Robert is also a suspect in the disappearance of Meghan Emerick, 1977, AK.
Robert is also a suspect in the disappearance of Meghan Emerick, 1977, AK.
Eklutna Annie, 1980 Unidentified, is also a suspected victim of his
THE CAMERA TRACKS an actress running through the forest. She's frightened, and not dressed for the woods, wearing pumps and a short blue dress. A long bandage that once served as a blindfold has unraveled from her head, but she's in too much of a hurry to untangle it from her shoulders. Behind her in the woods, the camera captures a thin white man wearing horn-rimmed glasses. It's Bob Hansen, Alaska's most famous killer. He is dressed for the outdoors and he carries a rifle.
That's one of the recreated scenes from a true crime program produced for the TV channel Investigation Discovery about Hansen, Alaska's most infamous killer, and how he was brought to justice. Publicity for the show describes it as a one-hour "special" to air on ID Wednesday, January 25, under the title Alaska: Ice Cold Killers. (It's scheduled to lead into a new true crime series about serial killers called Dark Minds.) The publicists allowed the Press to screen via internet an early edit of the show that ran closer to two hours and was unfinished. (Note to producers: "Knik" has two syllables-add a hard "K" up front.)
Ice Cold Killers is true crime played for detective work, suspense, strip-club voyeurism, FBI-inflected psychobabble and sado-masochistic gross-out, (or titillation, depending on the viewer). It's accurate, at least as a thumbnail-sketch of the Hanson case, but the re-created scenes make no attempt to make the crime labs, cop cars or anything else in the picture appear to be Alaska in the 1980s. The actor playing Hanson looks like the real-life photos, but his late-model Chevy Silverado with giant built-in cup holders is no pipeline-era pickup truck.
The production has not applied for state of Alaska film incentives program. From the look of the screener shown the Press, the production did not likely spend $100,000 in state, one of the legal requirements to qualify for subsidies.
The unfinished cut of Ice Cold Killers relies heavily on stock wildlife footage. Much is made of the fact that a crime scene in the wild can be fragile. Viewers are reminded time and again that animals-coyote, fox, bear, wolf or eagle-may devour or scatter the evidence. The scene described at the top of this story appears to be shot Outside. Actors run through the woods unimpeded by bogs, alder thickets or devil's club.
SOME ALASKANS sat for interviews, notably long-time journalist Tom Brennan, whose work compiling Alaska true crimes can be fairly described as ambitious. Brennan has compiled two volumes of true crime in Alaska books, Murder at 40 Below and Cold Crime. Brennan serves the TV program well as a person familiar with late-1970s and early-80s Alaska. In contrast to the stock footage of wildlife and mountains, he talks about the human landscape and influx of greed and ambition to Anchorage that came with the era. "We had an awful lot of money flowing around because the oil was flowing," Brennan says in one clip.
The program proposes a West Coast-to-Alaska-to-Hawaii "triangle" route for sex industry workers, with transportation paid for by pimps or dance club owners. The young women who work in the trade are described as willing to come to Alaska because the state that provided relative anonymity and big money.
Former Anchorage Police officer Wayne Vance sat for interviews and his small-screen presence is that of an informed armchair cop critic. Vance comes off as a guy who knows-someone-who-knows-someone, and not a cop close to the case. He admits as much. He currently lives in Willow and retired from APD as a lieutenant in 2003. In a short phone interview with the Press, Vance said he was a patrol officer when the Hanson case was active. He suspects the investigators directly involved in the case may have signed contracts with the feature film On Frozen Ground, also based on the Hanson crimes, and may have not been allowed to speak with the TV production.
But the Vance interviews provide compelling insight into two things about police culture that stalled the investigation, even as more women were being reported missing. The first was that police have trouble counting sex-trade workers as "missing" because the women were known to be both transient and anonymous. The second is that while Alaska State Troopers were investigating bodies found in their jurisdiction, Anchorage police officers were the ones taking reports of girls gone missing in town and complaints about Hanson himself. Sadly, the two departments did not have a co-operative relationship.
"The officers on the street [co-operated], but there was nothing in between the two departments," Vance told the Press. "It is not that way now. But in the eighties it really was true-and I don't know where that culture came from, on the part of either department."
Each department had policeman who believed the other department was manned by amateurs, Vance said. On the phone, the retired APD lieutenant sounded relieved to have worked long enough to see that culture fade. "That's all changed," he said.
