As oil-boom money poured into Anchorage, Alaska the city quickly became a prime destination for the seedier elements of society: prostitutes, pimps, con men, and criminals of all breeds looking to cash in. However, something even worse lurked in their midst.
To all who knew him, Robert Hansen was a typical hardworking businessman, husband, and father. But hidden beneath the veneer of mild respectability was a monster whose depraved appetites could not be sated. From 1971 to 1983, Hansen was a human predator, stalking women on the edges of Anchorage society—women whose disappearances would cause scant outcry, but whose gruesome fates would shock the nation. After his arrest, Hansen confessed to seventeen brutal murders, though authorities suspect there were more than thirty victims.
Alaska State Trooper Walter Gilmour and writer Leland E. Hale tell the story of Hansen’s twisted depredations—from the dark urges that drove his madness to the women who died at his hand and finally to the authorities who captured and convicted the killer who came to be known as the “Butcher Baker.”
|Publisher:||Open Road Media|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||8 MB|
About the Author
Leland E. Hale is the author of the novel Huck Finn Is Dead and, with coauthor Walter Gilmour, the true crime book Butcher, Baker. The story of Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen, Butcher, Baker inspired the 2013 film The Frozen Ground. Hale has also worked in the energy, aerospace, and software industries. He lives in Washington State.
Read an Excerpt
The True Account Of An Alaskan Serial Killer
By Walter Gilmour, Leland E. Hale
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2011 Walter Gilmour and Leland E. Hale
All rights reserved.
Anchorage, Alaska Sunday, June 13, 1983
The baker snatched her off the street at Fifth and Denali. Right in the heart of town, where all the hookers hang out. He couldn't stop himself. Never can. When he wants something, he takes it.
This one's name was Kitty Larson. Known to her parents as Victoria Matthew. Like so many others, she was pretty and seventeen.
By the time she got to his house, he had slapped handcuffs on her. Then he dragged her to his basement and raped her. She'd had strange sex before, but nothing like this. "Tell me you want it," he demanded. She started to cry, wishing she'd never gotten in this man's car. She should have known the two hundred bucks he'd offered was way too much for a lousy blowjob.
"Tell me you want it, baby," he repeated.
She didn't say anything. It didn't matter. He came quickly. But Kitty had other things to worry about, like how to escape.
"Maybe if I go to the bathroom," she thought, "I can crawl through a window." She told him, "I have to go real bad. It hurts, I gotta go so bad." He nodded in agreement, but only after putting a thick nylon rope around her neck. He held it taut like a leash until she started to pee. When the rope suddenly went slack Kitty dashed to the bathroom window. It was nailed shut. "Shit."
The sound of heavy chains rattling in the den brought her back to the bathroom door. They made a sharp, ringing sound as they dragged across the floor. She stood with her toes to the doorsill, silent as a church mouse. She was so paralyzed she was almost afraid to breathe. "He's gonna kill me," she thought. "After what he did, he has to kill me."
Kitty didn't wait to find out what he had planned next. No way was he going to trap her in the bathroom. The door nearly came off the hinges as she hurled it open. She stood before him stark naked. He looked her over with tight, beady eyes. "Go back in," he said, his voice flat and demanding.
Kitty had always been a rebel, the girl in the principal's office. Now she was the prisoner confronting her captor. "No," she said. "No."
"I said go back in," he repeated, his voice now edgy and mean. She stood her ground. Before she could move, however, she found herself grabbed and chained to a sturdy wooden post in the middle of the den. The baker fondled the shiny silver tow chain before winding it around her neck four times. It was an unsettling ritual, because he clearly enjoyed it.
"If you cooperate, I won't hurt you," he said, tightening the chain around her neck. And then he was standing nose to nose with her, stealing her breath, violating her sight. His face was a lunar landscape of acne scars and what looked to her like facial warts. He was ugly, she decided, with horn-rimmed glasses and slick hair that gave him the look of a gawky adolescent who'd grown old but not up.
Almost as quickly she saw a gentler side of him. From somewhere he grabbed a brown, yellow and orange afghan. He looked almost kind as he wrapped her in its comforting folds. "I'm tired," he told her. "I haven't slept in a long time. I'm gonna go to sleep on the couch. And d-d-d-don't wake me up," he stuttered, "or you'll m-make me mad. And you d-don't want to see me mad."
His face had regained its hardness and his eyes were flinty and faraway. Most important, a gun was in his hand. Kitty tried to look compliant. He reacted by walking away without even changing his expression. Then he turned on the television. "Here," he said, trying to put her at ease again, "you can watch TV while I sleep."
While her keeper slept, Kitty's thoughts roamed everywhere. "How many more hours do I have left to live?" she wondered. She thought about her mother and father, and all the people she loved. "I'm not going to see them no more," she concluded. Looking around the den, dimly lit by the dusky rays of the Alaskan midnight sun, she noticed a clock — its hands never seemed to move — a computer, a rack of women's clothes, a pool table, a foosball table. What sent a chill through her, though, were all the hunting trophies.
