Robert Hansen
Birth name: Robert Christian Hansen
Born: February 15, 1939 (1939-02-15) (age 72)Estherville, Iowa
Number of victims: 17–21
Span of killings: 1980–1983
Country: U.S.
State(s): Alaska
Date apprehended: June 13, 1983


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Robert Hansen

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Robert Christian Hansen (born on February 15, 1939) is an American serial killer. Between 1980 and 1983, Hansen murdered between 17 and 21 people near Anchorage, Alaska.

Early life

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Hansen was born in Estherville, Iowa to Christian and Edna Hansen. Throughout childhood and adolescence, Hansen was described as being quiet and a loner, and had a dysfunctional relationship with his domineering father. He was frequently bullied at school for his perpetual acne and his severe stutter. In 1957, Hansen enlisted in the United States Army Reserve and served for one year before being discharged. He later worked as an assistant drill instructor at a police academy in Pocahontas, Iowa. In Pocahontas, Hansen began a relationship with a late adolescent girl and married in the summer of 1960.

On December 7 of that year, he was arrested for burning down a Pocahontas County Board of Education school bus garage, for which he served 20 months of a three-year prison sentence. His wife filed for divorce against him while he was incarcerated. Over the next few years, he was jailed several times for petty theft. In 1967, he moved to Anchorage, Alaska with his second wife, whom he had married in 1963. In Anchorage, he was well liked by his neighbors and was famed as a local hunting champion. He even broke several records, documented in the Pope & Young's book of world hunting records. However, these records were vacated after Hansen's conviction.

In 1977, he was imprisoned 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 medication, however, and was released from prison after serving a year. Father of two children by then, Hansen opened a bakery after his release.


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On June 13, 1983, 17 year old Cindy Paulson went to the police after escaping from the cockpit of Hansen's Piper Super Cub, a set of handcuffs still dangling from one wrist. She told police that she had been offered $200 to pose for pictures before being abducted, raped, and sexually assaulted with the wooden handle of a hammer. She stated that she had worked one cuff loose, then fled on foot from the airplane's cockpit when Hansen was distracted while loading supplies. She claimed to have eluded Hansen until she was picked up by a passing truck on a nearby road and taken to the police. She identified Hansen as the perpetrator.

Hansen denied the accusations, stating that Paulson was just trying to cause some trouble because he wouldn't pay her extortion demands, and, due to his meek demeanor and occupation as a baker, he was not initially considered a serious suspect.

From 1980 to 1983, Detective Glenn Flothe of the Alaska State Troopers had been part of a team investigating the discovery of a series of female bodies, the first being discovered by construction workers near the Eklutna Road. Dubbed by investigators as "Eklutna Annie", this body has never been identified. After the body of Joanna Messina was discovered in a gravel pit later that year, Flothe contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and requested help with forensic analysis, and Roy Hazelwood was brought in to assist the investigation as a criminal psychologist. 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 murders, such as a victim's jewelry or even body parts. In his book Mind Hunters, profiler John E. Douglas states that his unit was called in to assist.

Supported by Paulson's testimony, Flothe and the police secured a warrant and searched Hansen's house on October 27, 1983, uncovering jewelry belonging to the victims, newspaper clippings about the murders and an array of firearms — including a semi-automatic .223-caliber Ruger Mini-14 rifle.

They theorized that he began killing prostitutes around 1979. After paying a woman for her services, he would kidnap, torture, and rape her. He would then bind her and fly her out to his cabin in the Knik River Valley in his private airplane. Once he had found a suitably desolate location, he would release his victim on a river sandbar, stalk her and then kill her with a hunting knife or the Ruger carbine as she fled through the woods.


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Spring Creek Correctional Center, where Hansen is incarcerated

Hansen was arrested and charged with assault, kidnapping, multiple 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 with the funds being used to purchase the Super Cub (at trial he claimed he later recovered the trophies in his backyard but forgot to inform the insurer).

When ballistics tests returned a match between bullets found at the crime scenes and Hansen's rifle, he entered into a plea bargain. He pled guilty to the four homicides the police knew about and provided details about his other victims in return for serving his sentence in a federal prison along with no publicity in the press. He confirmed the police theory of how the women were abducted, adding that he would sometimes let a potential victim go if she convinced him that she wouldn't report him to police, and indicated that he began killing as early as 1973. He showed investigators 17 gravesites in the Knik River Valley, 12 of which were unknown to the police. 11 remains of a probable 21 victims were exhumed by the police and returned to their families. Hansen was sentenced to 461 years in prison.

Hansen 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.[citation needed] He is currently imprisoned at Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward.

In popular culture

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The Hansen case served as inspiration for the action thriller Naked Fear (2007) starring Danielle De Luca as a dancer stalked by a maniacal hunter in the uninhabited regions of New Mexico.

The Hunting For Bambi video series depicts supposedly real hunts of women, similar to Hansen's activities.

An episode of the Discovery Channel TV series, The FBI Files, depicted his murderous rampage, entitled Hunter's Game.

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