The Butcher Baker’s Decade-Long Killing Spree
To this day, we do not know how many women ‘The Butcher Baker’ lured into his plane to the deep Alaskan woods, where he raped, tortured, then hunted and killed women.
A Life Like Any Other
‘The Butcher Baker,’ AKA Robert Hansen, had a lot of pent-up anger from his childhood. His parents were very strict, and his father forced him to work long days in the family bakery in Estherville, Iowa. He also had a stutter, a tool bullies used to get under his skin. He did not have many friends and spent most of his time alone. For the rest of his life, he felt ostracized by society and constantly sought refuge by moving from place to place.
When he was 18 years old Hansen joined the United States Army Reserves in Pocahontas, Iowa. He met and married his first wife, whose name is still unknown, at 21 years old. Around the same time, he and a bakery worker burned down a school bus garage. The bakery employee confessed to authorities when questioned, and Hansen was convicted of arson and sentenced to three years in jail. His wife divorced him while he was incarcerated. He was released early after serving just 20 months.
Throughout his teenage and early adult years, Hansen became highly interested in the world of hunting and butchering. He hunted and killed wild animals for the sake of the game and proudly displayed his trophies. After serving a few more sentences for petty theft in Iowa, Hansen moved to Anchorage, Alaska in 1967. He married his second wife, Darla Henrichsen. Even though he was arrested many more times for petty crimes such as stealing chainsaws, or filing a fradulent insurance claim, his wife defended his actions and stood by him.
Hansen, his wife, and their two children lived a peaceful, isolated life in Anchorage. He opened up a bakery, owned a plane for hunting on the weekends, and was fairly liked by the community. His wife, a deeply religious woman, knew about his prior misdemeanors and thought that if he implemented religion more into his life, then he would straighten up more. What she found out later, however, was unfixable.
In 1972, Hansen was arrested for the abduction and rape of a woman, and for raping a prostitute. He apparently took the women on his plane and ventured out to the deep woods, where there would likely be no witnesses around. He was arrested again in 1976 for shoplifting. He was sentenced to five years in prison, but he later appealed that sentence and was released.
In 1983, 17-year-old prostitute Cindy Paulson managed to escape from Hansen’s captivity and told police that a man handcuffed, raped, and tortured her for hours at gunpoint. He attempted to get her onto his plane to travel to his cabin, in Matanuska-Susitna Valley. She managed to escape barefoot, leaving her shoes behind on the plane.
The man she described fit Hansen’s profile perfectly. When the police brought him in for questioning, he claimed that she was making these false accusations because he had refused to pay her. His friend provided an alibi for him, and with the help of his good reputation in the community, he was let go.
Placing the Blame on Hansen
Sex workers and exotic dancers’ bodies were being found in the deep woods of Alaska. The FBI was now involved and put together a criminal profile of the personality and looks of the killer. They found two bodies of sex workers in the Valley near Hansen’s cabin, along with .223 shell casings. The criminal profiling and evidence against Hansen matched him. Authorities obtained a warrant to search his home. They found stashed of jewelry, a .223-caliber Ruger Mini-14 rile, hunting knives, and bows. What sealed the deal, however, was a map with 24 X’s on it. This was the location of where the bodies were buried after he hunted them.
Many of his victims were not as lucky as Paulson; he picked up prostitutes or dancers and lured them to the woods, where he raped and tortured them. After the matter, he released them into the woods and hunted them like prey.
In 1984, Hansen confessed to his crimes and was sentenced to 461 years plus life in prison without parole. After he was convicted, Darla divorced him and took the kids to live with her family in Arkansas. He was found guilty of murdering 17 women and raping 30 more. It is still unknown how many women he actually killed; many speculate that it is more than 50. He died in prison in 2014.