: Van Zanten residence to Stephens residence — Thompson Manor, Mountain View (Apple Maps; illustration Leland E. Hale)


Ronald James Broughton, December 27, 1971
“Greg and I smoked a joint after leaving the Stephens house (5:50 pm or so)… We went to Frieda’s apartment [Ronnie’s erstwhile girlfriend]. Frieda invited us in and I asked if she wanted to go to the airport and she said, “Yes.” She asked if we were drunk. We told her we smoked a joint. She gave me coffee and cookies…

“Later, after going to the airport to pick up Nikki [who was not on the plane], I asked Frieda if she wanted to go out. She said, ‘Yes,’ if she could find a babysitter. Greg said that his cousin Beth might babysit.”

This is a critical turning point in the narrative. One that pointed Greg toward Beth in, perhaps, an inalterable way. We know that Greg did, in fact, call Beth about babysitting. Some of her last words to her brother were that she was going to babysit for a friend of Greg’s and to have Greg wait for her if he showed up while she was at the store.

Ronnie Broughton (cont.)
“We went over to see Greg’s car; I think a kid by the name of Dave [Beth’s oldest brother] was fixing the car. After leaving the shop we could have went to Greg’s house to see if the girl would babysit. From there we went to the Montana Club.*

And then a little uncertainty: “Before or after we left the garage, Greg and I went downtown. I cannot remember if we went to Greg’s house before or after we were at Dave’s garage. I do know that Greg and I drove over to Greg’s house to see if Beth would babysit for Freda. We parked facing east in front of the house.”

“Frieda asked me to call at 9:00 or 9:30. I called her from the Montana Club. She said she didn’t know and wanted me to call her back again. I then left Greg and cashed an Alaska Scallop Fleet check at the Alley Cat and drank three Calvert’s and water. I made the [next] call to Freda at 10:00 or 10:30 pm.

Ronnie
Alley Cat, Anchorage: Bar Token

“I went back to the Montana and had two or three drinks. I then wandered around to the Elbow Room and Ole & Joe’s. I ended up at the Montana Club and went out to the Rabbit Hutch. I remember sleeping on the table. I was pretty drunk.”

Q: Was Greg with you all night?
A: Except two or three times when I left the Montana Club.
Q: How long were you gone?
A: Less than an hour. He was sitting with a girl from Kenai and a girl from Port Graham.
Q: Did you ever meet Beth van Zanten?
A: No. I waited in the car.

Ronnie had not exactly delivered a strike-out pitch. Assuming Ronnie was correct, Greg had about an hour to commit the crime. It was 11 minutes from the Montana Club to the van Zanten’s, plus whatever time it took to get Beth out of the house. That seemed doable. It was another 26 minutes from the van Zanten’s to McHugh Creek and another 20 or so minutes back to the Montana Club. By the time one accounted for Beth’s rape and escape, that’s more than an hour, easy. Not quite so doable.

Ronnie, of course, was drunk. In that scenario, time is more a notion than a reality. At the very least, troopers needed to get back to Greg. His initial chronology was not adding up.


* The Montana Club, which closed in 1984, was a legendary joint on Anchorage’s infamous Fourth Avenue. In its heyday, it hosted country legends Johnny Horton (“North to Alaska”) and Carl Perkins (“Blue Suede Shoes”), as well as Tex Ritter, Merle Travis and Hank Thompson. By the time of its closing, those halcyon days were long gone and Fourth Avenue was known as the most crime-ridden area in Anchorage.


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Life With Robert Hansen: Can He Be Rehabilitated?

Criminal sentencing in the U.S. usually comes down to a combination of three factors, in greater or lesser proportion. First there’s good, old-fashioned Old Testament punishment: “breach for breach, eye-for-eye, tooth-for-tooth.” Second, there is deterence — the notion that severe punishment will give future perpetrators pause. Finally, there is the notion of the offender being rehabilitated — the sentence should lead him to “go and sin no more,” which is decidedly more New Testament in origin.

All three of these options were in play at Robert Hansen’s sentencing. Here’s Assistant D.A. Frank Rothschild addressing those topics.


“So we have to ask ourselves, can he be rehabilitated? We know that’s a joke, that has failed, there’s no way, it’s too late.

“Will this deter others? People like this aren’t going to get deterred, not that have the kind of problems this man has.

Cindy Paulson Interview w/ Sgt. Glenn Flothe, AST

“We can sure isolate him and we can sure tell all the people in our community and reaffirm their value system, that this man will never see the light of day again. We can’t put him to death (1). But truly that would be too easy for this man, Your Honor. It’s really what he’d prefer at this point. He said to us on Friday, I’m going to die in prison anyway (2), as a matter of fact it probably would be better for me if I die quick.

