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The Human Hunter of Anchorage Alaska: Robert Hansen

Robert Hansen was an awkwardly shy child who grew up in a household filled with physical violence and estranged relationships with his parents. While at school he was also made fun of for his stammering as well as his acne until he graduated and joined the National Reserve. However only after a year of service he was discharged and moved to Anchorage, Alaska where he was eventually found guilty for the murder of upwards of 21 women.

Robert Hansen was born to Christian and Edna Hansen in Estherville, Iowa on February 15th, 1939.  Robert had a relatively normal and relaxed childhood but had to deal with an over domineering and physically abusive father from home.  This relationship dilemma that Robert suffered from his father also took an effect on him while attending school.  While at school Robert would be occasionally made fun of for both his stutter and his acne which took a toll on his social skills as well as his relationship skills.  However, once graduated, Robert joined the United States Army Reserve in 1957 but was dishonorably discharged after only serving one year.  After his discharge though Robert enrolled and became a drill instructor for the Pocahontas police academy in Iowa where he met and married his first wife in 1960.

Not long after his marriage however Robert was arrested and incarcerated for burning down a Pocahontas County Board of Education school bus garage.  Robert only served 20 months out of his three year sentence but his wife filed for divorce during his time in jail.  Once released Robert remarried again in 1963 but began becoming frequently arrested for petty crimes such as theft until he and his second wife moved to Anchorage, Alaska in 1967.

Once in Alaska Robert became immediately well liked and even became a champion sport hunter breaking numerous records while there.  However, by 1977 Robert had another run in with the law where he was found guilty for the theft of a chainsaw.  During this though prosecutors took the time in order to evaluate Robert’s mental stability.  Psychiatrists’ diagnosed Robert as suffering from a mental condition known as Bi-Polar disorder and prescribed him lithium to take so that he could control his mood swings.  However, the lithium that was prescribed to Robert was never court ordered for him to take regularly. 

On June 13th, 1983 an interesting event occurred.  Cindy Paulson, a 17 year old girl at that time, claimed that she was abducted, kidnapped, and raped with the wooden handle of a hammer by Robert Hansen.  She also claimed that she had been taken hostage with a pair of handcuffs and had successfully eluded Robert while he loading his plane with supplies in order to kill her.  She explained this to police officers and investigators all while wearing the handcuffs as proof.  Once detectives sought out Robert however they ruled him out as a suspect due to his awkward demeanor and then occupation as a baker.

Detective Glen Foth of the Alaskan State Troopers and Roy Hazlewood of the Federal Bureau of Investigations were assigned to the case of Cindy Paulson and various other cases that involved the abduction of women throughout Anchorage, Alaska where Robert Hansen resided.  Multiple bodies had been discovered by construction workers between the years of 1980 and 1983 and many of those bodies were left so dismembered that they were beyond recognizable.  Using Cindy Paulson’s testimony, detectives were able to receive a warrant in order to search Robert’s home for clues that may connect him to the murders.  Once inside Robert’s home detectives discovered clothing, jewelry, and other merchandise that belonged to the missing women of Alaska.  Detectives also found a semi-automatic .223 caliber Ruger Mini 14 rifle inside Robert’s home that matched ballistics found within the bodies of the dead girls. 

On trial Robert Hansen confessed to the murder of four different homicides and revealed gravesites of at least 17 different dead women to police.  Of these gravesites 12 had not yet been discovered by investigators. During the case it was theorized that Robert Hansen murdered between 17 and 21 women, which many of them worked as prostitutes, and was sentenced to roughly 461 years in prison.   

Sources:

“Robert Hansen. A Serial Killer in Alaska.” By Murray Lundberg

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