Robert Hansen confessed to killing at least 17 women in the 1970s and 1980s. Two of the women on his victim list became known as “Eklutna Annie” and “Horseshoe Harriet,” references to where their bodies were found. Here’s what you need to know about their deaths and whether they were ever identified, ahead of the Investigation Discovery special about this prolific serial killer called The Butcher Baker: Mind of a Monster.”
Eklutna Annie May Have Been Hansen’s First Victim
On July 17, 1980, in a wooded area of Eklutna, Alaska, the skeletal remains of a female were found under some power lines by electrical workers. She had been stabbed in the back. She became known as “Eklutna Annie” because she had no identification on her and Hansen could never tell authorities her name.
Based on the forensic anthropological reconstruction of her face and body, authorities determined she was a short woman, between 4’9″ and 5’3″, and had long, light brown or strawberry blonde hair. She was wearing knee-high brown boots, jeans, a light-colored sweater, and a leather jacket. When Hansen was eventually arrested for several murders, he said that Eklutna Annie was his first victim, but he did not remember her name. He thought she was a prostitute that had come to Anchorage from Kodiak, Alaska.
They Were Unable to Reconstruct Horseshoe Harriet
On April 25, 1984, skeletal remains were found of a woman who had been stabbed and shot. She was wearing a scarf, a coat and sweater, jeans, and tennis shoes. “Horseshoe Harriet” was dubbed so because she was found at Horseshoe Lake in Palmer, Alaska. She was estimated to be Caucasian, aged 17-21, 5’2″ and 5’6″ tall with brown hair, but a facial reconstruction was unable to be conducted because of the degree to which the skull had deteriorated.
Harriet’s body was exhumed in 2015 so that a DNA sample could be extracted from the body in order to compare it to family members who think she might be their missing relative.
At the time, National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS) spokesperson Janet Franson told KTVA that now that Harriet is documented in NAMUS, “if it is many years later she is identified, they will know who she is and be able to send her home.”
It was Eklutna Annie’s Death That Put Officer Maxine Farrell Onto the Case
In the ID special, retired Anchorage PD officer Maxine Farrell said that it was Eklutna Annie’s body that put her on the scent that there may be a serial killer working in the area. When she examined Annie’s body, Farrell “immediately” thought she was a prostitute, based on her clothing and jewelry, which is what sent up a red flag when another street prostitute went missing shortly thereafter.
“Shortly after that I got a report of another one missing, she was a street prostitute and I thought this is a prostitute missing, so that would match up with Eklutna Annie. After that, almost every month I had two or three women missing. That’s when I started asking questions,” said Farrell.
“I got the missing persons reports and I began to get information about relatives and information about jewelry they wore. I was a psychology major, so I knew a lot of these serial killers kept souvenirs. I finally made a spreadsheet of it … By the time I got finished, I had about 10 girls. I went to my superiors, advised them that there was a serial killer because of the number of girls I was collecting as missing persons and they laughed at me and said no, you’re wrong. They thought I was stupid. Stupid woman thinking there’s a serial killer. I wasn’t stupid.”
Hansen was eventually caught and pleaded guilty to four murders in a plea deal designed to avoid 17 different trials. He was sentenced to 461 years plus life in prison without the possibility of parole. He died in prison in 2014.
ID’s Serial Killer Week has two more specials: The Serial Killer Among Us: Phillip Jablonski on Thursday, September 3, and BTK: Chasing a Serial Killer on Friday, September 4, both at 9 p.m. on Investigation Discovery.