Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Informant Statement

What Sandra Patterson told Trooper Sgt. Don Hughes would come to stand as the early archetype for all of Hansen’s kidnappings, rapes and, ultimately, his murders. She was among the lucky ones, though she too feared she would be killed. Indeed, Sandra was barely able to talk Hansen down at the crucial moment and, even then, was convinced things could have gone either way. Her statement to Hughes was a study in terror and survival. A statement that showed an evil seed, poised go grow.

Remember this: the year of Sandra’s assault is 1971. Hansen’s deadly quest would not be stopped until 1983. That’s a lot of time. Too much time. Especially when one considers that the D.A. did not pursue charges resulting from this incident, instead rolling them into the charges that resulted from his attempted kidnapping of a real estate secretary.

Whether they knew it or not, prosecutors were teaching Robert C. Hansen a lesson: when the victim is a prostitute, you can get away with almost anything.

Statement of Sandra Patterson (excerpts)

A week ago, last Sunday morning, December the 109th, I was in the Nevada Cafe* having a cup of tea around 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. I went out to start my car and let it warm up, and as I walked out the door of the cafe, I noticed a car drive up and park. I continued on out and started my car and then turned around and started back into the cafe, at which time I noticed the driver of the car, apparently waiting for me at the door.

As I walked in, he said something to me — I don’t recall what — and I brushed it off. As I started to go on into the cafe. this man pulled a gun out from underneath his coat and pointed it at me and said something to the effect, not to give him any trouble, and that the gun was a .22 caliber gun. He held it under his coat and pointed it toward me and told me to go and get into his car, which I did.

After I got into his car, he took my purse from me to be sure I didn’t have any protection. This man was somewhere between 23 and 28 years old, it looked like, about 5’8″ to 5’9″, skinny, had blonde hair cut fairly short, bluish-green eyes, kind of a turned up nose and his face was kind of lumpy. He was wearing horn-rimmed glasses. He was dressed warm, had a coat or jacket on and had G.I. type pants and dark heavy boots.

After getting into the car, he held the gun on me, holding it in his left hand and driving with his right hand. The gun looked like an automatic rather than a revolver.
Route Out of Anchorage (Apple Maps; illustration Leland E. Hale)

He drove out of the parking area onto Gambell Street and went south. He turned right, either on Fireweed or Northern Lights Boulevard, and drove on Arctic Boulevard, where he made a left turn and continued south on Arctic. Just before getting to Campbell Creek, he stopped and tied my hands and feet with leather shoe laces. He tied my hands behind my back. I think he had the shoe laces in his pocket.

Hansen Binds Sandra’s Hands & Feet (Apple Maps; illustration Leland E. Hale)

He told me he would beat me up if I gave him any trouble at all. He said that he intended to keep me for two days and then if I cooperated with him, he would bring me back to town and let me off within a block of my car. He told me he was going to take me to Kenai to some cabins.

* The Nevada Cafe was only blocks from Hansen’s place of work, the Safeway Bakery at 9th & Ingra. As Walter Gilmour observed, criminals often perpetrate crimes very close to where they work or live.

Purchase Butcher, Baker

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