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Butcher Baker: A Glimpse Into the Case of Alaskan Serial Killer Robert Hansen


robert hansen

When police responded to a call for help from the Big Timber Motel on June 13, 1983, they found a 17-year-old girl handcuffed and traumatized. Though they didn’t realize it then, she had managed to escape Alaska’s most notorious serial killer, Robert Hansen, a soft-spoken and charming local baker with a penchant for hunting.

As detectives would discover, 17 other women weren’t as lucky—they were abducted, tortured, and murdered by Hansen as he “hunted” them in his horrifying fantasy. Walter Gilmour and Leland E. Hale’s true crime classic, Butcher, Baker: The True Account of an Alaskan Serial Killer, examines Hansen’s heinous crimes and the race to put him behind bars.

Read on for an excerpt and then download the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Open Road Media.

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robert hansen butcher baker

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.

robert hansen hunter

Robert Hansen, the hunter, in December 1969. Photo: Open Road Media / Anchorage Times

“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 $200 for a girl and go to a room for 10 or 15 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 11:00 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?

robert hansen plane

Robert Hansen’s plane, which he used to fly his victims to the remote Knik River region. Photo: Open Road Media / Anchorage Times

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 said. He left Kitty in handcuffs while he went to the airport.

*This victim’s name was changed to protect her identity.

Want to keep reading? Download Butcher, Baker: The True Account of an Alaskan Serial Killer on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Open Road Media.

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Featured photo: Murderpedia