Prosecutor tells how Alaska serial killer ‘butcher baker’ who killed 17 women hunted victims

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A prosecutor has revealed how notorious Alaska serial killer the ‘Butcher Baker’ – who killed at least 17 women and raped another 30 over 12 years in the 70s and 80s – acted like a hunter to choose his victims and confessed to his grisly crimes when he played good cop, bad cop with a colleague. 

Robert Hansen, the friendly neighborhood baker turned hunter of women, would abduct, rape and torture the women – who were mainly dancers and sex workers – then take them in his car or private plane and set them free in the Alaskan wilderness so he could stalk and shoot them like prey as part of a depraved hunting game. 

He then buried his victims’ bodies and marked their graves with an ‘x’ on a map. 

The depraved serial killer confessed to murdering 17 women and raping another 30. 

Many believe there could have been many more victims. His murder map had 24 ‘x’s marked on it while only 12 bodies were ever found. 

A prosecutor has revealed how notorious Alaska serial killer the 'Butcher Baker', aka Robert Hansen (pictured), - who killed at least 17 women and raped another 30 over 12 years in the 70s and 80s - acted like a hunter to choose his victims and confessed to his grisly crimes when he played good cop, bad cop with a colleague

A prosecutor has revealed how notorious Alaska serial killer the ‘Butcher Baker’, aka Robert Hansen (pictured), – who killed at least 17 women and raped another 30 over 12 years in the 70s and 80s – acted like a hunter to choose his victims and confessed to his grisly crimes when he played good cop, bad cop with a colleague

Prosecutor Frank Rothschild, part of the team that helped convict Hansen of four murders and sentence him to 461 years in prison plus life back in 1984, has spoken out in new documentary ‘The Butcher Baker: The Mind of a Monster’ airing on Investigation Discovery Wednesday. 

Rothschild described the killer as an ‘evil genius’ and told how ‘transformed’ from ‘a little nerdy guy’ into ‘the person who had killed all these women’ before his eyes during his interrogation, in an interview with Newsweek ahead of the show.  

‘There’s a certain evil genius there,’ he said.

‘I guess these serial killer types tend to be smart in a way. If they were truly smart, they wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing. But they’re evil, they’re smart evil people.’ 

The prosecutor said he came on board the case once Hansen was in police custody as a suspect.

Investigators had searched Hansen’s property and found ballistics linking him to several murders, his murder map, several pieces of victims’ jewelry that he had taken as trophies, and one woman who managed to escape had identified him, his home, basement and plane. 

Prosecutor Frank Rothschild, part of the team that helped convict Hansen of four murders and sentence him to 461 years in prison plus life back in 1984, has spoken out in new documentary 'The Butcher Baker: The Mind of a Monster' airing on Investigation Discovery Wednesday

Prosecutor Frank Rothschild, part of the team that helped convict Hansen of four murders and sentence him to 461 years in prison plus life back in 1984, has spoken out in new documentary ‘The Butcher Baker: The Mind of a Monster’ airing on Investigation Discovery Wednesday

The missing and murder map of Hansen's victims. The friendly neighborhood baker turned hunter of women would abduct, rape and torture women - mainly targeting topless dancers and sex workers - before killing some

The missing and murder map of Hansen’s victims. The friendly neighborhood baker turned hunter of women would abduct, rape and torture women – mainly targeting topless dancers and sex workers – before killing some 

Rothschild said his job was to play good cop to a colleague’s bad cop to try to get as much information from the killer about his crimes.     

Rothschild said serial killers like ‘game playing’ and want to ‘beat the system’ and that Hansen was no different.

‘The main thing that was explained to me was the game playing of it all. A great deal of the mindset of these people is wanting to beat the system, beat the man,’ he told Newsweek.

‘That’s why a lot of them tend to be kleptomaniacs, they like to steal things and get away with it, and beat the system. That was one of the things Bob Hansen. He had theft charges in his past.’

He explained: ‘Basically it was explained to me that he would give away those cases where he knew we had him. 

And that he would then say, ‘stop,’ and say, ‘that’s it,’ because in his mind, if he was able to walk away from that confession, not having confessed to other cases, then he would walk away a winner and would have beaten the system again.’

