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‘Butcher Baker’ prosecutor says Robert Hansen was ‘a small guy’ who quickly transformed into ‘a monster’: doc


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‘Butcher Baker’ prosecutor says Robert Hansen was ‘a small guy’ who quickly transformed into ‘a monster’: doc

EXCLUSIVE: Frank Rothschild can still vividly remember the first time he laid eyes on “the Butcher Baker.”The case of Robert Hansen, an Alaskan baker and avid hunter who murdered at least 17 women during the ‘70s and ‘80s, is the subject of a new documentary on Investigation Discovery (ID) titled “The Butcher Baker: The Mind…

EXCLUSIVE: Frank Rothschild can still vividly remember the first time he laid eyes on “the Butcher Baker.”

The case of Robert Hansen, an Alaskan baker and avid hunter who murdered at least 17 women during the ‘70s and ‘80s, is the subject of a new documentary on Investigation Discovery (ID) titled “The Butcher Baker: The Mind of a Monster,” which premieres on Wednesday.

The special is part of the crime and justice network’s “Serial Killer Week,” where audiences can tune in each night and watch original programming that takes a closer look at some of the most infamous and seemingly forgotten murderers from over the years.

Hansen was convicted in 1984 after confessing to killing mostly dancers and prostitutes during a 12-year span. He was convicted of just four of the murders in a deal that spared him having to go to trial 17 times. The Anchorage baker also confessed at that time to raping another 30 women.

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Convicted serial killer Robert Hansen with the horns from a record Dall sheep he killed.

Convicted serial killer Robert Hansen with the horns from a record Dall sheep he killed.
(Anchorage Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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Hansen was previously the subject of a 2013 film titled “The Frozen Ground,” which starred Nicolas Cage as an Alaska State Trooper investigating the slayings. John Cusack portrayed Hansen.

Rothschild, the prosecutor who was integral in getting Hansen to confess, participated in the documentary. Rothschild told Fox News he was surprised when he first encountered Alaska’s best-known serial killer.

“He was a small guy,” Rothschild recalled. “He came across as a little mild-mannered sort of fellow. You didn’t initially have any sense of what he was hiding behind the mask. It wasn’t until we weren’t going along with his program of how the confession was going to go that I saw a very different Robert Hansen. When that happened, his face turned red and the hair stood up on the back of his neck. There was a monster. He acted it out. He got really upset. He was screaming at employees for 10 minutes.”

During the ‘70s and ‘80s, Hansen was a bakery owner who depicted himself as a family man. His wife, a devout Christian, knew nothing of his other life.

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Portrait of Frank Rothschild sitting at the desk in the office during his interview.

Portrait of Frank Rothschild sitting at the desk in the office during his interview.
(ID)

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At the time, construction of the 800-mile trans-Alaska oil pipeline in the ‘70s brought sex workers, pimps, con artists and drug dealers looking for quick riches during the construction boom. Sudden disappearances among them were commonplace.

“Anchorage at the time was perfect for someone like Robert Hansen,” Rothschild explained. “It was a place for someone like Hansen to easily lure women into his grasp. … [His victims] were all young women, mostly runaways, who really had no family support and were out in the world on their own. Most of them didn’t even make it through high school. … For many, this was a place for them to make money and survive.”

Rothschild pointed out that, initially, Hansen’s victims included any woman who caught his eye. However, he quickly learned that strippers and prostitutes were not only harder to track, but also less likely to be missed.

“Hansen learned he needed to take women who weren’t easily believed or cared about by the community or police the same way,” he shared. “He thought like a hunter.”

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The murder and missing board showing photos of Hansen’s victims and crime scene photos.

The murder and missing board showing photos of Hansen’s victims and crime scene photos.
(ID)

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Hansen would abduct his victims and take them to remote places outside the city either by his car or private plane. According to investigators, Hansen raped the women in some instances but returned them to Anchorage, warning them not to contact authorities. But at other times, Hansen would release the women in the wilderness and then hunt them down with his rifle.

Hansen later told investigators that one of his favorite spots to take his victims was the Knik River, which is located northeast of Anchorage.

While his wife and children were out of town, he would bring home jewelry owned by the women as mementos and hide them out of sight. And since Hansen was an avid hunter who also worked odd hours, his wife, Darla Hansen, never suspected he had a double life.

