There Were Stuffed Animals Everywhere

Mind of a Monster, Episode 2

For Episode 2 of Mind of a Monster: The Butcher Baker, Dr. Michelle Ward leads off with the backstory of DeLynn Frey, a victim whom Hansen identified during his rambling confession. Hansen didn’t offer much, save that she wasn’t buried. His tone of voice said he felt nothing more for her than what he felt for the animals he’d hunted. Said he’d taken her up in his airplane, landing on skis in the dead of winter. She was #9 on his aviation map, one of four marks inside the FAA’s concentric wedding cake of airspace indicators.

Robert Hansen’s aviation map, annotated by Sgt. Glenn Flothe

Dr. Ward skillfully weaves DeLynn’s story into the narrative by interviewing Deborah Frey Brenner, her first cousin. Props to Ward: I spoke to Brenner in 2018, and found her more interested in talking about herself than DeLynn. Be that as it may, Brenner reveals a deeper truth this time around: That her cousin likely was sexually abused. Brenner did not reveal that in 2018, but my encounter with the Frey family came to a head after I published my take on this young woman from Baltimore.

It all started when I was contacted by DeLynn’s baby brother, Joseph. He was born in 1980; by 1984, DeLynn was dead. As Joseph Frey put it, “she was stolen from me.” It was in this vein that the brother set out to find his sister. He’d spoken to family members. Learned what he could. He wanted to share what he found.

DeLynn Frey, 1980’s (courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

It’s Complicated

I published Joe’s story. It was met with immediate outrage. One family member said, “Who had this interview with my brother Joseph for this interview? He was to [sic] young to even remember her or my father.” Deborah Frey Brenner herself said, “The info in this interview is incorrect and well exaggerated.” The end result? I took the post down.

This was just horrible tragedy. My heart cries for her often and there isn’t a day that I don’t think about her.

Deborah Frey Brenner, June 8, 2018 (comment on a related post)

This family’s reaction, however, holds a small glimpse into what it’s like to lose a loved one to a serial murderer. They see a person, not someone tossed among the animals. Each relative seems to hold a mental amulet that serves as a reminder. Heaven help the person who disrupts that.

The Star Witness

Tracing DeLynne Frey back to Robert Hansen would not have happened, however, without another young woman. Her name is Cindy Paulson [1]. Ward draws upon a less than pristine audio recording with the Alaska State Troopers (the male voice is Sgt. Glenn Flothe) to paint a vivid aural picture. She notes how young Paulson sounds. Yes, she was barely eighteen when the recording was made. She sounds younger. Younger and fragile. But there’s something else about her. A deep streak of determination. It was, frankly, how she survived.

Cindy Paulson (1983), Courtesy AST

See while we was driving I observed everything. ‘Cause this motherfucker wasn’t getting away with it… I knew I was in trouble. And I really, really… If there was any chance of me getting away, he wasn’t getting away with it. 

Cindy Paulson, 27 September 1983, interview with Sgt. Glenn Flothe, AST
Cindy Paulson: “This motherfucker wasn’t getting away with it.”

If there was one problem in all of this, though, it was some of the cops didn’t believe her. Robert Hansen had an alibi. Two fine citizens of Anchorage stood up for Hansen. They seemed to place Cindy where they placed others of her ilk — among the wild animals, dead on the roadside.

The Profiler

That’s where Brent Turvey comes in. He’s a criminal profiler extraordinaire. And what he points to, among Hansen’s victims, is the notion of “complex trauma,” which results from recurring traumatic events that the victim is not allowed to talk about. Not allowed to talk about because among these things are unspeakable acts. And violence. And drug use (the ID team found heroin busts among DeLynn Frey’s Alaska records).

Going down the list of Hansen’s victims, Turvey finds a lot of this. Not just with DeLynn Frey, but with Sherry Morrow, who also led a troubled life. Cindy Paulson — whom we will talk about in greater detail later in this series — also fits that profile. Suffice it to say at this point that Cindy had been a chronic runaway who turned her first trick at age twelve. She was a young woman that Hansen could place among the animals he hunted. He’d become an expert at identifying “the type.”

These are the women whom society treats as discards. The ones who have been brutalized. Abandoned. Left for lost. Turvey points out that it’s small wonder many of the cops didn’t believe Cindy Paulson’s detailed account of the kidnapping, rape and chains in Robert Hansen’s basement. Even though she described it to a “T.” Cindy was a sex worker. She didn’t measure up. And Hansen was adept at hunting game animals. For him, it was almost the same. That’s Cindy’s quote in the title, by the way, using her description of Hansen’s lair.

“There were stuffed animals everywhere. Big ol’ like caribou and goats heads, big ones stuffed everywhere.”

Cindy Paulson interview with Sgt. Glenn Flothe, 27 Sept 1983
Gregg Baker (center), Anchorage Daily News, February 29, 1984

The Savior(s)

Officer Gregg Baker of the Anchorage Police Department stands apart in all of this. He actually believed Cindy Paulson. Sensed, like the great street cop he was, that she was telling the truth. Not just telling the truth — she provided concrete evidence of everything she knew. Even took him to Hansen’s airplane at Merrill Field, only minutes after he first encountered her at a run-down motel just across the road from the airfield. It was Baker who helped the murder investigation turn the corner. That and two other cops. Lyle Haugsven and Glenn Flothe from the Alaska State Troopers. They’re proof that a small coterie of believers can turn the tide.

Tune In Now

I won’t add more because, really, you should check out the podcast for yourself. This is great story telling that adds a lot to the base story Walter Gilmour and I first told more than thirty years ago.

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[1] The original publishers of Butcher, Baker, in their wisdom, felt they could not use her real name. She was, after all, a minor at the time of the crime. I came up with the pseudonym Kitty Larson. I’m glad that charade is finally over, although the book still carries that antiquated reference.

Dr. Michelle Ward has a PhD in Clinical Neuroscience/Psychology from USC. She has served as an expert trial consultant in criminal cases involving a multitude of violent murderers. Her podcast series features her own personal and professional insights, as well as comments from family and friends of both the killer and the victim.

Copyright Leland E. Hale (2024). 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’s Worst Unsolved Mass Murder.


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