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Iowa History Daily: October 27 - The Arrest of the 'Butcher Baker'

Iowa History Daily: On October 27, 1983, Robert Hansen originally of Estherville, was arrested. Better known as the ‘Butcher Baker,’ Hansen abducted, raped, and murdered at least seventeen women in Alaska between 1971 and 1983.

Born in Estherville, Hansen often worked in the family’s bakery during his childhood and teenage years. After the family moved to Richmond, California, they returned to Iowa and settled in Pocahontas during 1949. Throughout childhood and adolescence, Hansen was described as being quiet and a loner and he had a difficult relationship with his domineering father. He started to practice both hunting and archery and often found refuge in these pastimes.

In 1957, Hansen enlisted in the United States Army Reserve and served for one year before being discharged. He later worked as an assistant drill instructor at a police academy in Pocahontas. On December 7, 1960, Hansen was arrested for burning down a Pocahontas County Board of Education school bus garage, allegedly as revenge for his unpopularity in high school. He served twenty months of a three-year prison sentence in the Anamosa State Penitentiary. During his incarceration, doctors diagnosed him as manic depressive with periodic schizophrenic episodes.

After release, Hansen moved to Anchorage, Alaska, in 1967. In December 1971, Hansen was arrested twice: first for abducting and attempting to rape an unidentified housewife and then for raping an unidentified prostitute. Over the course of the 1970s and 1980s, Hansen’s crimes continued. Hansen is known to have raped and assaulted over thirty Alaskan women and to have murdered at least seventeen, ranging in age from 16 to 41, although based on evidence law enforcement suspect that Hansen killed at least twenty-one female victims. Reports suggest Hansen often abducted women, flew them to a remote cabin, and then turned them loose in order to hunt them. Arrested for the final time in 1983, Hansen spent the rest of his life behind bars. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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