Prosecutors Play “Good Cop, Bad Cop”

When D.A. Victor Krumm and assistant D.A. Frank Rothschild faced Robert Hansen, they were, according to Rothschild, aware of the “games” that serial killers often play. They would play good cop, bad cop to defeat the man at his own game. Rothschild addressed this reality in a September 2, 2020 Newsweek interview for the ID documentary on Robert Hansen.

BASICALLY it was explained to me [by the FBI] that he would give away those cases where he knew we had him,” Rothschild told reporter Marina Watts. “And that he would then say, ‘stop,’ and say, ‘that’s it’ because in his mind, if he was able to walk away from that confession, not having confessed to other cases, then he would walk away a winner and would have beaten the system again.”

good cop
Frank Rothschild 2020
(courtesy ID, Mind of A Monster)

Good Cop

It was Rothschild’s role to play the good cop. “No matter how horrible his actions were, as he described them, I was not to get upset,” Rothschild said, “I was not to condemn him in any way.” His goal was to lull Robert Hansen into a confessional mode where he felt comfortable.

And our goal of course was to get him to talk as much as possible. But… the moment would come, guaranteed, when he would give up what we knew he had to give up, because of course he had all of our police reports, he knew what had been seized when his house was torn apart.

Frank Rothschild, Newsweek, September 2, 2020

Bad Cop Comes Down

The end of Hansen’s game came on September 23, 1984, after the Day Two lunch break. The air still redolent with bleu cheese salad dressing, Vic Krumm let Robert Hansen have it. His was a long, scathing diatribe.

“We executed the agreement with you yesterday morning,” Krumm announced. “That agreement was that you were to give us a full statement and your fullest cooperation…”

good cop
Vic Krumm

“You told us a number of things yesterday, here in this very room, that we know are not totally accurate and we don’t believe you’ve been totally candid. So far it’s my impression that you’ve given us only the evidence on the two victims that we know for a fact are alive and are willing to come forward and testify [1], as well as the five victims that we found.

“But you need to understand that from your own flight charts that we got at your house, that we’re going to go out and we’re going to be looking, come spring time, for bodies in all those places.”

Much Yelling

After Krumm’s ultimatum, Robert Hansen requested a break. He wanted to talk to his attorneys. In private. Much yelling was heard across the hall, none of it comprehensible to the prosecution team. The sense was that Hansen had misled — even fooled — his own attorneys. Apparently the defense hadn’t gotten that FBI memo on serial killers.

good cop
Hansen’s flight chart (partial)
Full chart has 24 marks (courtesy AST)

[1} Patty Roberts and Cindy Paulson


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

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