Convicted serial killer Robert Hansen, who abducted women and hunted them down in the Alaska wilderness in the 1970s as Anchorage boomed with construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, died Aug. 21 at a hospital in Anchorage. He was 75.
Alaska Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sherrie Daigle confirmed the death and said the state medical examiner will determine the cause.
Mr. Hansen was convicted in 1984 after confessing to killing 17 women, mostly dancers and prostitutes, during a 12-year span. He was convicted of four of the murders in a deal that spared him having to go to trial 17 times.
The Anchorage baker also confessed to raping an additional 30 women during that time.
Mr. Hansen was the subject of a 2013 film titled “The Frozen Ground,” which starred Nicolas Cage as an Alaska State Trooper investigating the slayings. Actor John Cusack portrayed Mr. Hansen.
Mr. Hansen was serving a 461-year sentence in Alaska at the time of his death. He had been incarcerated at a state prison in Seward and was moved in May to the Anchorage Correctional Center to receive medical attention.
Mr. Hansen, who got the nickname “the Butcher Baker,” owned a bakery in a downtown mini-mall in the 1970s and 1980s. He lived across town with his wife and children, who knew nothing of his other life.
Construction of the 800-mile oil pipeline in the 1970s brought prostitutes, pimps, con artists and drug dealers to Alaska’s largest city, aiming to separate construction workers from some of the big money they were pulling in. Many who looked for quick riches left as abruptly as they arrived in Anchorage, making sudden disappearances commonplace.
Glenn Flothe, a then-trooper who helped put Mr. Hansen behind bars, told the Anchorage Daily News in 2008 that Mr. Hansen’s victims initially included any woman who caught his eye, but Mr. Hansen quickly learned that strippers and prostitutes were harder to track and less likely to be missed.
Mr. Hansen would abduct the women and take them to remote places outside the city. Sometimes he would drive, and other times he would fly his private plane. A licensed pilot, Mr. Hansen told investigators that one of his favorite spots to take his victims was the Knik River northeast of Anchorage.
Investigators have said that in some instances Mr. Hansen would rape the women but return them to Anchorage, warning them not to contact authorities. Other times, he would let the women go free in the wilderness and then hunt them with his rifle.
Only 12 bodies of the 17 women Mr. Hansen confessed to killing have been found.
Robert Christian Hansen was born Feb. 15, 1939, in Estherville, Iowa. As a young man, he was jailed for burning down a school-bus garage in Pocahontas, Iowa. He moved to Alaska in the late 1960s.