Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Hunting Humans

The Deal

Robert Hansen under arrest
Robert Hansen under arrest

Back at State Police Headquarters, Hansen denied any involvement in the murders. After a brief game of cat and mouse, he grew tired of the allegations and requested an attorney. Hansen was then placed under arrest and charged with assault, kidnapping, weapons offenses, theft and insurance fraud.

On November 3, 1983, an Anchorage grand jury returned four indictments against Hansen: first-degree assault and kidnapping, five counts of misconduct in possession of a handgun, theft in the second-degree, and theft by deception in insurance fraud. Investigators were still awaiting the ballistic test results on Hansen's rifle, so the state decided to hold off on charging him with murder. Hansen pleaded not guilty to all charges. Bail was set at a half-million dollars.

Hansen's rifles, police evidence
Hansen's rifles, police evidence

Newton wrote that the ballistic test results finally came in on November 20, 1983. The FBI crime lab in Washington, D.C., determined that the shell casings found at the gravesites had all been fired from Hansen's rifle. The firing pin and the extractor markings were identical.

Given the mass of evidence building against him, Hansen realized that the chances of him winning in court were slim. So, on February 22, 1984, Hansen had his defense attorney, Fred Dewey, arranged a meeting with Anchorage D. A. Victor Krumm. During the meeting, Krumm offered Hansen a deal. In exchange for a full confession, the D.A. guaranteed him that he would only be charged with the four cases that they knew of, and he would be able to serve his time in a federal facility, rather than a maximum-security institution. Hansen reluctantly agreed to the conditions.

Robert Hansen's plane, police evidence
Robert Hansen's plane, police evidence
After both sides signed off on the agreement, Hansen began describing one of his typical abductions. The following transcript, which has been edited for space, was originally published in Gilmour and Hale's book: "I pull out the gun—I think the standard speech was, 'Look you're a professional. You don't get excited, you know there is some risk to what you've been doing. If you do exactly what I tell you you're not going to get hurt. You're just going to count this off as a bad experience and be a little more careful next time who you are gonna proposition or go out with,' you know. I tried to act as tough as I could, to get them as scared as possible. Give that right away, even before I started talking at all. Reach over, you know, and hold that head back and put a gun in her face and get 'em to feel helpless, scared, right there … I'm sure--maybe it's not the same procedure for you--you always try to get control of the situation, so some things don't start going bad … maybe I've seen some cop shows on TV, I don't know, OK?"

Hansen's trophy goat
Hansen's trophy goat

Whenever Hansen got a victim under his control, he would normally take her to his plane and fly them out to his remote cabin. According to Newton, he would brutally rape and torture the women. Afterwards, he would strip them naked, sometimes going so far as blindfolding them, and set them free in the woods. Hansen would give his victim a brief head start and then hunt them down with a hunting knife or a high-powered rifle. In describing his hunts to investigators, Hansen said that it was like "going after a trophy Dall sheep or a grizzly bear."

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