Five Stars – Butcher Baker: Mind of a Monster

Of course I am biased. But… I just watched the Butcher, Baker documentary on ID (Investigation Discovery). It is stellar. It is brilliant. It is the best documentary on Robert Hansen. Ever. Five Stars to Brendan, Jess, Stephen and Alex and all the other folks at Arrow Media.

Be sure to watch: The Butcher, Baker: Mind of a Monster on Investigation Discovery, NEW! Unlocked Special

five stars
 L-R: Brendan, Jess, Leland, Stephen, Alex (copyright Leland E. Hale)

I knew they spent a lot of time in Alaska, getting first-hand interviews and, of course, some great b-roll. I knew they wanted me to help tie the disparate pieces together. And I knew Frank Rothschild was their last interview, right after me, in San Francisco. Rothschild was brilliant, because he provided the perfect five stars coda. So there it is… The end result is something bigger than the sum of its parts. Well done!

Personal Highlights

There are many high points. This documentary runs 85 minutes. There’s at least one per minute of run-time. But this is highlights, so I’ll just pick a few.

  • Robert Hansen’s Former House: I’ve been there myself; Darla Hansen gave me the grand tour. And there’s nothing like the real deal to completely creep you out. Alex told me the current owners let them film there. I’m really glad they did.
  • Maxine Farrell: In a rival documentary, Maxine was quickly on and then off, like she was running across the stage, waving for her cameo. The Arrow Media production gave her room to stretch out. Bringing her to Hansen’s house was a masterstroke.
  • Pat Kasnick: There’s a dramatic reading of Kasnick’s crawlspace search in Butcher, Baker (the book). Having Kasnick walk us through it is even better. He was the epitome of understatement.
  • Gregg Baker: He was so laconic, stretched out on the sofa, relating tales of pure terror. And he was so right — he took a great risk handing Anchorage Police folders over to Sgt. Glenn Flothe. It was one of many unselfish moves that put Hansen where he belonged.
  • Ron Rice: Rice was a dear friend of the late Walt Gilmour — and one of the first to see the threat Hansen posed. You sense that in this documentary. In Gilmour’s telling, it was Rice who said of Hansen, “He’s a mad dog. He’s so dangerous, he should be put away forever.”
  • Frank Rothschild: I love the candid revelation about the emotional punch of his words to the sentencing judge. Yeah, he chokes up re-reading them. It’s the perfect coda. I said it once, I’ll say it again. It’s five stars.

“He’s a mad dog. He’s so dangerous, he should be put away forever.”

APD Detective Ron Rice on Robert Hansen

Stuff That Smacked Me Sideways

I’ll have more to say in another blog entry, but the vignettes with women who knew Hansen’s victims were outstanding. They created an unwavering emotional center to this documentary. The preacher was pitch-perfect, capturing Hansen’s diffidence toward religion, even as it (and his wife Darla) tried to rebirth him. Darla once said she thought Bob didn’t like going to church because when they spoke of sin, it must have seemed like they were pointing at him.

five stars
five stars

Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Order my latest book, “What Happened In Craig,” HERE and HERE, true crime on Epicenter Press about Alaska’s Worst Unsolved Mass Murder.


1 thought on “Five Stars – Butcher Baker: Mind of a Monster”

  1. I have to agree that hands down of all the true crime documentaries on Robert Hansen this is the best. It captures new dimensions to the story that others have either glossed over or didn’t focus enough attention to. I thought it especially poignant that there were interviews with women that were living the life of his victims and could provide emotional connection to the women that didn’t survive their encounter with him. They were human beings trying to find their way to a better life the best way they could. I was in the same age group and was , as they were, trying to find my own path. Although I chose a different course I can understand the struggles that they faced. I’ve lived in Anchorage my entire life and the town of the 70’s to mid 80’s was very different from what it is now. Bringing that into the story ,I believe, is important to understanding how easily Hansen could take the women without creating undue attention for a period of time before the women were “missed”. Lastly, focusing attention on Hansen’s wife and children rounds out the larger picture of the story. There’s always the commentary that his wife had to know what he was doing and some go so far as to draw the conclusion that somehow she was complicit and therefore guilty by association. But, it’s been a fairly common theme in how killers like Hansen are successful in how they can compartmentalize their lives and behaviors to maintain the mask of everyday life. As it came out in the documentary during Hansen’s interviews he changed from Bob the Baker in an instant to Bob the Killer when he became angry with the line of questioning. Again, this documentary is by far the best in bringing this story to life in ways that others and the movie could not, excellent work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *