Robert Christian Hansen (February 15, 1939–August 21, 2014), known in the media as the “Butcher Baker”, was an American serial killer. Between 1971 and 1983, Hansen kidnaped, raped, and killed at least 17 and probably as many as 21 women in and around Anchorage, Alaska. He was found, arrested, and sentenced in 1983, and was serving 461 years plus a life sentence with no possibility of parole.
Hansen was born in Estherville, Iowa, to Christian and Edna Hansen. Throughout childhood and youth, Hansen was described as being soft and a loner, and he had a dysfunctional relationship with his domineering father. He was frequently taunted at school for having acne and speaking with a stutter.
Hunting Of Hensen
He started hunting and often found refuge in this pastime. In 1957, Hansen enrolled in the United States Army Reserve and served for one year before being expelled. He later worked as an assistant drill instructor at a police academy in Pocahontas, Iowa. There, Hansen began an affair with a younger woman. He married her in the summer of 1960.
On December 7, 1960, he was imprisoned for burning down a Pocahontas County Board of Education school bus garage, for which he served 20 months of a three-year prison sentence in Anamosa State Penitentiary. His wife filed for divorce while he was locked up. Over the next few years, he was jailed many times for minor theft. In 1967, he moved to Anchorage, Alaska, with his second wife, whom he had married in 1963 and with whom he had two children. In Anchorage, he was well-liked by his neighbors and set several local hunting records.
Hensen In 1977
In 1977, he was arrested for theft of a chainsaw, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and prescribed lithium to control his mood swings. He was never officially ordered to take the treatment, however.
On June 13, 1983, 17-year-old Cindy Paulson escaped from 44-year-old Robert Hansen while he was trying to load her into his Piper Super Cub. She told police she had been proposed $200 to perform oral sex but that, when she got into the car, Hansen pulled a gun on her and drove her to his home in Muldoon. There, he held her captive, torturing, raping, and sexually assaulting her. She indicated that, after he chained her by the neck to a post in the house’s basement, Hansen took a nap on a nearby couch.
When he awoke, he put her in his car and took her to Merrill Field airport, where he told her that he planned to “take her out to his cabin” (a meat shack in the Knik River area of the Matanuska Valley available only by boat or bush plane). Paulson, crouched in the back seat of the car with her wrists cuffed in front of her body, waited until Hansen was busy loading the airplane’s cockpit to make a run for it. While Hansen’s back was turned, Paulson crawled out of the back seat, opened the driver’s side door, and took off running toward nearby Sixth Avenue.
She later told police that she’d left her blue sneakers on the passenger side floor of the sedan’s backseat as proof that she’d been in the car. Hansen frightened and ran after her, but Paulson made it to Sixth Avenue first and managed to flag down a passing truck. The driver, alarmed by her confused appearance, stopped and picked her up. He drove her, upon request, to the Mush Inn, where she jumped out of the truck and ran inside. While she implored with the clerk to phone her boyfriend at the Big Timber Motel, the truck driver continued to work, where he called the police to report the barefoot, handcuffed woman.
When Anchorage Police Department cops reached the Mush Inn, they were told that the young woman had taken a taxi to the Big Timber Motel. APD officers arrived at Room 110 of the Big Timber Motel and found Cindy Paulson, still handcuffed and alone. She was taken to the APD department where she narrated the perpetrator. Hansen, when questioned by APD officials, denied the charge, stating that Paulson was just trying to cause some difficulty because he wouldn’t pay her extortion requirements. Although Hansen had had various prior run-ins with the law, his meek demeanor and humble employment as a baker, along with a strong alibi from his friend John Henning, kept him from being assumed as a serious suspect; and the case went cold.
Detective Glenn Flothe of the Alaska State Troopers had been part of a team interrogating the discovery of several corpses in and around Anchorage, Seward, and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley area. The first of the bodies were found by construction laborers near Eklutna Road. The body, dubbed “Eklutna Annie” by detectives, has never been recognized. Later that year, the body of Joanna Messina was found in a gravel pit near Seward; and, in the year following (1982), the remains of 23-year-old Sherry Morrow were discovered in a shallow grave nearly the Knik River. Flothe now had three bodies and what looked like one murderer.
He called Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Roy Hazelwood and requested help with a criminal psychological profile based on the three recovered bodies. Hazelwood theorized that the killer would be an experienced hunter with low self-esteem, have a history of being rejected by women, and would feel compelled to keep “souvenirs” of his killings, such as a victim’s jewelry. He also recommended that the attacker might stutter. Using this profile, Flothe investigated possible suspects until he reached Hansen, who fit the profile and owned a plane.
Supported by Paulson’s testimony and Hazelwood’s profile, Flothe and the APD secured a warrant to search Hansen’s plane, cars, and home. On 27 October 1983, detectives exposed jewelry belonging to some of the missing women, as well as an array of firearms in a corner hideaway of Hansen’s attic. The biggest find was an aviation map with little “x” notes on it, hidden behind Hansen’s headboard.
When confronted with the proof found in his home, Hansen refused it as long as he could, but he eventually began to blame the women and aimed to justify his motives. Finally, confessing to each item of evidence as it was related to him, he admitted to a spree of attacks against Alaskan women starting as early as 1971. Hansen’s earliest victims were young women, usually between 16 and 19, and not the prostitutes and strippers who led to his finding.
Robert C. Hansen is known to have raped and attacked over 30 Alaskan women. He is also responsible for killing at least 17, ranging in age from 16 to 41. They were:
Lisa Futrell, 41 (acknowledged, body found with Hansen’s help)
Malai Larsen, 28 (acknowledged, body found with Hansen’s help)
Sue Luna, 23 (acknowledged, body found with Hansen’s help)
Tami Pederson, 20 (acknowledged, body found with Hansen’s help)
Angela Feddern, 24 (acknowledged, body found with Hansen’s help)
Teresa Watson (acknowledged, body found with Hansen’s help)
DeLynn “Sugar” Frey (acknowledged, body found with Hansen’s help)
Paula Goulding (acknowledged, body found)
Andrea “Fish” Altiery (admitted, body found with Hansen’s help)
Sherry Morrow, 23 (admitted, body found)
“Eklutna Annie” (confessed, body found, true identity has never been discovered)
Joanna Messina (admitted, body found)
“Horseshoe Harriet” (acknowledged, body found with Hansen’s help, true identity has never been discovered)
Roxanne Eastland, 24 (acknowledged, body not found)
Cecilia “Beth” Van Zanten, 17 (denies, but doubted because of x on the aviation map, body found)
Megan Emerick, 17 (denies, but suspected because of x on the aviation map, body found)
Mary Thill, 23 (denies, but suspected because of x on the aviation map, body not found)
When arrested, Hansen was charged with assault, abducting, numerous weapons offenses, theft, and insurance fraud, the last charge was related to his filing a claim with the insurance company over alleged theft of some trophies, whose funds he used to buy the Super Cub. (At trial, he claimed he later recovered the trophies in his backyard but forgot to inform the insurer.) After ballistics tests returned a match between bullets found at the crime scenes and Hansen’s rifle, he entered into a plea bargain. He pleaded guilty to the four homicides the police had proof for (Morrow, Messina, Altiery, and Eklutna Annie) and gave details about his other victims in return for serving his sentence in federal prison no publicity in the press. Another condition of the plea bargain included his full participation in deciphering the markings on his aviation map and locating his victims’ bodies. He confirmed the police theory of how the women were kidnaped, adding that he would sometimes let a potential victim go if she convinced him that she wouldn’t report him to police, and he indicated that he began assassinating in the early 1970s. He showed detectives a total of seventeen grave sites in and around Southcentral Alaska, twelve of which were unknown to detectives. However, there remained marks on his map that he declined to give up, including three in Resurrection Bay, near Seward (authorities suspect two of these marks belong to the graves of Mary Thill and Megan Emrick, whom Hansen has refused killing).
The remains of twelve (of a probable 21) victims were exhumed by the police and returned to their families. Hansen was convicted, by jury, to 461 years plus life in prison, without the chance of parole. He was first imprisoned at the United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1988, he was returned to Alaska and was briefly incarcerated at Lemon Creek Correctional Center in Juneau. He was also jailed at Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward until May 2014 when he was transported to the Anchorage Correctional Complex for health reasons. Hansen died at the age of 75, at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage on August 21, 2014, due to unknown, lingering health conditions.