On the floor was the bearskin rug where he had raped her. In the corner were piles and piles of wolf hides. Huge caribou and goat heads graced the paneled walls. Stuffed ducks and other game birds appeared to fly from their mountings. A stuffed fish rested on a coffee table. She got the message: This guy liked to kill things.
"I gotta get outa here," she told herself.
Just then she spied a pool cue leaning up against the pool table. "I got it," she told herself. "I'll grab it and hit him on the head." She soon realized it was a stupid idea. If she killed him, she'd be left to die. If she didn't kill him, he'd kill her in retaliation. So she made a vow. "If I get out of here, this motherfucker ain't getting away with it. No fuckin' way."
As though hearing her thoughts, the man on the couch suddenly awakened. In an instant, he was by her side. She wanted to call him by name, put him at ease, but she wasn't sure what to call him. First he had said his name was Don. Then it was Bob. Whatever it was, he sat in the chair and stared at her, him and his two names. He looked like a lizard with warts, and the sight of him made Kitty cry.
"All I want is to go home to my mom," she pleaded. "I won't tell nobody. Just let me go home."
"Don't worry about it," he told her, doing his best to sound reassuring. "Everything's gonna be okay. I'm not going to hurt you."
"I hope ... I hope not ..."
"Hey, I've brought seven other girls here. Usually I keep them a week. But, I really like you ... So I'm gonna treat you special ..."
When he said that, she knew he had killed the other girls. After all, she thought, who would have let this man treat them so horribly? He had to have killed them.
"Why do you do this?" she asked, her voice plaintive.
"I used to work on the North Slope," he told her matter of factly. "And I'd come down to Anchorage and spend two hundred dollars for a girl and go to a room for ten or fifteen minutes. Well, I'm gonna get my money's worth now. I'm gonna bring 'em to my house and do what I please." He paused and gathered his thoughts.
"But I like you so good," he said, "I'm gonna take you to my cabin and make love to you one more time. And then I'll have you back here around eleven o'clock in the morning."
"Okay, good, that's fine," Kitty replied, acting like she wanted to go. If she refused, she reasoned, he'd kill her right there in the house. Nobody would know. They were downstairs. It was quiet. Only the animals on the wall could see, and they had glass eyes....
He was talking to her again. This time his voice was firm and filled with confidence. "And even if you do tell on me," he announced, "well, I'll have an alibi. My friends will say I went to the lake with them."
Despite his assurances, she thought he would kill her the moment he took off the chains. She jumped when he inserted the key in the padlock. "This is it," she thought. Instead he stood her up and made her get dressed.
"I got a plane over at Merrill Field," he told her. "I'm gonna fly you to my cabin."
Kitty planned to bolt immediately after they got outside. She carried her shoes in her hand: It was hard to run in pumps, and she wanted to dump them when she made her break. She'd wake up this slumbering middle-class neighborhood with blood-curdling screams if she had to. It didn't even matter now if he shot her.
They didn't go outside, though. The car was waiting in the garage, away from nosy eyes. He made her lie on the floor in the back seat, then gingerly laid a green Army blanket on top of her. Soon they were driving through the half-light, presumably on the way to downtown Anchorage.
In the car, Kitty momentarily considered a surprise attack. She'd seen the gun and the rope in the front seat, next to her captor. What if she threw the blanket over him and covered his head so he couldn't see? Then she thought, "What if he wrecks and kills us both?"
Kitty struggled to stay under control. As they drove on, another plan came to her. This one might work.
"We're going to Merrill Field," she told herself, "and I'm staying at the Big Timber Motel. It's just down the street." She could try a getaway when they got to the airfield. She'd run straight to the Big Timber. At the motel there were friends to protect her. She'd be safe.
At the airport, the man parked near his plane, then went to the rear of the car and began pulling things out of the trunk. He started making a steady pilgrimage between the car and the plane. Were they going camping or something?
The driver's door had been left ajar and Kitty watched him go back and forth, waiting for her chance. "I'm gonna go for it, motherfucker," she told herself, building up her resolve. Peeking through the crack, she waited until she could see only his legs. "Now."
She sprung through the door like a startled doe, and started to run frantically, driven by fear; barefoot in the gravel, handcuffed, tears swimming down her eyes.
She looked back for just a second. He was coming after her with a gun. "I'm gonna get you," he yelled. His short legs were pounding as fast as they could.
"For God's sake, get moving," she told herself. It seemed like hours before she raced into a used car lot. Not sure what to do next, she ducked behind one of the cars. No, that wouldn't work, she told herself. The guy was right behind her.
Just as the assailant started to close in, Kitty spied a truck coming down the road. She dashed into the street and waved madly. But the guy in the truck didn't stop. Kitty screamed. Finally, he slammed on his brakes.
"Are you all right?" he asked as she leapt into the truck and slammed the door behind her.
"No. He's gonna kill me."
"Who's gonna kill you?"
Kitty didn't answer. The truck lumbered forward, slipping up through the gears. Kitty looked back at the man who was chasing them. She remembered what he had told her when he forced her onto the floor of his car: "Don't cause no problems," he said, "because whoever sees you in my car, I'm gonna have to kill them and you."
"Take me to the Big Timber Motel," she blurted as she turned back to the driver.
