Robert Hansen is the latest serial killer to be featured on Investigation Discovery’s serial killer week. In The Butcher Baker: Mind of a Monster, dozens of investigators, survivors, and family/friends of the victims talk about his killing spree in Alaska in the 1970s and 1980s. The special premieres Wednesday, September 2 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ID. Ahead of the special, here’s what you need to know about how Hansen, aka “The Butcher Baker,” was caught and finally arrested.
Maxine Farrell Was The First Cop To Suspect A Serial Killer
Maxine Farrell, one of the first two women on the Anchorage, Alaska, police force, read about a body found north of Anchorage by some electrical workers and started investigating. This body would come to be known as “Eklutna Annie” because of where she was found. She never was identified.
“I was sent to [the crime scene] and we started digging. Immediately it struck me that this was a prostitute, just the dress and the jewelry that was on her,” said Farrell. “There was no identification. We had no reports of her. We thought is she somebody new that had just come into Anchorage?”
But Farrell realized that this crime was similar to other dead women that had been found in the area. She eventually made a spreadsheet about the crimes and had 10 women altogether.
“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. … I said there’s a serial killer. But they wouldn’t listen,” said Farrell.
In fact, years earlier, Hansen had actually been arrested in assault and kidnapping charges, but a plea deal let him out of jail in just a few years. The prosecuting who eventually charged Hansen with murder thinks that if the original prosecutor hadn’t struck that plea deal, many women’s lives would have been saved.
Eventually, the Alaska State Troopers Got Involved
Glenn Flothe of the Alaska State Troopers eventually started investigating the crimes and came to Farrell because of all the information she had gathered.
“As a result of coming to me, they said we should form a task force to work these bodies,” said Farrell. “The state troopers asked our chief investigator to let me go, but I was forbidden to work with them. I was angry. I was really angry. I said OK, all the information I have I’ll give to Flothe, so I gave him all the files, everything I had.”
Over the course of the investigation, they got a description of Hansen from a victim who escaped, Cindy Paulson. But despite Paulson naming him as her kidnapper and assaulter, Hansen’s friend provided him an alibi and he was not charged.
It took years to pin Hansen down, but eventually, a search warrant was executed on his home and they found jewelry matching the descriptions of the jewelry that his victims had been wearing. But the real smoking gun was a map that led them to all the bodies — it had 21 gravesites marked on it.
“One of the things they found when they were searching Hansen’s house were aviation maps. They had marks on them, hand-scratched pencil marks at various spots around Anchorage,” said Leland E. Hale, author of “Butcher, Baker: The True Account of an Alaskan Serial Killer.”
He continued, “When Glenn Flothe looked at the map, he didn’t initially think much of it. And one day, he was looking at the map and he got the thought, ‘What if these marked gravesites? Is that possible?’ And he went to one of the troopers who had investigated one of the early cases and he said, ‘Show me where the first body was found’ and he said, ‘Well, it’s right here, but you’ve already got it marked on the map.’ And Flothe says, ‘I didn’t mark this map, Robert Hansen marked this map.’ And then the light really went on that there were bodies to be found at every single mark on that map. This guy is much more prolific than we ever thought.”
After Hansen was arrested, he eventually admitted to his killing spree. He confessed to 17 murders and led the authorities to several undiscovered bodies. But he was only charged in four murders as part of a plea deal. Hansen 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.