Robert Hansen’s wife suspected he might be visiting prostitutes – but she never imagined that he had murdered at least 17 young sex workers, hunting them like animals, armed with a rifle and a knife.
Like many people living in the remote wilds of Alaska, the dad-of-two was a keen hunter. But unlike the other men of Anchorage, it wasn’t deers and bears he got a kick out of killing – he preferred his prey to run on two legs.
He was found guilty of killing four women but admitted to killing 17, and also told police he had raped 30 women and let them live.
In the 1970s the 800 mile long trans-Alaska oil pipeline was constructed in the frozen US state, bringing with it a huge influx of engineers and workers.
But they weren’t the only newcomers arriving in Anchorage in their droves. Sensing a quick buck could be made from men with money in their pockets, conmen, prostitutes and their pimps soon followed.
Regardless of if you were making money honestly or illicitly, it wasn’t uncommon for people to suddenly disappear once they’d made their fortune – which played right in to Hansen’s hands.
The nerdy middle aged man worked as a baker, and owned his own bread shop in one of Anchorage’s mini-malls. His profession and sick double life earned him the nickname "The Butcher Baker”.
He clearly made plenty of dough in every sense of the word as he was able to afford his own plane – and it became a key part of his sickening death games.
He would abduct women then take them to remote places outside of the city, either by car or plane.
One of his favourite places to take his terrified young victims was the Knik River, a breathtaking location surrounded by kilometres of dense forests and overlooked by huge snowcapped mountains – and totally isolated.
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With no one around to call for help, Hansen’s sadistic nature could be released at full force, and he admitted that sometimes he would rape a woman then take them back to Anchorage after scaring them in to silence.
But some never made it back to the city because he had released them into the woodland to run for their lives, then stalked and shot them like wild animals. He left their bodies to rot in shallow graves.
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It was the quick thinking of one of his victims, teenager Cindy Paulson that finally led to the end of the twisted monster’s killing spree.
In June 1983, handcuffed and dazed from being tortured, she managed to escape from his car as he packed up his plane ready to fly her out to his remote cabin – most likely planning to release her into the woods then hunt and kill her.
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She ran for her life and flagged down a passing car who took her to authorities where she described Hansen and his plane.
Police spoke to him but two pals gave him an alibi – plus they struggled to believe that this quiet, puny man could be so dangerous.
But Hansen’s alibis fell apart after bodies were found near his favourite ‘hunting’ spot.
Police searched his plane, home and car and found he had kept some of his victims’ belongings and jewellery as trophies.
He died in 2014 aged 75, while serving a 461 year sentence for his crimes.
Five of his murder victims’ bodies were never found.
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