“This man who loves the outdoors, he’s never going to smell the freshness of a mountain meadow. He’ll never hear water trickle again down a creek, he’ll never thrill in seeing our great wilderness and our wild animals that roam there.

Rehabilitated

“He truly hates being locked up. It’s better that we lock him up and make him live with this for each breath that he takes for the rest of his life. He’s asked that we recommend and we strongly recommend that he be sent to the federal prison system. Was ask the court to make that recommendation.

“He’s asked for psychiatric counseling. We agree if for no other reason than to try to make him aware of what a monster he is.”

Robert Hansen’s Alibi Pitch


(1) Alaska does not have a death penalty.
(2) Hansen died in prison after 30 years in a variety of penal institutions.


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Life with Robert Hansen: Rothschild Defines “Cold”

As Assistant District Attorney Frank Rothschild articulated the depth and depravity of Robert Hansen’s crimes, one description rose to the top. “This man was cold,” Rothschild told Judge Moody. Everything about him, everything he did. Cold.

“He said, I tried to act tough as I could to get them as scared as possible. Get my hand on the girl’s hair, hold her head back and put a gun in her face to get them to feel helpless, scared right there… [He] talked about wanting to have complete control and domination over these people. As long as I can control the situation then there’s going to be no problem, I won’t have to kill anybody. I’ll get what I want and send them back on the streets,” Rothschild continued, paraphrasing Hansen. […]

“And when asked, well, what happened Mr. Hansen, if they didn’t go along with the program, he said, well, then they stayed. Those were his words. He would even tell them if things don’t go right, boy, this is where you’re going to stay. To scare them.”

At this point, the Assistant D.A. took a leap into conjecture. Informed conjecture, but conjecture nonetheless. It was the kind of conjecture that gets movies made.

“And while he doesn’t talk about it or admit to it, it’s obvious from reading through and looking at where things started and where the women ended up, he hunted them down, Judge. He let them run a little bit and then he enjoyed a little hunt just like with his big game animals. He toyed with them, he wanted to scare them, he got a charge out of all this.

Cold
Hansen Victim Grave (clothing and shoe)

“They weren’t shot right where it all started; he let them run, he grabbed them and they’d claw a little bit and he’d let them run a little more and he played with them. He doesn’t look big and strong but he is.

“One time he called this a summertime project. What a lovely word for his handiwork, a summertime project. And he did admit that none of them went willingly. Even when he went through the map and talked about where all these women were and pointed out to us where they were, it was cold. He said, well, there’s one here and there’s one there and you’ll find one next to this tree and one under that road. They weren’t people to him. They weren’t human beings to him.”

Cold
Trooper Dig on Knik River

It’s here that I disagree with Rothschild (and others). I personally don’t find it completely credible that Hansen routinely released his victims so he could toy with them. In part that’s because of what Rothschild himself says of Hansen:

[He] talked about wanting to have complete control and domination over these people. As long as I can control the situation then there’s going to be no problem…[emphasis added]

By releasing his victims, even in the relative safety of the Alaskan bush, Hansen was effectively reliquishing control. That goes in the face of everything else Hansen did. Remember that Hansen was meticulous in his precautions. He sought to control things down to the knat’s ass last detail.

  • Never going on a “date” at the first meeting, but making a rendezvous at the time and place of his choosing.
  • Making sure they met him at a location where he could ensure they were unaccompanied.
  • Abandoning the rendezvous if he saw them with other people.
  • Using restraints so the women wouldn’t get out of control in his car.
  • Forcing them to sit on the floor of his vehicle, so no one could see them.
  • A pistol always at the ready, the better to maintain control.
  • Choosing private and/or remote locations for sex.

In this context, the notion that Hansen routinely toyed with these woman, as Rothschild suggests, is incongruous. Robert Hansen wanted complete control, at all times.

Cold
Measuring Grave Depth

That the women were often found a distance away from the start of their ordeal also doesn’t require Rothschild’s definition of cold. Remember Cindy Paulson’s escape.

Cindy used a single distracted moment to make it hundreds of feet — in handcuffs — before Hansen caught up with her. Had she been in the bush, she would have been dead right there. Instead, a citizen in a truck came by to save her life.

We know that other women also fought off Hansen and tried to escape, including Christy Hayes — who succeeded. By Hansen’s own admission, others tried to fight him off. And lost.

That said, there remains the possibility that Hansen’s crimes evolved to the point that they reached the levels Rothschild supposes. Glenn Flothe tells us that Hansen’s acts of violence became increasingly savage toward the end. That he shot them multiple times, past the point of death. And then he knifed them, striking so ferociously that he appeared intent on obliterating them. That much we do know. The rest is speculation.


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Christy Hayes: A Case of Missed Opportunities

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.


