What Would Your Classmates Say?

Robert C. Hansen died at Alaska Regional Hospital on August 21, 2014. Not long afterwards, an enterprising reporter from his hometown newspaper — the Pocahontas Record-Democrat — interviewed Hansen’s classmates from Sacred Heart High School. The setting was a meeting of the Pocahontas Rotary.

classmates
Robert Hansen, High School Photo
(last name misspelled)

Perhaps not surprisingly, his fellow students claimed not to have seen anything that predicted Robert Hansen’s future.

“What did we do to contribute? Did we reject him? I don’t think we treated him differently that anyone else.”

Millie DeWall, Pocahontas, Iowa

There were, nonetheless, a few telltale signs. DeWall went on to say that Hansen’s father, “was a good person, but was very domineering.” She added that father and son “had a very dysfunctional relationship together.”

Glen Johnson, one of Hansen’s classmates who said he was good friends with Bob, added, “his dad would just lay into him.”

classmates
Robert Hansen, Police Cadet, Pocahontas (courtesy Marvin Wiseman)

Telling Revelations

One of Hansen’s classmates, Leland Samuelson, had a more haunting tale. It was Samuelson who’d encountered an aggressive Hansen in high school. Indeed, it was an assaultive young man, suddenly on the attack.

“In the locker room. I don’t know why, but he got mad at me. He came in with his head down like he was gonna butt me into the wall. He really came at me. I was amazed.”

Leland Samuelson, Hansen classmate

Even so, Samuelson insisted that he’d never seen anything “wrong” with Bob Hansen. “None of us ever saw incidents of bullying when he was in school,” Samuelson insisted.

classmates
Hansen in Court for Assault with a Deadly Weapon
(courtesy AST)

And then there was Millie DeWall’s whispered admission. After saying she didn’t remember Hansen having troubles with women while in school, she shared a darker memory. One that involved a female friend. That friend, DeWall said, ended up alone with Bob one night while their peers were out having fun. “Never again,” DeWall recalled her friend proclaiming. And then there was this:

“He said, Millie, if I ever see a cat, I will drive in the ditch to kill it because it kills the birds I like to hunt.”

Millie DeWall quoting Robert Hansen

Classmates Don’t Really Know

Having survived high school myself — within years of Hansen’s journey — I can say that it’s easy enough to graduate as a relative unknown. Every high school has its cliques and popular kids, who may — or may not — go on to greatness. Everyone outside of that group has a touch of anonymity. And, stranger by far, members of that “in-group” may cling to their high school notoriety far past its expiration date.

Robert Hansen was the opposite. When he “returned” to Sacred Heart high school, he was infamous.

“It’s hard to grasp,” reflected Glen Johnson, who’d since become a prison minister. The Pocahontas native found it hard to imagine that his friend was capable of such things. He found it “just mind boggling.”

It’s an old refrain.


Copyright Leland E. Hale (2023). All rights reserved.

Leland E. Hale

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Order my latest book, “What Happened In Craig,” HERE and HERE. True crime from Epicenter Press about Alaska‚Äôs Worst Unsolved Mass Murder.

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