A Case of Floating Identity

Let’s not say that Inv. Bill Dennis’ police work was uniformly mediocre. There were moments of breakthrough, even illumination. The taped interview of Cindy, for example, stands as a testament to her enduring personal identity. The remembered details — and all the pointers — were there. Hansen’s stutter. His sneaky menace. His M.O. Then there was her own fear. The certainty this man intended to kill her.

Big Timber Motel (copyright Leland E. Hale)

And despite Dennis’ doubts, there was his dogged follow-up. Take the steps he took to track down Cindy, and her pimp, in Portland. It started with a trip back to the Big Timber Motel in Anchorage. The two of them were nowhere to be found, but the manager told him Cindy and her “male friend” checked out on June 18, 1983 — just five days after Cindy’s kidnapping and rape.

This encounter, moreover, returned a clue. They’d left the Big Timber owing a “large telephone bill” to a number in Portland, Oregon. The manager surmised that, between the number of phone calls made to the Oregon number — and Cindy’s statements at the time — the two of them had likely escaped in that direction.

Inv. Dennis called the number. It belonged to the 6th Avenue Motel in downtown Portland. The two of them had landed in a motel that was a lot like the one they’d left. On a main thoroughfare. Close to where the “action” was. They were “in the life.” That’s what they knew, wherever they landed. The two of them could change their location but not their identity.

6th Avenue Motel, Portland (2022)

Ever Changing Identity

Well, actually, Cindy apparently did try to change her identity.

The Portland narcotics detective who ran down her case file notified Inv. Dennis that his subject’s “real” name was Felisha Lee REDMOND. Or was it Alisha? In a follow-on paragraph, Inv. Dennis wrote this:

Upon observing the color photographs it was determined that Alisha REDMOND and Cindy PAULSON was one and the same.

Inv. Bill Dennis, APD Continuation Report

Adding to the ostensible confusion, when Sgt. Flothe interviewed Cindy Paulson three months later, he had yet another name to confirm. Her identity, it seemed, was fluid.

FLOTHE: The following will be an interview with… Stacey Lee Regan, also known as Cindy Paulson… Present during the interview, of course, will be myself. Sergeant Flothe will be interviewing Miss Paulson. For purposes of the interview, Cindy, do you prefer to go by Cindy or Stacy?

CINDY: Cindy.


A Sex Worker’s Disguise

It’s not too difficult to appreciate why Cindy used so many aliases. First, she was underaged. Second, she was a sex worker. Third, she worked some of the after-hours clubs in Anchorage (and likely elsewhere). She was, in other words, always only a few steps ahead of the vice cops. Or not.

There was no benefit to giving her “real” name when she was arrested for sex work in Portland, only weeks after her escape from Robert Hansen in Anchorage. None whatsoever. Hers was a life of cat-and-mouse. Her identity was deep inside; buried, seldom on the surface. Not something to give away. Not at all like it was with the “respectable” folk who, if anything, tended to over share.

There was, however, a looming cloud. Cindy’s identity was about to face its toughest test.

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

Leland E. Hale

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