THE EARLY EDIT of Alaska: Ice Cold Killers includes a storyline about the still-unidentified Jane Doe who came to be known as Eklutna Annie. It would be fitting if these segments make final cut. Annie's murder is one of four Hanson was convicted of after a plea deal in which he provided information that allowed investigators to close 17 cases. Hanson, despite the conviction, could not identify "Annie" by name for the cops. Her case is a reminder of how difficult a real crime is to solve and how fragile criminal evidence can be. That's important; the current crop of fictional TV cops wear both lab coats and holsters, and make it appear science will provide an answer to every mystery.
The producers of Ice Cold Killers have adopted true-crime storytelling techniques NBC News brought to its long-story programs years ago. The script reaches for suspense by implying new information will be revealed soon, (sometime after a commercial break) and by selecting parts of the story to withhold. That protracted storytelling can drive people batty if they already know the story, but it glues other viewers to their TV. After each break, just as in NBC's template, the narrator retells a few key elements.
Some repetition may have been due to the unfinished edit screened at the Press, but repetitive flashbacks are too common in commercial TV documentaries. Here it's presumably done for the benefit of viewers who walk past the TV mid-program and want to know why the hell a frightened woman is chained to a post wearing nothing but her lacey bra and panties.
Robert Hansen is a very bad man, and this is not ignored by Ice Cold Killers, but the show is not for everyone. It allows the viewer the indulgence every work in the true-crime genre is compelled to allow-to revel in dark deeds until they wonder if, just by staying tuned, they've crossed some moral line. ◆
Based on the real-life hunt for Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen, The Frozen Ground stars Nicolas Cage as a detective investigating the murders of several young women with the help of one of the killer's escaped victims (Vanessa Hudgens). The Frozen Ground stars John Cusack as Hansen and is released in the UK on 19 July and in the US on 23 August
Based on the real-life hunt for serial killer Robert Hansen, The Frozen Ground celebrates the tenacity of one cop, who jeopardises his career to follow his gut instinct.
Detective Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) is preparing to leave Anchorage with his wife Allie (Radha Mitchell) and children, when he receives a call that the body of a young woman has been found in the icy wilderness.
Soon after, Jack receives a file on Cindy Paulson (Vanessa Hudgens) a 17-year-old who claims that she escaped from the clutches of Robert Hansen (John Cusack), who held her hostage.
Convinced Hansen is a dangerous serial killer, Jack works tirelessly to build a case against his prime suspect aided by Sergeant Lyle Haugsven (Dean Norris).
Scenic views and cameos from well-known Alaskans mix with the drama of getting a serial killer off the street in “The Frozen Ground.”
I’m easily scared, so the intrigue kept me captivated for the entire 105 minutes. But beyond the thriller aspect of the movie, writer and director Scott Walker molded an engaging story that also touches on a survivor’s perspective, and law enforcement effort to build a solid case against Robert Hansen.
Cindy Paulson’s story is probably the more interesting side to the movie.
Paulson was the woman who, in real life, helped the Alaska State Troopers get Hansen off the streets. Hansen intended for her to be another victim, but she got away and Vanessa Hudgens brought that character to life in believable scenes.
Her treatment by law enforcement, which initially brushes off her story, and her hesitance to trust help, make for emotional scenes, although some are a bit contrived. She’s also captivating on her own, with a complex history that makes for an interesting tale about how teens wind up on the streets.
Walker said he talked to Paulson when he made the movie, and wanted to show her perspective. His interest in the story was in telling the victim’s story, he said after a Sept. 13 showing at the Bear Tooth Theaterpub in Anchorage organized by the Alaska Film Group.
At the end of the film, Walker also pays tribute to all the victims who did not survive.
Nicholas Cage also offers up a believable performance and is more down-to-earth than some of his other films. And John Cusack succeeds as the serial killer — creepy enough that I might be a little jumpy the next time I see “High Fidelity.”
Acting aside, the Alaska element is probably what makes the film. It’s fun to look for familiar faces in the crowd shots, and notice local actors in bakery scenes and former reporters in a press conference shot. There are some groaners when an Alaska word is mispronounced, but mostly the references throughout the film work.
Setting the heart-pounding scenes in Alaska’s familiar wild doesn’t tone them down, although it’s still fun to spot familiar places. It’s hard to imagine Alaska’s mountains as anything but beautiful, but “The Frozen Ground” injects them with a dose of anxiety. The use of Alaska’s wild flips much of the imagery we associate with the state today from gorgeous to gruesome.
The movie also recasts hunting in the 49th state. Large trophies in Hansen’s house are a frightening reminder that he has gone from hunting big game to hunting humans.
Majestic landscapes around Southcentral become slightly more nightmarish when you are afraid for a character’s life. And although I knew how one particular chase scene had to end — the character was a victim, not the survivor — I found myself rooting for her to somehow get away, and devastated when she didn’t.