Criminal investigators search for bodies along the Knik River in Alaska on April 1984

Criminal investigators search for bodies along the Knik River in Alaska on April 1984

Hansen confessed to murdering 17 women and raping another 30 over a 12-year period in the 70s and 80s in Alaska but many believe there are more victims

Hansen confessed to murdering 17 women and raping another 30 over a 12-year period in the 70s and 80s in Alaska but many believe there are more victims

A massive search on the Knik Flats in Alaska for signs of missing prostitutes and topless dancers uncovered a white bracelet in 1983 which could have belonged to a victim

A massive search on the Knik Flats in Alaska for signs of missing prostitutes and topless dancers uncovered a white bracelet in 1983 which could have belonged to a victim 

Rothschild recounted how Hansen confessed to five killings and then clammed up which was when his ‘non-judgmental’ good cop routine switched to his colleague Victor Krumm’s bad cop.   

‘Vic was ready to go, and he said that, ‘if you think that we’re going to accept that as everything, you’re mistaken,’ and ‘when the spring thaw comes, we’re going to to go out to all these locations with dogs and we’re going to unearth – we know we’re going to find more gravesites, and we’re going to find more ballistics’,’ he recalled.

”We’re going to charge you and you’re gonna be in court and we’re gonna have you in trial for however long, and on and on.’ He had this whole rap prepared.’

Rothschild told Newsweek it was this point that Hansen let his mask slip and changed from the ‘nerdy’ baker married to a devout christian and father to two young children to depraved serial killer.

‘And it worked! As he was doing that, I looked at Hansen across the table and I watched this amazing transformation from mild-mannered Bob the baker, who was a fairly small fellow, he wasn’t an imposing physical specimen. And he wore his glasses, he looked like just a little nerdy guy,’ he said.

Pictured Hansen with horns from a sheep he hunted. The murders of women became a depraved hunting game for the serial killer where he would fly them in his private plane and set them free in the Alaskan wilderness before stalking and hunting them like prey and shooting them

Pictured Hansen with horns from a sheep he hunted. The murders of women became a depraved hunting game for the serial killer where he would fly them in his private plane and set them free in the Alaskan wilderness before stalking and hunting them like prey and shooting them

Hansen leaves court during a hearing on multiple murder charges in November 1983. He buried his victims' bodies and marked their graves with an 'x' on a map

Hansen leaves court during a hearing on multiple murder charges in November 1983. He buried his victims’ bodies and marked their graves with an ‘x’ on a map

‘But all of the sudden, his neck turned all red, and his hair stood up on the back of his neck, and he transformed into the person who had killed all these women. Right in front of our eyes, he got really, really angry.’

Rothschild said authorities believe Hansen’s hatred of women can be traced back to his younger years when he was made fun of in school because ‘he was little and made fun of during his schooling career back in Iowa, because of his stutter and because of his facial blemishes’. 

‘So he developed a real attitude toward the female sex. He was carrying that out when he was up in Alaska,’ he explained. 

Hansen became more selective with his victims over time, Rothschild said, explaining that the killer ‘learned from experience’ to target sex workers and dancers because they were transient, less likely to be reported missing and – tragically – less likely to be believed by authorities if they reported being raped or attacked.  

‘One of his early abductees had a father who was a trooper. She was not a gogo dancer or a street person, she was just a woman that was attractive to him that he’d seen, and someone who would be believed by the authorities,’ Rothschild said.

Despite getting ‘in trouble over that’, the killer was able to get away with a sweetheart deal leaving him free to escalate his crimes further. 

Hansen's Bakery. Rothschild told Newsweek how Hansen 'transformed' from 'a little nerdy guy' into 'the person who had killed all these women' before his eyes during interrogation

Hansen’s Bakery. Rothschild told Newsweek how Hansen ‘transformed’ from ‘a little nerdy guy’ into ‘the person who had killed all these women’ before his eyes during interrogation

Hansen's private plane that he used to fly his victims. Rothschild said authorities believe Hansen's hatred of women can be traced back to his younger years when he was made fun of in school

Hansen’s private plane that he used to fly his victims. Rothschild said authorities believe Hansen’s hatred of women can be traced back to his younger years when he was made fun of in school

‘What he took out of that was, one, it’s very easy to lure women who are working the streets or who are in the bars and the gogo clubs because their business is to make money from men by doing things for them, whatever it might be. 

‘[It was] easy to talk to them, easy to lure them to go with you in the car, and their credibility is low on the totem pole when it comes to dealing with the police.’  

He added: ‘And the other thing, I don’t know whether he thought about it, in law enforcement we certainly realized it. When he started abducting these women and they didn’t return back to society, they weren’t missed the way other people would be missed. 

‘They were all transient, they would come and go, come up to Alaska, there was some kind of a gangster outfit out in Seattle that took young girls who sent them to Hawaii and sent them to Alaska, where there was business for them with men.

