Bad Sex With Bob

One of the things that crossed up the early police take on Robert Hansen were questions about Cindy Paulson’s veracity. The foundation of that was, of course, the contrast between a teenaged sex worker and the “stand-up” guys Hansen paraded as his alibi witnesses. Once Cindy was found at the Big Timber Motel, in the early morning hours of June 13, 1983, the saga began in earnest.

sex
Big Timber Motel (copyright Leland E. Hale)

Things started out encouragingly. On her way to the hospital for a rape kit exam, Cindy directed APD Officer Gregg Baker to Merrill Field. Not only did they find Hansen’s airplane, they found an alert security guard who’d seen Hansen returning to his car. The guard presciently took down Hansen’s license plate number. The APD now had a bead on their chief suspect. Soon, they were at Hansen’s house. Hansen was polite and cooperative as he volunteered to a search of his residence.

The heat on Hansen started to plummet.

sex
Robert Hansen’s House (copyright Leland E. Hale)

Events went really sideways when APD Investigator Bill Dennis took the lead. Because rather than getting Cindy’s detailed statement first up, they got Robert Hansen’s instead. The cops were predisposed to believe Hansen’s alibi witnesses. Eventually, Dennis thought, they’d caught Cindy in a lie.

The focus of the lie is here, in the Anchorage Police Department report of June 13, 1983. Sex is mentioned. Specifically, anal sex. Did she or didn’t she?

After securing the victim… the white male adult performed anal and vaginal sex and then lay down on the couch and went to sleep.

Anchorage Police Department, Continuation Report, 6-13-83
sex
Henning Address: Dimond Estates Mobile Home Park (Courtesy Google Maps)

And that led to an unusual obsession. The nature of sex acts Hansen allegedly forced on Cindy Paulson. One wrong turn begat another. Inv. Dennis decided the best course of action was to re-contact the alibi witnesses. Specifically, John Henning. Because, the logic went, only one person could be lying.

Person Contacted

John E. HENNING, WMA, DOB: 5-31-32
Address: 1200 W. Dimond, #546

[Inv. Dennis] contacted HENNING on Monday, June 13 ,1983, as he was the alibi given by HANSEN as to his location from approximately 12 a.m. midnight Monday morning to approximately 0500 hr. on Monday morning. HENNING was told that if HANSEN was not with him, that if HANSEN had called him to get him to give him an alibi, now was the time to advise INV. DENNIS of this. However if he was at his residence, that was also the time to tell this story. HENNING again stated that HANSEN was with him from approximately 12 to 12:30 a.m. Monday morning, June13, 1983, to somewhere around 0500 hr. Monday June 13, 1983, and that he was not lying about this [emphasis added].

Cindy Paulson
Cindy Paulson (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

Dirty Minds

At this point, Inv. Dennis’ sex obsession was complete. He interviewed Cindy again, this time more closely. On Page 5 of Cindy’s June ’83 police statement, Dennis challenged her memory of the rape. Here is a direct quote from that interview:

Q. In our earlier conversation I understand that he had, ah, vaginal entry and was also anal entry at the house?
A. No, there was not.
Q. And how many times did the sexual assault occur?
A. One time.

Investigator Dennis still did not believe Cindy. The merry-go-round was in full swing.

Investigation: Inv. Bill Dennis

On June 14, 1983, I had PAULSON come to APD. Several pointed questions were asked of PAULSON to clear up some confused areas that I had regarding her taped statement and verbal statements to myself and other officers at APD. (OFF. BAKER) The first question was exactly how many times she was sexually assaulted, and how. As in conversation on the day of the incident she had told me she had been sexually assaulted three times, twice vaginally and one rectally. Her answer to this was only one time and that was vaginally.

The second question asked of her was in what position she was in and what was she laying on, when this sexual assault occurred as again in conversation she had stated that she had been laying on a mattress. Her answer was that she was assaulted while laying on a black bear skin rug.

bear skin rug
Hansen’s Den (bear skin rug lower right) Courtesy AST

At this time I produced an APD Photo lineup warning form which she read and signed, with a caution if she could not pick anyone out of the lineup or was unsure, not to pick anyone. However upon looking at the lineup she positively without hesitation picked the picture of HANSEN.

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Lineup shown to Cindy Paulson (Robert Hansen, lower left)

Missed Opportunity

Rather than believe the key determination laying at their feet — Cindy’s unflinching identification of Robert Hansen as her kidnapper and rapist — Inv. Dennis insisted that Cindy take a polygraph test. She refused, sensing — correctly — that Dennis didn’t believe her. And, then, there was the matter of her pimp. He was with her. He was anxious to leave. And leave they did.

The two of them packed their bags and headed south, to Portland, Oregon.

On July 1, 1983, I received from DT. TRUMMER, Portland, P.D.
Drug and VIce Division, copy of the rap sheets of PAULSON… and color photographs. Upon observing the color photographs it was determined that… Cindy PAULSON had been arrested in Portland
on prostitution charges on June 24, 1983, that she was no longer missing and apparently in good health. No further action was deemed necessary by INV. DENNIS.

Inv. Bill Dennis, APD

DISPOSITION: This case is CLOSED – EXCEPTIONAL CLEARANCE. NO further action by INV. DENNIS

Investigation: Sgt. Glenn Flothe

The notion that Cindy Paulson had lied about the nature of her rape was significant. So much so that AST Sgt. Glenn Flothe circled back to it three months later. During their September ’83 re-interview at Alaska State Trooper headquarters, Cindy repeats the assertion she made during her taped statement to Anchorage Police.

FLOTHE:  Did he just have vaginal intercourse?
CINDY:    Yes. 
FLOTHE:  Did he have anal intercourse with you?
CINDY:    No.
FLOTHE:  OK. Did he put his penis in your mouth at any time?
CINDY:    No. 
FLOTHE:  Or ask you to?
CINDY:    Nope. The only time we did was in the car and there was a rubber on it… a condom…

Course Correction

AST Sgt. Glenn Flothe believed Cindy. Called her one of the best witnesses he’d ever worked with. The rest is history.


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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