Joseph Frey & His Lost Sister

The body of DeLynn Frey was found on April 25, 1984, near Horseshoe Lake, northwest of Anchorage. In his confession, Robert Hansen admitted she “was not buried.” In fact, she was on the ground, near a cabin tucked into the roads that ambled through this lakeside outpost.

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Horseshoe Lake, NW of Anchorage and across Knik Arm from Anchorage;
it’s a quick flight from Merrill Field, where Hansen parked his plane.

Hansen said he’d taken her up in his airplane, landing on skiis in the dead of winter. She was #9 on his aviation map, one of four marks inside the FAA’s concentric wedding cake of airspace indicators.

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Robert Hansen’s aviation map, annotated by Sgt. Glenn Flothe

DeLynn Frey’s nickname was “Sugar,” but that wasn’t the life she’d lived. She was on the run from something. Something that took her to Alaska, the one place where your past doesn’t follow you.

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DeLynn Frey, 1980’s (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

Joseph Frey puts it another way. “She was stolen from me,” he says of his sister. Joseph was born in 1980; by 1984, DeLynn was dead. Dead and thousands of miles from home, permanently detached from Joseph’s childhood reality.

By all accounts theirs was a troubled family. They shared a father — a military man — but not a mother. Joseph says their dad, a wounded warrior, was “not present” when he was growing up. The father eventually reenlisted in the military, only to suffer an aneurysm. He got good medical care, but was still not present. In Joseph’s telling, DeLynn’s mother had problems of her own. Issues that, Joseph speculates, eventually drove DeLynn far from Essex County, Maryland.

There was more than that. They had siblings. Joseph knew that much, knew that he had sisters — but not that sister. He went looking for her. Found her on the internet when he was sixteen. “Blonde hair and blue eyes,” his only clue.

Joseph asked one of his cousins, “is this her?” The cousin, shocked, could only blurt, “Where did you get that picture?” Then supplied him another photo, young and innocent. That was how they tried to remember her.

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DeLynn Frey as a young girl, Essex County, Maryland
(courtesy Joseph Frey)

There was still a toll to measure. By his own admission, Joseph is a recluse. A recluse car salesman in Baltimore, to be exact. A recluse car salesman with one son. They live alone, Joseph with his memories of a sister he never knew.


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