Unfortunately, kids can be cruel. They will often single someone out for mistreatment, bullying them because they’re not as cool or as smart or as good looking as the other kids. Being on the receiving end of that kind of social abuse can scar someone for life.
But usually, as people become adults, they find ways to cope with the bad times they had as a kid. They grow up and they move on. But for one man, the teasing he suffered as a kid would have terrible repercussions decades later…
Odd One Out
Born in Estherville, Iowa the midst of WW2, Robert was the son of Danish immigrants. The son of a baker, he was always somewhat of an outcast amongst his peers. Part of it was because his parents were from overseas but Robert was also made fun of because of his own characteristics as well.
Robert was extremely skinny, painfully shy, and was afflicted with a stutter. Things didn’t get better for him as he got older. Once puberty hit, Robert developed a case of acne so bad, he would later describe his face as being “one big pimple.” It would leave him with permanent scars…
As you can imagine, Robert was shunned by the attractive girls at school. He grew bitter and resentful about it, nursing fantasies of revenge. The boys at school treated him even worse, bullying him because of his acne and his stutter. In order to escape torment at school, and to avoid his domineering father, Robert found refuge in a hunting alone.
Things Looking Up
When he graduated from high school, Robert was finally free from his overbearing father and the social torment he was subjected to at school. He even found love when he was working as a drill instructor at a police academy in Pocahontas, Iowa. He met a local girl and married her in the summer of 1960…
Brush With The Law
But it wasn’t all good. Just a few months later, Robert was arrested for burning down a Pocahontas County school bus garage. He served 20 months in prison for the crime, during which time, his wife divorced him.
After he got out of prison, Robert was lucky enough to meet another woman whom he eventually married and had two children with. However, he was still having problems with the law, being arrested several times and serving small jail sentences for petty theft. Thinking that he would be better off with a change of location, in 1967 Robert moved his wife and two children to Anchorage, Alaska…
Like Father, Like Son
It seemed to work too. Robert Hansen decided to follow in his father’s footsteps, and opened a bakery, becoming a respected businessman, family man and apparently model member of the community. A prolific hunter, he also set a number of state records. But behind the appearances, something sinister was happening.
Perhaps to enact his fantasies of punishing the girls who’d shunned him in his adolescence, he was secretly attacking women in and around Anchorage. His targets were almost exotic dancers and prostitutes and his methods were like sadistic…
Isolate and Torment
Hansen would offer the women money for their services then, after he had isolated them, he would use a gun to abduct the women, taking them to his home or to a secluded meat shack he had near the Knik River by way of his tiny private airplane. Once he’d taken them there, the torment would begin.
Once he had the women completely alone Hansen would torture them and sexually assault them repeatedly. Considering himself somewhat “benevolent,” if the women complied with his wishes, he would take them back to Anchorage and let them go with a sinister warning. He figured because they were “working women,” he could get away with it. Unfortunately, he was right…
The Most Dangerous Game
But for the women who didn’t comply met a much more grisly fate. Hansen would also let them go — into the woods. After giving them a head start, he would put his hunting skills to use, tracking them down and killing them with his rifle like he would with a wild animal.
Looking For A Killer
Hansen’s reign of terror would last for more than a decade, beginning in 1971. His crimes first became known to law enforcement in the early 80s when the bodies of a 3 women were found between 1980 and 1982. While one of them remained unidentified, 2 were missing exotic dancers…
Then, in 1983, Hansen abducted a young prostitute named Cindy Paulson. As he had so many times before, he forced her into his car at gunpoint, handcuffed her, and took her to his home while his wife and children were away on vacation.
Taking Her To The Shack
After Hansen had sexually assaulted her, he took a quick nap on a nearby couch. When he awoke, he put her in his car and drove her out to a small airport where he kept his private plane. He was presumably going to take her into the wilderness and hunt her as he had done many times before…
But Cindy saw an opportunity for survival and jumped at the chance. As Hansen was loading the cockpit of the plane with his back turned to her, the still-handcuffed Cindy managed to unlock the car door and make a break for it. She managed to make it to a nearby road before Hansen could catch her and flagged down a passing truck.
It’s All Lies
When the local police questioned Hansen about Cindy’s claim that he’d kidnapped and sexually assaulted her, Hansen told them that Cindy was simply telling lies in order to extort money from him. Shockingly, police believed him and he was released…
In Come The Feds
But at the same time, the other bodies that had been found in recent years led the police to believe that they might have a serial killer on their hands. When they turned to the FBI for help, the FBI compiled a criminal profile of the unknown killer. That profile was awfully close to Hansen.
The FBI was looking for a hunter with low self-esteem who most likely kept “trophies” from his victims and who might have a stutter. After the incident with Cindy, they found a man who fit that profile to a T…
Treasure and a Map
When they searched Hansen’s house, plane and cars, FBI investigators found jewelry belonging to some of the missing women, as well as a map of the area with marked with a number of Xs. Each X corresponded to the place where he’d buried a victim.
You Got Me
Facing overwhelming evidence, Hansen quickly admitted to murdering 17 women and sexually assaulting dozens more over the course of 12 years. Investigators believe that he likely had many more victims than he admitted to. The ones he had admitted to, however, were enough to get him a sentence of 461 years in prison without the possibility of parole.