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 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

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


Purchase Butcher, Baker

A Tale of Two Maps

Toni Lister was reported missing in Seward, Alaska, on March 7, 1982. Her body was found a month and a half later. An autopsy showed she had been sexually assaulted and brutally stabbed 26 times with a Phillips screw driver.

Nine months later, on October 26, 1982, Robert Hansen was arrested on kidnapping and rape charges — and later confessed to the brutal murders of four women in Alaska, although the known death toll is much higher (at least 17 victims). In the final days and months of his killing spree, according to autopsy reports, Hansen had gone into a frenzy of violence, not only shooting the women, but stabbing them multiple times. When asked about the Lister murder by Alaska State Troopers, however, Hansen denied it.

It wasn’t until 2007 that cold case investigators made an arrest in Toni Lister’s murder. The man they arrested was not Robert Hansen. They instead arrested Jimmy Lee Eacker, a trade school friend of Lister’s husband. He had been an early suspect.

Is it possible that police have the wrong man?

Let’s be clear. Jimmy Eacker is no choirboy. He has an armed robbery conviction. He’s a registered sex offender. At his 2007 trial, at least two witnesses testified that he’d raped and threatened violence against them during the ’80s. He acknowledged he’d had sex with Toni Lister on the night in question. Beyond that, he claims he can’t remember killing Toni Lister because he was high on mushrooms.

To complicate matters, the critical DNA evidence in the case — the DNA that tied Eacker to Lister’s murder — was seriously compromised. More specifically, it was contaminated to the point where more than one person’s DNA was found. Several factors were involved, including sloppy lab work. The judge, upon learning of this, threw out Eacker’s conviction and ordered a new trial.

That’s where the maps come into play.

When Hansen was arrested, troopers found aviation maps at his home with hand-drawn markers on them. Those markers later proved to be spots where Hansen victims would be discovered. Once troopers started unearthing bodies, Sgt. Glenn Flothe created a parallel aviation map, marking spots that Hansen had “missed.” Flothe also color-coded his map, with blue marks for victims Hansen acknowledged killing, yellow for those he denied.

There are key differences between those two maps. Flothe’s map has more markers than Hansen’s. Including one very near where Toni Lister’s body was found (#23) — a marker missing from the Hansen map.

Glenn Flothe’s cryptic note about #23? “Denied.” Indeed, the Flothe map shows that Hansen claimed only one of the Seward markers represented a victim. The sole exception was Joanna Messina (#17), whose body was found in… 1980.

So by his own admission, Hansen had been in the Seward area as late as 1980 — and routinely visited Seward in the ’70s, during which time police have evidence of at least one kidnapping and rape (1971). There are also two very suspicious Seward disappearances (1973, 1975) that Hansen denied; suspicious because Hansen was known to be in Seward both times. Troopers speculate that Hansen denied those presumed murders because the victims weren’t prostitutes.

Could Robert Hansen have killed Toni Lister? Yes. Could Jimmy Lee Eacker have killed Toni Lister? Yes. Anyone else? Maybe.

The lesson? If you are going to go cold-casing, don’t cut corners on the lab work required to pinpoint the DNA. After thirty years, memories go bad. DNA evidence is not always perfect or pristine, but carelessness in the lab can be prevented.

AST Version of Hansen’s Flight Map (portion)

Sgt. Glenn Flothe's version of Hansen's flight map

Hansen’s Flight Map (portion)

Hansen's original flight map

Butcher, Baker: Hidden City, Pt. 3

Trooper Sgt. Glenn Flothe has described Cindy Paulson (Kitty Larson), the young woman who escaped Hansen and led to his downfall, as one of the best witnesses he’s ever worked with. Hidden City: Anchorage mentions, for example, that she’d memorized the tail number of Hansen’s plane. She also memorized the location of his house. And everything in his basement.

She did so because, in her own words, “this motherfucker wasn’t getting away with it… I knew I was in trouble… But if there was any chance of me getting away, he wasn’t getting away with it.”

As in any criminal investigation, details matter.

Consider what occurred when Cindy Paulson was at Merrill Field ID’ing Hansen’s plane with an officer from the Anchorage Police Department. While they were observing the plane, a private security guard at the air field approached and told them he had seen someone at 5:14 a.m. that same day.

[The security guard] observed a white male running from that Super Cub to a green vehicle and that he noted the vehicle to have Alaska license number BJZ775. [The guard] also stated that the man was wearing a green coat and cap and that he ran from a wooded area at the rear of the airplane toward the green vehicle. When the man saw [the guard], he slowed his pace to a walk, and entered the green vehicle and drove away.

That license number turned out to be registered to a green Buick, owned by Robert Hansen. There were several people being very observant that day. None better than Cindy Paulson. But she was not alone. Details matter.

Want to learn more about the Robert Hansen murders? Read “Butcher, Baker,” by Walter Gilmour and Leland E. Hale. More here…

Butcher, Baker: Hidden City, Pt. 2

There’s a wonderful bit in the Robert Hansen portion of Hidden City: Anchorage where Marcus brings in professional tracker Ty Cunningham to give a sense of what Hansen’s victims were up against. It’s an extremely powerful segment. Except that the segment was filmed in winter snow. According to Robert Hansen:

“This was a summertime project.”

Since Hansen’s wife was a teacher, and often travelled during the summer, it kind of makes sense, you know? When the cat’s away, and all that… But let’s not take this summertime thing too far. Hansen kidnapped and raped a woman back in 1971, just days before Christmas.

Of course, he also had the good sense to take that victim to a motel.

Bonus: Video Clip: Hidden City Anchorage: Tracks of Terror (tracking in the snow)

What about the chase? It is, after all, a recurring theme in discussions about Robert Hansen. Well, the chase started the minute he first stalked his victims. But in Hansen’s universe, the chase was always (out)balanced by questions of control.

We know that Hansen worried about the intangibles. The known unknowns. The women had to be alone when they reached the rendezvous. Hansen always picked a spot where he could see everything and everyone. Even early on, he used a restraint of some type, eventually graduating to handcuffs. By his own admission, he was obsessive about the mechanical reliability of his car when he kidnapped women. Didn’t want to break down with some woman in handcuffs.

Those control issues extended to the bush. Even in the bush there’s the risk that some hooker can outrun him, even for a little while. She can kick her heels off, right? And, you know, the Alaska bush ain’t no frickin’ island. Those were troubles he just didn’t want. Given all that, it’s my view that he started shooting sooner rather than later.

Loss of control, baby. Not so good. And being “in control” ultimately trumped other considerations. Including the chase. He really, really liked this “game.” Lose control, you lose everything. In fact, there was one who got away. Yeah. She was the one who brought him down.

Quotes from Robert Hansen’s Inconvenient Confession (February 22, 1984)

RH: I only, I only used the airplane three times and maybe if I kept on going like that I would have had a problem… [But] where I have my plane parked there isn’t a lot of people in and out right there and the girl was almost more scared of being in the airplane than she was scared of me…

GF: Scared of being in the airplane. You mention that this area was pretty populated but in the winter time with skis you were somewhat unlimited as to where you could go. Your privacy was pretty much up to you. Or were you concerned about flying a long time? You mention three girls but I’m just wondering, with skis, you know in the winter, you could go just about anywhere.

RH: I could but winter time wasn’t the time to do it. Things were dormant in the winter time. This was a summertime project.

GF = Glenn Flothe
RH = Robert Hansen

Want to learn more about the Robert Hansen murders? Read “Butcher, Baker,” by Walter Gilmour and Leland E. Hale. More here…