‘Most of them were runaways, their families didn’t know where they were. So it made it much more difficult for law enforcement by choosing these women as victims.’

Eklutna Annie

Sherry Morrow

Eklutna Annie (left) and Sherry Morrow (right). Hansen was convicted of four murders of Annie, Morrow, Joanne Messina and Paula Golding

Joanne Messina

Paula Goulding

Joanne Messina (left) and Paula Golding (right). In May 1980, the body of Joanna Messina was found in a gravel pit. Paula Goulding’s body was found in 1983

Lisa Futrell

Tamara Pederson

Lisa Futrell (left) and Tamara Pederson (right). Hansen murdered at least 17 women and raped 30 more in the 12-year period between 1971 and 1983

Cindy Paulson escaped and described Hansen, his home and basement, the airport and the plane to the police

Cindy Paulson escaped and described Hansen, his home and basement, the airport and the plane to the police

One thing Rothschild said sticks with him and ‘upsets’ him is that Hansen’s victim who led officers to his home was initially not taken seriously by cops because she was a young sex worker.

Hansen then gagged, raped and tortured her for several hours in his basement. 

The next morning he drove her to Merrill Field to get in his private plane to fly her out to the Knik River – one of his favorite spots to hunt down his victims.

When he had his back turned and was preparing the plane, Paulson managed to escape and ran, flagging down a motorist who drove her to safety and called the police.  

‘My gosh, she is running naked and in handcuffs on the streets of Anchorage scared to death,’ Rothschild told Fox News. 

‘You saw the fear of death in her eyes. She describes the airplane, the house, the basement – all belonging to Robert Hansen. 

She directs the officer to the house. It’s exactly the way she describes it… But the man who ran the sexual assault unit at the time… had the worst kind of bias and experience to run a sexual assault unit.

‘All the facts are there. There’s no question she had this horrible experience. This wasn’t just a sex deal gone bad. But Hansen cooks up this alibi. This guy, the head of the sexual assault unit, hears the alibi and then says, ‘There’s no case here.’ There just wasn’t a drop of empathy for a rape victim… That always upsets me.’

The prosecutor said he hopes the case will serve as a lesson to law enforcement and society to believe victims of rape and sexual assault.

Investigators search for bodies along the river. Rothschild said serial killers like 'game playing' and want to 'beat the system' so he and his colleague Victor Krumm played good cop bad cop

Investigators search for bodies along the river. Rothschild said serial killers like ‘game playing’ and want to ‘beat the system’ so he and his colleague Victor Krumm played good cop bad cop

Criminal investigators combed the sand bars in the Knik Flats in Alaksa on April 17, 1983 after hunters found the bodies of two women in the area

Criminal investigators combed the sand bars in the Knik Flats in Alaksa on April 17, 1983 after hunters found the bodies of two women in the area

Cindy Paulson, 17, was picked up by Hansen on June 13, 1983, and taken to his home.  

Hansen then gagged, raped and tortured her for several hours in his basement. 

The next morning he drove her to Merrill Field to get in his private plane to fly her out to the Knik River.

When he had his back turned and was preparing the plane, Paulson managed to escape and ran, flagging down a motorist who drove her to safety and called the police.  

Paulson described Hansen, his home and basement, the airport and the plane. 

‘When people are confronted with their terrible lies and vile acts, they lie their a** off,’ he told Fox. 

‘For Robert Hansen, it was always denial, denial, denial. You can confront people with their misdeeds and they can still look at you right in the eye and say, ‘I didn’t do that.’ It happens all the time.’ 

However, thanks to Paulson’s testimony and FBI profilers describing the perpetrator, the net finally closed in on Hansen.

He pleaded guilty to the murders of four women whose bodies had already been found: Sherry Morrow, Joanna Messina, Paula Goulding, and Eklutna Annie.

Hansen died August 21 2014 in Anchorage at the age of 75.  

The two-hour documentary, The Butcher Baker: The Mind of a Monster premieres on Wednesday. 

The Butcher Baker

Robert Hansen was born in Iowa in 1939 and is believed to have developed a hatred for women from a young age.

As a small, nerdy boy with a speech impediment and acne scars, he was picked on at school and rejected by girls.

He became fascinated with hunting and guns at a young age.  

After high school he enlisted in the US Army Reserve then worked as an assistant drill sergeant at a police academy. 

