Psychiatric Imbalance Gets Spotlight

Understanding the full scope of the Patty Roberts debacle requires a step back in time. Requires that one start in the early evening hours of November 1971. The address is 3608 Lois Drive, Anchorage, Alaska. It is here that Robert Hansen launches an attack that soon has him in court, with intimations of a psychiatric imbalance that percolates through every corner of his existence.

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3608 Lois Drive, Anchorage (courtesy Google Street View)

Susan Heppeard was a real estate secretary, aged 18. On November 22, 1971, at approximately 6:20 pm, she was returning to her apartment from work. She parked her car and began plugging in the headbolt heater. Suddenly, a man grabbed her from behind and stuck a gun in her back. The man said, “Don’t scream.” Heppeard screamed anyway. The man then put the barrel of the gun, a pistol, against her head and placed his other hand over her mouth, stating “Don’t scream. There’s a gun at your head, and I’m going to blow your brains out if you scream.”

Siren Sounds

Within minutes, the sound of an approaching siren scared the man, who turned and ran. Anchorage police soon arrived and, shortly thereafter, made contact with a caucasian male identified as Robert C. Hansen. They had no trouble spotting him.

He was walking nearby with no coat or hat on. The temperature was around 10 degrees F. He was definitely not dressed for the weather. Officers were additionally able to follow footprints through the snow and quickly located an orange baseball cap and a loaded .38 caliber revolver hidden in the wheel well of an abandoned car.

Susan Heppeard identified the hat as the one worn by her attacker. She said the gun was similar to the one he’d used. At the scene, she identified Robert C. Hansen as the man who had assaulted her.

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3608 Lois Drive, close up (courtesy Google Street View)

Needs Help

During a subsequent police interview with Det. Ron Rice, Hansen denied any contact with Heppeard. He claimed he was driving toward the Anchorage International Airport to go bow hunting, that he became very tense, and decided to walk around to relieve the tension. Eventually, Hansen admitted he might have been involved and, if he was, he needed help. Not ordinary help. There was an imbalance or something. Maybe it required psychiatric help.

Indeed, at his December 15 indictment hearing, the Court ordered Hansen to undergo a psychiatric examination at his own expense. Hansen’s attorney, Jim Gilmore, was already there. Acknowledging Hansen’s imbalance, he said they’d scheduled a psychiatric appointment for later that very same day.


Copyright Leland E. Hale (2020). All rights reserved.

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