True Crime, Real People

Real People: One

Robert Hansen’s victims were not numbers. They were real people, with families, friends and loved ones. The step-father of Tamara Pederson, whom I met in the early ’90’s, carried a complex bundle of grief and anger. Grief at her untimely death; anger at the police for not stopping Robert Hansen sooner. Healing is a journey, not a destination.

Here, we put faces to the marks on Robert Hansen’s map. These real people deserve that. Sadly, not all of them have names or faces. That is one of the lasting sorrows of Hansen’s crimes. [All victim photos courtesy of Alaska State Troopers]

Hansen map
Detail: Hansen’s Map – Knik River Sites (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

    • #2 — Sue Luna (Jim Creek, east of Old Knik River Bridge)

Real People: Sue Luna

    • #3 — Unknown (Old Knik Bridge Parking Area)
    • #4 — Malai Larson (Old Knik Bridge Parking Area)

Real People: Malai Larson

    • #5 — Lisa Futrell (Old Knik Bridge Gravel Pit)

Real People: Lisa Futrell

    • #6 — Tamara Peterson (Island south of Sherry Morrow’s Body)

Real People: Tamara Peterson

    • #7 — Unknown (Adjacent to Paula Goulding Grave)
    • #8 — Unknown (Island south of Paula Goulding Grave)
    • #10 — Unknown (Body over railroad bridge; likely not to be found)
    • #14 — Sherry Morrow (Knik River)

Real People: Sherry Morrow

    • #15 — Paula Goulding (Knik River)

Real People: Paula Goulding

    • #16 — “Eklutna Annie” (Eklutna Lake Rd)

Miscellany: Eklutna Annie

Real People: Two

A little over a year ago, I was contacted by a TV producer who was working on a series that “interviews family members who have been victimized by a loved one who is involved in a crime.” She wondered whether I was still in contact with Darla Hansen. I had some information which proved useful; I’m not sure anything came of it. But there is a truth to the producer’s quest.

“It is hard for people to understand how a killer’s family suffers in silence, but they do.”

As we’ve said before, Robert Hansen left a trail of victims, his own family included. Hansen’s mother was in Anchorage, visiting, on the day he was arrested. His wife and children, though attached to Anchorage, felt compelled to leave the state.

Darla and her two children relocated to Rogers, Arkansas, a town of 55,000 that’s home to Daisy Outdoor Products, famous for its air rifles, and site of the first Walmart store. Bentonville, the corporate home of Walmart, is nearby. They’re not in Alaska any more.

Miscellany: Rogers Arkansas
Rogers, Arkansas (Google Maps)

Darla, now in her seventies, is still very religious. She’s also a grandmother; her grandchildren are good-looking, active in sports, All-American kids.

Darla’s children are married, in their early 40’s, with multiple offspring between them. Both are graduates of Rogers High School, in Rogers, Arkansas. Darla’s daughter works for a major insurance company; her son-in-law owns a used car dealership in Mena, Arkansas, where Darla sometimes works. Darla’s son, after a career in the Marines and time at a Junior College, moved to the Denver, Colorado area, where he works for a major snack foods manufacturer.

These are the threads of a normal existence, far from the scene of the crime. You can bet that they don’t often speak of Robert Hansen.

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