By Saul Roth
The Robert Hansen Murders is a story of horror and tragedy that unfolded in Alaska over the course of several years in the early 1980s. Robert Hansen, a convicted sex offender, was charged with the murder of more than a dozen women in what is now known as the “Alaska Milk Carton Murders” case. Between 1980 and 1983, Hansen kidnapped and brutalized at least 17 women, luring them from secluded areas of Anchorage to his remote cabin located 30 miles outside of town. He would then transport the women to the wilderness, hunt them down like animals, and shoot them to death.
The case against Hansen began on February 12, 1983 when police were called to investigate an abandoned vehicle near a truck stop on the outskirts of the city. Upon further investigation, detectives discovered the mutilated body of a young prostitute, 17-year-old Cindy Paulson, who had been kidnapped three days prior. Paulson, who barely survived her harrowing ordeal, was able to provide crucial details about her attacker and help investigators link him with other unsolved murders in the area.
When interrogated by police, Hansen eventually confessed to his crimes and revealed information regarding his modus operandi. He confessed to shooting each victim with a .223 caliber rifle and dumping their bodies in various locations around Alaska. Investigators found evidence that Hansen had kept trophies and souvenirs from some of his victims, such as jewelry and underwear.
Hansen was eventually arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder. On February 28, 1984, he was sentenced to 461 years in prison with no chance of parole. In May of 1986, Hansen was also handed down an additional consecutive sentence of 15 years for five counts of kidnapping.
Despite Hansen’s conviction and imprisonment, the fear that he struck in the hearts of the people of Anchorage endured for decades. The terror of his crimes was so deeply entrenched in the memory of the people that it earned him the nickname “The Butcher Baker” after the gruesome details of his modus operandi became known. It was not until the late 1990s that the fear associated with Hansen began to fade away.
The Robert Hansen Murders had a lasting impact on the state of Alaska, particularly Anchorage. During the time of the murders, the streets of Anchorage were plagued with an atmosphere of terror and despair. Women were especially careful to avoid public places and seldom walked alone at night. While the horrifying events of the past have been largely forgotten, they can still be felt throughout the city.
The Robert Hansen Murders serve as a reminder of the danger and brutality of criminal activity, as well as the fragility of human life. Despite the many lives that were lost, the memory of their suffering will live on. This case will continue to haunt the minds of the people of Anchorage and serve as an everlasting reminder that justice will prevail.