"I think we ought to go to the police station. That guy's got a gun."
"No, just stop!" Kitty yelled.
"No way," the man said, and kept on driving.
"Then just stop right here. Just stop and let me out, man!" Kitty yelled, as she saw her assailant turn around and jog back to the airport. She was safe. "Just stop, man!" she shouted.
The truck pulled up at the Mush Inn Motel, right down the street from the Big Timber. A dazed Kitty Larson got out, went to the front desk, and had the desk clerk call her pimp, who came by cab a few minutes later. The driver of the truck, meanwhile, drove straight to the Anchorage Police Department and reported the incident.
Back at the Big Timber Motel, Kitty's pimp was having a hard time figuring out what to do with her. She was shaking with tears. She was hysterical. Between sobs, she demanded that he get the handcuffs off. The pimp wasn't having much success. He couldn't calm her down, and the handcuffs stubbornly resisted his best efforts to remove them.
"Stop it, please," he demanded. It was the voice he used to scold her, but this time there was an undercurrent of desperation. "Just stop crying," he begged. "Please."
"Okay," she whimpered.
But Kitty couldn't stop crying. The pimp grabbed her and slapped her. It didn't do any good. Finally, in frustration, he raced down the hall to his brother's room. When he came back he was waving a gun. "I'm gonna kill this motherfucker," he said. He left Kitty in handcuffs while he went to the airport.CHAPTER 2
The Anchorage police had known for three years that something was amiss in their fair city. The place was getting to be dangerous for prostitutes and topless dancers. Anchorage had always been a Wild West city, where men forever outnumbered women, and it was a tricky business for these women in the best of times. All the same, Anchorage Police detective Maxine Farrell had begun to notice an increasing number of missing-persons reports involving topless dancers. Did it mean anything? Initially it was hard to be sure.
Alaska, a land of vast uninhabited expanses, experiences more than its share of missing persons. Trappers disappear in the untrekked outer reaches of the bush. Fishing boats are lost at sea, without even a life jacket to mark the spot where they went down. Miners, hikers and hunters get caught in freak storms and become lost. Topless dancers and prostitutes also turn up missing, though for quite different reasons.
Women in "the life" are a restless bunch. Some are junkies, and when their habits start to cost too much, they may leave town without warning so they can get cleaned up and start all over again. A greater proportion, though, work the circuit which stretches from San Francisco to Seattle to Anchorage and then Honolulu. When a woman gets tired of the pimps and pushers in one place, she can easily move on and get work elsewhere.
During the seventies and early eighties, moreover, there were many amateurs who came north to make a bundle of money servicing the pipeline workers. Their money made, they disappeared without a trace, returning to their hometowns in the lower forty-eight. Add to this list the women who just "upped and quit" and there were, at any time, many women unaccounted for.
Farrell noticed a pattern, however. A topless dancer would make a date with a man she did not know. He offered her two or three hundred dollars for something innocuous, like nude photography or "lunch." The woman did not return from the date, and later a friend or lover would report her missing.
Then, on September 12, 1982, two moose hunters found a partially clothed body in a shallow grave on a Knik River sandbar some twenty-five miles north of Anchorage. The hunters, who happened to be off-duty Anchorage police officers, were trying to see if they "could stir something up before dark" when they found the body. They were initially unsure about what they'd found, but became suspicious after finding a boot and jacket. At first daylight, they went to the Palmer office of the Alaska State Troopers and reported their discovery.
The point man of the troopers who went to conduct a thorough crime investigation was Sergeant Rollie Port, a much-decorated Vietnam veteran who had an uncanny ability to find evidence that everyone else had overlooked. Before the body was even touched, Port had the gravesite photographed from every angle. He also confirmed that the body itself was carefully examined for any trace evidence that might lead either to the killer or the identity of the victim. Equally important, Port personally made sure that every bit of gravel taken from the grave was sifted through a large wire screen. It was exhausting work, made unpleasant by the strong stench emanating from the decomposing body.
During the investigation several facts became evident. Although the grave was shallow, the body definitely had been buried, indicating foul play. Second, the body had lain there for some time. Third, in sifting the gravel in and around the grave, Sergeant Port turned up a valuable clue: the shell casing from a high-powered rifle. Presumably, it had been ejected from the murder weapon.
Preliminary pathology reports showed the body to be that of a woman of undetermined age. She had been dead since the spring or early summer of 1982. Moreover, the troopers were having difficulty determining who she was, a problem compounded by the fact that, as one officer put it, "there are lots of missing persons of the same general description."
Not until September 27th was the woman was identified. She was twenty-four-year-old Sherry Morrow. In a gruesome twist, she was also known as Sherry Graves. She danced under the name of Georgia at the Wild Cherry Bar in downtown Anchorage and had vanished in November of 1981, leaving all her worldly belongings behind. Publicly, troopers and Anchorage Police said they doubted that Morrow's murder was related to the disappearance of at least three other dancers from Anchorage since 1980.
Excerpted from Butcher, Baker by Walter Gilmour, Leland E. Hale. Copyright © 2011 Walter Gilmour and Leland E. Hale. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.