<Missed Opportunities
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

(CONTINUED)


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Sgt. Glenn Flothe Goes to Hansen’s Bakery

Robert Hansen’s bakery was perfectly situated. For business. For kidnapping. For murder. A major highway ran in front. It was minutes from the 4th Avenue strip in downtown Anchorage. Minutes from Merrill Field in the other direction. Then there were his hours, starting early in the morning and off by noon. The baker’s hours coincided with those held by the women of the night. If his murders seemed to increase in 1982, his bakery was part of the reason. Hansen lived along a horizontal line that stretched between assignations.


Hansen’s Bakery [was] located in a block building on the southwest corner of 9th and Ingra, having the address of 828 E. 9th Avenue, [and] clearly marked by a large white and black sign over the business front entry doors, stating clearly Hansen’s Bakery.

Hansen's Bakery
Former Site of Hansen’s Bakery — 9th Avenue View (Google Streetview; illustration, Leland E. Hale)

“A utility records check indicate[d] that Robert C. Hansen initiated utilities at the above place of business, being Hansen’s Bakery, on 1-21-82.

“The business hours posted in the window of Hansen’s Bakery state that the bakery is open for business from 6:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. Until recently the sign in the window stated that the business was closed on Sunday and Monday’s, indicating a change from a summer to winter schedule.

Hansen's Bakery
Former Site of Hansen’s Bakery — Ingra Street (AK-1) View (Google Maps; illustration Leland E. Hale)

“Based upon affiant’s and Sergeant Stauber’s personal observations, Hansen’s Bakery employs at least two female workers, who work the counter during the daytime, and one additional male employee that assists Hansen in the early morning hours prior to the bakery opening. It has been further observed that Hansen’s vehicle is gone from his place of business usually prior to 12 noon.”

Source: Affidavit for Search Warrant of Robert Hansen’s Property, Sgt. Glenn Flothe, Alaska State Troopers


Details

The “Hansen Line” stretched on a horizontal, west to east, from downtown Anchorage to Muldoon. Downtown Anchorage was the starting point for things that “went bad.” His bakery was the cover for his late hours in sketchy clubs. Merrill Field became the take-off point for his nefarious deeds. His home in Muldoon, meanwhile, was a kidnap pad, at least when his wife was out of town. Otherwise, the area north of Muldoon, near the Glenn Hwy, served a similar purpose — a place where his regime of terror was rigorously enforced.

All these locales were within 15 minutes of each other. Too close for comfort if you danced for a living. Sgt. Flothe and the troopers took pains to map Hansen’s deadly routine.

  • Affiant [Glenn Flothe] has personally driven in an automobile at legal speeds between Merrill Field and Hansen’s Bakery, at 828 East 9th Avenue, and determined the average time for this trip is 3-5 minutes.

Hansen's Bakery
The Hansen Line: Robert Hansen’s Horizontal World — CLICK TO ENLARGE (Google Maps; illustration Leland E. Hale)

  • Trooper Wayne Von Clasen has informed affiant that Von Clasen has driven at legal speed in an automobile from 7223 Old Harbor Street to Hansen’s Bakery, at 828 East 9th Avenue, and that the trip took 7 minutes.

(CONTINUED)


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Christy Hayes Talks About Her Kids

Anchorage District Attorney Frank Rothschild presciently noted that, if Robert Hansen had a soft spot, it was for his family. “He is a hell of a humanitarian for his family, isn’t he,” was how Rothschild put it, after the “Butcher, Baker” held up his confession over concerns about his wife and kids. That small button of empathy was the one Christy Hayes pushed when she told Hansen about her kids.

She was desperate, yes, but the mere mention of her kids was enough to give Robert Hansen pause. Maybe she could crack his resolve. Even if she couldn’t, it disrupted Hansen’s plan. That alone gave her half a chance.


[Transcript Lightly Edited for Clarity]

FR: [After you abducted her] I assume that then you, that’s when you tied her up and then you were going to drive somewhere else? Go back in the back of the camper and and get it on and then drive her back. Was that kind of the plan?

RH: Well, uh, right. Uh, uh, she, even when I was tyin … tying her up here in, uh, in North Mountain View, she kept, I kept on telling her, you know, “Just do exactly what I tell you. You’re not going to get hurt in any way, shape or form.” Uh, I said (inaudible), “I’m even going to pay, I’m going to – everything’s going to be just cool.

I said, “Just that it’s going to be me deciding when we’re done, not you.

Uh, I think that was part of the reason, you know, I was always so (inaudible). They always wanted to say when we were done, you know. I figured that, uh, if a person was going to pay for it, uh, they, they, they should be in the driver’s seat, not the gal as to when it was done.

Kids

Anyway, uh, then she kept on saying I’ve got to get home. I think she even, uh, was saying something about she had two or three kids at home, that they… they was going to be by themselves or, or uh, or something or other. I don’t know. She was going on [about] something or other and I said, “Oh, well, all right.”

