Hansen’s Past Warranted Property Search

Back in June I started a series of articles aimed at better understanding the four month gap between Robert Hansen’s arrest and his ultimate confession. In sum, while prosecutors argued that Hansen’s past warranted the search, his defense attorney was fighting back. That’s one explanation for the gap. The “official” explanation in Butcher, Baker is described eloquently by a Walter Gilmore quote. “People don’t confess on the street.”

That, of course, is the cop’s point of view. There’s also the fact that Robert Hansen had legal representation in the form of public defender Fred Dewey. And Dewey was doing his best to suppress any and all damning evidence found in the search of Hansen’s home, bakery and airplane. Lacking that evidence, the case against Hansen was on rocky ground.

Fred Dewey would not get the last word.

Assistant DA Frank Rothschild (copyright Anchorage Times, used by permission)

Search Warranted

Frank Rothschild countered that, in fact, the search of Hansen’s properties was proper. Although the affidavit Rothschild filed was sealed by the court, the D.A. referred to Hansen’s “frightening pattern” of abducting and raping sex workers. That included seventeen-year-old Cindy Paulson — which was why Hansen was now facing murder charges.

Rothschild’s argument that the search was warranted went even farther. He explained the bits of physical evidence linking Hansen to the slayings of dancers Sherry Morrow and Paula Goulding. Both women were killed by a gun firing .223 ammunition. .223 ammunition was seen in Hansen’s vehicle after Cindy’s escape. Morrow was found with an Ace bandage wrapped around her head and face. An Ace bandage was seen in Hansen’s car when police searched it following Cindy’s getaway.


The opinions of Fairbanks psychiatrist Irwin Rothrock and FBI agent John Douglas that Hansen has the characteristics of a serial murderer were also in the affidavit.

Anne Willette, Anchorage Daily Times, Feb. 1, 1984

Another Gap

The delay between Hansen’s arrest and ultimate confession was not, of course, the only one that Rothschild had to explain. The kidnapping and rape of Cindy Paulson occurred in June of 1983. It took until October to arrest him. That, of course, was the work of Hansen friend John Henning. It was Henning who provided one of Hansen’s crucial alibis. Robert could not have abducted Cindy Paulson, Henning declared, because they were together that night, eating pizza and drinking beer.

“No criminal defendant should be allowed to take advantage of his own wrongdoing,” Rothschild countered, “creating a smokescreen and then whining when it takes time to blow the smoke away and discover the truth.” John Henning later admitted to the grand jury that he lied — but that lie kept authorities at bay for months.

Robert Hansen’s Piper Super Cub (courtesy AST)

The other alibi witness — contrary to persistent internet falsehoods — had in fact told the truth. Robert Hansen was at John Sumrall’s house the night he kidnapped Cindy Paulson. They were busy fitting a new rear-seat for Bob’s airplane. Apparently Hansen could’t wait to try it out. He kidnapped Cindy that very night.

Copyright Leland E. Hale (2022). All rights reserved.


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