The Messed Up Truth About Serial Killer Robert Hansen

In the 1970s and early 1980s, serial killer Robert Hansen made sport out of killing women in the Alaskan wilderness. While other serial killers often establish a pattern of metaphorically hunting their victims, luring them and ultimately taking their sexual satisfaction in which ever way they like, in Hansen's lust for sex and power, he literally hunted them down. The award-winning big game hunter raped and sent women naked and blindfolded into the woods, then hunted them with his trusty .223 Remington rifle, according to author Leland Hale, who wrote Butcher, Baker: The True Account of an Alaskan Serial Killer.

Hansen's evolution into becoming a sadistic serial killer was a slow burn, but his early life checked a lot of the boxes that many serial killers are said to share. According to "A Psychobiography of Robert Hansen: The 'Butcher Baker,'" posted at Research Gate, Hansen was an "overworked, resentful child" as his father made him work long hours in the family bakery. During his teen years he was the "rejected loner." Due to his severe shyness, bad acne and a stutter, other teens ridiculed him, leaving him feeling powerless and weak — and rejected by girls.

By the time he was 21 and into his early 30s, Hansen was a "sadist in the making," according to the psychobiography. His first crimes included burning down a bus garage and shoplifting in his home state of Iowa. Earning a reputation there as a shady dude, he moved to Anchorage with his wife, Darla, in the late 1960s. 

Robert Hansen confessed to killing 17 women

In Anchorage, Hansen finally became a respected man around town. He opened his own bakery. He had a church-going wife and two children. Hansen even became a pilot and a record-breaking big game hunter, per Bowsite – skills that came in handy for playing out his perverse urges to overpower his victims and fly them to remote locations in order to hunt them.

But his efforts to seem upstanding were marred because, after all, Hansen had urges. He was arrested for stealing a chainsaw from an Anchorage hardware store, according to Hale, and worse, he was convicted of attempted kidnapping of a young woman whose father was a state trooper. Hansen only served a little more than a year in a halfway house, then was placed on work release in 1973. That's when he realized he was less likely to get caught if he picked victims who were more transient and less likely to be missed, according to Newsweeklike sex workers.

Over the next 12 years Hansen killed at least 17 women, Washington Post reported. He was convicted of four murders and sentenced to 461 years in prison. Hansen told police he raped 30 other women. He was ultimately caught after his last known victim, Cindy Paulson, escaped and told police her story, though it took months for investigators to believe her, per Hale.  

Hansen died in prison in 2014 at the age of 75 after serving 30 years of his sentence.