She started — I went back around the pickup and started driving — and she started yelling and stuff and, and I got thinking, “Well, gee whiz, what if she’s telling the truth and I take her out here and we spent a long ti…time together? I don’t want to be responsible for somebody if their kids are home by themselves.

I said, “Well, bullshit, okay.” I come down off that drive — I can explain it better… (background noise, sigh). I think (pause) I can’t remember exactly how, how the… [stutters] the streets go. I can’t remember how I got up in, in there. Uh, drove up, down, uh, I know that main street drag that goes out through North Mountain View up there…

Kids
Mush Inn to Commercial Drive (Google Maps; Note the proximity to Merrill Field)

JE: Commercial Drive?

RH: Co… Commercial Drive. I got on that, I think I got on… on the street that goes past the Mush Inn and so forth and turned off the highway, uh, I was heading out the highway going out towards — I’m going out to Muldoon to do the normal bit out there.

Kids
Mush Inn in 2017 (Leland E. Hale)

And, uh, right, right away she, uh, started in about she had to be back (inaudible) so quick, so quick, so quick. Uh, and um, think I, I think I turned off right there (inaudible) drove up into uh, to, uh, Mountain View, up in there, pulled off one of the side streets and stopped.

And, uh, went through the deal where I was inside with her and got her tied up and so forth, I got… got back in the pickup and drove around and drove out — I think I was going to drive just out the back by Safeway and down the — I can remember, I went around the block (pause), uh, down past Safeway, down to the intersection.

She was yelling all this here time, uh, that she had to get back, had to get back. Uh, that she had her kids back home or some — her babysit… sitter, if she… if she wasn’t back… I don’t know if she had a kid or not.

Anyway, she was saying something about, urn, uh, uh, she had to be, uh, be back, and before I got to the highway there, I thought, “Aw, bullshit, what if she’s telling the truth,” you know? Uh, she has got a little child back there?

Uh, so I just drove across the highway and drove — I don’t know — I can’t remember how many blocks it is down there — and pulled in on one of the first side streets. I pulled off to the side. I thought, “Well, uh, we’ll make it short and quick right, uh, right here and I’ll take her back up and drop her off and, and, uh, won’t go all the way on out and go all through (inaudible).

Anyway, it was going to all — all was going to happen right there and then, wouldn’t you know, didn’t take as long to get there, didn’t take as long to get back.

FR: Then it went bad.

RH: Yeah.

RH = Robert Hansen; FR = Frank Rothschild; JE = Joe Evans (Hansen counsel)

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

(CONTINUED)


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Christy Hayes Talks to Sgt. Glenn Flothe

Flothe
Sgt. Glenn Flothe (Anchorage Times)

After reviewing the A.P.D. report, on October 5, 1983, affiant [Sgt. Flothe] personally interviewed Christine Hayes. In addition to the information contained in the A.P.D. report, Hayes told affiant the following:

(1) After Hansen parked the pickup and got into the camper to have sex with her for the agreed upon fee, she took off her clothes, but noticed that Hansen did not remove his. Then Hansen pulled a silver colored revolver with with ivory grips, which she thought was at least .357 caliber, and pointed it at her. He got the revolver from under a cushion in the camper.

He pointed the gun at her face and said, “I don’t want to hurt you, but I just don’t like quickies.”

Hansen then bound her hands and feet with guitar wire, put her on the bunk, and got in the cab of the truck and began driving to an unknown location.

During his confession, Hansen insisted he’d never bound the feet of his victims. That was a lie.

Hayes told affiant that she managed to free her hands and feet. Hansen noticed that she was free and slammed on the brakes, causing the truck to stop quickly. Hayes then fell to the camper floor. Hansen then pointed the gun at her from the cab of the truck; he got out of the cab to come around to the back door of the camper.

While he was doing this, Hayes stated she slid into the cab through the open window connecting it with the camper, and closed that window and locked the doors of the truck, so that Hansen could not get in.

Hayes tried to start the truck, but the keys were gone, so she started pulling wires from the dash. Hansen came to the window of the truck and told her to stop, that he didn’t mean to hurt her.

Hansen then broke the window on the driver’s side of the truck with his fist, and Hayes, fearing for her life, escaped out the passenger door and ran naked down the street to knock on the door of a nearby house for help.

Hayes told affiant that before she and Hansen had entered the camper the first time he had asked her if she wanted to take an airplane ride with him to Palmer, to which she replied she did not. [Emphasis added]

Source: Affidavit for Search Warrant of Robert Hansen’s Property, Sgt. Glenn Flothe, Alaska State Troopers

Flothe
Knik River in the vicinity of Palmer, Aerial View (Alaska State Troopers)

(CONTINUED)


Purchase Butcher, Baker

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


Purchase Butcher, Baker