The city scenes were particularly notable. Familiar landmarks, like Merrill Field and the Federal building are easy to spot. I wasn’t born when the pipeline was built, but the movie takes you back to the early 1980s, when downtown Anchorage had more nightlife than it did today. It was a little unbelievable to watch — really, were the streets crowded like Manhatten? That many cars cruising downtown?
Overall, the portrayal of Alaska is probably the best part of the movie, which is a fairly entertaining thriller.
Seeing it in Alaska isn’t too difficult: the movie didn’t get much of a run in theaters, but it’s available On Demand.
The Alaska Department of Corrections has confirmed that well-known serial killer Robert Hansen has been moved from Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward to the Anchorage Correctional Complex.
Corrections transported 75-year-old Hansen on May 11, said Sherrie Daigle, deputy director of the Department of Corrections. She said Hansen is currently in medical segregation, and his condition is stable. She declined to offer additional details about Hansen's medical condition.
Medical segregation is like being in the hospital, she said. Each inmate has his or her own cell when separated from the general population for health reasons.
"The department, based on the needs if we are overcrowded or if we don't have the exact something, or a program that an inmate needs at one facility, it's really common practice to move them," Daigle said in an email. "It's no reason for concern."
When Alaska inmates are moved to Anchorage, it's due to medical reasons 90 percent of the time, she said. Anchorage's jail is one of the state's only correctional facilities with a medical unit. Spring Creek is not overcrowded, Daigle added.
Hansen received a 461-year sentence in February 1984 for killing at least 17 women over more than a decade. He began his longer-than-life sentence in Pennsylvania but returned to Anchorage in 1988; he was one of the first prisoners at the newly opened Spring Creek prison, where he's remained since.
The infamous murderer lured in topless dancers and prostitutes in downtown Anchorage with money. Once alone, Hansen would kidnap the women at gunpoint, tie them up, then fly to remote areas to kill his victims.
As an Anchorage baker, Hansen played the upstanding citizen card more than once. He had a successful business and a family. Over the years, he maneuvered to avoid prosecution more than once.
A turning point happened in 1983 when a teenage prostitute named Cindy Paulson ran into a Fifth Avenue motel in handcuffs and said Hansen had imprisoned her at his home, raped her and put her on his plane for a one-way ride.
Several months after the woman stumbled into the motel, police armed with several search warrants went through Hansen's home. They found evidence, enough to eventually charge him with four murders.
As part of his plea deal, Hansen agreed to help authorities find the graves of the murdered women, but only a dozen bodies were located.
Hansen's story is the subject of the 1991 book "Butcher, Baker" and the 2013 film "The Frozen Ground" made by Scott Walker and starring Nicolas Cage, Vanessa Hudgens and John Cusack.
National news outlets have been speculating about the reason why one of Alaska’s most notorious killers has been moved from a prison in Seward to the Anchorage Correctional Complex.
Robert Hansen was incarcerated in October of 1983 after being convicted of kidnapping women and flying them to remote areas, where he released them and hunted them down like prey.
Some of the speculation has been over Hansen’s health, which is reportedly fragile. Hansen is now 75.
Sherrie Daigle, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Corrections, confirmed Hansen has been moved from Seward to receive medical attention. He’s in the medical segregation unit at the Anchorage facility. Daigle noted this isn’t the first time Hansen has been moved from the Seward prison temporarily.
Daigle said she couldn’t release any details about what kind of treatment Hansen is receiving. It’s the department’s policy to not release information about an inmate’s health.
Hansen is classified as a “high custody” inmate and has spent most of his time in segregation. He was moved to the Anchorage facility May 11.
Hansen has been the subject of a book, “Butcher Baker,” as well as a recent movie, “ The Frozen Ground.” John Cusack played Hansen and Nicolas Cage starred as the detective who brought him to justice. Before Hansen was convicted, he ran a bakery in Anchorage.
Convicted Alaska 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 Thursday. He was 75.
Hansen died at Alaska Regional Hospital after being in declining health for the past year, Alaska Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sherrie Daigle said. Hansen had a "do not resuscitate" order on file with the agency, according to Alaska State Troopers.
Hansen was convicted in 1984 after confessing to killing 17 women, mostly dancers and prostitutes, during a 12-year span. Hansen 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 to raping another 30 women in that time.
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 Hansen.
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 May 11, 2014, to the Anchorage Correctional Center to receive medical attention.
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, all 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 Hansen behind bars, told the Anchorage Daily News in 2008 that Hansen's victims initially included any woman who caught his eye, but Hansen quickly learned that strippers and prostitutes were harder to track and less likely to be missed.
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, 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 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 Hansen confessed to killing have been found. The others were never located.
KTUU was first to report Hansen's death.