Serial killer Robert Hansen confessed to killing 17 women in Alaska over a 12-year span, all while married with two children. A bakery owner by trade, Hansen was also an avid outdoorsman and hunter. He got a pilot’s license and a small plane for big game hunting in the Alaskan wilderness, or so that’s what he’d told his wife.
What he told law enforcement in 1984 when he was caught after an 18-year-old named Cindy Paulson escaped before he could get her on the plane, was that he would sometimes fly his victims, often prostitutes, to a cabin in the wilderness where he would send them into the woods and then track and hunt them.
In Paulson’s case, he took her to his family home where he raped and tortured her for several hours, and left her chained to a post while he napped before he said he was going to fly her to a cabin, assuring her he wouldn’t hurt her once they were there.
In a police interview after Paulson’s escape, she told him she got the feeling other people may live in the house. She’d noticed women’s clothes, toys, and dogs wandering around, according to her interview with Alaskan State Trooper Sgt. Glenn Flothe. But she also said that when she was chained in the basement it was very quiet.
Hansen’s Wife Stood By Him After He was Convicted of Trying to Kidnap a Woman at Gunpoint & She Took the Kids to Visit him in Jail
Hansen was married briefly in 1960 when he was 21-years-old, but his wife quickly divorced him in the same year after he’d been convicted of burning down a bus garage.
It was his second wife, Darla Marie Henrichsen Hensen, who he married in 1963 and who moved with him to Alaska in 1967 where they had two children. Darla stood by her man anytime he had skirmishes with the law — like getting caught stealing a chainsaw from a hardware store or filing a fraudulent insurance claim to get the money to open his bakery.
According to Leland Hale, the author who wrote a biography on the life and crimes of Hansen, “he was arrested and convicted for an attempt to kidnap a young woman — at gunpoint — from her apartment in south Anchorage. [Darla] visited him in jail, kids in tow, though even Bob knew it was profoundly humiliating for her. Stayed with him though he was verbally abusive to her and the children.”
Hale describes Darla as a “deeply religious woman” who earned a Master’s Degree in Education and tutored children for income. Hale said he met with Darla in the aftermath of his murder convictions and she said she “knew he was up to no good” but she just thought Hansen’s dirty secret was picking up hookers in the middle of the night before he opened the bakery. She also thought if only he’d dedicate his life more to Christianity, he’d get sorted. But his church stints only lasted for a few weeks after whatever trouble he’d gotten into, Darla told Hale.
Hale described the marriage as less than amorous, with the couple living somewhat separate lives, including keeping separate finances. Darla and the children would regularly go to Arkansas where her family lived in the summers, which may be why no one was home when Hansen took Paulson to his house, raped her, and held her against her will for several hours.
After Hansen was Convicted Darla Divorced Him & Moved to Arkansas With the Children
Everyone knew Robert Hansen as the local bakery owner, not the serial killer he truly was.
— Investigation Discovery (@DiscoveryID) August 22, 2020
In the aftermath of the realization of her husband’s savage crimes, Darla finally divorced the man who she turned a blind eye to for 20 years. He’d been sentenced to 461 years in prison.
Hale wrote, “She told me her neighbors wanted her to stay in Anchorage, but she didn’t see how she could raise her kids there, not now, after all that had been revealed about their father.”
Oxygen reported that investigators searching Hansen’s home found a secret, soundproof room in the basement hidden behind a wall panel. They also found the murder weapon he used on some of the victims, a .223-caliber rifle, and several pieces of jewelry that belonged to Hansen’s victims. All of that was in the house with Hansen’s wife and children completely oblivious, seemingly.
According to The New York Times, the judge on the case said, “Before you sits a monster, an extreme aberration of a human being who has walked among us. Not even his wife of 20 years had any inkling of his dark, evil side. His crimes numb the mind.”
Little has been made public about Hanson’s children, but that’s not unusual. According to Psychology Today, usually, children of serial killers do not want to be known as such, and they do things like change their names or go into hiding.