Denied by Hansen, Pt. 2: Mary Thill

In 1975, Robert Hansen returned to Seward for another 4th of July. Another woman went missing. Another woman “denied by Hansen.” Her name is Mary Thill; she was 22-years-old at the time of her disappearance.

Mary Thill
Here’s what we know about Mary:

  • She was last seen in Seward on July 5, 1975.
  • Like Megan Emerick, she was a student at the Seward Skill Center.
  • Her husband was working the North Slope at the time of her disappearance.
  • A friend gave her a ride to the Seward Bakery, in the historic center of downtown Seward.

Downtown Seward (Google Street View)Seward Bakery (Ranting Raven Bakery)

  • Another friend reported seeing her at the Lowell Creek waterfall, a half-mile south of the bakery, and a two-minute walk from the bakery.
  • Mary was spotted at the falls between 1:30 and 2:00 p.m. She was never seen again.

Lowell Creek Waterfall (Google Street View)Lowell Creek Falls
And here’s what we know about Robert Hansen (according to court records and his confession):

  • On parole for an Assault with a Deadly Weapon charge involving a real estate secretary, Hansen was required to tell his parole officer his whereabouts; his parole records show that he was in Seward on the July 1975 weekend that Mary disappeared.
  • Before heading south, Hansen asked a friend if he knew any women he could party with in Seward.
  • Seward was, and remains, a small town. The Seward Bakery is one mile from the nearest boat launch — a distance Hansen could drive in three minutes.
  • Hansen had access to a vehicle throughout his stay in Seward.
  • In his confession, Robert Hansen evidenced a detailed knowledge of Seward — including the old Army gun emplacements at the former Fort McGilvray, just south of Lowell Creek, along the same road.

“[There are] gun emplacements down here at Seward… where they used to have some rather large caliber cannons that were supposed to protect the town of Seward. They got some up there and they got some up on top of the hill… [And] someplace in here there is more Army docks… Anyway, outside the iron doors here I used to scuba dive quite a bit.”

It is tempting to think that Hansen went to the bakery, spotted Mary, followed her to the parking lot at the Lowell Creek waterfall, picked her up and then took her to his boat. That we’ll never know. What we do know, from the Joanna Messina case, is that he had ulterior motives for striking up conversations with unknown women.

“I believe this impulsive act of seeing, following, and later trying to abduct a non-prostitute surfaced several times throughout his chicken killing career, which included Emerick and Thill of Seward and possibly other unclaimed map X’s.”
Sgt. Glenn Flothe

Robert Hansen Flight Map (Seward and Resurrection Bay detail)Robert Hansen flight map

  • Butcher, Baker (Amazon Kindle; Apple iBooks; Barnes & Noble NOOK; Google Play; Kobo eReader)
  • Statement of Robert C. Hansen, District Attorney’s Office Anchorage, February 22, 1984
  • The Charley Project: Mary Thill
  • National Missing and Unidentified Persons: Mary Thill

4 thoughts on “Denied by Hansen, Pt. 2: Mary Thill”

  1. Went to high school with Mary. Her maiden name was Mary Kay Lannan. They say the good die young….this was certainly true in this case. Both her parents died when she was in high school leaving her and her siblings alone . Yet, she was always smiling and spreading sunshine. Maybe that’s why she fell a victim….her friendly inviting face that trusted everyone. She was truly a good soul and I weep when I think of her short life. I am now 66 years old and am lucky that I knew her for the time we spent together in high school. She had lots of friends, was a good student and was crowned Queen of the prom.

    1. I can’t believe I’m reading about Mary so many years after she disappeared. Mary was one of my best friends!! Last time I saw Mary my husband Niles and I were boarding a boat heading to Johnstone bay. She came down the dock Carrying a small boat motor, she was concerned that we may need an extra boat motor for our trip. I was shocked when I found out that Robert Hanson may have killed her!! A very sad time in my life!! I spoke with Michael when I returned to alaska after being out of state awhile, he said that Mary had told him that she had a job with Hanson cleaning his boat. I believe she was taken shortly after we left the bay!! We left on July 4th could not land at Johnstone that day, the shore was being dumped on. Stayed out to sea that night tried again the next day only to return defeated to Seward the 5th. I went out to see Mary, I to lived on Lowell point at the time. When I got to her place I knew something was wrong. She had seven dogs tied up they acted like they were starving! No water! Mary was gone!!!! Her last words to me were “I Barbara be careful out there in Johnstone” she was worried about the animals, I said “Mary no need to worry about me and nature and animals that she needed to be careful around people” she trusted everyone!! So loving and kind, precious little soul!! I’ll never forget her. I loved her

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