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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

August 21, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen dies at 75

The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE  — Convicted Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen, who hunted down women in the Alaska wilderness in the 1970s as Anchorage boomed with construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, died Thursday. He was 75.

Alaska Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sherrie Daigle said Hansen died at Alaska Regional Hospital after being in declining health for the past year.

Hansen was convicted in 1984 after confessing to killing 17 women, mostly dancers and prostitutes, during a 12-year span. He was convicted of four of the murders in a deal that spared him having to go to trial 17 times.

The Anchorage baker also confessed to raping an additional 30 women in that time.

Hansen was the subject of a 2013 film, “The Frozen Ground,” which starred Nicolas Cage as an Alaska state trooper investigating the slayings. Actor John Cusack portrayed Hansen.

Hansen was serving a 461-year sentence in Alaska.

Hansen, who got the nickname “the Butcher Baker,” owned a bakery in a downtown mini-mall in the 1970s and 1980s. He lived across town with his wife and children, who knew nothing of his other life.

Construction of the 800-mile oil pipeline in the 1970s brought prostitutes, pimps, con artists and drug dealers to Alaska’s largest city, all aiming to separate construction workers from some of the big money they were pulling in. Many who looked for quick riches left as abruptly as they arrived in Anchorage, making sudden disappearances commonplace.

Glenn Flothe, a then-trooper who helped put Hansen behind bars, told the Anchorage Daily News in 2008 that Hansen’s victims initially included any woman who caught his eye, but Hansen quickly learned that strippers and prostitutes were harder to track and less likely to be missed.

Hansen would abduct the women and take them to remote places outside the city. Sometimes, he would drive, and other times he would fly his private plane. A licensed pilot, Hansen told investigators one of his favorite spots to take his victims was the Knik River northeast of Anchorage.

Investigators have said that in some instances Hansen would rape the women but return them to Anchorage, warning them not to contact authorities. Other times, he would let the women go free in the wilderness  then hunt them with his rifle.

Only 12 bodies of the 17 women Hansen confessed to killing have been found. The others were never located.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Alaska Department of Corrections, homicide, Robert Hansen

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