Robert Hansen

Robert Hansen

In 1960, he got married but in December that year he burned down a school bus garage and was sent to prison – during which time his wife left him. 

In 1962, he was released from prison and married another woman, Darla Henrichson – a devout Christian – the next year. The couple had two children.

The family moved to Anchorage, Alaska, in 1967 where Hansen opened a bakery and enjoyed hunting in his free time. 

At the time, the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline was being built and this caused Alaska’s population to grow, with new jobs emerging but crime and sex work also increasing.

In 1971, women began disappearing from Anchorage, mainly from the strip club area of 4th Avenue. 

One of his victims this year was Susie Heppeard, 18, who he abducted at gunpoint.

He was later charged with assault with a deadly weapon by a grand jury but served just three months in prison.

A few days later, he abducted and raped a topless dancer. He then pulled over in his car and told her to run while pointing his Ruger-Mini 14 at her.

She begged him not to kill her and he agreed after making her write down the names and addresses of her family and threatening to hunt down and kill them if she spoke about what had happened.

Eklutna Annie

Sherry Morrow

Eklutna Annie (left) and Sherry Morrow (right)

On Christmas Day, 1971, the naked body of a female college student was found in a ravine near Kenai Peninsula. 

The topless dancer came forward after hearing about the murder and identified Hansen to authorities.

He was arrested but managed to evade justice when his friends and church minister backed him saying the neighborhood baker was an upstanding member of the community and discrediting the dancer saying she was using drugs. 

In 1976, Hansen was arrested again for stealing a chainsaw from a store and served 16 months in prison.

From 1978 to 1983, women disappeared at an increasing rate and four bodies turned up. 

The body of an unidentified woman who had been stabbed to death – thought to have been killed in November or December 1979 – was found on Eklutna Road. Investigators named her Eklutna Annie.

In May 1980, the body of Joanna Messina was found in a gravel pit. 

In September 1982, the body of Sherry Morrow was discovered buried near the Knik River and Paula Goulding’s body was found in the same area the next year. 

Joanne Messina

Paula Goulding

Joanne Messina (left) and Paula Golding (right)

Hansen murdered at least 17 women and raped 30 more in the 12-year period between 1971 and 1983. 

He picked up the women in his car and raped them.

He took them to the wilderness, or to the basement of his home he shared with his family or took them in his private plane from Merrill Field airport in Anchorage to his cabin in the Knik River area of the Matanuska Valley.

The killer would return some women women to Anchorage where he let them go on the basis that they wouldn’t be believed or wouldn’t tell anyone.  

Other women he would set free along the Knik River and have them run. Hansen would then stalk and hunt his victims like prey with his firearm and hunting knife. 

He then buried their bodies in the wilderness and marked their graves on an aviation map with an ‘X’. He would take trophies such as jewelry and keep it in his basement. 

On June 13 1983, he picked up sex worker Cindy Paulson in his car and then drove her to his home.

Hansen then gagged, raped and tortured her for several hours in his basement. 

The next morning he drove her to Merrill Field to get in his private plane to fly her out to the Knik River.

When he had his back turned and was preparing the plane, Paulson managed to escape and ran, flagging down a motorist who drove her to safety and called the police.  

Paulson described Hansen, his home and basement, the airport and the plane. 

Cindy Paulson

Cindy Paulson

Hansen was questioned and a friend provided him an alibi.  

He matched the description of a profile of the suspect given by the FBI – speech impediment, small, nerdy and owned a plane. 

A search of his home, bakery and plane uncovered the trophies he had taken from his victims, his murder map of the graves and the gun that matched ballistics of shell casings found by the victims. 

Hansen was convicted of the murders of Sherry Morrow, Joanna Messina, Paula Goulding, and Eklutna Annie.

He confessed to 17 murders in total of: Lisa Futrell, Malai Larsen, Sue Luna, Tami Pederson, Angela Feddern, Teresa Watson, DeLynn ‘Sugar’ Frey, Paula Goulding, Andrea ‘Fish’ Altiery, Sherry Morrow, Eklutna Annie, Joanna Messina, Horseshoe Harriet, Roxane Easland, Ceilia ‘Beth’ Van Zanten, Megan Emerick and Mary Thill. 

He also confessed to raping 30 other women.

Hansen showed authorities 17 grave sites on the map. Only 12 bodies were ever found.

Many believe he killed more with 24 marks on the map. 

He was also charged with the kidnapping and rape of Cindy Paulson. 

Hansen was sentenced to a total of 461 years plus life in prison. 

He died on August 21 2014 aged 75.  

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