“Hansen would get in his car and drive around downtown Anchorage, looking at all these young women walking up the street,” said Rothschild. “He would get aroused and excited about getting back in the game — his game.”

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Convicted serial killer Robert Hansen is seen in this undated file photo in Anchorage, Alaska.

Convicted serial killer Robert Hansen is seen in this undated file photo in Anchorage, Alaska.
(Anchorage Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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Out of the 17 women Hansen confessed to killing, only 12 bodies were discovered. The others were never found.

Rothschild said that Hansen’s childhood may have possibly played a role in his rage that he would later act out on his victims. Growing up, Hansen was a scrawny child whose face was scarred from severe acne. He also was afflicted with a stutter. This easily made him a target.

“The people who particularly made fun of him, that really, really got to him, were young girls,” Rothschild explained. “And so the attitude he developed about the female sex came out of those times. And the rage inside of him was actually evidenced by his years in school when he burned down the school bus barn. From what we know, that was his first real crime… I’m not a psychologist, but this rage that was developed in adulthood came from those childhood experiences.”

Rothschild said Hansen wasn’t caught sooner because his victims were those who were “hardly missed” by society. Oftentimes, their families weren’t even aware of their whereabouts. Some suspected they either headed to Hawaii for the next opportunity or suffered an overdose. But also, those who survived Hansen’s wrath weren’t instantly believed.

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While participating in a massive search on the Knik Flats in Alaska for signs of missing sex workers and topless dancers, Trooper Cadet Ray Jennings found a white bracelet in the sand on September 17, 1983. Troopers were unsure if it was linked to any of the missing women. 

While participating in a massive search on the Knik Flats in Alaska for signs of missing sex workers and topless dancers, Trooper Cadet Ray Jennings found a white bracelet in the sand on September 17, 1983. Troopers were unsure if it was linked to any of the missing women. 
(Anchorage Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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“Look at the Cindy Paulson case,” Rothschild pointed out, referring to the teenage sex worker Hansen abducted, raped and tortured in the basement of his home.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, Paulson saw an opportunity to make a run for it as Hansen loaded his plane where he would fly her off on a one-way trip to the wilderness where she would face certain death.

“My gosh, she is running naked and in handcuffs on the streets of Anchorage scared to death,” Rothschild continued. “You saw the fear of death in her eyes. She describes the airplane, the house, the basement — all belonging to Robert Hansen. She directs the officer to the house. It’s exactly the way she describes it. … But the man who ran the sexual assault unit at the time … had the worst kind of bias and experience to run a sexual assault unit.

“All the facts are there. There’s no question she had this horrible experience. This wasn’t just a sex deal gone bad. But Hansen cooks up this alibi. This guy, the head of the sexual assault unit, hears the alibi and then says, ‘There’s no case here.’ There just wasn’t a drop of empathy for a rape victim. … That always upsets me.”

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Robert Hansen leaves court during a hearing on multiple murder charges in November 1983.

Robert Hansen leaves court during a hearing on multiple murder charges in November 1983.
(Jim Lavrakas/Anchorage Daily/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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But that 1983 case was a turning point. According to the outlet, police with search warrants went through Hansen’s home several months later and found evidence to eventually charge him with four murders.

Hansen was serving a 461-year sentence in Alaska at the time of his death in 2014 at age 75. He had been incarcerated at the Seward state prison and was moved that year to the Anchorage Correctional Center to receive medical attention as his health declined. Alaska Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sherrie Daigle said at the time that Hansen had a “do not resuscitate” order on file.

Rothschild hopes the documentary will make viewers realized victims of assault and rape should be believed.

“When people are confronted with their terrible lies and vile acts, they lie their a— off,” he said. “For Robert Hansen, it was always denial, denial, denial. You can confront people with their misdeeds and they can still look at you right in the eye and say, ‘I didn’t do that.’ It happens all the time.”

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The murder map featuring photos of a selection of Hansen’s victims with string pointing to where they were found.

The murder map featuring photos of a selection of Hansen’s victims with string pointing to where they were found.
(ID)

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“The Butcher Baker: Mind of a Monster” premieres Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 9 p.m. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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