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

Thoughts on Christy Hayes: Between the Quick and the Dead

For Robert Hansen, the “idea” of The Bush was a place where women could scream and no one would hear them. Christy Hayes was too quick for that. When Hansen failed to get her to The Bush — when she refused to go where he wanted to go — when she, finally, refused to relinquish herself to him — these were the things that saved her life.

It could have turned out otherwise. The troopers would end up with a long list of could-have-been-otherwise. But Christy kept working Hansen’s last good nerve until he was out of ideas. Next time will be different, he told himself. Next time will be different.

Quick


One supposes that Christy Hayes thought sex with Robert Hansen would be quick and dirty. She already had his money. Just go to his camper, do the deed, and be done. She brushed off his suggestion that they take his airplane to Palmer. Christy was all about business. She had three kids waiting at home. This was to be a brief diversion.

Christy Hayes never lost sight of what was most important.

Once inside the camper, Christy stripped naked. Hansen did not. This was another clue. Suddenly there was a silver colored revolver, a stern lecture about cooperating, and guitar wire to bind her feet and hands. Hansen shoved her onto the camper’s bunk, locked her in the camper and drove off, to destinations unknown.

Back in the camper, Christy Hayes went full mama bear.

This man needed to understand that she didn’t have time for this nonsense. “This gotta be quick. I gotta get back to my kids,” she shouted from the back of the truck. “If I don’t get back, they ain’t gonna have no babysitter.”

“They gonna be by themselves. You hear me? I don’t want nobody messin’ with my babies. You hear me?”

Her shouting served to divert Hansen’s attention. He was already paranoid about getting stopped with a woman in his car. No way he could explain this one. He had to get off the main roads, take the back way to Muldoon.

This was no longer about the money, or the sex. This was about her kids.

While Christy Hayes seemed nonstop with her mouth, her hands were twice as busy. Hansen could hear, but barely see her. Soon, she was out of the restraints. Maybe… Nope. The camper door was locked. From the outside.

Suddenly, the brakes slammed, sending Christy to the floor. There was the gun again, pointing at her head through the open window, between the cab and the camper. Christy ducked. Hansen jumped out and ran to the back, determined to regain control.

Quick
Robert Hansen, 1969 (courtesy Anchorage Times)

Christy knew that “quick is, as quick does.” She squeezed through the open window and into the cab of the truck. Locked the window behind her. Locked all the doors. Find the damn key and drive away from here.

Not that quick. Hansen had the truck keys.

The keys gave Hansen only a small measure of control. He tried to reason with her. Fail. He tried to reason with her using his revolver. Double Fail. “Just give me my clothes,” she demanded. She didn’t want to go naked on this chill October night. Fail.

In the cab of the truck, Christy Hayes went full mama bear.

When she started tearing out the truck’s wires, Hansen could no longer keep his patience. When he shattered the side glass, Christy Hayes skipped into the night. That morning, she would hug her kids like no other.


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Christy Hayes Goes to the Bakery

Was Christy Hayes jinxed? Granted, Anchorage Alaska is an overgrown small town, but still… Their paths kept crossing, each encounter seemingly more traumatic than the last. Despite that, Christy Hayes’ third encounter dispels the myth around “working women and easy money.” With several kids in the house, she was looking for a real job. A bakery job. After her first meeting with Robert Hansen, who wouldn’t? And still, the irony. Robert Hansen could not save Christy Hayes from Robert Hansen.


Hayes stated that a few months before her interview by affiant [Sgt. Flothe] she saw this same man at Hansen’s Bakery, located at where she had gone to apply for a job. Hayes filled out an application for employment. She stated upon seeing the man, she left as quickly as she could and did not go back. Hayes noted that while talking to Hansen in the bakery about possible employment there, Hansen stuttered quite a lot.

Bakery
Site of Hansen’s Former Bakery, 9th & Ingra, Anchorage (Google Maps; illustration, Leland E. Hale)

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


GF: Did you ever find out where this black girl lived? Didn’t she come into your bakery?

RH: She ca….uh, there again, I didn’t recognize her. Uh, uh, she come into the bakery and asked for a job one time. As a matter of fact she was uh, uh, in, I think, a couple of times. But, uh, as far as, uh, I wouldn’t have had any address (inaudible) except what she put down on [her application].

GF: Did you ever go over there?

RH: No.

RH = Robert Hansen; GF = Glenn Flothe

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

(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

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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